About Whale of a Time

Whale of a Time is riding the wave of change, promoting successful stewardship of our planet to create a peaceful, morally just, humane and sustainable culture, while ensuring survival of all species and their natural habitats. Whale of a Time organises creative and fun, inspiring and empowering events on environmental issues to encourage active participation living a sustainable lifestyle inspired by a positive attitude. We engage young and old from all walks of life through the Whale of a Time Community, the Whale of a Time Festival and the Whale of a Time Workshop. Our work has been recognised by many national and community and environmental awards schemes.

Whale of a Time Tweats

Monday, 20 January 2014



The world’s first Tribunal on the Rights of Nature is being held in Quito, Ecuador, today. Headed by Vandana Shiva, physicist and internationally renowned environmental activist, this “Seed” Tribunal is hearing eight cases to determine their admissibility for adjudication at a later Tribunal, which will be held in another city and country later this year. The Tribunal for Rights of Nature will become permanent, hearing cases around the world.

The cases and the persons presenting the factual arguments for admitting them for adjudication under Rights of Nature are:

British Petroleum - Esperanza Martínez, Ecuador
Fracking - Shannon Biggs, United States
Chevron - Julio Prieto, Ecuador
Yasuní-ITT - Carlos Larrea, Ecuador
Great Barrier Reef - Michelle Maloney, Australia
Minería Condor Mirador - Nathaly Yépez, Ecuador
GMOs - Elizabeth Bravo, Ecuador
Climate Change - Pablo Solón, Bolivia

The international panel of judges sitting on the Tribunal includes:

Alberto Acosta,- economist and former President of the Constituent Assembly from Quito, Ecuador
Tantoo Cardinal, - actress (e.g., Dances with Wolves) from the Tar Sands of Canada
Blanca Chancoso, - Kichwa leader and educator from Cotacachi, Imbabura, Ecuador
Cormac Cullinan, - lawyer and author (Wild Law), Earth Democracy Coop, Cape Town, South Africa
Tom Goldtooth,- Dine’/Dakota, director of Indigenous Environmental Network from Minnesota, US
Julio César Trujillo, - constitutional lawyer for Yasunidos from Quito, Ecuador
Elsie Monge, - human rights activist and president of CEDHU y FIDH from Quito, Ecuador
Atossa Soltani, - founder and director of Amazon Watch from Washington, DC, US
Enrique Viale, - environmental lawyer from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Native rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca from Oklahoma, US) and Patricia Gualinga, an indigenous of the Amazon and director of Sayaku, will provide expert witness testimony on the critical importance of Rights of Nature. Carlos Pérez will provide testimony as to his recent actions in defense of Mother Earth, the reasons for his actions and its consequences.

The Tribunal begins at 8:30 and concludes at 17:00. Before rendering her judgment at the end of the day, Vandana Shiva will speak to the issues at stake in this Tribunal and the worldwide Rights of Nature movement.

The Tribunal marks the end of a five-day summit of more than 60 global leaders of the Rights of Nature movement who form part of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. The participants hail from Australia, Switzerland, South Africa, United States, Spain, Canada, India, Romania, Bolivia, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, as well as Ecuador.

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature was founded at a gathering in Ecuador in 2010, two years after Ecuador became the first nation in the world to adopt Rights of Nature in its Constitution. At the summit, the leaders committed to redoubling their efforts to broaden and deepen the movement worldwide over the coming year, with a series of actions that will be detailed in the next months.

The Rights of Nature movement draws on the wisdom and cosmovision of indigenous peoples in positing a new jurisprudence that recognizes the right of nature in all its forms to exist, persist, evolve and regenerate.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Palm Oil Company fined Millions as Indonesian Court delivers historic ruling against illegal destruction of Tripa Peat Swamp Forests.

PRESS RELEASE - January 9th, 2014

[Banda Aceh / Indonesia] Setting a landmark new precedent, Indonesian courts yesterday found palm oil company PT Kallista Alam guilty of illegally burning forests within the Tripa Peat Swamps, part of the protected Leuser Ecosystem, resulting in a fine of 114 billion Rupiah, approximately 9 million US dollars.

“This is a clear message to companies working in Aceh who think they can destroy protected forests and get away with it” said Muhammad Nur, Chairman of WALHI Aceh (Friends of the Earth Indonesia).

According to Senior Judge, Rahmawati SH, PT Kallista Alam was found in breach of National Law No 32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Management, for illegal use of fire to clear forests, and ordered to pay Rupiah 114.3 billion (approx. USD 9.5 million) as compensation and Rupiah 251.7 billion (almost 21 USD million) for restoration of the affected forests.

Kamaruddin, a lawyer working with communities in the Tripa region reiterated, “This decision should serve as a wake up call to any company thinking of investing within the Leuser Ecosystem, a National Strategic Area, that they could suffer the same fate as PT Kallista Alam. It should also be a reminder to others who deliberately burn forests or allow forest burning within their concessions, regardless of whether or not they are working inside the Ecosystem’s boundaries, that they could also be prosecuted. The Judge’s decision in this case clearly illustrates a move towards improved law enforcement against environmental offenders in the region.” He added.

The company, PT Kallista Alam, first came to international attention in August 2011, when former Governor of Aceh Province, Irwandi Yusuf, issued a new 1,605 ha oil palm concession permit within the legally protected Leuser Ecosystem, an area renowned for hosting the highest densities of orangutans found anywhere on earth, sparking an international outcry.

Subsequently, over 1.5 million people signed online petitions calling for greater protection of Aceh’s Forests, currently under enormous threat due to a controversial new spatial planning law issued by Aceh’s Parliament on December 27th. These petitions are further supported by some of the world’s leading scientists and conservation experts, who have written to Aceh’s present Governor, Zaini Abdullah, urging him to nominate the Leuser Ecosystem as a World Heritage Site, due to its unique and irreplaceable biodiversity. The Leuser Ecosystem is the only place on earth where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans can be found living together in the wild and was listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as one of the ‘World’s Most Irreplaceable Protected Areas’ in an article in the journal Science, in November 2013.

Dr Ian Singleton, Director of the Sumatran Orangutran Conservation Programme, highlighted the critical importance of the area. “Tripa is one of only 3 remaining peat swamp forests left containing orangutans in Sumatra and its impossible to overstate the importance of protecting every last hectare of each of them. Orangutan densities can reach as high as 8 per square kilometer in these areas, compared to an average of around only 1 or 2 per square kilometer in dryland forests. These peat swamps have justifiably been referred to as the ‘orangutan capital of the world’. The Leuser Ecosystem too, offers the only real hope of survival for Sumatra’s other key iconic megafauna, the Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant, as well as its orangutans. Yesterday’s ruling is of course extremely welcome, but the level of interest in Tripa and the Leuser Ecosystem worldwide shows clearly just how seriously concerned the international community is right now about the fate of these forests and their globally important biodiversity”, he emphasised.

“The Leuser Ecosystem provides countless locally and globally important environmental services too”, explained Graham Usher, Landscape Protection Specialist with the Swiss based PanEco Foundation. “For Aceh alone these have been valued in excess of 400 million dollars per year, and the region’s contribution to mitigating climate change, through its carbon sequestration function probably stretches into billions of dollars. It is very encouraging that companies and decision makers destroying these services in Indonesia are finally being held accountable for the economic damage their illegal activities cause, and all credit is due to the Ministry of the Environment for their efforts in prosecuting this case. The court’s decision is indeed a huge victory, and represents one significant step in the right direction. But I think many more such steps are needed before we will really see a change in the behaviour of companies and officials.” added Usher.

“Aceh’s Parliament is right now pushing a new spatial land use plan which they recently legalised with a new Provincial Government Regulation, known locally as the Qanun RTRW Aceh”. Explained Muhammad Nur. “The Qanun completely ignores the protected status of the Leuser Ecosystem, simply so they can open up large areas of protected forests for road building, mining, palm oil and timber concessions. This will, in effect, end Aceh’s chances for long-term sustainable development, as it will cause further destruction of critical watersheds, leading to ever more frequent flash floods, landslides, and other environmental disasters. The companies lobbying for this new plan, and the Aceh Government themselves, should be held accountable for all the damage that will ensue. We hope yesterday’s result will serve as a strong warning that if you destroy our forests, we are not afraid to fight back” he stressed. “We thank the judge for delivering a just and fair verdict in this case, and all the people around the world who have been calling for enforcement of National Laws protecting the Leuser Ecosystem. This will be a long battle, but it is one we simply cannot afford to lose, no matter what the cost.” He concluded.

Yesterday’s groundbreaking verdict is the result of just one of several civil and criminal prosecutions underway against PT Kallista Alam and four other oil palm companies with concessions in Tripa, namely PT. Surya Panen Subur II, PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari, PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur and PT. Cemerlang Abadi. Each faces the possibility of serious financial consequences as a result of their illegal clearance, burning and drainage of Tripa’s unique peat swamp ecosystem. Some of the company Directors and senior management also face the prospect of prison terms in cases against them for their actions on the ground.


1. Dr Ian Singleton, Director - Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. Tel: +62-811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com
2. Muhammad Nur, Executive Director - WAHLI Aceh. Tel: +62-8126970494, Email: mnur.walhiaceh@gmail.com
3. Graham Usher, Landscape Protection Specialist, PanEco Foundation. Tel: +62-87766394260, Email: kimabajo1@gmail.com
4. Kamaruddin, Lawyer. Tel : +62-8116700118, Email: kamaruddinaceh@yahoo.co.id


Soizic Le Saout, Michael Hoffmann, Yichuan Shi, Adrian Hughes, Cyril Bernard, Thomas M. Brooks, Bastian Bertzky, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Simon N. Stuart, Tim Badman, Ana S. L. Rodrigues, 2013. Protected Areas and Effective Biodiversity Conservation. Science, vol 342, 15 November 2013; Pp 803-805


- attached showing illegal fires within the Tripa peat swamps, Leuser Ecosystem in June 2012 (copyright SOCP). Filenames are self explanatory.