Best of our wild blogs: 27 Oct 11

Fun walk in Chek Jawa during the school holidays
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Mr Kinky Tails
from Life of a common palm civet in Singapore

King Cobra (Sungei Buloh 261011)
from Trek through Paradise

Beaker and better
from The annotated budak

The Scorpion Tailed Spider and other bugs named after scorpions
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass
from wild shores of singapore

Chek Jawa (26 Oct 2011)
from teamseagrass

Asian Paradise Flycatcher takes a cicada
from Bird Ecology Study Group

The integration of Fulung and Mary
from Bornean Sun Bear Conservation

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Climate change? Not my problem!

Jenny Costelloe CSR Asia 26 Oct 11;

Just recently in a Singaporean newspaper, I read that “the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources [“MEWR” of Singapore] said reclaimed land will have to be raised "by at least one metre" to create an adequate buffer against any potential rise in sea level”. For me, this raises serious concerns about several things: the imminence of climate change for all of us (no news there); the risk of maladaptation; and, most importantly in my opinion, the potential problem of a government offering such reassuring remedies to these kinds of problems. In this article I’ll expand on each of these concerns and highlight the relevance to businesses in the region.

Climate change is happening. We don’t have to look too hard to find evidence of climate change affecting Southeast Asia. Currently, CSR Asia’s office in Bangkok is under about 2 metres of water as floods wreak havoc throughout Thailand. Our colleagues there spent time last week moving the office contents of the ground floor office out of harm’s way, in order to minimize the destruction to property. Of course, the actual office will be damaged by the flood waters, but the contents and lives of co-workers will be spared. In terms of business continuity, the team in Thailand has been incredibly adaptable – after moving the office contents, they all set up so that they could work remotely. This is the new reality: businesses have to have climate change adaptation and business continuity plans in place. How well would your company operate if it, or one of its key suppliers, was out of action for weeks at a time? According to the Asian Development Bank’s climate change research, Southeast Asia is the most vulnerable to climate change disasters and we’re seeing evidence of this throughout the region.

The risk of maladaptation. Roughly defined, maladaptation is a behavior that is more harmful than it is helpful. In the case of Singapore’s anticipated need to raise land by at least one metre, this work will undoubtedly have a significant carbon footprint, thus (ironically) contributing to climate change. To put it into perspective about 18 per cent of Singapore is reclaimed land, and there are plans to reclaim a further 100km2 (14 per cent) by 2033. So, to raise the level of reclaimed land – a total of about 200km2 – by at least one metre, is a major undertaking. I am intrigued to hear more from MEWR about how they’re going to do this, where the earth is going to come from and what the carbon footprint of this undertaking will be. And it’s not as if there’s not a lot of construction work going on in the island-state already! This land-raising activity will be seriously disruptive to businesses here, especially those in the CBD and new Marina Bay Financial District, which are built upon reclaimed land.

Finally, the real concern for me is the implication that the government will provide Singaporeans with protection from climate change effects. Of course, a government’s role is to protect its nation, but I would like to see this go hand in hand with concerted effort to educate and encourage the population of Singapore to take ownership of climate change mitigation – in simple terms, for them to have a sense of an individual responsibility to change behaviours in order to reduce the carbon footprint of Singapore. In Singapore, we have one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world. (The Energy Information Agency (US) estimates that Singapore’s carbon footprint is 33 tonnes CO2 equivalent per capita, which would make Singapore one of the most energy inefficient nations in the world, ahead of even US and Australia. Note - these data are to be used with caution, because any carbon footprint depends on the methodology used). Admittedly, the announcement from MEWR refers to other activities such as encouraging “greater use of less carbon intensive fuels and improved energy conservation and investment in research and development in clean technologies”. But it is the sense of apathy amongst residents of Singapore that needs to be addressed. (I should add that this behavior is not just from Singaporeans, but many residents of Singapore – foreign and local). Turn up the aircon by a few degrees; use public transport; buy locally sourced produce; eat less meat; move away from the consumerism culture! As a visitor to Singapore, much of the behavior here seems reckless, even conscious-free. And, if we don’t have to face the consequences of such carbon-intensive consumption, because the proactive government will protect us from climate change effects, then why should we care? I think that it really is time for Singapore to consider taxing or penalizing heavy emitters in the business sector, who in turn will pass on the costs to the consumer, to make us all think twice about our climate change-intensifying behaviours. That way, climate change really becomes everyone’s problem.

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Race to record Bukit Brown graves

Search for qualified people willing to help will be a challenge
Huang Lijie Straits Times 27 Oct 11;

THE task to document some 5,000 graves at Bukit Brown cemetery by next March is likely to be an uphill one.

While government funds will be made available, finding enough people qualified and willing to take on the project will be a challenge, said stakeholders such as culture and heritage associations.

The Government confirmed on Monday that it will proceed with plans to build a new road through the cemetery, which is filled with graves of pioneers. The road is needed to ease traffic in Lor-nie Road and to serve future housing projects.

Construction of the dual four-lane road will begin in the first quarter of 2013 and end by 2016. About 5 per cent of the more than 100,000 graves at the cemetery, which dates back to the 1890s, will be exhumed for the roadworks.

The Government said it is committed to properly recording the area's rich history. Dr Hui Yew-Foong, 39, an anthropologist at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, will be leading a working committee to do the job.

He estimates it will take 600 man days to record the affected graves.

If 10 people work full-time five days a week, the task will be completed in three months.

Formal recruitment of documentarians has not begun because the working committee is being formed. But Dr Hui said he has tapped on his personal network and that of friends to sound out potential candidates.

He said: 'We have between 10 and 15 people who have said they are willing, but mostly on a part-time basis.' He added that it may be hard to find 10 full-time workers because of the demands of the job and its short-term contract.

They will get training but must be able to read the simplified Chinese script or, better yet, the traditional Chinese one to decipher tombstone inscriptions.

They need to have an eye for details such as inscriptions of the name, birth place and genealogy of the deceased as well as tomb sculpture and fengshui markers. Those doing field work also need to be able to take photos to capture details of the graves, and be physically fit.

Dr Hui added: 'We are also limited to the semi-employed or unemployed because what we offer is a few months' work and those employed full-time may not give up their jobs to do this.'

However, Mr Raymond Goh, 47, regional director of a health-care firm and a passionate tomb explorer, said: 'If you pay them well, there will always be people who will come forward.'

The Urban Redevelopment Authority and Land Transport Authority said the Government will fund the documentation but declined to state the sum as details are being worked out.

The Straits Times understands that preliminary talks have placed the amount in the range of $250,000 and it will be used to buy equipment and hire documentarians.

Dr Hui said he may turn to stakeholders such as the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS), Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and Peranakan Association to help spread the word and rally volunteers. When contacted, the three associations said they would encourage their members to sign up.

A spokesman for the SHS noted that criteria such as the ability to read Chinese and being physically fit may not be met by many of its more than 200 members.

Regardless of the number of documentarians he can get, Dr Hui said he will begin work once contractors start clearing undergrowth and identifying the graves next month.

Next March was set as the deadline by the authorities to coincide with the release of a registry of affected graves to notify the next of kin. Families who want to carry out private exhumations could do so between then and the fourth quarter of next year, when public exhumation begins.

Ideally, the graves should be documented before any exhumation begins and the tombs are destroyed.

Documenting the graves is just one aspect of recording the cemetery's heritage. Its history, people's memories of it and the rituals carried out there will have to be captured via the oral accounts of people who visit the place.

The exhumation will also have to be documented and it includes the recording of rituals associated with exhumation and reburial.

Documentation of the graves will be done by hand and digital photos, while video recordings may be used to document other aspects such as people's memories and the exhumation process. The records will be kept with the authorities and the intention is to make them available for research and study.

Dr Hui said the aim is to complete documenting the cemetery by the end of next year, though meeting the March deadline for the graves is his chief priority. On a possibility that the deadline may not be met, he said there would be no choice but to 'keep going' and to give priority to graves that will be exhumed first.

The authorities did not comment on whether the deadline could be postponed but said they are fully committed to the project and details are being worked out.

The SHS spokesman said: 'If it looks like the work cannot be completed by March and if the extra time needed is not too long, we hope the authorities will be flexible and continue to be as supportive.'

Aside from the upcoming road, the area south of Bukit Brown around the Police Academy will be developed for public housing in about 10 to 15 years.

The rest of Bukit Brown is also slated for housing but it was reported this will not take place until 2030 or 2040.

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Keeping tabs on viruses - via bird poo

Tracking viral infection in wild animals could help prevent disease transmission to humans
Grace Chua Straits Times 26 Oct 11;

IF BIRD droppings that land on your shirt are a sign of good fortune, Dr Ian Mendenhall must be Singapore's luckiest man.

The infectious diseases researcher at the Duke-National University Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School has been well-decorated in the line of duty.

At one of his many field sites in Singapore, he spreads a plastic sheet underneath a tree where hundreds of Javan mynas roost, braving a spatter of droppings and an ear-splitting cacophony.

The 35-year-old parasitologist collects an array of samples using swabs which go into plastic vials, and hauls a small cooler of the vials back to the lab to study them.

He studies bird and bat droppings to find out what viruses are present in the animal populations.

Dr Mendenhall, an American post-doctoral researcher who has been based here since last December, has been doing this twice a week, every week, for most of this year.

Duke-NUS this year began its virus surveillance work in Singapore, to find out what the 'normal' rate of viral infection is in local, wild animal populations, explained Associate Professor Gavin Smith, who leads the project.

This is important because urbanisation puts pressure on wild animal populations and increases their possible contact with humans. And certain groups of people may be exposed more often to animals that carry viruses.

For example, abattoir workers here contracted the Nipah virus from pigs in 1999, while in the past, hunters in Africa may have contracted HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, from chimpanzees they killed.

Also being studied are bats, rodents and mosquitoes. Singapore has some 25 species of bats, but little is known about bat viruses in an urban setting.

So far, the team has not found any viruses in the Javan mynas it studied. It has found some viruses in bats, but they are not known to affect humans.

The research is at a very early stage, Dr Mendenhall said. Its purpose is to find out what normal levels are, so public health workers know how to spot an unusual event.

So, if this is an early warning system, what would trigger an alert?

Prof Smith listed possible warning signs such as a massive rise in the number of animals infected, or in the diversity of the viruses they carry.

'There are some markers in the virus' genetic code that signal that it is more likely to cause illness, or be able to adapt to a new host species,' he said.

Scientists can figure out roughly when the animal was infected, and where the virus has been.

But they do not know for certain what factors affect inter-species transmission, Prof Smith said, adding: 'If anybody tells you they do, they're lying!'

Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, who heads the Communicable Disease Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said it is important to monitor animal viruses.

'Surveillance of the environment, including other living things sharing the same sphere as humans, should run in parallel to the surveillance of human pathogens,' she said in an e-mail.

She cited cases of disease transmission from animals to humans - such as the H1N1 pandemic influenza of 2009, which contained genetic sequences from bird, pig and human viruses - as a reason to carry out such surveillance.

Lest anyone suggest cutting down trees or culling wild animals, Dr Mendenhall said: 'People tend to rush to judgment and say 'kill them all' - but it's not about killing all the birds or bats so they don't transmit diseases.'

After all, he said, some bats eat insect pests while others help to pollinate fruit trees. He added: 'We want healthy landscapes, healthy ecosystems. It's about improving ecological conditions so that the risk of disease transmission is reduced.'

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Doing good by doing their job

Rather than clean up beaches or help out in soup kitchens, professionals offer their skills
Jennani Durai Straits Times 27 Oct 11;

FORMER art director Noor Azhar is a volunteer, but not in the sense that most would imagine it.

His brand of volunteering has less to do with cleaning up beaches or visiting the elderly, and more to do with just doing his job - but for free.

Volunteerism has a new face, with professionals increasingly choosing to offer their expertise rather than signing on with an organisation to help out in whatever way they can.

While the sight of lawyers giving advice at legal clinics may not be new, a number of professionals from different fields have been jumping on board the pro bono bandwagon.

Mr Azhar, 35, has conceptualised stage shows at fund-raisers and parties for non-profit organisations such as the Make A Wish Foundation - which grants wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening illnesses - and the United Nations Children's Fund, when he was an art director.

He joined the Singapore Polytechnic as a lecturer four years ago, and now helms a social enterprise at the school, where he facilitates students in doing the same.

At The Student Agency, he and a group of creative media design students produce videos, relaunch brands and think up witty slogans for the campaigns of non-profit groups and charities like the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

Their latest project involves creating a video campaign for the centre's upcoming International Volunteer Day event on Nov 26.

The group makes sure that 10 per cent to 20 per cent of its work is done pro bono for non-profit groups that require their specific skills. Fees are charged for other projects.

Said Mr Azhar: 'I thought it was important to inculcate in the students the idea of spending some time volunteering using their skill sets. You can do what you love and volunteer at the same time.'

NVPC chief executive Laurence Lien said the centre has seen more professionals wanting to volunteer their professional skills.

The types of skills that people volunteer are diverse, he added, ranging from legal and marketing, to emceeing and photography.

'Whether you're volunteering according to your skill set, or with a specific organisation, we've seen that giving becomes most powerful when people connect with a cause that they care and are passionate about,' he said.

'That's when their giving becomes more engaged and impactful.'

The Kind Exchange, a non-profit organisation that matches professionals with charity groups that need their expertise, has also seen a surge in interest.

'More and more people are realising that that's the way to go,' said Ms Sue Suh, director of community outreach at The Kind Exchange.

She said that people now think differently about volunteering.

'Once upon a time, when people thought about volunteering, they would think, 'I need to go to a soup kitchen, clean up a beach or build a house,'' she said. 'Those are all wonderful things to do. But increasingly, people have realised that they have professional skills that they could apply to volunteering, and that there are more opportunities for them to apply their skills to a good cause.'

Graphic designer and photographer Paul Williams, 35, is one volunteer who was matched by The Kind Exchange to several non-profit organisations that needed his expertise.

Since moving to Singapore three years ago, the Australian has volunteered his services for a charity drive by the Singapore Heart Foundation and a campaign for the World Toilet Summit, which focuses on improving sanitation conditions in Third World countries.

'I feel that I can offer much more to a charity with the skill set that I have,' said Mr Williams, who is managing director of creative graphic design company Bueno.

'As much as being a 'boots-on-the-ground' volunteer is helpful, charities tend to find it much easier to find younger people to collect donations than they do older people who can provide them with professional services for free.'

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Asia pays watery price for overdevelopment

Denis D. Gray Associated Press Google News 26 Oct 11;

BANGKOK (AP) — As millions of urbanites living a modern lifestyle fear that torrents of floodwater will rage through Thailand's capital, some in enclaves of a bygone era watch the rising waters with hardly a worry — they live in old-fashioned houses perched on stilts with boats rather than cars parked outside.

"No problem for them. They'll be safe," says boatman Thongrat Sasai, plying his craft along some of the remaining canals that once crisscrossed Bangkok, earning it a "Venice of the East" moniker.

Like most of monsoon-swept Asia, the city and its environs have experienced periodic floods since it was founded more than two centuries ago. But recent decades have witnessed dramatic changes — from intense urbanization to rising waters blamed on climate change — that are turning once burdensome but bearable events into national crises.

"In a sense traditional society had an easier coexistence with water and flooding," says Aslam Perawaiz, an expert at the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. "Now, with such rapid development there's a much bigger problem."

Across Asia, areas of high population density are also those most prone to flooding and other water-related disasters, according to an Associated Press analysis of recent U.N. maps. When overlaid, the maps show such convergence in a wide arc from Pakistan and India, across Southeast Asia, to China, the Philippines and Indonesia.

This isn't mere bad luck. Historically, agrarian societies settled in the continent's great river basins, including the Ganges in India, the Mekong in Southeast Asia and the Chao Phraya in Bangkok. The gift of the rivers was fertile land, but it came at the price of almost annual flooding during the monsoon rains.

By providing sufficient food for growing populations, these rice bowls in turn spurred the rise of some of Asia's largest cities from Bangkok to Kolkata, India. The concentration of national resources and wealth means even smaller disasters can have a big impact.

Severe flooding this year has killed more than 1,000 people across Asia, and economic losses are running in the tens of billions of dollars.

Thailand, suffering its worst flooding in 50 years, offers a prime example of the perils of centralization and man's fractured bonds to the natural environment. Floodwater has spilled into outlying parts of Bangkok, and the government is scrambling to try to prevent the inundation of the city center.

The basin of the Chao Phraya — the River of Kings — and its headwaters in the north are home to 40 percent of the country's 66 million people. Bangkok is Thailand's industrial, financial, transportation and cultural heart, contributing more than 65 percent of its gross domestic product.

Growth, outward and upward, has been stunning. Bangkok's greater metropolitan area now covers nearly 3,000 square miles (more than 7,700 square kilometers) and continues to gnaw away at a surrounding countryside that once acted as a natural drain for water from northern mountain watersheds — themselves shedding more water because of widespread deforestation.

Highways, suburban malls and industrial parks, many now swamped and sustaining crippling losses, create dangerous buildups of water or divert it into populated areas rather than along traditional paths toward the Gulf of Thailand.

In Bangkok itself, streets where today's middle-aged residents used to play with water buffaloes as children are studded with towering, cheek-by-jowl condominiums and office blocks. The ratios of green space to population and area are among the lowest of any major city in the world.

To this add extreme and erratic weather, said to be triggered by climate change, which has increasingly buffeted Asian countries with storms, typhoons and floods. These include ones such as Thailand with a historically mild tropical climate.

Further, the legal and illegal pumping of underground water faster than it can be replaced has compressed water-storing aquifers, causing Bangkok to sink between 0.8 and 2 inches (2 to 5 centimeters) each year. Scientists say the rise of waters in the nearby gulf as a result of global warming could combine with the sinking land to put Bangkok under water much of the time by mid-century.

Similar subsidence and seawater encroachment is occurring in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, where a typhoon last month triggered the worst flooding in the Philippine capital in decades.

Bangkok, some experts half-jokingly say, may well return to what it was in the 19th century: a water world where almost all its 400,000 inhabitants lived on raft-houses or homes on stilts. "The highways of Bangkok are not streets or roads, but the river and the canals," wrote British envoy Sir John Browning in 1855.

A century later, on the advice of international development agencies, Bangkok began to fill in most of its canals — excellent conduits of floodwaters — to build more roads and combat malaria.

Sumet Jumsai, a prominent architect and scholar, says that Bangkok's early development "evolved with nature and not against it." But, he adds, by the early 1980s the city had become "an alien organism unrelated to its background and surroundings, a great concrete pad on partially filled land that ... must succumb to the flood every year."

Dikes and drainage pipes have been built, but nature appears to be keeping several steps ahead of manmade defenses.

"Of course this year the flood is maybe too great to stop, but all in all it was better in the old days," says Phairat Klatlek, sitting atop a poorly erected concrete flood wall through which water rushed into the first floor of her home. She and her electrician husband, like most of their neighbors, had built a ground-hugging, modern house along the Bangkok Noi canal.

Sumet is designing modern, functional buildings, including a university campus, built on stilt columns and proposes a revival of floating houses, promenades and markets.

"The underlying philosophy is the return to living with nature like in Bangkok of yesteryear," he says.

But Aslam, the disaster expert, says, "I don't think we can go back to living in harmony with nature as in the past. What is now necessary is huge investments and long-term planning by governments to mitigate such flooding."


Associated Press writers Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines; and Asia interactive producer Pailin Wedel contributed to this report.

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Kota Kinabalu wetlands have the right criteria to be a Ramsar site

The Star 27 Oct 11;

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, one of the popular tourist attractions in the state, is poised to become a Ramsar site soon.

Expressing confidence in the uniqueness of Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said it had the right criteria to be accorded Ramsar status.

He said his ministry would give its utmost support to make this a reality.

Ramsar sites are designated under the Ramsar Convention, also known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The Convention has the unique distinction of being the first modern treaty between nations aimed at conserving natural resources.

The Convention was signed in 1971 at the small Iranian town of Ramsar.

“Most important is to maintain this area and thus, I urge everyone to contribute towards making Kota Kinabalu Wetlands a Ramsar site worthy of visiting for many generations to come,” Kurup said in his speech when launching the Malaysia Environment Week 2011, organised by the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society recently.

Kurup said the 24ha Kota Kinabalu Wetlands provides an opportunity for visitors to experience and learn first-hand about a mangrove habitat, a type of wetlands, without the burden of having to travel to a distant location.

“Wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Many wetlands have been significantly destroyed to make way for development.

“However, if managed well, wetland ecosystems can play a vital role in the mitigation of climate change which helps humans counter the effects of climate change based on their role in ensuring water and food security,” he said.

Sabah Biodiversity Centre director Dr Abdul Fatah Amir said the application for Ramsar-site status for Kota Kinabalu Wetlands was now in the final stage of preparation.

“Kota Kinabalu Wetlands has many types of birds that fulfil the criteria for being a Ramsar site. If everything goes well, the proposal will be brought to the state Cabinet at the year-end for deliberation before being submitted to the Ramsar Convention (to be held probably next year),” he said.

The Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands was the area to be designated a Ramsar site in Sabah and the biggest in Malaysia. — Bernama

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Sustainable Bushmeat Harvesting Is Possible, Finds UN Report

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, October 25, 2011 (ENS) - Wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are disappearing from the world due to overexploitation for bushmeat - the legal and illegal trade in the meat and other parts of wild animals.

Now, a new United Nations report says sustainable bushmeat harvesting is possible, but only if governments combine new mechanisms for monitoring and law enforcement with new management models, such as community-based management or game-ranching. Finding alternate means of livelihood for residents of forests and other wild lands also will help conserve vanishing species.

Written by Nathalie van Vliet, the report, "Livelihood Alternatives for the Unsustainable Use of Bushmeat," was prepared for the Bushmeat Liaison Group of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with assistance from the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and financial support from the European Union.

"I trust that this publication will encourage concrete action to halt the overharvesting of bushmeat and the loss of biodiversity, and thus maintain essential ecosystem services and improve the quality of life for the rural poor in tropical and subtropical countries," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Opened for signature in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, all the planet's diverse life forms.

With 193 government Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The treaty covers the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and also the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources.

"Because bushmeat plays a crucial role in the diets and livelihoods of people, options to reduce harvest levels, other than 'blind banning,' have been investigated both by conservation and development planners," writes van Vliet.

The report addresses small-scale food and income alternatives to bushmeat in tropical and sub-tropical countries based on the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The report was informed by the discussions of experts representing 43 governments and UN agencies, international and national organizations, and indigenous and local community organizations, who met in Nairobi, Kenya in June.

They acknowledged that classic approaches and international efforts are not reversing the growing trend of unsustainable bushmeat harvesting. The report sets forth their recommendations to the international community and to concerned national governments and stakeholders.

"There is compelling evidence that the scale of current hunting is a serious threat to many forest species and ecosystems across the world. This threatens both people and the biodiversity they rely upon," said Steven Broad, executive director of TRAFFIC International.

"The reality in rural Africa, is that for the greater majority of people, bushmeat represents a vital dietary item, but high variations across the continent exist," writes van Vliet.

Estimates of bushmeat harvest across the Congo Basin range between one and five million tonnes a year.

In the Brazilian Amazon, subsistence hunters have been estimated to harvest some 23.5 million individual animals annually for food. The yearly market value of wild game meat harvested by rural populations is estimated at US$191 million, second only to timber as a forest product.

In Asia, the true scale and value of the wildlife trade are unknown, as much of the trade is carried out through informal networks, and not documented in government statistics. Many countries in the region including, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam, act as sources of wildlife that is traded and consumed.

To curtail bushmeat hunting to a sustainable level, the report recommends community wildlife management and other improved wildlife-management approaches, such as game-ranching and hunting tourism.

"Mini-livestock" can be produced on a sustainable basis for food, animal feed and as a source of income, the report recommends. These wild animals, such as bush rodents, guinea pigs, frogs or giant snails, can be raised on small farms or in backyards.

Other alternative livelihoods to bushmeat hunting, such as beekeeping and other sustainable harvests of non-timber forest products, should be supported, the report says.

The report recognizes the need to clarify and define land-tenure and access rights, improve monitoring of bushmeat harvesting and trade, and enhance enforcement of bushmeat-related laws.

"Sustainable utilization of wild resources can both guarantee human well-being and the long-term survival of those animal species targeted for consumption by millions of people worldwide," said Broad. "This study lies at the nexus of conservation and development, biodiversity and human livelihoods."

New report identifies innovative solutions for resolving bushmeat crisis
TRAFFIC 26 Oct 11;

Montreal, 26th October 2011—A new United Nations report says resolving the crisis in the harvesting of bushmeat is possible if governments combine new management models, including community-based management, game-ranching and hunting tourism, with new mechanisms for monitoring and law enforcement.

The report, Livelihood Alternatives for the Unsustainable Use of Bushmeat (PDF, 1.2 MB) (CBD Technical Series No. 60) prepared for the Bushmeat Liaison Group of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with assistance from TRAFFIC and financial support from the European Union, comes at a time when the overexploitation of wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians is increasingly threatening food security and livelihoods in many tropical and subtropical countries and is a major cause of biodiversity loss.

International and domestic commercial, and often illegal, trade in the meat and other parts of wild animals (“bushmeat”) is growing significantly and is replacing legitimate subsistence hunting. Together with population growth, poverty in rural areas and increased urban consumption, the absence of livelihood alternatives to bushmeat hunting and trade is a major factor contributing to unsustainable levels of bushmeat harvesting.

Key recommendations of the report include:
• Implement community wildlife management and other improved wildlife management approaches, such as game-ranching and hunting tourism;
• Increase raising of “mini-livestock'”(wild animals such as cane rats raised in small farms);
• Support sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products, for example, through bee keeping.

The report also recognizes the need to clarify and define land-tenure and access rights, improve monitoring of bushmeat harvesting and trade, and enhance bushmeat-related law enforcement.
The findings are the results of discussions by 55 experts representing 43 Governments and United Nations agencies, international and national organizations, and indigenous and local-community organizations, who met in Nairobi from 7 to 10 June 2011.

Participants in the meeting recognized that classic approaches and international efforts are not reversing this growing trend of unsustainable bushmeat harvesting, and adopted a set of recommendations to the international community and to concerned national Governments and stakeholders.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said: “I trust that this publication will encourage concrete action to halt the overharvesting of bushmeat and the loss of biodiversity, and thus maintain essential ecosystem services and improve the quality of life for the rural poor in tropical and subtropical countries.”

Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC, said: “Sustainable utilization of wild resources can both guarantee human well-being and the long-term survival of those animal species targeted for consumption by millions of people world-wide. This study lies at the nexus of conservation and development, biodiversity and human livelihoods.”

Livelihood alternatives for the unsustainable use of bushmeat:

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Forests, potential solution in the fight against hunger

More attention to forest foods and services can improve food security in poor nations
FAO 26 Oct 11;

26 October 2011, Rome – The role of forests in providing timber and other wood products must not overshadow their important contribution to feeding many of the world's poorest communities, a group of international forest organizations and secretariats said today.

According to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), of which FAO is an active member, forests can play an even greater role in feeding the world and helping farmers cope with climate change, but their potential to do so is not being fully realized.

With nearly one billion people in the world suffering from chronic hunger, the CPF said the potential of forests and trees to improve food and nutritional security needs more attention from national and regional policymakers and international development agencies.

"Forests and trees on farms are a direct source of food and cash income for more than a billion of the world's poorest people," said FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry Eduardo Rojas-Briales. "They provide both staple foods and supplemental foods. To enhance these benefits, governments and development partners should increase investments in support of sustainable forest management and rehabilitation of degraded forest lands."

Rojas noted that in India, more than 50 million people depend directly on forests for subsistence, while in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, wild foods are consumed by 80 percent of population on a daily basis.

Nutritional values of forest flora substantial

Forest foods and wild animals form a small but critical contribution to otherwise bland and nutritionally poor diets of rural people. For instance, wild leaves can be an excellent source of vitamins A and C, protein and micronutrients such as calcium and iron. Fruits are especially good sources of minerals and vitamins and contribute significant quantities of calories. A variety of forest plants have edible roots and tubers, which provide carbohydrates and some minerals.

However, forest-dependent wildlife and forest foods are increasingly threatened by overexploitation in many developing countries, causing biodiversity loss and putting food security at risk. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at a meeting in November 2011, will discuss new measures for improving the sustainable management of wildlife in tropical and sub-tropical countries.

Women also play an important part in the processing of tree and forest products, the income from which helps their families achieve food security. For instance, women use shea as a cooking fat and food accompaniment in West Africa. The harvesting and processing of shea, which is an important ingredient in chocolate and other confectionery, provides rural women with nearly 80 percent of their income.

Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization, noted, "food products are the fastest growing component of non-timber forest products in many tropical countries. And adding value to the forest makes it more likely to remain forest rather than converted to other uses."

Agroforestry can double yields for smallholder farmers

Agroforestry combines working trees with crop or livestock production and holds great promise for smallholder farmers. These trees are part of the cycle of productivity on farms and provide numerous products, including food for humans and fodder for livestock.

"Agroforestry provides a climate smart agriculture alternative that can increase food production and improve farmers' incomes and living standards," said Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF). "Agroforestry can both mitigate climate change by storing carbon as well as helping farmers become resilient and adapt to unpredictable seasons."

Over 400,000 farmers in Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe who practice farming that integrates fertilizer tree systems, have seen food production yields doubled. The World Agroforestry Center plans to scale-up similar programs across Africa and South Asia.

Forests support the agriculture sector

In addition to forests' direct contribution to rural diets, forests also provide environmental services that support sustainable agricultural production - which are hugely valuable but cannot be measured easily.

"While some observers have posed increased forest protection and increased agricultural production as a zero-sum trade-off, in fact forests provide many environmental services — such as those related to pollination, hydrological, and climate moderation — that sustain agricultural productivity," said Frances Seymour, CIFOR Director General.

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Small nations push climate at Commonwealth talks

Karl Malakunas (AFP) Google News 26 Oct 11;

PERTH, Australia — Pacific island and other small countries being punished by global warming will use a Commonwealth summit this week to ramp up pressure on powerful nations in the climate change debate.

Setting the stage for the three-day event, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi hit out at major polluters the United States and China for not doing enough to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

"The most disturbing revelation at our discussions this afternoon includes references to the two biggest countries that... do not seem to be forthcoming in their commitments to restricting their gas emissions," Tuilaepa said.

He also called for rich nations to fulfill their promises to provide small countries with billions of dollars in funds so they can adapt to rising sea waters and extreme weather events that scientists blame on climate change.

Tuilaepa was speaking to reporters late Tuesday after discussing climate change with foreign ministers and other representatives of more than 40 small island and developing Commonwealth nations in Perth.

Tuilaepa said those countries would take a united stance on climate change during the summit of leaders from the 54-nation Commonwealth bloc starting on Friday.

Smaller countries that are most vulnerable to climate change have long complained that their pleas for urgent action are being ignored.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held every two years, is seen as a rare chance for them to have their voices heard above those of powerful nations in the contentious climate change debate.

"Often the countries who are left out of these deliberations are those who are most affected by climate change and the broader challenges of sustainable development," Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said.

While CHOGM is not expected to produce any direct commitments from countries on fighting climate change, it is a chance to build political momentum ahead of a crucial United Nations summit in South Africa starting next month.

"Political will is a very important aspect in the success of any international process," the Commonwealth secretariat's chief environment adviser, Janet Strachan, told AFP.

"I would not underestimate the impact that face-to-face discussions by heads of state can have."

The UN climate talks in Durban are one of the last chances for world leaders to forge a united stance on fighting climate change before the Kyoto Protocol, which governs greenhouse gas emissions reductions, expires at the end of 2012.

However, the United States did not ratify Kyoto because developing countries, such as China, did not have to commit to targets on cutting emissions.

The United States has said it will boycott any similar agreement that countries try to forge in Durban and beyond.

China, meanwhile, refuses to agree to binding targets, citing the damage such measures would do to its economy and arguing that richer countries have the historic responsibility for the problem.

Amid this debate, Pacific and other small island countries are already reporting dire, and in some cases near catastrophic, climate change consequences.

"Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific," leaders from 16 Pacific nations said after their own summit in Auckland last month.

Kiribati President Anote Tong revealed then that his low-lying nation was considering radical solutions to deal with rising seas, such as moving its 100,000-strong population onto man-made floating islands.

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Durban talks come at bad time: UN climate chief

AFP Yahoo News 26 Oct 11;

UN climate talks that begin next month in South Africa coincide with a global financial crisis hurting efforts to raise money to fight climate change, the UN's climate chief said Wednesday.

"This is not the best time to be talking about finance, because all developed countries are in a financial crisis," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told a press briefing ahead of the November 28 to December 9 talks in Durban.

She urged developed countries to think of the funds as a long-term need that will outlive the gloomy economic picture currently troubling the euro zone.

"The financial needs of climate, both for adaptation and for mitigation, are not short-term needs. They are long-term needs, and they need to be seen in that respect. The financial crisis is a financial crisis that we have now, but that is not a long-term crisis for the next 20, 30 years," she said.

Negotiators are trying to raise money for a Green Climate Fund that would give $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries to help fight climate change and its effects.

The fund was agreed at the 2010 climate talks in Cancun, but negotiators still have to hammer out where the money will come from and how it will be managed.

The other major issue on the agenda at Durban is the future of the Kyoto Protocol, whose current set of carbon curbs expires at the end of 2012.

Officials are calling Durban a make-or-break meeting for the future of the agreement, the only deal to date with legally binding commitments to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say spell disaster for the planet's health if left unchecked.

The host country's ambassador for the talks rejected the possibility of a new system of legally binding cuts to replace Kyoto, saying a too-ambitious agenda could wreck the negotiations.

"Talk of any legally binding instrument would be irresponsible, very irresponsible," said NJ Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa's ambassador-at-large for the conference.

"To even begin to suggest that the outcome of Durban must be a legally binding instrument would be irresponsible, because it will collapse the system."

Figueres said negotiators need to reach agreement on a "broader mitigation framework" that would combine a second round of Kyoto curbs with commitments from non-Kyoto countries to make comparable cuts.

The world's top two polluters, China and the US, are not part of the Kyoto Protocol's emissions cuts. And Canada, Japan and Russia have all said they will not sign up for a second round.

China Urges Way Out Of "Deadlock" In Durban Climate Talks
David Stanway PlanetArk 27 Oct 11;

China's chief climate official called on developed countries to come up with their own national initiatives to cut carbon emissions in order to avoid "deadlock" at next month's global climate change talks in Durban, South Africa.

Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission in charge of China's efforts to combat climate change, said a number of countries were unwilling to participate in a binding new global climate pact once the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012.

He told official news agency Xinhua that some nations were unwilling to take part in a second "commitment period" because countries such as the United States had so far refused to accept legally binding CO2 targets, thus threatening the "environmental integrity" of the Kyoto Protocol.

He suggested "comparable" efforts to reduce emissions by both developed and developing nations could help push negotiations along, even if they were not part of the Kyoto Protocol.

Xie said the talks in Durban were unlikely to produce a massive breakthrough.

"Everyone will be dissatisfied, but everyone will be able to accept it," he was quoted as saying.

He said his proposals had already won support among developing nations.

As part of the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are subject to binding greenhouse gas emissions targets, but developing countries including China have been exempt under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."

China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

The European Union has been seeking ways to commit big greenhouse gas producers like China and India to pledge bigger reductions, but Beijing has insisted that industrialized countries should bear most of the burden.

(Editing by Ken Wills)

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