The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern-day slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”. Especially, the workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — at least 137 million people — risk losing their jobs because of the automation in the next two decades. Those workers are more vulnerable to workplace abuses as they jostle for fewer jobs at lower wages.
Indonesia is making it easier for foreigners to work here — but they will have to study as well. A decree by President Joko Widodo that is set to take effect on June will simplify Indonesia’s procedures for issuing work permits to foreigners, which are often hampered by delays, arbitrary denials and revocations, not to mention compulsory bribes to civil servants just to stamp the paperwork. Buried inside the order is a section requiring all expatriate workers to undergo formal Indonesian language training, an apparent first for any nation in Southeast Asia. The foreign business community has been caught off guard by the new requirement.
In November 2016 WWF Indonesia suspended its membership of APRIL's Stakeholder Advisory Committee because of a lack of progress implementing their sustainable forest management plan, failing to abide by government policy on peatland protection, and a lack of transparency on business operations.
WWF have called on APRIL to have independent, third party verification on their progress with the forest management plan, as well as filling policy gaps to address deforestation in High Conservation Value forest and High Carbon Stock forest, as well as social issues and peat development.
Indonesia’s anti-graft commission said government agencies have agreed on a plan to combat corruption in the forestry industry that costs the state billions of dollars in lost revenue and is behind fires that pollute Southeast Asia. The plan leans heavily on technology to build an accurate picture of where illegal deforestation and conversion of peatland into farmland is occurring, using Landsat satellites, drones and LIDAR pulsed laser-based mapping.
A new study published on the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that the role of agriculture in the destruction of mangrove forests in South-East Asia has been underestimated. The study is based on a 12-year assessment conducted between 2000 and 2012, which found that in South-East Asia mangroves were being lost at an average rate of 0.18%. Rice and palm oil plantations contributed nearly 40% to the lost. The author is calling for action as mangrove habitats in South-East Asia are highly biodiverse and are vital to the livelihood or millions of people.
India, through their national scheme the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), is the latest country to join PEFC. It is the fifth Asian country to join and can now continue the process of fully developing a national certification scheme and then receiving PEFC endorsement.
Many Southeast Asians are wondering if they will have to withstand another blanket of haze from rainforest fires as Indonesia enters its annual dry season.
A tree-by-tree battle between activists and timber workers more than three decades in Tasmania tore apart the Apple Isle. Finally, a historic peace deal came in 2012. Hodgman’s government removed 400,000 hectares of native forest from reserves, designing it “future potential production forest land” – available to be logged in six years’ time. The Hodgman government is also putting anti-protest laws aimed squarely at the environment movement. Plantations in Africa, south-east Asia and South America had come online and flooded the solid wood and woodchip markets with cheap, plentiful supply. Tasmania’s major green groups are plotting their next steps. The Hodgman government has created a ministerial council to advise on the future of the state’s forestry industry, without any environmentalist invited. The Hodgman government’s pro-logging drive makes the negotiations between environmentalists and the industry impossible.
A new report by Forest Trends, a US based NGO, found out that around five football fields of tropical forest have been illegally cleared every minute between 2000 and 2012, which losses have been driven by consumer demand for beef, leather and timber in Europe and US. The values of this trade in commodities including timber, leather, beef, soy and palm oil, accounting for $61bn a year. The majority of the illegal deforestation for commercial agriculture has been in Brazil and Indonesia. The local governments are lack of capacity to enforce laws to against illegal logging. Report found that licences and permits to cut the trees are often acquired through corruption. Authors believe that consumer countries in EU could have done more to tackle the problem. Strong regulations rather than voluntary actions is the better solution. The biggest concern for campaigners now is the spread of illegal deforestation to new countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
A recently published paper has highlighted the fact that large volumes of rosewood logs have disappeared from depots in Northeast Madagascar. The logs are smuggled by small boats to larger ships waiting offshore. It was reported that traffickers were offering around 1 million Malagasy Ariary ($450) per household in the Masoala peninsula to turn a blind eye regarding rosewood.
Communities living alongside the world's tropical forests can estimate an area's carbon stocks as effectively as hi-tech systems, according to findings published in the journal Ecology and Society. The study found that community members in four South-East Asian countries using sticks and ropes were able to gather the same results as satellites. The research team aim to convince policy makers of the vital role local communities can play under the UN’s Redd+ programme which aims to curb GHG emissions from deforestation and land-use change.
New checks on Indonesian timber are being introduced by the EU to curb illegal logging. The EU is Indonesia’s biggest export market for timber, with Germany, the UK, France and Italy among the major importers.
From now on, only Indonesian timber compliant with the EU’s verification system, called Forest Law Enforcement Governance (FLEGT) will be imported into the EU. The European Commission says the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Indonesia commits both sides to only trade in verified legal timber products.
A new decree signed by the Indonesian president to create a national agency aimed at combating greenhouse gas emissions signals progress in the country’s efforts to tackle global warming, said a scientist with the Center for International Research.
The REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agency, which will report directly to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, fulfills one among several criteria detailed in a climate change partnership agreed in 2010 with Norway. Under the terms of the agreement outlined in a letter of intent, the two countries opened the door to developing policy on REDD+, a U.N.-backed framework for reducing emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation.
Jakarta, 3 September 2013 - The palm oil sector was the single largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia between 2009-2011, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s forest loss, revealed Greenpeace International in new mapping analysis published today. The analysis shows that significant deforestation took place in concessions currently owned by members of the palm oil industry’s largest sustainability organisation, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, including companies such as Singapore-based Wilmar International. More damning is the revelation that RSPO concessions accounted for 39% of the fire hotspots on palm oil concessions in Riau during January-June 2013.
"The RSPO wants its members to be industry leaders in sustainability, but its current standards leave them free to destroy forests and drain peatland. Year after year, Indonesia's forest fires and haze wreak havoc on the region, and the palm oil sector is a main culprit. While RSPO members might have no-fire policies, the peatland they have cleared and drained is like a tinderbox – one spark is all it takes," said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace International’s Indonesia Forest Campaign.
Regional instability in Myanmar has led to growing incidents of illegal timber extraction, with the products being sold in to China. There are a lack of incentives for state and regional governments to properly enforce forestry operations as they are not entitled to benefit from the resources that are legally extracted. Ministers in the Myanmar central government want to see more autonomy given to state and regional governments to encourage stronger local policing and tighter control of the country’s resources.
The Indonesian Forestry Ministry claims that Indonesian forestry companies are yet to benefit from FSC certificates, particularly when compared to their involvement with the country’s own mandatory legality certification, SVLK. The ministry’s secretary general said FSC certification had not affected product prices, and advised companies that it wasn’t necessary to acquire FSC certification. The Government is obviously keen to promote its own national scheme and made these comments following FSC’s decision to revoke all certificates held by pulp & paper group, APRIL. The company has since decided to focus on legality through the SVLK scheme.
Russian police have busted an international group suspected of costing the state over 2 billion rubles ($60 million) through the illegal purchase and sale to China of timber, Russia’s Interior Ministry reported on Wednesday.
“It has been established that a group of Chinese citizens in Russian regions bordering China was paying cash for large volumes of illegal timber and legalizing it for export to China using documents forged by their Russian accomplices,” the ministry said in a statement.
A new WWF report warns that the Greater Mekong subregion in Southeast Asia risks losing more than a third of its natural forest cover in the next two decades at current rates of deforestation. The region, which is host to vital freshwater systems and forests depended upon by iconic species and a huge human population, is threatened by dam development, poaching and timber theft. The local governments have also given away large concessions to mining companies and plantation owners in designated protected areas.
Analysis reflecting on the global state of illegal logging and the importance of Australia joining the EU and the US in implementing anti-illegal logging measures through its own Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill. It draws attention to the flood of illegal timber which is exported to Australia from South East Asia and the difficulty legitimate timber producers in Australia and New Zealand have in competing domestically and internationally.
‘Green Carbon, Black Trade’, a joint report from UNEP and INTERPOL says that $30-$100 billion of revenue are lost by key logging countries each year to the illegal timber trade. The losses are mainly attributed to key logging countries in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin and South East Asia. An editor of the report highlights how organised crime has become more sophisticated over the past decade with government websites hacked to extract logging permits, falsifying certificates and laundering timber by selling it through plantations.