Best of our wild blogs: 1 Jul 12

Please do not “rescue” young birds
from Bird Ecology Study Group

More Pasir Ris mangrove fun with kids!
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Favourite Nectaring Plants
from Butterflies of Singapore

Blue-Crowned Hanging Parrots Foraging for Caterpillars
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Tales from Rimba 2: Why did the chicken cross the road?
from Nature rambles

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Singapore shares secrets of sustainable city development

Biodiversity index is among issues discussed by delegates from 10 Asian cities at meeting
Lin Zhaowei Straits Times 1 Jul 12;

A few years ago, Singapore started designing a self-assessment tool which governments can use to gauge how well they are doing in nature conservation and how well their national plant and animal species are surviving.

Today, more than 50 cities are using this checklist, which is known as the City Biodiversity Index, or simply the Singapore Index.

Dr Lena Chan, director of the National Biodiversity Centre of the National Parks Board, said the index has already been translated into French, German and Japanese, and a Portuguese version is in the works.

She was giving an update on the index at a plenary session of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21, a gathering of Asian city leaders to discuss common problems such as crisis and environmental management.

This 11th edition of the meeting, held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, has pulled in delegates from 10 Asian cities; three cities did not send representatives.

Singapore also shared the key thrusts of its $1 billion, five-year sustainable-development plan, which aims to make energy usage more efficient, reduce pollution and expand the nation's green spaces.

Minister of State for National Development and for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin chaired discussions on the theme of balancing economic growth with environmental and social needs.

The cities in the Asian Network have a dozen ongoing projects to promote tourism, as well as to come up with counter-measures against infectious diseases and to share their expertise in specialised fields.

Two cities, Russia's Tomsk and Mongolia's Ulan Bator, were added as new members yesterday.

At the end of the day's proceedings, the participating cities made a joint declaration, reaffirming their commitment to achieving the network's objectives of promoting solidarity and cooperation among Asian cities through joint projects.

They also pledged to continue promoting sustainable urban development and to share knowledge, experience and technology to overcome environmental and social challenges.

The next meeting will be held in Hanoi.

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Asean seeking haze solution

Straits Times 1 Jul 12;

Miri (Sarawak) - Asean countries will seek an urgent regional solution to transboundary haze this year in view of the dry season in August and September, Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas has said.

The minister said he and his counterparts from Singapore and Brunei have agreed to meet ahead of a scheduled gathering on the haze problem in September, a Bernama report said yesterday.

Asean's 14th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution and the 14th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution are scheduled for September in Bali.

'Three of us agreed (during the Rio Earth Summit in Brazil last month) to meet earlier than the scheduled meeting in September,' he told reporters after chairing a meeting on the haze situation in Miri yesterday.

'We would like to bring it forward a lot earlier, so that we can review each other's strategies. The problem will get worse because the weather will be drier in August and September,' he said.

Haze blanketed the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas last month as smoke from several large fires blew in from Sumatra in Indonesia to peninsular Malaysia.

The haze season usually occurs each year from June to September, which is the dry season in Indonesia and also a time when farmers there clear land using the slash-and-burn method.

The worst episode of haze to hit the region was in 1997. Asean's efforts to tackle the annual haze problem saw nine of its members ink the 2002 Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. Only Indonesia has yet to ratify the accord.

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Malaysia: Stray bull elephant caught

New Straits Times 30 Jun 12;

JERANTUT: After living in fear of elephant attacks for months, more than 30 villagers in Kampung Tuit, near here, are finally relieved when a bull pachyderm was captured by the Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers on Thursday.

Perhilitan sent 12 workers to catch the 13-year-old elephant about 1.30pm. The animal was believed to have been separated from its herd.

State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said it was believed that the elephant had come from the Tekai forest reserve near the village.

"Because of its frequent encounters with humans, the elephant was quite tame and easy to capture.

"Before this, we have tried to force it back into the jungle, but it would always return to the village to look for food."

Khairiah also commended the villagers for not injuring the animal, which had been wandering in the village and eating their crops for months.

She said Perhilitan staff from the elephant sanctuary in Lanchang would relocate the animal to a more suitable place, far from human settlements.

Villager Sulaiman Abdullah, 30, said many of the villagers had stumbled upon the elephant in their orchards and banana plantations.

"Although the animal was not aggressive during daytime, we were afraid that it might attack us at night."

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Europe's Cities Plan To Combat Mounting Climate Risk

Nina Chestney PlanetArk 29 Jun 12;

European cities are planning to adapt to climate change as the risks become more severe, a report by UK-based emissions measurement organization the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and consultancy Accenture showed on Thursday.

Cities increasingly have to plan flood defenses, ways to manage water in times of drought, ensure new buildings provide natural cooling to occupants and adapt old buildings and infrastructure to become more energy efficient.

The report surveyed 22 European cities - including Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Manchester, Moscow, Paris and Rome - about their greenhouse gas emissions and climate change strategies.

The report comes less than a week after a United Nations' summit in Rio de Janeiro failed to define clear sustainable development goals and left many convinced that local governments and businesses will have to lead efforts to improve the environment.

The survey found that 17 European cities out of the 22 surveyed, or 77 percent, have completed or almost completed risk assessments to understand how climate change will affect them.

Eighteen of the 22 European cities said they face "significant risks" arising from climate change and 54 percent of them see these risks as "severe" or "very severe".

Due to these risks, cities are increasingly looking at developing adaptation plans. Fourteen European cities, or 64 percent of the 22 surveyed, already have an adaptation plan in place while two more are currently developing them.

"European cities are demonstrating leadership and best practice in managing climate change at the local level," said Conor Riffle, head of CDP's cities program.

"The report shows that other cities can benefit by implementing similar strategies, like annual measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions."


Global carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, hit a record high last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Eighty-six percent of the European cities surveyed have set a city-wide emissions reduction target, compared to a global average of 70 percent of cities, CDP said.

Based on the latest data given by four cities to CDP, London's emissions fell 3.6 percent to 43.4 million metric tons (47.8 million tons) of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010 from 2008 and Copenhagen's dropped 5.2 percent to around 2.5 million metric tons in 2010 from 2009.

Berlin's emissions rose 4.1 percent to over 20.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 from 2007 and Rotterdam's grew by 6 percent in 2010 to 29.6 million metric tons from 2009.

"Population growth, economic activity, weather patterns, and other factors that are outside the city government's direct control can make it difficult, if not impossible, to show steady reductions in emissions," the report said.

European cities are also becoming more aware of the economic opportunities from climate change. Thirteen of the cities surveyed, or 59 percent, think that tackling climate change will develop new business industries in their cities.

Some cities - like Helsinki and Berlin - are using voluntary agreements with the private sector to strengthen their cities' climate protection goals.

(Editing by William Hardy)

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