Best of our wild blogs: 28 Feb 11

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [21 - 27 Feb 2011]
from Green Business Times

Places of Interest - Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
by Minister Mah Bow Tan on facebook

Jenal Jetty Mangroves
from Urban Forest

Wallace Trail, Dairy Farm Park
from Fahrenheit minus 459

Parakeets eating Swietenia macrophylla seeds
from Bird Ecology Study Group and A female Olive-backed Sunbird collecting nesting material

Birdwatching at Dairy Farm - 20.2.2011
from Urchin's World

Back to the rare seagrass meadows at Kranji for a closer look
from wild shores of singapore

二月华语导游 Madarin guide walk@SBWR,Feb (XVI)
from PurpleMangrove

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Eco-city competition hotting up in China

Tianjin province will have Italian-built eco-city as well as one built by S'pore group
Lynette Khoo Business Times 28 Feb 11;

(SINGAPORE) Competition is right at the doorstep of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city as another iconic eco-city takes shape within the same province.

Led by an Italian consortium, the project's design draws inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci's urban studies for Milan in the late 15th century and the urban structure of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

It sits on a 13 square kilometre site in Tianjin and is expected to have residential buildings for 75,000 people, commercial buildings, schools, entertainment facilities, medical amenities and a science park.

This is but one of hundreds of eco-cities that have sprung up in China as local officials chase the trend, tying up with private-sector partners in most cases.

In Tianjin, the contract to build this Italian eco-city, Eco Nanhe Town - Nanhe Jingwu, was apparently awarded by the Nanhe municipal government just months after the joint- venture agreement was inked between the Singapore consortium led by Keppel Corp and the Chinese consortium for the bilateral project.

But the Singapore crew is undaunted. 'Competition is good as it keeps us on our toes,' said Ho Tong Yen, chief executive of SSTEC, the master developer of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.

'In China, competition for investments is a reality that any city has to face,' he added. He deemed it unsurprising that more eco-cities would spring up given growing awareness of the importance of sustainable development.

Tianjin was chosen for the bilateral project out of four sites, including Tangshan. Though Tangshan wasn't the chosen site, that didn't stop the local officials from pursuing their own 'green' ambitions.

They are now working on the Tangshan Nanhu Eco-City, where Singapore-listed developers Yanlord and Ho Bee Group are building high-end residential properties that meet international standards for energy conservation.

IE Singapore assistant chief executive Yew Sung Pei noted that there is always competition for attention, be it from other eco-cities or development zones. But the various eco-city projects that have emerged in response to varied needs in different parts of China may focus on different things.

'Companies' interest in participating would also depend on their own needs and expansion strategies, the market potential and value to be captured at each location,' Mr Yew said.

Apart from the competition, concerns have also been flagged concerning the land condition for the Sino-Singapore project, though it was intentional to choose land that is non-arable with limited water supply in order to demonstrate how eco-solutions can be adopted and applied elsewhere.

But treating the salt-alkaline land is proving to be rather challenging, sources close to the project told BT. In response to BT queries, a spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of National Development (MND) conceded that there are challenges, but 'these challenges are not insurmountable'.

The 'environment rehabilitation' of the eco-city is progressing on schedule, he added. Various studies are underway to understand how best to tackle the environmental challenges facing the project.

According to him, some other parts of China, including in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, are similarly located on salt-alkaline land and their experiences will offer useful pointers on the treatment of the land.

While the trend of building eco-cities in China is expected to continue, MND pointed out that the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city stands out in some ways.

Like the preceding bilateral project Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin project - as a G2G undertaking - has the support of both governments at the highest level. It enjoys various preferential policies and financial support, including a recently launched programme by IE Singapore to encourage Singapore companies to set up operations and participate in projects in the eco-city.

While some 'eco-city' projects in China have no real measures on their green initiatives, Singapore's Tianjin project needs to fulfil a set of qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators.

Its significant scale - occupying a land area of 30 sq km with a projected population of 350,000 when fully developed - will provide the critical mass for investors and businesses to set up operations there, the MND spokesman said.

While many highly publicised eco-city projects in China have either remained on the drawing board or collapsed from shoddy implementation, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city means business.

Total investments drawn to date have hit 55 billion yuan (S$10.6 billion), SSTEC said. MND also noted that around 300 enterprises are registered with the eco-city and some will commence operations soon. Various residential projects, including Keppel Land's eco-homes, have been launched and met with feverish demand.

The 4 sq km start-up area is already starting to take shape. Construction has begun on the 130-hectare Eco-Industrial Park (EIP), touted to be the first of its kind in China to be built completely in compliance with green building evaluation standards.

'The Tianjin Eco-city has made significant progress since the groundbreaking ceremony in September 2008,' the MND spokesman said. 'Overall, we are on track to complete the start-up area by 2013, and the entire Eco-city by around 2020.'

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Indonesian President Kicks Off Integrated Tourist Zone Project in Bintan

Antara 26 Feb 11;

Bintang, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday inaugurated the construction of the first-phase of an integrated tourist zone at Teluk Sebong, Sebong Lagoi village, Bintan District, Riau Islands Province.

The head of state named the new integrated tourist zone "Pesona Lagoi Bintang" (Lagoi Bintang Charm).

Yudhoyono in his speech hoped that the tourist area could become like Singapore or even better.

"Let`s develop this area to become an integrated economic zone," the president, who was accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, said.

Among those present at the inauguration ceremony were Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, Riau Islands Governor Muhammad Sani, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa, Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono, Minister/State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi, and Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

In the first phase of its development process, "Pesona Lagoi Bintang" will be built on a plot of land measuring 338 hectares.

The project is being implemented by a consortium consisting of several companies including Malaysia-based Landmarks lifestyle company.

The developers will construct a water city resort in the area bought by Landmarks Berhad in 2006.

The integrated tourist zone will also include an international ferry terminal, a marine terminal, a marine aircraft terminal, a cruise ship area, and integrated immigration service office.

There will also be a water recreational area, shopping centers, hotels, amusement parks, villas, housing complexes, apartments, meeting halls, universities and hospitals.

The construction works of the project`s first phase is expected to be complected in 2015 and it will connect with other isles in Riau Islands Province.

Only a short ferry ride of about one-hour from Singapore, the Riau Islands represent an ideal and easily accessible destination for holiday makers.

Editor: AA Ariwibowo

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Malaysia: protests against soldiers posing with dead Great Hornbill

NGOs lodge reports over picture
Sean Augustin New Straits Times 27 Feb 11;

PUTRAJAYA: Two environmental non-governmental organisations have lodged police reports over a picture of soldiers posing with a dead Great Hornbill on Friday.

Traffic Southeast Asia National Trade Policy officer Shenaaz Khan lodged the report at the Dangi Wangi police station at 11.25am, hoping the police will investigate the matter or refer the case to the proper authorities such as the Wildlife and National Parks Department and the Defence Ministry.

She also hoped it would create greater awareness.

"There are laws out there that need to be adhered to, irrespective of their background," she told the New Sunday Times.

She added that the matter could be investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and the Armed Forces Act 1972, which prohibited soldiers from hunting.

Later on Friday, a second report was lodged by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia Conservation manager Han Kwai Hin at Taman Tun police station.

Han said the organisation was ready to assist the police with the investigation.

On Thursday, the NST reported that environmental NGOs were up in arms after a picture of soldiers, believed to be from the Malaysian Armed forces, posing with the dead bird surfaced on a social networking site.

The bird seemed to have its throat slit. The picture has since been removed.

The Great Hornbill is the larger of the hornbill species in Malaysia and is found only in the peninsula.

It is also protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act.

See also Photo: slaughtered great hornbill by soldiers raises ire [warning: graphic image] by Jeremy Hance 27 Feb 11

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Malaysia: More animal attacks with loss of habitat

New Straits Times 28 Feb 11;

From wild macaques living in suburban areas to tigers in the east coast, more and more animals are turning on humans. EVANGELINE MAJAWAT finds out why

TAMBUN Gediu was hunting for squirrels in the fringes of Belum Forest last week when a tiger pounced on him. The hunter had become the hunted.

The Orang Asli escaped the tiger’s deadly jaw-grip after his wife hit the big cat repeatedly on its head with a big ladle.

Tambun is a lucky man. Not so for first-time parents V. Nehru and V. Revathy of Seremban, whose 4-day-old daughter died after being bitten by a long-tailed macaque last year.

These stories are just some of the many human-wildlife conflicts that occur in Malaysia.

In the last three years alone, the Wildlife and National Parks Department recorded close to 35,000 cases of wildlife attacks.

The human casualties did not reflect the shocking number of cases as only five deaths were recorded between 2008 and last year, and 28 were injured.

Most cases Most cases cases involved monkeys (long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques) and snakes (cobras and pythons).

These animals lived close to humans in small pockets of greenery in the city.

Attacks by bigger and rarer species such as elephants, tigers and civet cats occurred mostly in rural areas, especially villages or plantations.

“Unlike the last decade, the current trend shows that human-wildlife conflicts are not restricted to agricultural and rural areas, but also urban areas,” department director-general Datuk Abd Rasid Samsudin said.

Human-wildlife conflict is a phrase used by scientists to describe killings, mauling and crop-raiding by animals on human settlements. The reason why these conflicts happen are obvious — loss of habitat.

“The biggest mistake commonly committed by urban dwellers when sharing space with small animals is feeding them.

“Feeding macaques and wild boars will only make these animals bolder, which can lead to disastrous incidents,” said Rasid, adding that these animals were aggressive, territorial and would attack if threatened.

Improper rubbish and food waste disposal also meant a higher chance of human-wildlife conflicts.

In 2006, participants of the Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Workshop Report by the World Wide Fund For Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) stated that farmers could reduce the chances of these conflicts with simple and inexpensive steps.

The cheapest was to ensure that all livestock were reared in proper paddocks which kept the cattle and goats in, and the tigers out.

A suggestion to emulate the practice in the Sundarbans, India, where workers wear human masks at the back of their heads, was also highlighted as a cost-effective measure.

Keeping a buffer zone between the plantations and surrounding forests also helps. It was reported that most tiger attacks happened in rubber plantations.

Methods to prevent elephant attacks include setting up electrified fences, digging trenches and using repellents.

But the best measure, according to scientists and environmentalists, would be protecting the animals’ habitat and creating wildlife corridors to connect fragmented forests.

While villagers usually organise hunts for rogue animals, Rasid warned that no animal can be killed unless there was “an immediate danger to human life”.

“Villagers are not allowed to go after these animals. Instead, they are advised to contact the nearest wildlife office.”

The department has methods of reducing human-wildlife conflicts and killing wildlife is only the last resort.

“We would usually chase the animals deep into the forest, capture and relocate them, and in other cases, set up electric fences around villages,” said Rasid.

For Malaysian Nature Society communications head Andrew Sebastian, education and awareness are key to reducing deaths and injuries to both humans and animals.

“People must learn and appreciate boundaries and respect the space that wildlife need.”

Enough to keep him off the jungle
P. Chandra Sagaran New Straits Times 28 Feb 11;

"I AM not going back into the jungle... I am afraid the animal will attack me again."

This was the response of tiger-attack victim Tambun Gediu, 60, when asked whether he would continue hunting in the jungle.

The injury on his right knee had restricted his movement.

Tambun, of Kampung Sungai Tiang, 75km from Grik, was hunting squirrels on Feb 12 when he was attacked.

He tried to climb up a tree but the animal caught him and dragged him down.

He owed his life to his wife, Han Besau, 55, who courageously drove the beast away by hitting it on the head with a large wooden ladle.

Tambun suffered injuries in the head, face, neck and both knees.

Speaking from his bed at Grik Hospital last week, the Orang Asli villager said he was recovering but doctors wanted to keep him for observation.

He said this was the first time he had come face to face with a tiger, which left scars all over his body.

"My knee hurts whenever I walk but my other injuries are healing."

The stitches on his wounds were removed earlier last week.

Tambun is expected to be back at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh today for a check-up.

His son Amir, 19, who was at the hospital to look after him, said his father was traumatised.

"We will just do what we are doing like cultivation, but confined to the vicinity of the village. Fishing is the other source of food for us," he said.

Another Orang Asli from the same village, S. Ringet, 52, said the incident had discouraged villagers from going into the jungle.

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Malaysia: Hunt for rogue elephant launched

New Straits Times 27 Feb 11;

KOTA BARU: The state Wildlife Department believes that the elephant which attacked an estate worker in Dabong early this year is still roaming in a nearby jungle.

Its director, Rahmat Topani said rangers in Jeli had been directed to track down the elephant, which was believed to be in a herd of four, including a calf.

"A six-men team led by Jeli wildlife chief Cosmas Ngau started the operation on Feb 19, but until today, they have yet to locate the elephants.

"But we believe the animals are still in the forest and we will capture them soon."

He said the rangers were on a 24-hour standby to carry out the "Ops Tangkap-Pindah Gajah" operation.

"We are afraid that if the elephants are not captured as soon as possible, they will destroy plants belonging to villagers in Kampung Biak, which is about five kilometres from the jungle."

Rahmat added that three elephants had been captured by the department this year -- two in Gua Musang and another in Kuala Krai.

On Jan 24, an estate worker Bernardus Ngongo Naru was injured after he was attacked by an elephant while working in Dabong. The 24-year-old Indonesian, who suffered injuries on his chest, was sent to Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital where he was warded for almost a week.

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Scientists Back from Borneo with Tales of  Discovery

Ismira Lutfia Jakarta Globe 26 Feb 11;

Paradise does exist, and it can be found in the heart of Central Kalimantan, say two scientists who recently returned from an expedition deep into one of Indonesia’s last remaining tracts of forest.

Martin Holland and Tim van Berkel were part of the Heart of Borneo expedition to study animals and vegetation in the rain forest around the province’s Murung Raya district.

Holland, the project director for the eight-week expedition, said the endless variety of plants and animals proved that “the forests of Borneo are some of the most amazing areas in the world.”

He said the team of 13 European and Indonesian scientists found 140 species of birds, 30 species of frogs, 35 reptile species and 44 species of terrestrial mammals.

“Around 13 of these mammal species are threatened,” Holland told the Jakarta Globe.

Van Berkel, the lead researcher, said some of the animals they encountered had previously been spotted on the Malaysian side of Borneo but never before on the Indonesian side.

Among the species they encountered were the elusive and rare otter civet, cloud leopards, gibbons, pangolins and the bearded pig.

“We never expected to see so many species,” said van Berkel, a mammalogist.

“It was way beyond our imagination.”

He also said some of the species of frogs and snakes might have been unseen and unheard of before and had never been scientifically identified as new species.

“But we can’t really say yet if they are new since they will have to be formally recognized and it might take years for their taxonomic validation,” he said.

But little research has been done in the area, he said, while more data collection in the forests could benefit the local people and authorities in setting up efforts for preservation, given the imminent threat to the forests from nearby mining and logging concessions.

“Compared to Sumatra, Borneo still has lots of forests left and we need to set up preservation efforts as early as possible before it’s too late,” he said, adding that stricter law enforcement was needed to protect the area.

Holland said the richness of the biodiversity in the area could be lost unless a plan was put in place to protect it.

“I think the Indonesian government could start by ensuring transparency over which part of the area is protected and which part is allowed for concessions,” he said.

Both scientists said the government should also begin quantifying the value of the resources in the forests in order to get a clearer estimate of the preservation efforts needed.

Van Berkel said the team would continue its research in the area with a four-week expedition planned for September, and would set up more camera traps to gather additional information on the animals.

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Many countries use peat land without fear: Indonesian expert

Antara 27 Feb 11;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A number of countries have used peat land to support their economic growth without any fear of being accused of destroying the environment, a peat land expert said.

Indonesia should do the same as far as it used its peat land properly, Dr. Basuki Sumawinata of the Bogor-based Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said on Sunday.

Among the countries which had taken advantage of peat land for a long time were Malaysia, Canada, Finland and Sweden, he said.

Basuki said Finland and Sweden had used well their peat land for farming and energy sources. "Finland used to burn peat to make way for farm land and plantation but no party lodged protest against the practice and forced them to pay for carbon emissions they released," he said.

Now the country was still taking advantage of peat land but by using expensive technology instead of burning it any longer, he said.

Technology was badly needed to use peat land, he said adding many researches had been conducted on how to use peat land without destroying the environment or releasing carbon.

"Unfortunately, foreign pressure and allegation that Indonesia must be held responsible for the destruction of peat land and the release of carbon dioxides are far stronger than the positive achievement it has gained from the management of peat land for forestry activities or other farming activities in an environmentally friendly manner," he said.

He said the government must be aware of how much economic potentials had lost now that many people relied their livelihood on peat land.

Ecohydro technology was among those used to take advantage of peat land, he said.

According to him, the application of ecohydro technology by a timber estate company on Kampar Peninsula should serve as a reference that peat land could be utilized without destroying the environment.

"We should apply ecohydro technology to take advantage of peat land in other parts of Indonesia. We can do so if we have a high degree of discipline. But these all are up to the government to decide," he said.

Indonesia now had 22 million hectares of peat land but only 6-7 percent of it was taken advantage of, he said. (*)

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

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