Best of our wild blogs: 26 May 11

Javan Myna: Juveniles begging for food
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Facing the Long-Horned Beetles
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Talk at ITE Eco Conference 2011 – biodiversity and impact
from Otterman speaks

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Boy adopts pedigree dogs, then sells them

Animal activists up in arms over teenager's scheme
Judith Tan Straits Times 26 May 11;

A 13-YEAR-OLD secondary school student has gotten animal activists worked up over his scheme to adopt dogs for free, only to later sell them for pocket money.

With his baby face and glib tongue, he has cast himself as a grieving dog owner and approached several pet owners online, pleading with them to let him adopt their pedigree toy dogs.

To milk their sympathy, he would remark that their dogs reminded him of his dog which had just died.

But as soon as he received the dogs, he would go into businessman mode, putting them up for sale online and raking in a handsome profit.

He told The Straits Times he did it for the money.

His scam was exposed when a dog owner who had handed her dog over to him called a day later to ask him how it was. He claimed it had run away.

Ms L.S. Zhang, a 39-year-old administrator, doubted his story and went to the police. Police confirmed she had lodged a report, and would only say that investigations are ongoing.

The boy, protected as a minor under the Children and Young Persons Act, cannot be named.

But Ms Zhang's Facebook post on her dealings with him has gone viral. Animal activists and dog-loving netizens are incensed, and want the authorities to take action.

Ms Zhang said it all began when she was looking to give up Precious, her three-year-old Maltese, because she had recently had a baby and moved in with her parents-in-law.

She posted notes on the Facebook pages of two animal shelters, Mutts & Mittens and Madam Wong's Shelter, as well as on her own Facebook page, and also put up advertisements at several pet portals.

'Then this 13-year-old contacted me to express his interest,' she said. He told her his 16-year-old Maltese had died and he wanted to adopt another.

She handed him her dog on May 14 for what was meant to be a 'trial adoption period'.

The next day, he claimed that the dog had run away. Later, when she questioned him in front of the police, he denied there was ever a dog.

His neighbours in Lorong 5 Toa Payoh told The Straits Times that he had often been seen with a dog - but a different one every two to three days.

Lawyers who were contacted said it is possible that certain 'dishonesty offences' could have been committed.

An offence of cheating is said to have taken place when one party dishonestly induces another to deliver a property to him, causing damage or harm to the latter in body, mind, reputation or property.

Lawyer Chia Boon Teck said in this case, it all depends on how the boy represented himself to the dog owners. If it was clear that he told them he wanted the dog for himself but later got rid of it, 'he may be then accused of cheating them of their dogs'.

Among animal activists pushed into action are volunteers from the non-profit Zeus Communications, which rescues strays and runs a blood-donor database for dogs. They have run a sting operation to gather information on the boy and his family.

Volunteer Alycia Yee said the group had been close to rescuing a pregnant Maltese that the boy had advertised for sale online, but that when they went to the boy's home, the dog had already been sold.

However, they recently managed to rescue a Yorkshire terrier named Elmo that was kept in a small cage outside the boy's HDB flat. It cost them $300 to get the dog as the boy drove a hard bargain.

Ms Lynda Goh, an animal communicator with Zeus, said: 'It was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on how much he wanted for the dog. When we finally agreed on the price, he went with me to the ATM and refused to issue a receipt, but I managed to get him to commit via SMS.'

A check online revealed that the boy has 'dealt' with breeds such as Jack Russell and Yorkshire terriers, Japanese Spitzes, Chihuahuas and Malteses - posting about 20 advertisements in all. Animal activists believe he started his activities around six months ago.

When The Straits Times visited him at his flat, he had just returned home from school. Also at home were his grandparents.

He denied any wrongdoing and said Ms Zhang's Maltese was the first dog he sold. He said matter-of-factly: 'Once she gave it to me, it became my property to sell.'

He denied carrying out similar transactions earlier, but changed tack when shown copies of previous advertisements he had posted online. Asked why he was doing this, he replied: 'So I can have money to go out.'

His grandparents declined comment.

Ms Zhang said she was relieved that she had managed to track down Precious' buyer, adding: 'It's doing fine and I'm glad it's now with a loving family.'

Dog adoption scam: 2nd police report lodged
Judith Tan Straits Times 4 Jun 11;

A SECOND pet owner has made a police report against the 13-year-old boy who adopts dogs for free and sells them for pocket money online.

This time, the teen is said to have roped in his grandfather to help with the ruse.

The pet owner, an expatriate who wanted to be known only as Ms Jones, told The Straits Times she gave her Maltese to the boy after he answered her online adoption advertisement. His grandfather also signed an adoption form she drew up.

But her dog, named Poppy, has not been seen since, and the boy has not been answering her calls.

The secondary school student, who cannot be named because he is a minor, is believed to have started his scam six months ago. He was exposed when an owner who had given her dog to him for a 'trial adoption period' was told it had run away.

News of the scam went viral and incensed animal activists and dog lovers.

But the boy told The Straits Times on May 24 that he had done nothing wrong and that once the dog was adopted 'it became my property to sell'.

Ms Jones, in her 30s and a mother of one, said Poppy belonged to her daughter who is now in boarding school abroad. She and her husband are both working and cannot look after the dog.

The boy called her on April 30 after seeing her online adoption ad. He told her he had looked after a dog for his aunt and he now wanted one of his own.

'He first turned up on his own in a taxi, and when I insisted he return with an adult, he came back later with his grandfather,' she said.

She printed an informal adoption form 'to ensure that Poppy would be going to a good home'.

She said the boy's reason for wanting to adopt the pet seemed genuine. 'As his grandfather signed the form on his behalf, it seemed a legitimate situation to my husband and me,' she added.

She realised she had been scammed after reading the ST report on the first case, and made the police report on Tuesday evening after much anguish. Her family is in despair, she added, and is hoping to track the whereabouts of the dog.

Ms Jones said her main concern was Poppy's welfare. 'We are hearing tales of forceful breeding, pets being doused in bleach to whiten the fur for better resale, and being housed in cramped and torturous conditions,' she said.

She said that minutes after posting the online ad, she received more than 20 text and e-mail messages from people wanting to adopt the pet. However, she was suspicious of them, so it was ironic that she ended up falling for the boy's scam.

The first dog owner to lodge a police report was Ms L. S. Zhang, 39. She handed Precious, a three-year-old Maltese, over to the boy on May 14.

The police confirmed that Ms Zhang had lodged a report. But they declined to confirm the latest one, saying they cannot do so without the report number from the person who makes the complaint. They are continuing their investigations.

Criminal lawyer Chia Boon Teck said if the teen had used lies to persuade the dog owners to give him their pets, then he had cheated them.

'Should the dog owners persist on the police taking action, then the police would have to classify the reports as cheating for the purposes of investigation,' he added. 'Ultimately, the police could recommend that the Attorney-General's Chambers gives the boy a warning.'

The boy's principal said the school has counselled him and will continue to do so. 'He is also required to undergo a programme this June holidays to help him handle various issues in a positive and correct way,' the principal said in an e-mail reply to The Straits Times.

'We have met the adults in his family and have suggested to them various means of helping him.'

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Former pet farm operator fined S$50,000 for not taking proper care of dogs

Shaffiq Alkhatib Channel NewsAsia 25 May 11;

SINGAPORE: A former pet farm operator was fined S$50,000 on Wednesday after failing to take proper care of 15 dogs in a facility he used to run.

31-year-old Benny Neo Terh Thong, formerly from Kennel 9, the Pet Hotel at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, pleaded guilty to 10 of the 15 charges against him. The remaining five charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The dogs under his care were malnourished and even though many were ill, Neo had not sought veterinary attention for any of them.

The 15 dogs mentioned in the charges were thin and had skin problems. They were also infested with ticks and had bad teeth as well as inflamed gums.

Neo bought over the pet farm and its 75 dogs from their previous owner, Gabriel Lee on January 15 last year as he thought it would be a profitable business venture. But Neo had no experience in the dog breeding business.

He slashed the amount which was supposed to be spent on dog food from some S$1,500 per month to only S$450.

And instead of allocating one bowl for each dog, some of the animals were made to eat from one big basin. As a result, the weaker dogs did not get to eat and became malnourished.

The poorly-cared-for dogs were only discovered after Neo decided to give up the business about three months later. He then handed it over to Derrick Tan Kah Heng and a group of volunteers.

It was Mr Tan who informed the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority about the dogs on April 16 last year when he found many of them in poor condition. Some of the dogs that required urgent medical attention were also sent to a veterinarian for treatment.

Defence counsel, Vinit Chhabra, told the court in his mitigation plea that Neo had put in long hours as well as time and energy to care for the dogs. The lawyer added that Neo regrets his efforts were not enough to prevent the suffering that the dogs appear to have endured.


Ex-dog breeder fined $50,000 for animal cruelty
Elena Chong Straits Times 26 May 11;

A FORMER dog breeder who let his dogs suffer unnecessarily was fined a total of $50,000 yesterday for animal cruelty.

As Benny Neo Terh Thong, 31, cannot pay the fine, he will serve 10 weeks' jail.

The former operator of Pet Hotel, a boarding kennel at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, admitted to 10 counts of failing to provide 10 of his dogs with enough food and veterinary attention. As a result, they became malnourished and were poor in health. Five other charges against Neo were taken into consideration.

He had bought over 75 dogs from the kennel's previous owner Gabriel Lee in January last year, said Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan.

It was agreed that, for the first month after purchase, Mr Lee would coach Neo in dog breeding and care for the animals as Neo had no experience in this line.

In mid-February last year, Neo took over the farm operations on his own.

According to the AVA, the food he fed the dogs was nutritionally inadequate; he spent only $450 a month on their food when it would typically have cost about $1,500. 'Instead of... one dog per bowl, several dogs were made to eat from one big bowl or basin,' said Mr Yap. 'As a result, the weaker ones did not get to eat and were ill from starvation and malnourishment.'

Although Neo had employed a worker to help clean the kennels and feed the dogs, the condition of the dogs still deteriorated.

But Neo did not seek veterinary attention for any of them.

Their plight came to light when Mr Derrick Tan Kah Heng, 30, and a group of volunteers took over the 75 dogs in mid-April last year after Neo decided to give up the dog-breeding business.

When Mr Tan found many of the dogs to be in poor condition, he alerted the AVA.

Six dogs requiring immediate attention were taken to the veterinarian, while another 13 dogs were treated after they were examined by a visiting veterinarian.

Neo's lawyer Vinit Chhabra said his client had thought that the pet farm would be a profitable business venture.

His client's actions were due to unfamiliarity and not knowing the exact nature of the care expected of him, rather than a wilful disregard or wilful cruelty towards the animals, he added.

A newspaper report last month said all 75 dogs have since been nursed back to health and adopted.

Neo could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months on each charge of animal cruelty.

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Scientists Discover the Largest Assembly of Whale Sharks Ever Recorded

ScienceDaily 25 May 11;

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are often thought to be solitary behemoths that live and feed in the open ocean. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and colleagues, however, have found that this is not necessarily the case, finding that whale sharks can be gregarious and amass in the hundreds to feed in coastal waters.

Aggregations, or schools, of whale sharks have been witnessed in the past, ranging from several individual sharks to a few dozen. However this new research, which involved both surface and aerial surveys, has revealed an enormous aggregation of whale sharks -- the largest ever reported -- with up to 420 individuals off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. What brings them together is food.

"Whale sharks are the largest species of fish in the world, yet they mostly feed on the smallest organisms in the ocean, such as zooplankton," said Mike Maslanka, biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and head of the Department of Nutrition Sciences. "Our research revealed that in this case, the hundreds of whale sharks had gathered to feed on dense patches of fish eggs."

While whale sharks may seem conspicuous as the heaviest and longest of all fishes, growing more than 40 feet long, there is still much that is unknown about them. They have a very widespread distribution, occurring in all tropical and sub-tropical regions of the ocean around the world. Understanding this filter-feeder's diet is especially important since food sources determine much of the whale shark's movement and location.

During the dozens of surface trips that team members made to the aggregation, called the "Afuera" aggregation, they used fine nets to collect food samples inside and immediately outside the school of feeding whale sharks. Scientists then used DNA barcoding analysis to examine the collected fish eggs and determine the species. They found that the eggs were from little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus), a member of the mackerel family.

"Having DNA barcoding is an incredibly valuable resource for this research," said Lee Weigt, head of the Laboratories of Analytical Biology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "It not only allowed us to know what exactly this huge aggregation of whale sharks were feeding on, not readily done from only physical observations of eggs, but it also revealed a previously unknown spawning ground for little tunny."

The team of scientists also examined a nearby, less dense aggregation of whale sharks, known as the Cabo Catoche aggregation, off the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. They found that the prey of this group mostly consisted of copepods (small crustaceans) and shrimp. Increased sightings at Afuera coincided with decreased sightings at Cabo Catoche, and both groups had the same sex ratio, implying that the same animals were involved in both aggregations.

"With two significant whale shark aggregation areas and at the very least one active spawning ground for little tunny, the northeastern Yucatán marine region is a critical habitat that deserves more concerted conservation effort," said Maslanka.

The whale shark is listed as "vulnerable" with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Populations appear to have been depleted by harpoon fisheries in Southeast Asia and perhaps incidental capture in other fisheries.

The scientists' findings were published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, April 2011. In addition to the Smithsonian Institution, team members were from the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas in Cancún, Mexico, the Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, Fl., project DOMINO and the Georgia Aquarium, Inc. in Atlanta, Ga.

Journal Reference:

Rafael de la Parra Venegas, Robert Hueter, Jaime González Cano, John Tyminski, José Gregorio Remolina, Mike Maslanka, Andrea Ormos, Lee Weigt, Bruce Carlson, Alistair Dove. An Unprecedented Aggregation of Whale Sharks, Rhincodon typus, in Mexican Coastal Waters of the Caribbean Sea. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (4): e18994 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018994

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Who consumes wild animal products in Vietnam?

VietNamNet Bridge 25 May 11;

The group of people who eat wild meat is at the age of 36 to 40. Many of them are officials and well-trained people, according to a survey of the Wildlife at Risk (WAR).

WAR on May 23, announced its latest discovery of the consumption of wild animal products in HCM City.

This is the result of a survey of over 4,000 residents and around 3,600 secondary-school students in HCM City, conducted from August 2010 to April 2011, by WAR and the Faculty of Biology of the HCM City University of Natural Sciences.

According to the survey, nearly 51% of the surveyed residents who live and work in HCM City have used wild animal products, of which 48.4 % have consumed wild animal products more than three times per year. Men consume more wild animal products than women.

Food accounts for the greatest percentage of wild animal products consumed in HCM City (75.3% of people who have consumed wild animal products), followed in turn by wild animal drinks, health products, pets, and fashion and ornamental purpose. Restaurants in HCM City are the most common place for people to eat wild animal foods.

Species that are most widely consumed, and therefore are the most threatened species include snake, wild boar, stag, deer, wild fowl, porcupine, bear, civet/weasel, turtle, python, and monitor lizard.

The middle-aged group (about 36-45 years old), government officers, and people with high education levels have a tendency to consume wild animal products more than other age groups-- people with lower social working positions, and people with lower education level. People who work at state and private enterprises have a tendency to consume wild animal products more than people with other profession groups.

The consumption of wild animal products of HCMC people seems to have a tendency to increase in the future.

The majority of HCMC people eat wild meat because others invite them, they want to try new experiences or they feel the meat is more delicious.

The consumption of wild animal products of secondary school students in HCM City was strongly influenced by their parents and adults in their families. Students usually go to eat wild meat with their parents in specialty restaurants in other provinces, or during family events such as birthdays and family gatherings at home.

The residents and students of Ho Chi Minh City have a good knowledge about the roles of wild animals, but a poor understanding about the rarity levels to a particular species, especially the smaller species that are mostly consumed.

HCM City residents and students also do not know clearly about wild animal trade. They think that any action of wild animal trade is illegal. They are not aware that consumption of wild animals creates the driving force for hunting and trading of wild animals, pushing many species to the brink of extinction in Vietnam.

The survey reveals that the students have a better understanding towards wild animal protection. They also show a better willingness in taking part to protect wild animals, more so than adults.

Television seemed to be the preferred learning tool for the residents and students. In the coming time, Internet is also an effective channel for communication and education about wild animal protection.

Vietnam has a rich resource of wild animals including many endangered wild animal species. Wild animals play important roles to humans and ecosystems. Nowadays, the wild animals are being threatened; more than 400 endangered animal species are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book, 2007.

More and more wild species are being pushed towards extinction. The Javan Rhino (Rhinocerous sondaicus annamiticus) that died in Cat Tien National Park in May 2010, could be the last Javan Rhino in Vietnam. The deaths of seven wild elephants at Dong Nai province highlights the problems facing Vietnam’s remaining wild elephant populations in Vietnam; or the possible extinction of wild tigers in Vietnam by 2022.

There are many causes for wild animals in Vietnam facing extinction, including illegal hunting, trading and capturing of wild animals; and loosing habitats due to forest destruction in the process of country modernization and industrialization; forest burning or changing of land use purposes. Environmental pollution is also another cause for wild animal becoming increasing rare.

Vietnam has many efforts to prevent illegal trade and consumption of wild animals. Law system relating to wild animal protection in Vietnam is quite adequate. Vietnam also joined CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 1994 in order to combat species extinction due to global trade.

According to experts, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the “hot spots” of wild animal product consumption in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City not only is a place where wild animal products are consumed but also a transshipment terminal for many routes of the wild animal trade.

The research of wild animal product consumption situation in HCMC will be an important base for promoting wild animal protection effectively and timely.

Trung Thanh

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The Philippines expands protected areas system

Ellalyn B. De Vera Manila Bulletin 25 May 11;

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) has expanded the conservation of 109 threatened species in about 400,000 hectares of conservation sites nationwide.

The five-year New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP) aims to expand the protected areas system to recognize new conservation areas, such as those managed by the indigenous peoples, local communities, and local government units, said NewCAPP project manager Folay Eleazar.

“If recognized and strengthened, they offer more flexible and doable management regimes, and enormous potential to make biodiversity conservation in the country more effective and sustainable,” PAWB Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim said.

Lim said one of the pilot areas under the project, the Mts. Balbalan-Balbalasang in Abra, is overlayed with a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim held by the indigenous peoples, “making conservation more effective through their traditional culture and practices.”

Mts. Balbalan-Balbalasang harbors newly-discovered species, such as the Rafflesia (Rafflesia banaona malabrigo), a floral species of the largest flower in the world.

The area is also being managed by the indigenous peoples, which falls under the category of indigenous community conservation areas (ICCAs).

The NewCAPP led by PAWB with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was launched as part of the national celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD) observed every 22nd day of May and in line with declaration of 2011 as International Year of Forests (IYF) by the United Nations.

The GEF has provided US$3.5 million grant for the project's implementation.

Eleazar said the project intends conserved 109 threatened species from the nine key biodiversity areas that have already been selected as pilot sites for the NewCAPP.

The pilot sites were Balbalan-Balbalasang National Park in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Zambales Mountains in Regions 1 and 3, Mts. Irid Angelo and Binuang in Region 4A, Polilio Group of Islands, also in Region 4A, Mts. Iglit Baco National Park in Region 4B, Nug as Lantoy in Region 7, Mt. Nacolod in Region 8, Mt. Hilong-hilong in Region 13, and Tawi-tawi Island in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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Flimsy bag a tough adversary in China

After early success, efforts to cut plastic bag use stumble as shops offer them free again
Ho Ai Li Straits Times 26 May 11;

BEIJING: They swirl in the wind, stick around as rubbish for 200 years, and despite the efforts of the Chinese government to reduce their use, are as popular as ever.

Three years after Beijing banned shops from offering plastic bags for free, the flimsy carriers are proving an indestructible adversary to government rules.

Checks by green groups showed that more shops are offering free plastic bags than in the past, instead of asking customers to pay, as mandated by the authorities.

'Supermarkets are enforcing this with less zeal now. This policy was best implemented in the first six months, especially during the Olympics,' said Mr Yang Weihe, a waste project manager from non-profit group Enviro Friends.

On June 1, 2008, China tried to bolster its green credentials by stopping shops from offering free plastic bags as the nation geared up for the Olympics. Bags thinner than 0.025mm were also banned, as they tear easily and cannot be re-used as much.

The new rules worked well initially. In 2009, a survey of six cities by Enviro Friends found that eight in 10 supermarkets charged for bags.

This led to supermarkets cutting their use of plastic carriers by two-thirds, according to figures given out by China's National Development and Reform Commission. It meant a saving of at least 24 billion plastic bags a year, the top economic planning body said at a meeting to take stock of the policy over the weekend.

But this is just 2 per cent of the estimated one trillion bags China uses a year, and even this is dropping, as bit by bit, retailers have started to backslide in their vigilance.

Last year, only six in 10 supermarkets were found to be obeying the law.

In smaller cities and remote areas, retailers tend to offer free plastic bags to better compete for customers, said Mr Yang.

'You can't not provide free bags. People come empty-handed, where do they put their vegetables?' said vegetable hawker Wang Fang, 35, in Beijing. 'If I charge for plastic bags, I fear people will complain.'

Consumers usually have to pay 10 to 50 fen (two to 10 Singapore cents) for the bags, but it costs retailers very little to buy them in bulk.

Ms Wang said 50 of them cost just 70 fen, so she will continue to give away the red, blue or white flimsy plastic bags that are a common sight in any vegetable market in Beijing.

Fruit seller Wu Caiyun, 38, said: 'You can't possibly let people go back clutching a heap of fruit in their hands. No one fines me for giving out plastic bags anyway, so why not do so?'

In Shanghai, it is common to see these bags given out freely, reported the Shanghai Daily.

The practice is also returning to wholesale farm produce markets, where the use of plastic bags fell by half when the policy first started. 'In the beginning, there were people checking on this,' Mr Dong Jinshi of China's international food packaging association told The People's Daily. 'But now there aren't any, so we are continuing to use them.'

The government is now chewing over whether to extend the ban to places like hospitals and restaurants, but some observers said it would do better to first enforce the current rules. Public awareness can be stepped up and incentives offered to consumers who do not buy plastic carriers, they added.

Still, despite the setback, the three-year-old policy has made some headway.

Last year, a poll showed that four in 10 people were taking their own bags to the shops, up from one in 10 before the policy started, said Mr Yang.

Some did so because they simply did not want to pay, like retiree Xiao Weiping, 56. He said: 'I don't want to waste money buying a plastic bag. I haven't thought of environmental protection.'

Others said they were happy to do so for a larger cause. Retiree Meng Zhen, 58, said: 'Our environment is already very bad; if we don't help to protect it, it will be too late.'

Additional reporting by Lina Miao

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Norway Plans Billion-Dollar Clean Energy Initiative For Poor

Thomas Mukoya Reuters PlanetArk 25 May 11;

Norway wants to channel billions of dollars to renewable energies in developing nations, building on a scheme to protect tropical forests to which Oslo has been the biggest donor, officials said.

With cash to spare as the world's number six oil exporter, Norway wants governments and private investors to join a plan it calls Energy+ to promote green energies such as solar or wind power to combat climate change.

"Energy+ is an initiative to promote access to energy and low-carbon development" in developing nations, according to an internal document from the Ministry of International Development obtained by Reuters.

Developed countries promised in 2009 to raise climate aid to $100 billion a year from 2020, to help developing nations curb emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt to impacts such as floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

Few rich countries have outlined plans for how they will increase aid until 2020 as budget cuts bite in many nations and shorter-term domestic worries about jobs and mounting state debt eclipse concerns about global warming.

"We are trying to see if we can learn from rainforest conservation to set up a similar international scheme for environmentally friendly energy," Environment and International Development Minister Erik Solheim told Reuters.

In 2007, Norway promised 3 billion crowns ($537.3 million) a year to help developing nations slow deforestation, including projects worth $1 billion each for Brazil and Indonesia -- making the country a leader in such funding.


Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Indonesia on Friday imposed a two-year moratorium on forest clearance as part of the scheme -- some environmentalists said the Indonesian plan was not ambitious enough.

"The one big difference from rainforests is that the private sector will have to be involved in a much larger way," Solheim said.

He said that the Energy+ project would seek billions of dollars from all donors. Asked if Norway's investments would match or exceed spending on forests protection, he said: "I hope so in the long run."

He said it would have to include "a huge private component involving Norwegian hydro-electric companies and stock exchange investors like banks and funds investing in hydro, solar, wind, etc in developing nations."

"This is a very good idea -- the approach to renewable energy is too fractured," said Arild Skedsmo, head of climate and energy at the WWF conservation group in Norway.

The ministry document says that global development aid to energy projects now totals about $7 billion a year. Norway doubled support for clean energy to 1.6 billion crowns ($286.6 million) in 2011 from 800 million in 2010.

The ministry in April alluded to the clean energy plan in a single, little-noticed sentence in a 76-page document about sustainable growth. Solheim said it was too early to say when the Energy+ project would be formally launched.

Norway last week welcomed Indonesia's decision to suspend new permits for logging on 64 million hectares (158.1 million acres) of land as an "important step forward."

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