US Journalist Promotes Indonesia’s Biodiversity

Posted on March 8th, 2011 at 12:17 am by Farah Fitriani


Rhett Butler, a journalist who founded the popular environmental news site, traveled through Indonesia to promote community participation in biodiversity conservation as part of the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership.

According to the US Embassy on February, the partnership is critical to the bilateral relationship and addresses key global challenges such as climate change.

During the Speakers Program, Butler visited Lampung, Jambi, Jakarta, and Kalimantan, where he visited National and Provincial Parks and met with government and local leaders as well as NGOs. He also spoke at universities.

Butler highlighted Indonesia’s incredible biodiversity, which has an important impact on the local economy. Indonesia’s forests store massive amounts of carbon, help protect against flooding and erosion, and are a key source of livelihoods.

Ecosystem services add up to 21 percent of Indonesia’s GDP, including 75 percent of income for the rural poor, but like the rest of the world, Indonesia`s biodiversity is in decline due to unsustainable practices.

A shift toward a Western development model, together with corruption and insecure land rights, has accelerated the decline.

Meanwhile, there are signs that global interest in sustainability and community management is growing.

Butler noted that major companies, including Walmart, Unilever, Nike, and Starbucks, are looking for credible supply chains, low or no deforestation, and good community relations from Indonesian companies as well as policies that include recognition of rights, safeguards against social abuses, and environmental protection from the Indonesian government.

Furthermore, these companies are wary of corruption due to the aggressive enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by the Obama Administration.

Butler stated that Indonesian companies that demonstrate stewardship and good community relations are well-positioned to benefit from the global shift toward sustainability.

“With its rich biodiversity and important ecosystem services, Indonesia is in a position to lead this transition,” Butler said. Indonesia has an opportunity to leap-frog dirty development and achieve low carbon development, he said.

Butler concludes that Indonesia need not abandon the things that make it unique such as culture and biodiversity, as it develops its economy.

He also notes that neither can be replaced once they are lost. “Indonesia is special,” said Butler.

“There`s no reason why it can`t become a world power while maintaining what makes it special.” was launched in 1999 and now draws more than 2.5 million visitors per month. There is also a section in Bahasa Indonesia at*)


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