Best of our wild blogs: 29 Jul 11

Blog Log July 24, 2011
from Pulau Hantu

Our sandy shores are alive!
from wild shores of singapore

Slaty-breasted Rails
from Life's Indulgences

Two talks about our shores!
from wild shores of singapore

Madras thorn (Pithecellobium dulce), a little known bird tree
from Bird Ecology Study Group

A long love affair with dinosaurs – let’s get some of our own!
from Otterman speaks

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Singapore, Malaysia conduct chemical spill exercise at Tuas

Wayne Chan Channel NewsAsia 28 Jul 11;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Johor's Department of Environment (DOE) conducted an emergency exercise at the Tuas Second Link on Thursday morning.

The exercise simulates the spillage of hazardous chemicals on both land and sea at the crossing. It was held on the Malaysian side for the first time, 500 metres away from the Singapore Tuas Checkpoint, and included some new elements.

Each year, about 110,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals are transported between Malaysia and Singapore.

While there have been no accidents involving the transportation of hazardous chemicals at the crossing, NEA said the exercise ensures that the relevant emergency response agencies are able to react quickly to minimise the consequences of such accidents.

NEA chief executive officer Andrew Tan said, "The bilateral exercise underscores the strong cooperation between both countries in ensuring that agencies are ready to respond to any chemical spill accident on the Second Link in a coordinated and effective manner."

The 27 agencies (20 from Malaysia and 7 from Singapore) and 540 personnel (340 from Malaysia and 200 from Singapore), led by the NEA and DOE finished the task of clearing the simulated chemical spill half-an-hour ahead of time on Thursday morning.

Mr Tan said: "What you have seen this year is a more complex exercise involving more casualties, involving three different types of chemicals. And also involving the difficult task of trying to evacuate the casualties as well as contain the chemical spill which is combustible."

Director-General of the Department of Environment of Malaysia, Dato Hajah Rosnani Binti Ibarahim, said: "I see an improvement in terms of coordination from both sides. Singapore's SCDF and Malaysia's BOMBA are working very closely. The environment agencies are working very closely.

"But what is important is that we have to continue to work closely in terms of communication. Communication is very important in all incidences because that will dictate how fast we can react."

This is the eighth exercise conducted to test the operational effectiveness of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) jointly developed by NEA and DOE as part of the bilateral cooperation programme under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment.

- CNA/cc/ac

500 tackle 'chemical accident'
The New Straits Times 29 Jul 11;

JOHOR BARU: It was only a simulation exercise of a "chemical accident" at the Second Link here, but the slow moving traffic at times got some motorists worried that it was for real.

The joint emergency response exercise by Singapore and Malaysian government agencies began about 10am with the "accident" occurring at a spot some 500m from the island republic's Tuas checkpoint.

It resulted in that part of the road leading to the checkpoint being closed and traffic diverted to one of the two lanes on the opposite side of the road heading to Malaysia.

The exercise, called the 8th Malaysia-Singapore joint exercise on emergency response plan for chemical spills on the Second Link, ended at 11.15am with 500 personnel from both countries participating.

Department of Environment director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said that although no major accidents had ever occurred at the Second Link, there was still a need to prepare.

Singapore's National Environment Agency chief executive officer Andrew Tan said there were always lessons to be learnt from such exercises as it allowed those involved to see how each agency responded to emergencies.

Yesterday's exercise saw a tanker carrying 20 tonnes of phenol bound for Singapore being involved in an "accident" with a motorcyclist and pillion rider.

It then "slammed" into a car and a lorry transporting sulphuric acid and nitric acid.

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UN Needs To Establish World Environment Organisation

Soraya Jamal Bernama 29 Jul 11;

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 (Bernama) -- There is a need to establish a World Environment Organisation (WEO) under the United Nations as the current governance arrangements for the sector have failed to meet the expectations.

Developed over the course of 40 years, since the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972, the challenges have outgrown the system, Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid said.

The current international environmental governance framework no longer serves the interests of governments. It has not reversed or even contained the environmental degradation over the last few decades.

"Right now environmental issues are governed internationally by a hodgepodge of institutions spread across the UN. In fact there are more than 40 different UN agencies with environmental programmes," Dr Zakri noted.

Only a major overhaul of the governance system will heed the reforms needed to address the challenges of environmental sustainability.


Over the years, the international community has adopted hundreds of multilateral environmental agreements, all with their own secretariats and administrations.

Speaking at a two-day workshop recently, Dr Zakri said last year there were more meetings than the calendar days in the year.

He added that the last five years of meetings under a fraction of these agreements, have produced over 5,000 decisions that the countries are supposed to act upon through national efforts.

The workshop, convened by Asean, UNEP, Office of the Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), is part of the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20) next year.

"The system has become insanely complicated and virtually impossible for the developing countries to participate meaningfully," he said.

The only countries that cope with the system are the richest countries of the world, while the poor developing nations are becoming disenfranchised, he added.

"This scenario calls for a change. Developing countries need to think clearly about their needs for the environment and get over this stigma that the 'environmental agenda' is only for the rich," Dr Zakri explained.


History has shown that most of the global organisations that we have today were actually designed and negotiated by the developed world, while the developing countries have stood on the sidelines and watched it taking place.

But the environment issue goes to the heart of development, livelihoods and the well being of all of us.

Moreover there is a growing economy based on market niches in green technology, and green goods and services - market opportunity that Malaysia and many other Asian countries are quickly realising.

"We need a WEO that will help develop new ideas, share experiences and assist the countries in making a transition to a green economy. We have to help the poorest nations become partners in a green economy and not create a parallel development track, one for the haves and one for the have-nots," Dr Zakri said.

He added that a WEO must be the anchor that can rationalise current environmental governance and ensure that developing countries are equally represented and able to participate in the system within their own financial means.


The current approach has to change, especially when it comes to redesigning a new environmental governance system.

It must have a development focus and be better aimed at responding to developing countries' needs, Dr Zakri said.

This means, a WEO must have certain and distinctive priorities.

"It must be a democratic body with universal membership where each country has one vote, not weighed voting as in the case of many financial assistance agencies, where donor countries have more votes compared to recipient countries," he explained.

Developing countries need implementation support, especially technical assistance, capacity building and technology support.

A WEO, therefore, must have an implementation arm to respond to developing countries' needs.

Right now implementation support falls through the cracks in the UN system as no one agency is responsible for this within the environmental sector, meaning that in the end it is the developing countries that are losing out.

This is especially the case for multilateral environmental agreements where there are many promises of support, but only a few mechanisms and no clear institution to help countries implement their commitments.


However, the proposed creation of the WEO to anchor the global efforts for the environment may be a sensitive issue for several countries, Dr Zakri said.

"Almost instinctively, the words 'world' and 'organisation', when heard together by developing country diplomats, makes them react against it, saying that it would be another World Trade Organisation (WTO) and that is the last thing we need," he noted.

The reality is that there is a serious need for WEO and the proposals for it look nothing like a WTO.

Most of the UN specialised agencies are actually not at all like the WTO.

Organisations such as the WHO, FAO or Unesco provide consultative and facilitative functions and assist the countries to meet the global commitments derived from mutual agreements.

They are not at all regulatory like the WTO, which sets standards and reduces barriers to trade.

AseanN and developing countries need to engage in the debate and form a proposal that takes their needs as developing nations to Rio+20.

"Otherwise, we may end up with yet another global organisation that is established without our needs in mind, or worse, after marginalising the developing countries," Dr Zakri concluded.


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Malaysia: No sale of Terengganu sea turtle eggs, says board

The Star 29 Jul 11;

MARANG: The Terengganu Turtle Sanctuary Advisory Board has denied that turtle eggs being sold in markets in the state, were collected locally.

Board chairman Datuk Mazlan Ngah said the eggs were from Sabah, Sarawak and the Philippines.

“I don’t see any Terengganu turtle eggs being sold openly in the markets, but if they are being sold secretly then I would not know,” he told Bernama on Tuesday.

Mazlan who is also state secretary said licensed collectors in the state were only allowed to sell the eggs to the Fisheries Department for its hatcheries.

He said the board was finding it difficult to prevent the sale of turtle eggs in the local markets as they had actually come from elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the sale of leatherback turtle eggs were totally banned in the state, he stressed.

Mazlan said the state government was proposing to gazette more turtle landing areas as sanctuaries in a bid to increase their population.

He added that Ma’ Daerah Kerteh in Kemaman was in the process of being gazetted as a turtle sanctuary — Bernama.

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Leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean

Researchers map long-range migrations and habitats of leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service EurekAlert 27 Jul 11;

Endangered leatherback sea turtles migrate and forage across vast areas of the Pacific Ocean and Indo Pacific seas and require greater international collaboration for their protection, according to a recent study conducted by NOAA Fisheries Service and western Pacific research and conservation scientists.

The study, published today in the journal Ecosphere, is based on data from 126 leatherbacks tracked by satellite and supports continuing research to improve conservation efforts for this endangered species by better understanding how oceanographic features influence their migration and foraging behavior.

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of all marine turtles, weighing up to 2000 pounds (900 kg) and measuring almost six feet (2 m) in length. The demise of several leatherback populations around the Pacific has been caused by extensive harvesting of eggs and breeding females on the nesting beaches by indigenous populations, as well as accidental capture in fishing operations. Some of the last remaining Pacific nesting populations are found in the western Pacific in Indonesia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Female leatherbacks lay their eggs on tropical nesting beaches before migrating to foraging areas around the world to feed on jellyfish. Leatherbacks are seasonal visitors to the west coast, including the central California coast, traveling across the Pacific and arriving in late summer and fall to forage on large aggregations of brown sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens).

Lead author Scott Benson and senior author Peter Dutton, both with NOAA Fisheries Service, began tracking leatherbacks from their California foraging grounds in 2000 and, after documenting that the California turtles came from nesting beaches in the western Pacific, expanded the study there.

The combined results have fundamentally changed the scope of conservation efforts for Pacific leatherbacks by demonstrating the need for many nations and communities around the Pacific Ocean to conserve the species. "Tracking the turtles on their extraordinary migrations over the years has allowed us to finally piece together the complex linkages between their breeding areas and feeding areas," said Dutton. "The leatherbacks have acted as international ambassadors, leading us to join with partners on both sides of the Pacific in a concerted effort to conserve leatherbacks."

Protecting and rebuilding leatherback sea turtles has been a priority for NOAA since it listed them as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. NOAA Fisheries Service restricts commercial fishing in large areas north of Hawaii and off the United States west coast because of concern over accidental bycatch of leatherbacks, and has been working to revise which areas are designated as critical habitat for the turtles.

"Our telemetry data will help us develop better analytical models to help fisheries managers predict when and where leatherbacks might be found in areas targeted for fishing," said Tomoharu Eguchi with NOAA Fisheries, a co-author of the paper.

The western Pacific nesters foraged not only in distant temperate ecosystems of the North Pacific, but also in temperate and tropical Large Marine Ecosystems (LME's) of the southern hemisphere and Indo-Pacific seas.

"We discovered a much greater diversity of foraging behavior than previously thought for Pacific leatherbacks," Benson said. "The foraging areas we identified exhibited a wide range of oceanographic features, including mesoscale eddies, coastal retention areas, current boundaries, or stationary fronts, all of which are known mechanisms for aggregating leatherback prey."

The paper also identifies foraging areas in the East Australia Current Extension and the Tasman Front, drawing attention to the potential threat from the intense fishing by international fleets in these waters.

"The turtles nesting at Papua Barat (Indonesia), Papua New Guinea, and other islands in our region depend on food resources in waters managed by many other nations for their survival," said Ricardo Tapilatu from the State University of Papua (UNIPA). "It is important to protect leatherbacks in these foraging areas so that our nesting beach conservation efforts can be effective."

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Sarawak Plan To Gazette Kuala Lawas As National Park

Bernama 28 Jul 11;

LAWAS, July 28 (Bernama) -- Sarawak plans to gazette a new area made up mainly of water bodies in Kuala Lawas near here as another national park in a move to protect and conserve marine life, State Second Minister of Resource Planning and Management, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said.

He said the proposed national park that features fringe mangrove along the coastline has become a favourite feeding ground for dugongs and green turtles and would play an important role in marine eco-system.

Speaking at the South East Asia Regional Workshop on Dugong here Wednesday night, he said the plan was among the State's commitment to protect and conserve the invaluable heritage and wealth of wildlife.

He said to date, a total of 206,344 hectares of water bodies had been gazetted as totally protected areas to conserve endangered marine species such as sea turtles, marine mammals, sea horses, coral and marine eco-system.

"It is in our greatest interest to constantly improve our current approaches and innovatively transform our assets into legacies that will continue to provide beauty and wonder for generations to come," he added.

Awang Tengah also welcomed the move to organise the workshop here as it had the biggest sea grass beds in Malaysia which stretches along 30 kilometres of beaches.

He said aerial sighting surveys for large marine life that was conducted in 2001, 2007 and 2008 had confirmed the existence of viable dugong population in the area.


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Indonesia: Haze in Central Kalimantan

Haze disturbs air traffic at Sampit's airport
Antara 28 Jul 11;

Sampit, Central Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Haze from forest and plantation fires has forced the authorities of Haji Asan airport here, East Kotawaringin District, to delay a flight on Thursday morning.

"The flight schedule at Haji Asan Airport in Sampit currently begin to be disturbed by haze especially in the morning," Head of the airport`s Security and Safety Section Harianto said here on Thursday.

The visibility of in the airport`s runaway in the morning at 100-150 meters, while the ideal visibility for aviation is 500-1,000 meters minimally.

The arrival of Merpati Nusantara Airlines (PT MNA) with flight no. MA 60 was delayed from 7.30 am WIB to 8 am WIB, pending for the haze to go away.

Two weeks ago, several flights were also delayed due to the haze covering the airport in Sampit.

"Due to the haze, plane arrivals and departures are often late," Head of Haji Asan Airport Maruli Tua Edison Saragih said here on July 8.

The runway was often covered by haze especially in the morning, he said.

Some flights were forced to delay their landing pending the haze covering the runway to disperse, he added.

Several flights had to cycle in the air for three times before landing due to the limited visibility.

The airport needed an instrument landing system to help guide pilots wanting to land their planes, he said.

"We have proposed to have the instrument to the central office, but until now it has not been realized. The instrument is badly needed for flight safety," he said.

He hoped that the haze would not get ticker in the future because it could endanger the flights.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Indonesia: 15 million hectares of forests destroyed from 2000 to 2009

The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 11;

Indonesia lost 15 million hectares of forests from 2000 to 2009, a study conducted by Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) says.

"In 2000, Indonesia had 103 million hectares of forest, but only 88 million hectares left in 2009. Therefore, the speed of deforestation during those years was 1.5 million hectares per year," said FWI executive director Wirendro Sumargo on Wednesday.

"That is the fastest tropical deforestation in the world," he added.

He explained that among the 15 million hectares of forest destroyed, 5.5 million hectares were in Kalimantan. "The worst condition was in Central Kalimantan, which lost 2 million hectares," he said.

The study was conducted by analyzing Forestry Ministry data on the condition of Indonesia’s forests in 2000 and then comparing it to data from satellite photos (landsat) in 2009. "There were 200 scenes of landsat of Indonesian forests we analyzed. Each scene covered around 185 square kilometers," said Wirendro.

According to the study, deforestation was mainly caused by oil palm plantations and pulp companies.

"The root was our corrupt political and economic system. Government policy is often inconsistent and less strict, and it is therefore very easy for many parties (palm oil and pulp companies) to cause deforestation," he said.

According to the Forestry Ministry, from 1997 to 2000, the speed of deforestation in Indonesia was 2.8 million hectares per year because of massive forest fires occurring mostly in 1997-1998.

A previous study conducted by FWI showed that from 1985 to1997, Indonesia lost 21.6 million hectares of forest, with the speed of deforestation at 1.8 million hectares per year. (aaa)

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Vietnam army smuggling timber in Laos: activists

AFP Yahoo News 29 Jul 11;

The Vietnamese army is playing a key role in smuggling wood from the jungles of Laos, a multi-million dollar activity that threatens millions of livelihoods, a new report said Thursday.

Hanoi denied the claim of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which said its undercover operations revealed one of the biggest loggers in Laos to be a company owned by Vietnam's military.

Although Laos has some of the Mekong region's last intact tropical forests, its export ban on raw timber is "routinely flouted on a massive scale" to feed "ravenous" industries in Vietnam, China and Thailand, the EIA said.

"What is happening here is almost displaced deforestation. Vietnam is almost annexing swathes of Laos to feed its industry," Julian Newman, campaigns director of the EIA, said at the report's launch in Bangkok.

The group's undercover work focused on the army-owned Vietnamese Company of Economic Cooperation (COECCO), which it said sources most of its logs from Lao dam clearance sites.

"Widespread" corruption among the Lao government's forestry officials has enabled the timber smuggling, with 500,000 cubic metres, worth at least 150 million dollars, crossing the Laos-Vietnam border each year, the EIA said.

A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in Hanoi later denied the claims when questioned at a press conference.

"There is no smuggling of timber or logging from Laos by the Vietnamese army," said Nguyen Phuong Nga.

"All illegal logging and smuggling of timber will be strictly dealt with according to Vietnamese law."

Newman said it was ironic that Vietnam "recognises the need to protect its own forests while it is taking indiscriminately from next door".

The forests of Laos, a key source of food for its population, covered 70 percent of the land-locked country in the 1940s, dropping to 41 percent in 2002. By 2020, the figure could be as low as 30 percent, the EIA said.

"The governments of Vietnam and Laos urgently need to work together to stem the flow of logs and curb the over-exploitation of Laos? precious forests before it?s too late," said Faith Doherty, head of EIA's forest campaign.

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India’s tigers gain numbers but not ground

WWF 28 Jul 11;

New Delhi - Results of the recent tiger population estimation exercise released today show that the numbers of the highly endangered big cat in India have increased in the country.

The estimated population of 1,706 individual tigers represents a 20 percent increase from the last survey in 2006, which estimated a number of 1,411. The increase is based on the survey of additional areas as well as an increase in the number of tigers within high-density populations.

These results are the highlights of the Indian Government’s report - Status of Tigers, co predators and prey in India, 2010, which was released by Sri Jagdish Kishwan, Additional Director General (Wildlife), Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India at an event organized by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) at WWF-India in New Delhi earlier today.

This countrywide assessment of tigers, co-predators and prey included all 17 tiger states, and involved 477,000 work-days by forest staff and 37,000 work-days by professional biologists, making it the largest exercise of its kind in the world.

“After the 2006 pan India tiger population estimation, the present exercise is even more comprehensive in terms of the area covered and methodologies used,” said Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of WWF India. “The involvement of conservation partners, including WWF, has led to broad based efforts and built a stronger constituency and capacity for tiger conservation in India.”

Despite the good news, the detailed report warns that tigers are still in danger due to an overall 12.6 percent loss of habitat, meaning more tigers are being squeezed into smaller areas, which could lead to a lack of dispersal and consequent loss of genetic exchange between populations, and an increase in human-tiger conflict.

Dr. Y V Jhala, lead author of the report said, “The loss of corridors does not bode well for the tiger. Poaching can wipe out individual tiger populations, but these can be re-established by reintroductions as has been done in the Sariska and Panna Reserves. However, once habitats are lost, it is almost impossible to claim them back for restoration.”

WWF-India partnered with the NTCA and the Wildlife Institute of India, which led the massive estimation exercise. WWF played a role in the exercise across the landscapes where it works in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, covering both tiger reserves as well as habitats outside tiger reserves and connecting corridors.

The report further states that tigers require good forests and prey, along with undisturbed breeding areas, for long-term term survival. It is hoped that the recommendations in the report will lead to planning decisions that balance India’s long-term development needs with conservation concerns to secure a future for the country’s most iconic species.

“These results are encouraging, and we congratulate all the partners in India for achieving something like this on a scale never attempted before. This huge task undertaken by the partners perfectly represents the scale of action we need to take to turn around the future for the tiger,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative “Unfortunately, while the results indicate an increase, they also provide evidence of even more pressure on the tiger and its habitat, we must keep up the momentum and redouble our efforts to ensure the tiger has a future in India and throughout its range in Asia and the Russian Far East.”

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Uganda frees smuggled parrots back into the wild

AFP Yahoo News 27 Jul 11;

Ugandan wildlife officials on Thursday released hundreds of rare African parrots back into the wild six months after they were rescued from animal smugglers.

Authorities reintroduced the 200 grey parrots to their natural habitat in the Kibale national park, 350 kilometres (217 miles) west of Kampala, following months of treatment at the country?s largest zoo.

"They have been in captivity for so long now that at first they refused to come out ... eventually though they started moving out and flying off," said Lilian Nsubuga, the Uganda Wildlife Authority spokeswoman.

Eight of the parrots were unable to fly because they were either overweight or had damaged wings and would be returned to the zoo, she said.

Nsubuga said that the parrots, which were secretly transported to the park last week in several specially constructed containers, were each tagged with a ring on their beaks and would be monitored by a team of wildlife experts.

Ugandan police discovered around 130 of the birds in January as they were being illegally transported across he country's porous border with Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dozens of the birds later died after tests carried out by wildlife authorities showed that they had been sedated with alcohol-infused sugarcane ahead of the journey.

A second consignment of over 100 undocumented birds was later discovered at a warehouse close to Uganda?s main airport in Entebbe following a tip-off.

Wildlife officials said that the birds were likely meant to be smuggled to Europe, America or East Asia, where they can fetch up to $2,000 (1,400 euros) each on the black market.

Trade in African grey parrots is restricted under an international treaty regulating the cross-border trade in endangered species.

Uganda is famed for its rich birdlife with over 1,000 species documented in the country, but officials say that animal smuggling is becoming increasingly big business.

No one has yet been arrested in connection with the seized parrots, wildlife authorities said.

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Thailand: Bangkok sea reclamation project won't work, says academic

Pongphon Sarnsamak The Nation 29 Jul 11;

The Pheu Thai party's megaproject to reclaim 300 square kilometres of new land in the Gulf of Thailand could have a severe environmental impact and fail to protect Bangkok from flooding, an environmental academic said yesterday.

The project would need at least 4 billion cubic metres of sand to reclaim 300,000 rai of land in the Gulf of Thailand. This would totally destroy marine biological resources in the sea, which provide food for local people, said Seri Supparathit, a director of Sirindhorn International Environmental Park's Energy for Environment Centre.

The Pheu Thai Party announced the policy during the general election campaign. It would reclaim land for three provinces, Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon. It is aimed at protecting Bangkok from severe flooding caused by rising sea levels.

The land would be sold to foreigners who wanted to build homes and accommodation on new land, like in Dubai. The land would be valued at Bt 20 million per rai.

But Seri said the land reclamation in the Gulf of Thailand could block five key canals in Bangkok's Bang Khun Thian district, which drain water from the mainland.

"This project would create severe floods, instead of preventing Bangkok from sinking into the water," he said.

Floods in Bangkok are caused by massive amounts of floodwater flowing down from the North. The government could fix this problem through construction regulations, Seri said.

Seri added that the megaproject could also cause severe coastal erosion to nearby areas such as Samut Prakan and Chonburi province by changing sea currents.

"The Pheu Thai party needs to conduct an indepth study to see the impact on the environment and local people before moving forward with this project," he said.

Meanwhile, Prasut Changchareon, the president of Bang Khun Thian coastal community, said he welcomed the project if it did not cause severe impact on the mangrove forest in Bang Khun Thian district, which is now being eroded by sea water.

More than 4.7 square kilometres of coastal areas in Bang Khun Thian district are being eroded by the sea.

"We are now fighting against severe coastal erosion to get our land back," he said.

Local villagers have installed thousand of bamboo sticks and sandbags in the mangrove forest area to protect against the sea and mud.

However, local villagers are confused by the Pheu Thai Party's policies and have asked the party to come up with a clear policy on new land reclamation, said Prasut.

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UK: Plastic bag use on the rise after years of decline

Between 2006 and 2009 carrier bag use was down by 40% but in 2010 the downward trend was reversed
Fiona Harvey 28 Jul 11;

British consumers are packing away their green credentials along with their weekly shop, as last year an increasing number of us bundled our purchases into single-use plastic carrier bags instead of seeking out environmentally friendly alternatives.

Plastic bag use plunged after 2006, when the government, retailers and green campaigners spearheaded a push to cut down on the 11bn plastic carriers Britons used each year, most of which find their way into landfill or – much more damagingly – into waterways and the sea, where they are a hazard to marine life.

By 2009, bag use was down by about 40% to under 6.5bn.

But last year, that downward trend was reversed. Perhaps owing to recessionary worries, people forgot their hessian sacks and filled up on plastic again - more than 6.8bn were used, up about 5% on the previous year, according to the government's Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

Recycling minister Lord Henley said: "This isn't good enough. Retailers need to take responsibility and lift their game to cut down on the number of single use carrier bags they hand out. If results do not improve we will consider additional measures to make this happen, including legislation."

The British Retail Consortium said part of the increase was likely to be down to shoppers making more short trips to stores, rather than a single big weekly shop. But the retail trade body said the small increase should be put in context of the "massive" progress made since 2006, and said plastic bags were only one of the many ways in which retailers were cutting their environmental impact.

Bob Gordon, head of environment at the British Retail Consortium, said: "It's encouraging to see the majority of consumers are continuing to reuse their carrier bags and are taking as few new bags as possible. We urge customers to keep that up, particularly when changing shopping habits, including more trips to stores, present a challenge to maintaining the progress made in recent years."

He rejected calls for a bag ban or charges, which could penalise shoppers at a time of financial hardship. "The overall numbers remain the sort of result other environmental campaigns can only dream of," he said. "But it's time to accept bags are not the be-all and end-all of environmental issues."

Plastic bag data is difficult to compare over the past five years, because of changes in the way the statistics are collected. Between 2008 and 2009, the data was collated on a mid-year basis, from June to May, but from last year Wrap decided to return to presenting it on a calendar year basis.

In 2006, nearly 11bn single use carriers were used, but after campaigning this fell to 10bn the following year and was down to just over 7bn by 2008-09 before bottoming out at under 6.5bn by 2009-10. But for the full year of 2010, bag use rose again to 6.8bn.

The campaign against disposable plastic bags, which green campaigners have pursued for years but which gained traction from 2006 when Wrap collated its first comprehensive statistics, enjoyed a high profile for several years. In 2007, it received a massive boost from the launch of Sainsbury's stylish cotton shopping bag from designer Anya Hindmarch, emblazoned with the legend "I'm not a plastic bag". The product – which sold for £5 in the supermarket – went on to have a lucrative after-life on eBay, reportedly changing hands for as much as £200 a time.

But while retailers say they are continuing their efforts to reduce bag use, there is less publicity around the issue.

However, in some parts of the UK, legislators are taking an interest. In Wales, shoppers will be charged 5p per bag from this October, and a consultation on charging for bags kicked off in Northern Ireland last week. Scotland shelved its proposals for a charge, but they could yet be revived.

In Wales, the imminent charge may have helped to cut bag use – the total was down by 7% last year, compared with the rise in England and Scotland. John Griffiths, Welsh environment minister, said a charge was the best way to drive down carrier use, as voluntary agreements with retailers would not achieve enough. He said: "These figures show a real difference between carrier bag use in Wales and that in other parts of the UK where no mandatory charge is planned. This proves that the carrier bag charge, which is due to be introduced in Wales on 1 October, is the only way to ensure a real and lasting reduction in the use of carrier bags."

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