Best of our wild blogs: 23 Sep 12

Tree planting at Tampines Eco Green: volunteers needed
from The Green Volunteers

Life History of the Perak Lascar
from Butterflies of Singapore

A Short Outing to Lornie Trail
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Bar-Tailed Godwit’s Reach
from Bird Ecology Study Group

The cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977-1987)
from Otterman speaks

Learning about life in the deep sea
from wild shores of singapore

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Haze in morning improves by evening

Straits Times 23 Sep 12;

Moderately hazy conditions returned to Singapore yesterday morning.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) average hit a high of 58 at 7am yesterday and stayed in the "moderate" range until noon. By 7pm, though, the reading had gone down to 47.

Any PSI reading below 50 is considered "good", while a reading between 50 and 100 is in the "moderate" range.

The National Environment Agency's (NEA) website listed health advisories for people in the northern, eastern and western parts of Singapore, advising them to limit prolonged outdoor activity.

No health warnings were given for those in the central and southern parts of the island, except that unusually sensitive people - such as older adults or those with heart and lung diseases - should consider reducing activities requiring heavy exertion.

Yesterday's higher pollution levels came almost two weeks after the PSI hit a one-year high of 79 on Sept 7.

The NEA said last Monday that hot spot activities in southern Sumatra are expected to continue this week, due to dry weather. "Singapore may experience hazy conditions on some days when the winds blow from the south-west," said a spokesman.

The haze has become an annual occurrence, caused by farmers and logging companies in Indonesia - particularly in Riau, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Jambi and Aceh - burning forests to clear land for cultivation, between June and September, the region's dry season.

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Malaysia: 'More eyes to watch our forests'

Desmond Davidson New Straits Times 22 Sep 12;

PRESERVING BIODIVERSITY: NGO initiative to get public involved in more transparent forestry governance'

KUCHING: THE public could now keep watch over the country's forests and have a say in how they are preserved under the Forest Watch Initiative of Transparency International Malaysia's Forest Governance and Integrity (FGI) programme that was launched here yesterday.

"The public can now be the eyes and ears of the forests," said Datuk Paul Low, president of Transparency International Malaysia, at the launch.

"Through the initiative, people are now able to to give their support towards governance of forestry, a governing process that is transparent and accountable."

Under the Norwegian government-funded initiative, the public could report illegal, suspicious or dubious activities in forested areas to Transparency International Malaysia on its website

The suspected irregular activities in the forests could be viewed via the "geospatial technology in forestry" on the website.

In Sarawak, the report would be acted on by the Forest Watch Task Force made up of officers from the Sarawak Forest Department, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Sarawak office, Institute of Foresters Malaysia and Transparency International Malaysia.

Low said besides providing an avenue for the public to take part in forest governance, the initiative also allows the governing agencies to meet regularly to discuss issues and challenges.

"This paves the way for investigations and policy reforms in the long run. The forests as a renewable natural resource with a massive wealth of biodiversity, with their economic as well as the critical environmental protection attributes, are essential for the nation."

The initiative has the support of the Sarawak state government.

Wan Shardini Wan Salleh, the deputy director of the Forest Department, said the state government supported the need for effective forest governance and conservation even though the department had implemented forest governance tools "towards achieving sustainable forest management".

"We need the forests to mitigate climate change, provide sanctuary for biodiversity and serve as a powerhouse of genetic resources."

He said in 2008, the department launched the "Monitoring, Enforcement and Protection System" to curb illegal activities in environmentally sensitive and totally protected areas, like water catchments, national parks and forest reserves using an array of "sophisticated technology".

In 2009, it used an airborne imaging system based on hyperspectral technology to detect and recognise illegal encroachments in our forests.

Wan Shardini said despite allegations, more than 50 per cent of Sarawak was still under green cover in accordance with the commitment Malaysia made at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and more recently at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2008.

He said two-thirds or 8.23 million ha of Sarawak's landmass of 12.34 million ha, was still covered with forests.

He said six million hectares had been designated as permanent forest estates.

Sarawak has set a target to gazette one million hectares of its natural forests as totally protected areas such as national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries as genetic banks and for biodiversity conservation.

Need for better forest governance
Zora Chan The Star 23 Sep 12;

KUCHING: State governments in the country must have conservation elements in their programmes for sustainable development.

This is to support the country’s aspiration of having more than half of its land area under forest cover, said Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Paul Low.

If state forests continued to be opened for agriculture or other land use unsustainable ways, it would leave the country with below the 50% level that it previously committed during the Earth Summit in 1992 and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2008, he said.

“For Malaysia to be able to sustain its forest resources, the country must have an adequate forest base, that is, having sufficient area of land under permanent forest.

“The state governments need to support our commitment to the international conventions,” he said during the launch of “Transparency International Malaysia’s Forest Watch Initiative in Sarawak” here yesterday. Deputy state forest director Wan Shardini Wan Salleh launched the one-day event.

Low said the country still had considerable areas of land under forest although rapid development had cost the country most of its fascinating lowland rainforests.

He said land development with sustained socio-political equilibrium held the key to the nation’s speedy growth.

“If socio-political equilibrium is not balanced by environmental security, there will be no balanced development; in other words, no sustainability in national development,” he said.

In Sarawak, Low said, Transparency International Malaysia had been working with the Forest Department to the state’s support forest governance processes.

He said it provided capacity building programmes on the usage of geospatial technology in forestry to various agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) since July last year.

Urging the public to visit the Forest Watch Initiative at, Low said their support was pivotal in forest governance in Malaysia.

“The initiative provides a platform for the public to have direct communications with the authorities involved in forest governance,” he said.

“On the website, the public can report illegal, suspicious or dubious activities in forested areas.”

The initiative is an important component of Transparency International Malaysia’s Forest Governance and Integrity Programme.

It is an avenue for the public to participate in Malaysia’s forest go-verning process. This means the public can be the “eyes and ears” of the forests.

In Sarawak, the Forest Watch Task Force comprising the Forest Department, Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission Sarawak, Institute of Foresters Malaysia and Transparency International Malaysia will meet regularly to review reports by the public and provide feedback.

In his speech, Shardini said the state government welcomed Transparency International Malaysia’s initiative as it opened the doors to the people to participate in forest governing processes to ensure sustainability.

He said two-third of Sarawak’s landmass of 12.34 million ha was still covered with forests.

“Sarawak has also set a target to gazette a million ha of its natural forests as Totally Protected Areas such as national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries as genetic bank and for biodiversity conservation,” he said.

“Our strategy is to retain existing natural forests, create man-made forests and rehabilitate logged-over forests.”

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