Best of our wild blogs: 24 Jun 11

King-sized creatures of Singapore and more!
from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

Semakau walks with teachers and students
from wonderful creation

Video of Common Iora feeding Banded-bay Cuckoo fledgling
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Mangrove meaders at neap tide
from wild shores of singapore

Singapore's wild shores featured in the Good Paper
from wild shores of singapore

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Fish escape from farm off St John's Island

Anglers reel in free bumper catch
Sea bass that escaped from govt fish farm likely ended up on dinner tables
Teh Joo Lin & Jessica Lim Straits Times 24 Jun 11;

BOAT operator Goh Chwee Leng was manning his office at Marina South Pier when he spotted something fishy: Returning anglers were lugging boxes and bags brimming with sea bass.

A group of eight anglers had reeled in 85 fish. Another fisherman had caught 26, Mr Goh told The Straits Times as he recounted the events he witnessed two weekends ago.

'I couldn't believe it. People were just bringing back bags and bags of fish, and it was all sea bass,' said the 61-year-old.

But their catch was another's loss. The sea bass had most likely come from a government fish farm off St John's Island.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) confirmed that sea bass had escaped from its farm off the island earlier this month, in its first such incident in five years.

The fleeing fish filed out of a 10cm tear in the net-cage.

The spokesman said: 'We discovered a small tear in one of our net-cages around the first weekend of this month. We promptly rectified the situation. However, some sea bass might have made their way out of the net-cage and aggregated in the waters around St John's island.'

Word in the fishing community that thousands of fish were on the loose sent anglers flocking to the area.

The agency estimated that fewer than 500 fish had escaped. Fish farmers said that depending on its size, a net-cage can house 10,000 to 20,000 fish when full.

The AVA uses the farm to conduct research and development trials to develop and improve fish-farming techniques.

It is part of the Marine Aquaculture Centre on St John's Island, which opened in 2003. Apart from developing new cage designs to improve fish production, it also conducts growth trials of fish such as sea bass, cobia and pompano. The findings are shared with the local industry.

The spokesman did not say how the tear occurred, but she added: 'We do not release fish into the sea but there will be rare occasions when some fish escape from our farm due to damage to our nets, which may be caused by floating debris from the open sea.'

Mr Joep Kleine Staarman, who runs a sea bass farm on Pulau Semakau, said the escape is unlikely to have any ecological impact on the area.

He said: 'It's a local fish - there are wild sea bass all over the southern island waters. The number that escaped is quite small. With the number of fishermen in the area, they don't stand a chance.'

It is unclear when anglers first got wind of the escape. A 38-year-old angler, who declined to be named, said he found out about it during a fishing trip two weeks ago. The civil servant and his friends sought shelter on St John's Island during a storm and spotted a boat of anglers off the coast.

'When the boat came back, we saw that they had a lot of fish,' he said, adding that he went back the next day to try his luck. He and his friends were rewarded with a haul of more than 20 sea bass within a few hours, he said. But the stock seems to have been depleted as they returned home empty-handed on Sunday, their last of several trips.

Farmed fish typically do not venture far as they mill around their old home waiting for food.

Fish farmers contacted had their own tales of escape to share.

Mr Yeo King Kwee, who runs a farm off Lim Chu Kang, said 5,000 sea bass fingerlings escaped last month, costing him $6,000. He said: 'I went to feed the fish and no fish came to the surface. I knew there was something wrong, and when I pulled up the net I saw a huge hole in it.'

Nets can be torn by sharks or the propellers of passing boats.

The latest escape has whetted the appetites of boat operators like Mr Goh in more ways than one. Besides enjoying a swell in business, he also received five sea bass of about 2kg each from the anglers. He said: 'I steamed the fish. It's really fresh and tasty.'

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Hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of sand shipped off to Singapore island

Elan Perumal and Stuart Michael The Star 22 Jun 11;

JOHOR BARU: After a hiatus of several months, sand thieves have returned with a vengeance to continue mining sand worth hundreds of millions of ringgit which is shipped off to Singapore.

The sandmen have expanded their activity along Sungai Johor, ignoring a national ban on the export of sand and despite a clampdown by the authorities last year.

Starprobe recently followed the trail of the illegal activity, which started from a jetty in Kota Tinggi, Johor, to Ulu Tiram, about 20km away, before the sand was loaded on to lorries after the washing process was completed.

The sand is transported to several barges, each with a capacity of up to 4,000 tonnes. Some of the barges and tugboats were registered in Singapore.

Probe into sand mining
The Star/Asia News Network Asia One 23 Jun 11;

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will carry out investigations into the alleged illegal sand mining at Sungai Johor to ascertain if corruption was involved.

"Those involved in corrupt practices will be taken to task," MACC director of investigation Datuk Mustafa Ali said.

It is learnt that state authorities had been investigating the illegal activities that allegedly had been taking place at Sungai Johor.

Sources said the state viewed the allegations seriously.

It is learnt that the state had issued permits to several people to carry out legitimate sand mining and would check on the activities being carried out by unscrupulous operators at Sungai Johor.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Mari-time Enforcement Agency has de-ployed its vessels to monitor the situation at Sungai Johor following The Star's front page report yesterday on the return of sand thieves in the area.

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Sand dredging in Cambodia

Dredging up concern
David Boyle and Vong Sokheng Phnom Penh Post 23 Jun 11;

A sand dredging operation of “unprecedented scale” on the Tatai river, in Koh Kong province, had decimated fish stocks, ruined eco-tourism projects and released foul-smelling gases into the air since it began in May, business owners said yesterday.

Ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat’s company, LYP Group, had been granted sole rights to dredge sand in the area for export after applying for a licence late last year, Mao Hak, director of river works at the Ministry of Water Resources, said.

Janet Newman, owner of the Rainbow Lodge resort on the Tatai river, said yesterday the dredging operation had begun on May 17 and was destroying her business.

Four cranes were now pumping sand 15 metres from the resort, sometimes for 24 hours at a time, she said.

“I took some customers out on the water for a sunset the other day. It was like a city, it was like Kevin Costner’s Water World,” Newman said, adding that in one day she had seen a total of 21 ships and barges, seven cranes and a massive bucket conveyer belt in a one-kilometre stretch of river.

The dredging of “unprecedented scale” had also caused foul-smelling gases to rise, which she feared could have a devastating impact on the area’s rich mangrove ecosystems.

Thomas Stien, the owner of Neptune Bungalows, said yesterday he had not received a single guest since mid-April because of the dredging.

“All the way up from the Koh Kong river up to the Tatai river, there are maybe 150 boats,” he said, adding that one enormous vessel was about a kilometre long.

On June 6, 114 villagers from the Tatai area submitted a petition to provincial officials and relevant ministries complaining that dredging had almost wiped out river life, Tep Malar, head of the eco-tourism community based in Anlong Vak village, in Tatai Krom commune, said.

He added yesterday that members of his community were angry because the dredging had affected their businesses and their basic livelihood.

“We found that crab and fish catches were drastically declining as polluted water from the sand-dragging operation was close to our village,” he said.

“Both local and foreign tourists were scared of boats crashing while there were so many vessels to transport sand along the river.”

Officials said yesterday the government would monitor the site.

“Only LYP Group has been allowed to do sand dragging at Tatai for export,” Mao Hak said.

“The government’s sand management committee will monitor the company once or twice a year and if we find that the operation is not [implemented] in the proper technical way, we will ask the company to stop.”

It was unclear yesterday whether the licence violated an export ban placed on dredged sand by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009 “in order to protect the stability of the natural environments of rivers and marine areas”.

The premier said at the time a total ban on marine dredging would be enforced, except where sand gathered and replenished itself naturally or where build-up was obstructing waterways. Dredging to serve local sand demand would also be allowed.

Ly Yong Phat said yesterday LYP Group had been exporting sand to Singapore on and off for the past year, but had temporarily suspended its export operations because of lack of demand.

“Our main activity that we received the licence from the government for is to drain sand out of the river in order to avoid floods,” he said.

George Boden, a London-based campaigner for Global Witness, said yesterday it was obvious that the Cambodian government gave scant regard to environmental and social concerns when awarding dredging licences.

“Obviously, when there is no information about how and when these rights are given out and they are given out to senior CPP senators, there are quest-ions about how it is they came to own those rights and the process by which they got them,” Boden said.

“There are a number of important species in the area, and previously dredging has been taking place inside protected areas.”

Newman, however, said that the ministries of fisheries, tourism and water resources had shared her concerns.

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Malaysia nabs four thieves stealing mangrove in Pulau Kelang

Stuart Michael The Star 24 Jun 11;

FOUR thieves were caught in the act of transporting 500 mangrove logs estimated at RM5,000 from Pulau Kelang, off Port Klang, during a raid on Wednesday.

The culprits, who are foreigners, will be detained for a week. They were caught loading mangrove logs into a boat in Pulau Kelang.

Besides detaining the culprits, the Selangor Forestry Department also seized two boats.

State Forestry Department assistant director (operations and enforcement) Mohd Yussainy Md Yusop said the thieves were on the island for three days to cut the mangrove trees.

“They then stored the mangrove logs by the edge of the bank on the island and waited for the boat — which could only be used during high tide — to load the mangrove logs.

The final destination was a few kilometres away where the lorries waited to cart them away to be sold,” he said.

He added that the week-long surveilance on the area by his men paid off as they were able to catch the culprits red-handed.

“The raid was conducted jointly with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) and they are now working hand-in-hand to apprehend the culprits cutting and stealing mangrove logs in an island off Pulau Ketam.

“When The Star earlier highlighted on the illegal logging of mangrove trees in the island near Pulau Ketam, it stopped for four months. Mangrove logs bring in lucrative profits and the operators are now back in action,’’ said Yussainy.

The thieves will be charged under the National Forestry Act 1984 and if found guilty would be fined up to RM50,000 each and jailed not more than five years or both.

Yussainy also added that it was also timely as forestry enforcement directors in all the states attended a two-day course at the Royal Yacht Club in Port Klang and joined the raid to see how it was conducted.

“Selangor will be used as a benchmark by forestry departments in other states to check on the stealing of mangrove logs,’’ he said.

Pahang Forestry Department assistant director (enforcement) Razali Abdu Raman said the partnership between APMM and Selangor Forestry made it easy to nab the culprits.

The raid was well coordinated with the use of water and air surveillance.

“As for Pahang Forestry Department, we have 30 personnel and will hold joint operations to catch thieves stealing timber.

“There are illegal small timber operators who love to steal valuable trees mainly Chengal, Balau and Giam from the forest. We can work with the locals to catch the culprits,’’ he said.

Perak Forestry Department assistant director (enforcement) Osman Deris said the state had more than 9,000ha of forest that included mangrove swamps but only had 10 workers.

“We need the help from authorities like APMM to help us in curbing the stealing of our natural resources like mangrove. We have a budget of RM550,000 and we carry out air surveillance throughout the state twice a week,’’ he said.

The StarMetro exposed this issue in the report “Mangrove Crooks” on Aug 30 last year, showing the modus operandi of thieves stealing mangrove logs in Selangor and how they avoided being detected by the authorities.

Yussainy said since the news report, his department had stepped up measures to catch the thieves.

“Between July last year and Jan 15 this year, nine people have been prosecuted for smuggling, while the department had seized more than 200,000 logs.”

He added that when the department checked with the Indonesian authorities on mangrove logs, they claimed that there was a ban (still in force) of mangrove logs leaving their country.

He added that the Selangor Forestry Department had stopped the issuance of licences to allow the harvesting of mangroves in July last year.

“However, the illegal activities are still rampant and we urge other states to stop issuing permits for operators to chop down mangrove trees,” Yussainy said.

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World Heritage in danger: natural sites in Honduras and Sumatra added

IUCN 22 Jun 11;

The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras and the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Indonesia have been added to the List of World Heritage in Danger, following the advice of IUCN.

The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, the biggest protected area in Honduras, has been inscribed today on the Danger List at the request of the government of Honduras. Its largely intact forests, mangroves, coastal lagoons and savannahs have been put at risk due to lack of law enforcement. Illegal settlement by squatters, illegal commercial fishing, illegal logging, poaching and a proposed dam construction on the Patuca river, have all led IUCN to recommend the site to be added to the Danger List.

“We fully support Honduras’ positive move to request Rio Platano to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger and signal the need for increased international support to protect the natural wealth of this site, where over 2,000 indigenous people continue their traditional way of living, directly dependant on natural resources,” says Mariam Kenza Ali, IUCN World Heritage Conservation Officer.

The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Indonesia has also been added to the Danger List. IUCN has consistently recommended the site to be included on the Danger list since 2004, the year of its inscription on the World Heritage List. Four UNESCO/IUCN monitoring missions in the last five years have led to the conclusion that the site needs an emergency restoration plan. Road construction and agricultural encroachment are among the major threats of this area.

“Including the exceptional Sumatran rainforests on the Danger list today signals a message of international concern to support this site,” says Peter Shadie, IUCN’s senior adviser on World Heritage. “The Committee has taken this important decision after several years of debate, and we now need to ensure that it leads to real action on the ground to tackle long standing threats.”

The Virgin Komi Forests, Russia’s first natural site added to the World Heritage List, was not added to the Danger List, despite IUCN’s recommendation. The approval of a gold mine inside the site and national level boundary changes, which led to the loss of legal protection for these areas, are both clear criteria for a site to be declared ‘in danger’, according to IUCN.

“World Heritage Sites have been recognised as no-go areas for mining, both by IUCN, UNESCO and business leaders,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “We consider inclusion on the Danger List was fully warranted, and we consider urgent remedial action is needed for the Virgin Komi Forests to resolve the critical threat to its Outstanding Universal Value.”

The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the world’s most renowned icon of the Inca civilization, was also not added to the Danger List, despite threats such as lack of adequate governance, future construction of a road, impacts of the growth of numbers of visitors and lack of preventive measures against natural disasters.

“This is a missed opportunity to send a message of international support for Machu Picchu,” says Badman. “We should remember that the Danger List is not a black mark for countries, but a way of drawing attention and providing support to the sites that need it the most.”

Australia's Ningaloo coast added to Unesco's World Heritage List
Reef complex and Kenya lake system make it on to list but two other sites added to heritage in danger
Maev Kennedy 24 Jun 11;

The Ningaloo coast in Australia, a vast complex of reefs, caves, streams and shallow waters, and the Kenya lake system in the great rift valley in Africa, an area of outstanding beauty and home to 13 threatened bird species, are the latest sites to be added to the World Heritage List at the Unesco meeting this week in Paris.

The Ningaloo coast in Western Australia covers 708,350 hectares of coastal waters and land, including one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, and is home to rare wildlife including whale sharks and sea turtles, already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year.

The three shallow lakes in Kenya's Rift Valley form the most important site anywhere for lesser flamingo, as well as mammals including giraffe, black rhino, kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs.

More depressingly, the committee also added two sites to the Heritage in Danger list. Sumatra's tropical rainforest is now regarded as endangered by poaching, illegal logging, clearance for farming, and plans for more roads. The Rio Platano biosphere reserve, a rare remnant of tropical rainforest in central America, is also threatened by illegal logging and poaching, with the added complication that drug trafficking has made the area so dangerous its environment is almost impossible to police. Most of it is in Honduras, and the request to add it to the danger list came from the Honduran government, to highlight the problems it faces in protecting it.

In a rare piece of good news for endangered sites, India's protection for the Manas wildlife sanctuary in the foothills of the Himalayas, classified as under threat since 1992, is regarded as having improved enough for the site to go back onto the main world heritage list.

Natural wonders in Kenya, Australia and Japan declared World Heritage Sites
IUCN 25 Jun 11;

The Lakes System in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, the Ningaloo Coast in Australia and the Ogasawara Islands in Japan have been inscribed on the World Heritage List, following the recommendations of IUCN.

IUCN, the independent advisory body on nature to UNESCO, presented the findings of its comprehensive evaluations of the natural values of 13 nominated sites to the World Heritage Committee. With the new additions announced today at the meeting in Paris, the number of natural and mixed sites is now 210.

Recommended for inscription by IUCN for its outstanding beauty and biodiversity, the Kenya Lakes System consists of three lakes: Lake Elementaita, Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria, all of which lie in basins on the floor of the Great Rift Valley which transects Kenya North-South. The three lakes are an integral part of one the largest bird migratory routes in the world sustaining 75% of the global population of the lesser flamingo, supporting one of the major breeding colonies of the great white pelicans and providing a vital wintering ground for over 100 species of migratory birds.

“It is wonderful to see these spectacular lake sites in Kenya, and their rich bird life, achieving recognition as natural sites of the highest global importance,“ says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “We especially welcome this inscription as the first natural World Heritage Site listed in Africa since 2007.”

The Ningaloo Reef on the north-western coast of Australia is home to the largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark, as well as to more than 500 species of tropical fish and 220 species of coral. The rich marine life includes soft and hard corals, manta rays, sea snakes, whales, turtles, dungeons and sharks. Australia is the country with the largest number of natural World Heritage Sites in the world.

“The Ningaloo Coast is a unique place with outstanding natural beauty and biological diversity, which plays an important role in the protection of marine species,” says Tim Badman. “The Coast tells an extraordinary story of biological isolation, climate change, the movement of continents and environmental conservation.”

Located in the western Pacific Ocean roughly 1,000 km south of the main Japanese Archipelago, the Ogasawara Islands are an outstanding example of ongoing evolutionary and biological processes in oceanic island ecosystems. The newly inscribed site includes more than 30 islands and marine areas, clustered within three island groups and is home to over 140 endemic plants and animals.

“The remoteness of the Ogasawara Islands has allowed animals and plants to evolve practically undisturbed, making it a living evolutionary laboratory,” says Peter Shadie, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Delegation. “The Ogasawara Islands tell a unique story of how life on earth has and continues to evolve with new species being regularly discovered.”

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British lawmakers back ban on wild animals in circuses

Yahoo News 23 Jun 11;

LONDON (AFP) – British lawmakers agreed Thursday to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, in a non-binding decision that will nevertheless embarrass ministers who insist there are legal obstacles to such a move.

Members of parliament (MPs) agreed without a vote to back a motion directing the government to introduce "regulation banning the use of all wild animals in circuses from July 2012".

In 2009, there were about 39 wild animals being used in circuses in Britain, including elephants, tigers, lions, camels, zebras and crocodiles, although there are no longer any elephants kept, according to government figures.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said the government has proposed a tough licensing scheme for circuses using wild animals to ensure they are well cared for, but said it had concerns about possible legal challenges to a full ban.

"The government is determined to stamp out cruelty and bad welfare for animals in circuses," he said during a heated debate in the House of Commons.

The motion calling for a ban was proposed by Mark Pritchard, an MP from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party.

He said Cameron's office had warned him to withdraw the motion or face the premier's displeasure, but he refused, having campaigned for many years against a practice he says is cruel and is opposed by the majority of voters.

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Laos defies neighbors on dam project: environmentalists

Reuters 23 Jun 11;

(Reuters) - Laos is forging ahead with construction of a controversial $3.5 billion hydropower dam in breach of an agreement to suspend the project pending approval by ministers of neighboring countries, an environmental group said on Thursday.

The Lao government has already given Thai developer Ch Karnchang the go-ahead to resume work on the Xayaburi Dam, informing the company that the Mekong River Commission's (MRC) decision-making process was complete, according to International Rivers, an environmental and human rights group.

"The government of Laos has committed an egregious breach of trust and has joined the ranks of rogue nations," Ame Trandem, a campaigner with International Rivers, said in a statement, citing leaked correspondence.

With its big ambitions to export hydropower, impoverished Laos is dubbed the "battery of Southeast Asia," but experts warn that the Xayaburi project -- one of 11 new dams planned by Laos -- could cause untold environmental damage and spark a food security crisis downstream in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Mekong basin countries are bound by treaty to hold inter-governmental consultations before building dams.

After months of pressure from environmentalists and neighboring countries, Laos agreed on April 19 to defer the project until a meeting of ministers of the four countries involved, slated for the end of the year.

However, International Rivers distributed a leaked letter to the media on Thursday, dated June 8 and sent by Laos' energy ministry to the Xayaburi Power Company, stating the consultation process was complete.

Shares in Ch Karnchang Pcl, which has a 57 percent stake in the Xayaburi Dam, had jumped 4 percent on Monday after state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which has a 12.5 percent stake in the dam, said Laos might not delay construction of the project.

Ch Karnchang declined to comment on Thursday while authorities in Laos were not immediately available for comment.

Ecologists and river experts have criticized an environmental impact assessment conducted last year by the Lao government and warn that the livelihoods of 60 million people in the lower Mekong region are at risk if the dam goes ahead without proper risk assessment.

Scores of fish species face extinction, fish stocks will dwindle as migratory routes get blocked and swathes of rice-rich land could be deprived of fertile silt carried downstream by Southeast Asia's longest waterway, experts say.

Laos is committed to supplying 7,000 MW of power to Thailand, 5,000 MW to Vietnam and 1,500 MW to Cambodia by 2015. Its energy ministry says it has the potential to generate 28,000 MW from the Mekong.

Watt Botkosal, deputy secretary general of Cambodia's National Mekong Committee, reacted with dismay and said Laos had promised to conduct a cross-border study during a regional meeting in Jakarta last month.

"The impact study is incomplete, so why has this decision been made?" Watt Botkosal told Reuters. "We have not even received any such study."

According to the leaked letter, Laos said a one-month study had been conducted by an international consultancy group. No details were provided.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul in Phnom Penh; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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Oslo backs Jakarta's forest plan, despite hurdles

Alister Doyle Reuters 23 Jun 11;

(Reuters) - Norway backed Indonesia's drive to slow deforestation on Thursday under a $1 billion deal with Oslo even though Jakarta said it faced a "maze" of reforms and lacks maps to pin down exact conservation areas.

"Any nation can do more. But they (Indonesia) are doing a lot," Environment Minister Erik Solheim told Reuters during a conference in Oslo on ways to protect carbon-rich rainforests.

Indonesia agreed a two-year moratorium on clearing rainforests last month, five months later than agreed under a 2010 deal with Norway that foresees $1 billion in aid to protect forests as part of a long-term fight against climate change.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the Indonesian task force on protecting forests, said the moratorium was the strictest possible, after taking account of rival interests such as from palm oil producers, loggers or miners.

"While the challenges tower ahead of us, I ask bear with me as we travel through the maze to create long-lasting reform to reduce emissions," he said in a speech.

Some environmentalists say Indonesia's moratorium, with a long list of exemptions, is too weak.

Among problems faced by Indonesia include a lack of maps with a big enough scale to outline the boundaries of areas covered by the moratorium, Mangkusubroto said.


"Now we will have one map. Before we had 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 maps. Now we are going to put it on the website so it is accessible to everybody," he told Reuters.

Worldwide, deforestation accounts for perhaps a sixth of all greenhouse gas emissions by human activities, blamed for heating the planet and bringing more droughts, heatwaves, mudslides and rising sea levels. Trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they rot or are burned to clear land.

Solheim declined to comment on a report by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency that Malaysian Palm oil firm Kuala Lumpur Kepong -- in which Norway's $558 billion sovereign wealth fund has a stake -- had violated the forest clearing ban on the first day last month.

KLK has called the report "preposterous.

Solheim said donors had to take risks in aid projects to slow deforestation, saying the alternative of allowing the destruction of forests was far worse.

But he also said in a speech that there had to be results. "No developed nation will provide money if it believes it will end up in corruption, mismanagement and no results," he said.

Other experts said that disputes over land ownership, from the Amazon to the Congo basin, were among barriers to a U.N.-backed project known as REDD, or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

"Unclear tenure is a problem everywhere," said Frances Seymour, head of the Center for International Forestry Research. In many poor countries, the government, indigenous peoples and settlers often have competing claims.

"Unless we address the issue of becomes a free for all," said Yemi Katerere, head of the U.N. REDD Secretariat in Geneva.

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