Best of our wild blogs: 30 Apr 11

East Changi oil spill: biodiversity impact studies results out
from wild shores of singapore

Pulau Ubin: 2011 Tua Pek Kong Celebration Dates
from Pulau Ubin Stories

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Singapore: Seashore life still reeling from oil spill

Fewer creatures found on affected beaches one year after incident: Study
Grace Chua Straits Times 30 Apr 11;

NEARLY a year after an oil spill off Singapore's east coast, the seashore life there is still showing lingering effects.

Starfish flipped onto their backs took longer to right themselves than their counterparts from an unaffected shore, and the affected beaches had fewer young seashore creatures.

The findings were made by National University of Singapore (NUS) final-year students last year and this year over the course of their biology honours projects.

They were studying the results of the oil spill last May, when an oil tanker collided with a bulk carrier off Changi East. About 2,500 tonnes of light crude oil leaked along a 7km stretch, including Tanah Merah, East Coast Park, Changi Beach and the Chek Jawa intertidal shore on Pulau Ubin.

The spill was cleaned up rapidly with chemical dispersants, but scientists noted it could have longer-term effects depending on how much shore life there was at each site.

Miss Goh Kai Ying, 23, spent her final-year project flipping common sea stars over.

The slender-armed starfish from Tanah Merah took up to two minutes to right themselves, while those from Pulau Hantu, which was not affected by the spill, took 30 to 50 seconds.

Such flipping ability is an indicator of sea stars' health, explained the students' supervisor, biology professor Chou Loke Ming.

Those that are unhealthy may not be able to escape from predators or compete for food, he added.

Miss Goh also noticed there were fewer juvenile sea stars in Tanah Merah than on Pulau Hantu's shores, suggesting the oil spill had somehow affected the creatures' reproduction as it took place in the middle of the April-to-June mating season, or that younger sea stars were somehow more susceptible to the oil.

Likewise, fellow biology student Wong Hiu Fung, 23, found fewer young dog whelks, a kind of sea snail, in Tanah Merah than on Pulau Hantu.

But they said more work is needed to properly explore the findings.

Meanwhile, their classmate Jeremy Tan, 24, lab-tested mixtures of oil and dispersants on green mussels from a local farm.

Dispersant chemicals are typically used to break apart large swathes of oil so they degrade faster in the environment, but they can be toxic to some marine life.

He found that green mussels, which feed by sweeping food in with their gill filaments, could not feed when exposed to commercial dispersants, and suggested the chemicals somehow damaged the mussels' gills.

In another study last year, Prof Chou worked with the National Parks Board (NParks) and National Environment Agency (NEA) to assess the immediate impact of the spill on seashore habitats.

They found that the short-term impact of the spill and clean-up on the overall ecosystem was not severe.

Besides the NUS projects, NParks and NEA are also hiring a consultant to monitor the affected sites over the long term.

An NParks spokesman said the composition of biodiversity in the areas will be surveyed to study if there are any longer-term effects of the oil spill.

The result of this second survey will also provide valuable updated baseline data on the biodiversity of these sites, she said.

Prof Chou added: 'Impacts (of a spill and clean-up) are always there, it is a matter of how we react and respond to them to try and decrease the full extent.'

More links
Singapore Changi East Oil Spill (25 May 2011) facebook page

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Tampines Eco Green park: Sign of green times

The new Tampines Eco Green park is a testbed for more green features in Singapore's parks
huang huifen Straits Times 30 Apr 11

When Tampines resident Toh Nan Li saw construction taking place on a plot of forested wasteland near his flat last year, the 30-year-old feared that it was going to be yet another housing development project.

The photography enthusiast was about to bid goodbye to his favourite spot for shooting sunrises when he learnt, to his relief, that the land was being developed into an eco-park by the National Parks Board (NParks).

The new $3-million Tampines Eco Green park, which had its soft launch last weekend, is designed to look like a savannah, with marshlands, secondary rainforests and freshwater ponds.

At 36.5ha, about a quarter the size of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, the park in Tampines North, at the junction of Tampines Avenues 9 and 12, is also home to a wide variety of wildlife.

These include 70 species of birds such as the White-bellied Sea Eagle and Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, 13 species of dragonflies, 12 species of butterflies and 32 species of spiders, including the first-time discovery here of the fast-moving Sphingius vivax from the Family Corinnidae.

Never mind that one can still see and hear the MRT train on the East-West line rumbling pass. Tampines resident Tan Tiong Chin, 43, loves the tranquillity of the park.

'I love that it is very natural, unlike the Sun Plaza Park opposite that is more built-up with an amphitheatre. It is very quiet and beautiful here,' says the container equipment specialist who was brisk walking in the park when Life! visited on Thursday morning.

The park will be officially launched in September. At its soft opening, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State for Education and Home Affairs and adviser to grassroots organisations in Tampines, says the park is for residents to rest and relax in an authentic environment that has been lost in Singapore.

The park could pave the way for more eco-parks in the future.

Mr Benjamin Lee, assistant director of nature parks at NParks, says: 'If the public's feedback for its eco-friendly features is positive, we will incorporate these features into future parks.'

For example, benches and signage along the trails are made from tree trunks collected from NParks' pruning operations or fallen trees around the island.

Three bird hides, to shield birdwatchers so they do not disturb the birds, are created using twigs and branches instead of wooden planks such as the ones at Sungei Buloh. The materials are recycled from NParks' horticultural activities.

Instead of a concrete or dirt footpath, the 3.1km trail is surfaced with Zoysia, a species of creeping grass native to South-east Asia. The bare concrete roofs of the park's four shelters and an eco- toilet are covered with creepers and the yellow Crotolaria flowers.

Human waste used for compost

When it rains, a 2km-long stretch of vegetated swathes, which are 0.3m-deep troughs surfaced with granite and plants, will function like a natural drainage system, purifying and channelling water out to the nearby river Sungei Tampines or absorbing it into the ground to facilitate the growth of plants along the swathes.

One park feature that is guaranteed to raise eco awareness - and possibly eyebrows - is the first-ever flush-free eco- toilet in public parks in Singapore. It converts human waste into compost using bacteria and wood shavings. The compost, which takes six months to decompose, will be used as fertiliser in the park.

There is only one such toilet in the park. It was designed by American composting toilet manufacturer Clivus Multrum which supplied eco-toilets to national parks such as the Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Amenities aside, NParks also cultivated trees and plants that produce nectar and fruit to attract more birds and butterflies to the area.

But it is not just the wildlife that has got Mr Toh, the photography enthusiast, excited about his neighbourhood's new eco-park.

'The park is a rare gem of what's left of the heavily developed East side. It is a haven that you cannot find elsewhere in Singapore, especially the beautiful misty scenery after the rain,' he says.

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Malaysia: ‘Tiger Valley’ to open at end of year

Roslina Mohamad The Star 30 Apr 11;

KUANTAN: Nature lovers can watch tigers roaming in their natural habitat when the Pahang government opens its Tiger Valley' at the Klau Forest Reserve in Temerloh at the end of the year.

State Tourism, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Shafiq Fauzan Sharif said the project would be an open-zoo concept using facilities that were already available “with some new twists for added value.”

The state government received RM3.2mil from the Tourism Ministry to roll out the project under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“Although it is based on an open-zoo concept, there is still a need for it to be fenced.

“But it will be huge enough for the wild animals to roam freely. It will be back to nature for the animals as that is where they are supposed to be, not living in a cages,'' Shafiq told The Star yesterday.

He added that the “Tiger Valley” would have facilities for visitors to watch the animals from a safe distance, such as a viewing tower and specially-built walkways.

Shafiq said the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) would be roped in to work with the state on the project and to provide proposals on the tigers' habitat.

He said some tigers in zoos nationwide have lived in cages for more than 20 years.

“These animals should be allowed to move about in their natural habitat,” he said, adding that an open zoo is good and healthy for wild animals and a niche area that can be developed for the tourism industry.

Shafiq hoped the planned “Tiger Valley” would be integrated with the popular Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary located in the same forest reserve.

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Tropical Peat Forests in Trouble

Dave Mosher Science Now 29 Apr 11;

Southeast Asia boasts nearly 250,000 square kilometers of peat swamp forests, which host creatures such as orangutans and the world's smallest fish, and store vast quantities of carbon. But these peat swamps are in trouble, according to a new study of deforestation in the region. If people continue to chop, drain, and burn at current rates, researchers report, by 2030 no native swamps will remain and billions of metric tons of carbon will be lofted into the atmosphere.

Almost all peatland in Southeast Asia is found in peninsular Malaysia and an archipelago of islands that includes Borneo and Sumatra. Rain trickles down mountains and through forests there, ultimately ending up in low-laying lands that can't quickly drain. Plant matter can't fully decay and turns into a peaty, acidic stew, trapping carbon and forming a unique environment for wildlife. Although Southeast Asian swamps comprise between 6% and 7% of global peatland, they store roughly 64 billion metric tons of carbon—about nine times the global emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2006.

Globalization eventually reached Southeast Asia in the 1980s, driving farmers to fell peat forest trees for cash and replace the swamps with palm oil plantations. Earth-monitoring satellites have visually documented such destruction for decades, but researchers had never precisely quantified the loss for the region over a long period of time. Sorting out which pixels in the images belonged to swamps, palm oil plantations, urban areas, and the like is also difficult work that's impossible without well-tuned algorithms. So for 5 years, lead author and ecologist Jukka Miettinen and his colleagues at the National University of Singapore studied maps and developed methods to codify the images. They also incorporated infrared images to gauge the effect of human-set fires in the region.

The results, published online 15 April in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, show that peatland forest dropped from 77% of original coverage to 36% between 1990 and 2010. At current rates, no forest will remain in 2 decades. "Even though I have been working in this region for nearly ten years and was well aware of the deforestation taking place in Southeast Asian peatlands, I must say that I was still surprised to see how little peat swamp forest is left," Miettinen writes in an e-mail.

As unique habitat for animals is gobbled up locally—6000 plants and dozens of birds, fish, and mammals live only there—the rest of the planet is bound to feel the effects. Once people drain peat swamps for plantations or urban development, plant material begins to decompose, release carbon dioxide, and fuel planet-wide climate change.

"Nearly all peatlands in Sumatra and Borneo are now sources of carbon emission," says hydrologist Aljosja Hooijer of the National University of Singapore, who works with Miettinen but wasn't involved in the study. Ecologist Sue Page of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom says that Southeast Asia emits as much as 363 million metric tons of carbon each year through peatland destruction. "That's the same amount of carbon stored in the entirety of England's peatland," Page said. "These new maps really show the extremely rapid rate of deforestation. We knew it was bad, but the scale of destruction here is shocking and frightening."

With an average of 2700 square kilometers of Southeast Asian peat swamp vanishing every year, the situation is dire. One peatland researcher who works in the region, but wished to remain anonymous (for fear of losing his job), said the Indonesian government at all levels is not doing anything constructive to curb the problem. "There is a lot of talk, to please international donors, but no action. It even seems that in some areas that forest clearing has accelerated, to make sure it's done before conservation laws are enforced," the source said. "It is all about political will."

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California Academy of Sciences launches scientific expedition to the Philippines

The expedition's scientists and educators aim to discover, map and protect life in one of the most diverse places on the planet
California Academy of Sciences EurekAlert 28 Apr 11;

Today, scientists from the California Academy of Sciences will launch the most comprehensive scientific survey effort ever conducted in the Philippines, documenting both terrestrial and marine life forms from the tops of the highest mountains to the depths of the sea.

They will be joined by colleagues from the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, the Philippines National Museum and the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, as well as by a team of Academy educators who will work to share the expedition's findings with local community and conservation groups. The expedition, which will conclude with a symposium at the University of the Philippines on June 8, is funded by a generous gift from Margaret and Will Hearst.

"The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth," says Dr. Terrence Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. "Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we expect to find dozens of new species as we survey the country's reefs, rainforests, and even the ocean floor. The species lists and distribution maps that we create during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival."

As forests fall and oceans heat up, life in many parts of the world is slipping away. From birds and bees to frogs and fishes, species are disappearing thousands of times more rapidly than they have for more than 65 million years. As these species go extinct, we are not only losing members of our family tree—we are also losing potential medical treatments, agricultural pollinators, oxygen producers, soil servicers, and many other critical components of healthy, functioning ecosystems. Tragically, we are losing most of these species before we've had a chance to document their presence, determine what roles they played in their ecosystems, or discover the potential services and products they could have provided to humans.

Despite intensive efforts to document life on Earth, scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of the species on this planet have yet to be discovered. In order to make smart decisions about how to conserve what is left of our planet's biodiversity, we must make a concerted effort to rapidly increase our knowledge about these life forms and their distribution. This is the motivation behind the Academy's 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, which aims to dramatically improve our understanding of one of the most species-rich places on Earth. The 42-day expedition to the Philippines will focus on documenting life in the country's tropical rainforests and coral reefs—the two most diverse types of ecosystems in the world—and will also examine deep-water diversity adjacent to these reefs.

The expedition's shallow water team will conduct most of their research off the coast of Batangas Province on Luzon Island, in an area called the Verde Island Passage. Past research by scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and other institutions has suggested that this area is the "center of the center of marine biodiversity," home to more documented species than any other marine habitat on Earth. However, many new species remain to be discovered—Academy scientists regularly find at least one new species on every dive in this area. During the expedition, the participating scientists will conduct side-by-side surveys of marine protected areas and non-protected areas to help the government determine how successful their current conservation plans are at fostering biodiversity.

"The expedition's results will help our government better promote integrated coastal resource management," said Malcom Sarmiento, Director of the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. "The data they collect will also help us decide if and where to establish new sanctuaries."

In addition to surveying the region's fish, corals, sea slugs, sea urchins, and other marine invertebrates, the shallow water marine team will also investigate the diversity of microscopic algae known as zooxanthellae that live within the tissues of corals and many other marine invertebrates. Zooxanthellae not only lend their color to their hosts—they also provide significant nutrition as they photosynthesize and share the resulting glucose and amino acids. During times of environmental stress, such as the rising seawater temperatures of global climate change, hosts may lose their zooxanthellae, a condition known as bleaching. Bleached corals are a prime indicator of stressed reefs; hosts that have lost their zooxanthellae are weakened and more susceptible to disease and death. Sampling these microscopic algae as well as their hosts will allow Academy scientists to better understand zooxanthellae diversity and how it relates to their hosts' resistance to increasing water temperatures and other environmental stress.

Meanwhile, the expedition's terrestrial team will be busy surveying rainforest habitats in several different locations across Luzon Island, including forests on Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Tabayoc, and Mt. Pulag. These high-elevation peaks are home to some of the most pristine cloud forest habitat in the Philippines and provide a refuge for a great many plant and animal species. While scientists have conducted limited survey work on most of these mountains before, especially to document larger animals like birds and mammals, these regions have never been explored by a multi-disciplinary scientific team on this scale. Indeed, there is no comprehensive list of plants for any of these forests, and no surveys have ever been conducted for insects or arachnids.

The terrestrial team scientists will focus on identifying and mapping flowering plants, mosses, spiders, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Many of these groups are known to have high levels of species diversity and endemism (meaning they cannot be found anywhere else on Earth), and it is likely that many new species remain to be discovered. All of them are threatened by human population pressure and natural resource exploitation—even inside the boundaries of many national parks, where logging and subsistence farming are fairly regular occurrences. The team's research will help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines better manage their protected areas and enforce their conservation policies. Additionally, the expedition's educators will organize meetings with local schools, community groups, and national park employees in order to foster appreciation for and deeper knowledge about the spectacular biodiversity in their backyards.

During the deep-sea portion of the expedition, the scientists will board a research vessel owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the M/V BA-BFAR, and set out to conduct a survey of the deep waters around Lubang Island. Scientists have only recently begun to explore the deep sea, and the vast majority of deep sea organisms remain to be discovered. Indeed, far less than 1 percent of the world's deep sea environments have been scientifically investigated. Over the course of eight days, the expedition's deep-sea marine team will survey the waters around Lubang Island at depths of up to 2,000 meters in search of deep-sea fish, corals, barnacles, sea stars, and other invertebrates. While sorting specimens on the deck of the boat, the scientists are sure to find a wide variety of strange species that have never before been documented.

On June 8, the Academy's 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition will conclude with a symposium at the University of the Philippines, during which the preliminary results from the expedition will be presented. The symposium, titled "The Status of Philippine Biodiversity in the Face of Climate Change: State of Knowledge and Conservation Challenges," will also include an examination of the current challenges with respect to conservation of the Philippines' unique biota, as well as discussion about more effective strategies to mitigate the projected impacts of climate change.


About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of Earth's living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It conducts research in 11 scientific fields: anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, comparative genomics, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, and ornithology. Visit

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'Cedar mafia' threatens Morocco's cherished wood

Omar Brousky Yahoo News 29 Apr 11;

AJDIR , Morocco (AFP) – Revered as the "king of the forest" in Morocco, the native cedar tree is under increasing threat from illegal logging -- a crime which also threatens the country's main water reserve.

In the Ajdir forest, in the heart of the Middle Atlas mountain range, these imposing trees once covered every slope. Now their numbers are in rapid decline, to the bitter dismay of the local Berber-speaking population.

"Each year thousands of trees - some of them several centuries old - are illegally felled as many forest wardens turn a blind eye," human rights activist, Aziz Akkaoui, told AFP.

A favourite of cabinetmakers, cedar is a symbol of power and opulence in Morocco's stately homes and its natural oils have been known to act as an insect repellent.

Now the conifer, which covers about 134,000 hectares (330,000 acres) of the North African country, is at risk of disappearing.

Just a few metres from a forest warden's hut, by a tree-lined lake, lies the stump of a freshly-felled cedar.

"This tree was felled with a saw whose noise the forest wardens could not help but hear," said Akkaoui, from the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. "There are the poachers who cut the cedar illegally; the carpenters who buy the wood; there are some corrupt Water and Forestry agents and some corrupt justice ministry officials," he said.

"So you can talk about a cedar mafia, an organised mafia."

Within the forest, some inhabitants admit that they themselves have cut down cedars illegally in order to survive in this poor mountainous area.

A villager named Ahmed said: "We don't have much choice. There's nothing here."

"But to cut down a tree you have to give bribes to the warden -- between 2,000 and 3,000 dirhams (190-280 euros/270-400 dollars). It depends."

"Each time a group of locals want to go cut down a tree they give a forest warden a fee," he added.

Each cedar, which take up to 30 years to reach maturity, can earn illegal loggers up to 800 euros. If lawfully traded, villagers can benefit from a sum three times that.

Every year communities hold wood auctions which bring in around one million euros. Furious locals say they no longer profit from the trade, however.

"Look around you, there's nothing," said Ahmed. "Here we are dirt poor. Why don't we benefit from the revenues of our village after the legal sales of the cedars?"

"There's no work, no schools, no hospitals. We want jobs, facilities, projects to help us and improve our lives.

Those responsible for managing the area's water and forest programmes deny the villagers' claims.

"When someone is caught, he's obviously going to accuse a forest warden. But there's no proof to say that he gave a warden money," said Mohamed Chedid, from the Centre for Development and Protection of Forest Resources.

Observers have warned for many years about the effect of the illegal trade in cedars, which hold water and reduce erosion in an area regarded as Morocco's main water reserve.

"Uncontrolled logging leads to erosion and desertification, which threatens the ecological balance of the region," said academic Abdeslam Ouhejjou.

"The Middle Atlas forests are Morocco's main water reserve and any disruption there has repercussions for the rest of the country," he warned.

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WWF Marks 50 Years With Urgent Call for Global Green Economy

Environment News Wire 29 Apr 11;

ZURICH, Switzerland, April 29, 2011 (ENS) - Environmental leaders and politicians from around the world today called for an urgent move towards a global green economy in order to achieve sustainable development and wildlife conservation over the next 50 years.

Low-carbon technology, green infrastructures, investment in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are essential in combating climate change, poverty and water shortages, said participants in the summit convened by WWF to mark the global conservation organization's 50th anniversary.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik told participants that unless biodiversity is adequately protected the consequences would be "catastrophic."

"Biodiversity and ecosystem services must be protected, valued and adequately restored," said Commissioner Potocnik. "It's essential for human well being and in our own self-interest."

"If we do not preserve ecosystems we will push biodiversity over the tipping point beyond which changes become irreversible and possibly even catastrophic," he warned. "It is an irrefutable fact that global consumption and use of resources is the biggest factor in a sustainable future."

Together with leaders from Asia and Europe, Commissioner Potocnik took part in a roundtable, Public Sector Voices on Conservation in the Next Half-Century, where they envisioned the state of the planet in 50 years' time.

Chairing the debate, WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse said, "We are here to celebrate 50 years of WWF - but we want to look forward, not back. What is the next half century going to bring in terms of water, food and life on Earth?"

Bhutan's Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho pledged that within 10 years, Bhutan would be the world's first totally organic country, as part of its drive towards sustainability.

He said water security is the biggest challenge facing Bhutan, a challenge that can only be solved through global action.

"What happens in the Himalayas and South Asia is going to impact all of us," warned Dr. Gyamtsho. "Can we afford to wait until 2050 to limit temperature rises to two degrees celsius? Two degrees will be too much and 2050 will be too late."

"We need to act now," he urged. Many areas are already suffering shortage of drinking water."

Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim spoke of the urgent need to put real economic value on ecosystems and natural resources to help stop widespread deforestation.

"We must come to a situation where there is an economic benefit for the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources," said Solheim.

"The big success story is Brazil where deforestation has been reduced by 70 percent in seven years - by far the biggest factor in fighting climate change. NGOs must encourage governments to take risks and support those politicians who do do something."

Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, warned that any proposed global green investment fund to fight climate change should not attempt to replace or duplicate existing environmental and development finance.

"Today there are more than 230 overseas development funds which lead to fragmentation and more overheads," said Barbut. "We should not be trying to build again another poorly coordinated system which is not going to work. I do not believe we need a new institution or a new bureaucracy."

To avoid dangerous climate change and curb biodiversity loss, WWF proposed in a new report issued Wednesday that policymakers and businesses unite around a goal of zero net deforestation and forest degradation by 2020 as a groundbreaking global benchmark.

The first chapter of WWF's Living Forests Report examines the drivers of deforestation and identifies the opportunities to shift from business as usual to a new model of sustainability.

The report is based on a new global analysis showing that more than 230 million hectares of forest will disappear by 2050 if no action is taken.

"We are squandering forests now by failing to sort out vital policy issues such as governance and economic incentives to keep forests standing," said Rod Taylor, WWF International Forests Director.

Taylor presented the report to business and political leaders meeting this week in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the Business 4 Environment Global Summit convened by the Government of Indonesia in partnership with WWF and Global Initiatives.

In his B4E keynote address, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed support for a green economy.

"You can step forward and play an important role in promoting a green economy. You can come up with a new model that generates the business growth while reducing the overall environmental impacts. Therefore, let me once again invite all captains of industries here to contribute to the creation of a green economy and low-carbon future," said President Yudhoyono.

In Zurich, participants congratulated WWF for its record of conservation achievements over the past 50 years.

In response, WWF International Director General Jim Leape urged NGOs to move beyond their traditional roles of lobbying and asking for money. "We are uniquely placed to help in forging coalitions of the committed to address the biggest issues of our time. By working in partnership with government we have already achieved some great results."

WWF was born on April 29, 1961, when a group of concerned scientists, businessmen, and public relations professionals from Europe, Africa and the United States met with leaders of the fledgling International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, in the small town of Morges on Lake Geneva.

They produced the Morges Manifesto, the WWF founding document, which states, "All over the world today vast numbers of fine and harmless wild creatures are losing their lives, or their homes, in an orgy of thoughtless and needless destruction. In the name of advancing civilisation they are being shot or trapped out of existance on land taken to be exploited, or drowned by new dams, poisoned by toxic chemicals, killed by poachers for game, or butchered in the course of political upheavals."

"But although the eleventh hour has struck, it is not yet quite too late to think again. Skilful and devoted men and admirable organisations are struggling to save the World's Wild Life. ... They need above all money..."

And so the World Wildlife Fund was formed.

Today, WWF has more than 1,300 conservation projects underway in over 100 countries, to "stop the degradation of our planet's natural environment, and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature."

WWF is focused on 14 visionary, large-scale efforts that, given limited time and financial resources, have the potential for the broadest positive impacts across the widest spectrum of priority species and ecoregions.

These include changing the political climate to combat climate change, sourcing sustainable timber through the Forest Stewardship Council that WWF helped to form in 1993, as well as halting wildlife poaching and overfishing. WWF has made tiger conservation a signature issue with a goal of doubling the world's wild tiger population to 6,400 by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

Support for a global green economy is growing through the efforts of WWF and many other organizations, such as the UN Environment Programme. UNEP said in February that investing two percent of global GDP into 10 key sectors could kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient green economy.

UNEP calculated that the sum, currently $1.3 trillion a year, would grow the global economy at around the same rate than those forecast under current economic models.

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