Edition 55
NOKIA Recycles with Trees
by Francis Cheong, Compilation, WWF, Nokia and Equinox Publishing

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Millions of people living in ASEAN countries have been plagued with a phenomenal smoke haze during the summer period every year. This blanket of haze (which could go as far as Thailand) is the result of burning the rain forest either by man in clearing land for agriculture or timber loggings (legal or illegal) or the underground peat swamp fire in Indonesia. It was estimated that the regional annual economic losses due to the haze goes into billion of US dollars (not to mention the health issues and the amount of giga tones of CO2 released into the atmosphere – each ha of peat swamp holds about 250 mega tons of CO2 which would be released when burned). The global reduction of these rain forests has been dramatic over the last 20 years and if no concrete actions are taken now, the rain forest in many parts of the world will soon completely disappear.

There are two major problems – that of indiscriminate burning of rain forest (either to clear land for agriculture purpose or logging of timber) and the draining of the peat land caused by canals built by timber loggers to transport fell timber within the peat swamp. Loggers dig canals out of the peat swamp to create a ‘river-way’ to transport fell timber to the nearest river. These canals in Sebangau National Park (more than hundred) have ruined the peat swamp hydrological function. Under normal condition, peat will absorb water during raining season and hold these waters within the swamp and then release the water slowly to maintain a balance water table during dry season. Canals dug into the peat swamp will drain away the water and the lands around the canal will lose its ability to retain water. This dries the peat swamp making it vulnerable to self ignited fires during the dry season when the ambient temperature goes up and it is almost impossible to put out any underground peat swamp fires unless there is a natural deluge of rain fall.

In this context, Nokia, WWF Indonesia and Equinox publishing (an Indonesia publishing firm) has founded the NEWTrees Program in late 2007. The objective of the program is to help reduce the annual haze that affects the region and contribute in protecting and preserve Sebangau (Kalimantan) & Rinjani (Lombok) National Parks, invaluable national assets in the region.

NEWTrees Program is a re-forestation and peat land preservation project in which Nokia has so far funded the planting of close to 140,000 trees and rejuvenated the peat forest in the Sebangau, Rinjani National Parks and Ciliwung Das Reserve. The Sebangau National Park is located between Sebangau River and the Katingan River and is the only remaining peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan. It is also home to the largest concentration of orangutans in the world (more than 6000). It has an area of 568,700 ha - almost 9 time the sizes of Singapore. The peat swap forest in the park has been degraded through past indiscriminate exploitation of its timber before it was given a protected National Park status.

Lombok Island, one of the islands in Nusa Tenggara, is very weak in its ecosystem endurance. Moreover, it is recorded that 40.000 hectares of 125.000 hectares of Mount Rinjani National Park, Mount Rinjani Protected Forest Area, and production forest has been severely damaged. Mount Rinjani Protected Forest Area has a vital role in supporting 3 million lives as 90% of Lombok Island’s water supply comes from this area. As a consequence to that damage, for the last ten years, 43% of water springs located around Rinjani has dried up and no longer acts as a water producer.

The NEWTree Program has two folds - that of Re-Forestation and the Restoration of the natural water table of the peat swamp by damming the man-made canals.

Nokia has committed funds to the man-made canal damming project by WWF Indonesia. This project helps to bring back the natural water table balances within the peat forest and thus prevent the drying up and underground peat fires.

The Nokia sponsored plots for re-forestation were first geo-tagged (with latitudes and longitudes) with the N95 device (the first mobile phone with GPS logging features back in 2007 / 2008) and up-load to the ‘Ovi Maps’ (now called HERE maps) and each tree planted could be individually identified. Back then, the Nokia N95 with its GPS capability was used to take photo of the trees planted and then forward it to the program web-page in ‘Ovi Maps’ to be geo-tagged onto the park map and viewed by anyone instantly.

Since its’ inception, the NEWTrees Program has been used in the following ways:

1. Public Participation in Re-Forestation The NEWTrees program has morphed into another WWF Indonesia project called ‘My Baby Tree’ where the public could log on to WWF web-site to make a donation of 15 USD and will be given a tree with their name and they could log onto the project location with the given co-ordinates and see an actual picture of the tree which will be up-dated as the tree grows. Thus the public could virtually see the tree with their name grow over time.

2. Nokia Public Take Back Programs – ‘Recycle A Phone and Adopt A Tree’ Nokia Public Take Back Program is one of the cornerstones of Nokia CSR environmental activities. Nokia has invested in programs to encourage consumers to bring back their mobile phones so Nokia can ensure they are recycled responsibility. Various means are used to raise consumers’ awareness in responsible phone recycling – participating in corporations, learning institutions & government recycling events and running Nokia Public Take Back Campaigns. In these activities, consumers are being empowered when they recycle through us in that their recycling effort will enable them to make a physical contribution toward environmental sustainability. Consumers who drop-in a device for recycling will be given a tree in their name via our NEWTree Program. Consumers will receive a unique URL (with built-in co-ordinates) and instructions with which to view their tree through ‘HERE Maps’ and will be able to see their contribution towards preserving the environment.

Nokia has since replicated the NEWTrees concepts in another two similar projects in partnership with WWF Vietnam (2012) & WWF Thailand (2013) within the ASEAN region.

Reverse Logistics Association will also be participating in this program by providing Nokia space at their worldwide Conference & Expos. At RLA Shows attendees can drop off their unwanted phones and receive their plant certificate while donating to this wonderful cause.

Article materials supplied by WWF, Nokia and Equinox Publishing.

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