Youngsters may not believe me when I say: when I was a kid, in 1950 to take a round number, there was next to no garbage!
Well, to begin with, plastic was not yet “invented” in the forms we know it. (Could you imagine a world without plastic? There was some plastic in the house, but only for electrical gadgets that needed insulation.) Grandma sent me to buy milk, and I brought along a metal can with a handle and a lid (and on my way home I was spinning the can in the air to demonstrate that the centrifugal force was enough to keep both lid and milk in place.) Grandma cleaned the can, and after two days I was sent back to the store for more milk. No garbage. Softdrinks came in glass bottles that were reused, as were the wooden trays they came in. No garbage. Any kind of groceries we bought was delivered in paper bags or glass jars, and the bags were either folded and kept for some needs in the house, or used as tinder in the fire place, while the jars were reused. Fish came in old newspapers – that went to the fire place. No garbage. New newspapers, on the other hand, were recycled. No garbage. Canned goods came in tin cans, all right, but we used almost none. Portuguese sardines came from Portugal, in very tiny cans, that was all. (Sour herring, from north Sweden, is another matter.) Whatever stuff we bought, like in the hardware store or the dress shop, was wrapped in brown paper and tied with paper string– no cardboard boxes, no plastic. No garbage. Clothes were expensive, we did not buy them often, we were careful with them and wore them till they were worn out. As I remember they were often collected for recycling. No garbage. Grandma knitted my socks. When the holes on the heels were too big she ripped up the socks and used the yarn for knitting new socks. No garbage. Etc, etc.

I am not saying we should go back to all this, of course not, but I cannot avoid comparing this with the staggering volumes of garbage that I now see at the municipal stations for garbage recycling. Garbage management has become a project of its own. And garbage has become a raw material. But too much of it is not properly managed. We read about the “islands” in the sea of floating plastic garbage – that will not decompose. (Some industries talk about decomposable plastic, but as far as I know there is no decomposition in the factual sense, just splitting up in ever smaller particles that eventually penetrate the living cells of plants and animals and disturb the very fundamental processes of life.) Recently another subject has been brought up – that of textile waste.
Fashion lovers buy more and more clothes. The trend is clear and steady. The USA alone generates 15 million tons of textile waste per year. This a number that means nothing to me – I cannot imagine what it means, except that it is something enormous. Little Sweden consumes on average 13 kg of new clothes per person and year, which for the whole country will mean 0.13 million tons. The global average is said to be 9 kg per person and year.
Plastic is another story. I will stop here, and get back with numbers later.

The point right now is: how to handle all the garbage to reduce pollution of our environment? Given the personal experience I have described above, I really believe that, as a first step, consumption of plastic and clothes etc can be reduced, without noticeable sacrifice. Secondly, much work has already been done on recycling, and important progress has been made. I will get back on this.


Al Jazeera, in its tv show “Pricing the Planet” says: We use nature because it is valuable, we lose nature because it is free. In the economic calculations, Nature is made invisible. Will Nature as we know it, therefore, cease to exist? Extinction is forever.

This sounds sinister. Some scientists predict that by 2050 there will not be any original tropical rainforest left. For my part I am sure there will be some; but in mountainous areas unsuitable for any other use. Other scientists (like Chinese environmentalist Zhiyun Ouyang) claim that the natural forest needs to have a $-value assigned to it, based on an assessment of Gross Ecosystem Product GEP. Unlike GDP it includes the services – such as water retention, flood mitigation and top soil protection – provided by a preserved ecosystem. Using that “instrument” Mr Ouyang hopes to have 35% of China’s land area set aside as “Nature”, based on GEP considerations. (source Eco-Business newsletter 29 March 2017.)

We have something important here that needs follow-up.

In Indonesia oil palm has been the business to invest in during the last 15 years or so, within the agriculture sector. The market demand and the prices in combination with the palm’s extraordinary oil yields puts this crop in a class of its own when it comes to profitability. In the conventional Excel sheets “Nature” becomes a meaningless option when calculating the Rate of Return on different land uses. What irritates here is that we all, all of us, know that the reason why oil palm ends up on top in this competition is not only its favourable parameters, but also our inability to come up with sufficiently solid parameters for “Nature” as a deserving alternative, with derived values, or numbers more precisely, that will stand a chance in the decision-making process among investors and land administrators.

As I said, we have to get back to this. In any case Nature comes out on top when we talk about adventure and emotional and esthetic experience, only that this needs to be manifested in numbers, otherwise economists and investors will not pay attention.


Source: The Economist

Hanami is the Japanese term for contemplating the brevity and beauty of life, by spending time among the fragile blossom that pleases us in the day while braving the frost at night. Sakura is the word for the blossom. A researcher at Osaka Prefecture University, Japan, Yasuyuki Anono, has  made use of all sorts of information available, including classic literature, to chart the première date of the cherry blossom over the centuries. (Btw, “The Tale of Genji” may be the world’s first novel. It is from the tenth century and contains a chapter describing the cherry-blossom festival staged in the emperor’s great hall. – I will get back to contemporary findings re Nature’s positive influence on our mood and behaviour.)

What is clear from the time chart of cherry blossom is that there have always been fluctuations – AND  that during the past half-century or so we see clearly that the blossom appears quite a bit earlier than before, so that it now takes place around 2 April. The findings tally with global info from for example IPCC about ever warmer years lately.  – Is there some phenomenon observed in Indonesia, pointing towards climate change?


A well-known international organisation proclaims a rare type of fox with shining white winter-fur as threatened, protected, and listed in the CITES Appendix 1, and a hunter with rotten teeth shoots the fox and sells the fur to have his teeth fixed so he can get married. That’s how it goes. Of course we wish him happiness.  He has the same right to a happy marriage as all of us.

The French movie maker Jean Renoir said in his illustrative The Rules of the Game: “Everyone has their reasons”. That’s it. But something needs to be straightened out.

We need a further inquiry.

The hunter follows what the Market Forces invites him to do.

Can the Market Forces be relied upon to protect Biodiversity?

Can the Market Forces be relied upon to alleviate Forest Loss?

Can the Market Forces be relied upon to alleviate Climate Change?

My answer is NO.

How to tackle forest loss?

For many years we have heard: Save the Rainforest! and we have been told about the importance of that forest for controlling CO2 emissions and global warming. According to FAO 2015, tropical forest area declined by 5.5 million ha per year between 1990 and 2015. (For the perspective: the total forest land of Sweden is about 22.5 million ha.) No solution is in sight. And to complicate matters, monitoring and “correct” quantification of forest loss remains very tricky.
The Market and Big Business are normally blamed as main culprits. Some major international companies (like Unilever, Nestlé, Cargill and IKEA) are requesting help to control forest loss, and propose that governments do more to assist companies whose products drive tropical deforestation. This is what a new survey of some of the world’s biggest producers and buyers of palm oil, timber, cocoa and rubber has found. Expansion of cultivation to grow these four agricultural commodities is recognised as a major cause of forest loss.
Producer companies based in developing countries are mentioned in the survey (like APP, Golden Agri Resources, Sime Darby in Indonesia). The international companies propose that Governments need to intervene by (1) arranging for clear and consistent policies on customary land tenure; (2) better and more effectively implemented policies on land use planning and the allocation of concessions; (3) stronger protection of forests that are rich in carbon and have high conservation value; and (4) tougher enforcement of existing laws. Source: FERN press release 30 March 2017
Here we get close to foreign interference in internal affairs, a source of irritation. Things can be smoothened through international agreements. The New York Declaration on Forests, signed by governments, the corporations mentioned, and NGOs at the UN Climate Summit in September 2014, committed its signatories collectively to ‘at least halve the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strive to end natural forest loss by 2030’.
Agricultural commodities, including cattle products, soya beans, palm oil and commercial timber, are found to be the main drivers of deforestation globally. Regionally, also cocoa and rubber contribute.
(I note that coffee is not mentioned. Personally I have seen coffee plantations (which require partial shade and reasonably fertile soil) stepwise penetrate into the natural forest, for example in Central African Republic, or in Aceh province, Indonesia.)
The presence of palm oil in our daily life and diet is demonstrated on many web sites – an example is By visiting national parks and forest reserves you will learn about Nature’s life-and-death issues. You will also help demonstrate to local administrators, entrepreneurs and residents that Nature has a value in its “natural” stage – it can bring in cash aside from the so called eco-system services. Nature does not have to be “liquidated” or converted to something else, or developed to remain “productive” or “profitable”. An example in Indonesia of an area under pressure is the Gunung Leuser National Park (Taman Nasional Gg Leuser). The situation there is drawing international attention since it is the last remaining area of contiguous forest where we find tiger, elephant, rhinoceros and orangutang roaming free in the same area. More to follow – – –


Management of real estate and management of Nature are conceptually different. An approach that might prove useful, as an ingredient among many, was presented recently – we are really looking forward to follow-up reports from this interesting “experiment”: The river Whanganui in New Zealand has recently been declared a Juridical Person, a legal entity with the same rights as humans. (The Economist also has an article about it. It seems India is considering following suit with Ganges and Yamuna.) Two “spokespersons” are appointed, one by the Central Government, and one by the resident Maori nation. – We need to follow up and see how this works. A national park in NZ, Te Urewera, was given similar status in 2014.
A juridical person can bring law offenders to court. Another useful aspect is that the river will be dealt with as one unit, regardless of boundaries between local administrations upstream and downstream.
This is just an idea among many – it might help resolve some administrative obstacles. – Something for the Heart of Borneo?


So, I want to tell what I talk about when I talk about Nature – and forests in particular, But about us also, Society and Nature, or people and forestry. We need to keep in mind the extent of the topic – exactly what are we talking about?

First Question:
What is Nature?
That which is studied by Natural Sciences? – Then we get involved with the universe, cosmos, interstellar space and dark matter, planetary geology, genetics, DNA, microbes, subatomic particles. That goes way beyond my reach.
Nature as wilderness
Nature as that which constitutes our distant origin or cradle
Nature as that which is not cultivated
Nature as that which is different from us, or even dangerous.
Nature as that which is outside the city gates
Nature as resources, Natural Resources, there to be harvested, for anyone who has the understanding
Nature as a dormant land resource, to be developed for systematic production of marketable crops
Nature as uncontrollable and threatening elements
Nature as an enemy to be conquered and tamed
Nature as that which is invisible and disregarded in the economic calculations

Let’s start with the Wilderness part! National Parks with deep forests fit in that context. Indonesia has established 52 National Parks. Pick some to visit! In West Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia, you find several: Lake Sentarum, Betung-Kerihun among them. See tours in . There you will also meet the Dayak, original residents of the areas, entirely adapted to life in and with Nature (and with interesting answers to my questions above).
The Governments of Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, with a number of NGOs initiated in 2007 a concept called Heart of Borneo (HoB), aimed at protecting an extensive forest and wilderness area composed of National Parks with adjacent forests, rivers and lakes. HoB covers 220 000 km2, or 22 million ha – which is about the total extent of forest land in Sweden.
http://www.naturetrailsIndonesia offers guided tours into the Heart of Borneo.