Best of our wild blogs: 8 Oct 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [1 - 7 Oct 2012]
from Green Business Times

Training for the Singapore Northern Expedition
from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Red Junglefowls In My Condo – More Observations
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
from Monday Morgue

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Learning more about wild boar

Olivia Siong Channel NewsAsia 7 Oct 12;

SINGAPORE: A nature group in Singapore is providing free lessons for children to learn more about wild boars.

This after news of wild boars wandering out of the forest and charging at people had raised some concerns among the public.

A wild boar had reportedly wandered out of the forest around Lower Peirce Reservoir and charged at a security guard and a five-year-old boy at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in June.

Children will learn more about the animals, like where they live, what they eat, and what dangers they face.

They will also be given practical tips on what they should do if they encounter a wild boar.

The group hopes to make such lessons a monthly affair, so as to raise awareness of the animals.

Vilma D'rozario, co-founder of Cicada Tree Eco-Place, said: "The wild pig is a native animal of Singapore and we feel that (they) have every right to be here and live wild and free... We will not be going into the forest and this event definitely does not really bring people close to (the animals). It's a lesson to teach kids about wild pigs."

- CNA/cc

Related links
7 Oct (Sun): M.A.D. (Make A Difference) for Wild Pigs on wildsingapore happenings

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Mega oil hub to rise from Johor coastal village

With demand booming, analysts see enough business for Pengerang, Singapore
Anita Gabriel Straits Times 8 Oct 12;

MEGA excavators are digging. Cranes are in full swing. Drilling rods and countless other pieces of heavy equipment are in action on hundreds of hectares of grey land in the south-eastern tip of Johor.

The vast reclaimed field overlooks a stunning view of the world's busiest shipping channel, the Strait of Singapore.

This is Pengerang, a laid-back coastal village - a 30-45 minute bumboat ride away from Changi Ferry Terminal. Its ostrich farm and cheap jumbo-sized fresh lobsters draw many Singaporeans on weekends.

"Not many realise the property we have," said Dr Ngau Boon Keat, executive chairman of Dialog Group, a Malaysian public-listed oil and gas services firm.

Pengerang's unhurried pace will change dramatically as Malaysia is bent on turning the seaside backwater into one of Asia's top oil hubs, to rival Singapore's Jurong Island, in just five years.

Oil is a sector Malaysia knows intimately - it is a major producer of 665,000 barrels a day.

Sceptics say this may be another lofty idea by Malaysia which will be fumbled on delivery. However, a few factors add optimism.

"This is not a new sector for Malaysia. We may have been short on execution in the past but Malaysia is set to successfully deliver and execute," said Mr Idris Jala, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and the chief steward of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's ambitious economic transformation plan.

Iskandar, a massive economic corridor in Johor, drew similar critique at the start but six years on, it has drawn RM95 billion (S$38 billion) of investments.

Fuelling Pengerang's potential are several plus points which Malaysia Petroleum Resources Corp chief executive Emir Mavani notes. It has a natural harbour sheltered from the monsoon with deep draughts to handle ultra- large crude carriers and other vessels - essential traits for an oil port.

Pengerang is blessed with abundant land. The mammoth project, with state-owned oil giant Petronas as an anchor tenant, sits on a single plot of 8,100 ha.

That is a tempting proposition for firms based on Singapore's Jurong Island looking for space to grow.

"For a long time, we have had to say 'no' to customers looking for more space in Singapore. Unfortunately there is no more land for us to expand our activities," said Vopak Asia president Patrick van der Voort.

Vopak has four storage terminals in Singapore and has tied up with Dialog to build a RM2 billion deepwater oil terminal in Pengerang.

"We are not trying to create a facility to compete with Singapore but are simply looking for another location to cater for incremental demand. We are not shifting our business," he added.

Still, if competition is the game plan, it is going to take hard work for the fledgling oil complex to snag market share from Singapore - the world's third-largest oil refining and trading hub after Rotterdam and Houston.

Even as Singapore raises its game with cutting-edge technology - underground storage facility and possibly, floating platforms - Jurong, the oil industry's nerve centre here, is shifting towards higher value-add activities.

"The key is for Singapore to be globally competitive, instead of just being competitive in one area or one region," said Mr Eugene Leong, Singapore Economic Development Board's director of energy and chemicals.

"As the region builds up its capabilities in the energy and chemicals sector, we believe there are synergies for mutual cooperation. We are open to exploring these opportunities," he added.

Indeed, Pengerang can be a strategic fit for Singapore's oil sector, much as Indonesia's Batam is for its manufacturing sector.

"The whole basis of this project is that it's near Singapore, which has already established itself," said Mr Ngau.

But the notion persists that the Pengerang project, with its tax carrots and promise of lower cost, is aimed at luring oil giants from Singapore.

It will not be the first time. The transhipment sector saw brutal competition when Malaysia's Port of Tanjung Pelepas was set up in 1999 to fight for cargo share with Singapore's PSA.

"Similar to the impact that Pelepas had, more competition will force Singapore to up its game and rejig its strategy," said Centennial Group partner Manu Bhaskaran.

Besides, with global oil demand of a whopping 900,000 barrels per day pushing up demand for refinery, trading and bunkering facilities in the region, there could be enough to go around.

"There will be enough growth to keep both Singapore and Pengerang in business. Singapore need not fear competition," said Mr Bhaskaran.

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Rise of Malaysia's Green lobby

Growing citizen movement against development projects making KL nervous
Yong Yen Nie Straits Times 8 Oct 12;

KUALA LUMPUR - In April last year, they were just a handful of professionals, retired civil servants and businessmen living in Kuantan, Pahang, who were concerned about the environmental impact of a rare-earth mining plant being built 25km away.

Ten months later, the civilians, joining hands with the Himpunan Hijau environmental group, mobilised thousands of people to protest against the operations of Lynas Corp, an Australian mining company.

Lynas had been given the green light by the Malaysian government to mine and process rare earths, but residents were worried about the effects on their health, because rare-earth mining produces radioactive waste.

"We were not trained as activists, but we have volunteered ourselves to speak out against a serious environmental issue," said Mr Tan Bun Teet, a retired teacher who became the leader of the Kuantan group, which called itself Save Malaysia Stop Lynas.

Since the anti-Lynas protests, other rallies, led by Himpunan Hijau, have been staged against other development projects, including a gold mine in Bukit Koman, also in Pahang, and a petrochemical project in Pengerang, Johor.

Political analysts say the green movement is making the Malaysian government nervous, as the activists have been able to successfully block or delay some of the development projects recently.

"What the government is worried about is that such protests will spook foreign investors," said political analyst James Chin of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.

"Investors are thinking twice about putting capital in Malaysia, especially in 'dirty' industries, as there is now a new kind of risk they have to take that was unheard of previously."

In February, some 15,000 protesters, including residents, non-governmental organisation members and opposition party members, turned up at the Kuantan rally organised by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas and Himpunan Hijau to put pressure on the government to stop Lynas' operations.

The US$800 million (S$983 million) rare-earth plant has been ready to start operations since May, but the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, a government agency, did not issue it a temporary operating licence until last month.

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas appealed against the issuing of the licence, and a Kuantan court last Thursday agreed to postpone the hearing until Wednesday.

Civilians are increasingly becoming active participants in the green movement.

"The people want to exercise their responsibility as civilians, and that is why they are willing to stand under the scorching sun for hours during the demonstrations," said Mr Wong Tack, chairman of Himpunan Hijau. "I have not seen such spirit shown by the people in a very long time."

Himpunan Hijau, formed last year, has been instrumental in organising demonstrations against major development projects that have an impact on the country's environment and the people's livelihoods.

The green movement in Malaysia has seen a resurgence, with environmental issues becoming a strong rallying point that is making the government unpopular ahead of a general election that must be called by April next year.

"These groups are successful in rallying support from the masses because they are championing causes that touch the heart of society, such as health concerns and the environment," Prof Chin said.

The last big rally was in 1987, when 10,000 people protested to demand the shutdown of a rare-earth factory in Bukit Merah, Perak, after studies showed that radioactive levels in the town were significantly higher and were believed to have resulted in the higher occurrence of cancer among residents there.

Dr Ooi Kee Beng, a political analyst at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, noted that rising support for and focus on environmental issues can be attributed to factors such as wider Internet access, increasing urbanisation among the Malay population, higher education, regionalism as well as the rise of Asian economies.

"Political engagement as part and parcel of mature citizenhood has become undeniable," he said. "It puts huge pressure on the political leadership and the bureaucracy to perform in rational ways."

The government, however, has accused the green movement of aligning with the opposition.

It claimed Himpunan Hijau had paid people to turn up at the rally in Pengerang late last month.

Prof Chin noted that some rallies had been largely hijacked by the opposition. "A lot of these groups and their rallies are backed and reinforced by the opposition, automatically making the green movement anti-establishment."

But Mr Wong, who managed to stop the construction of a coal- fired power plant in Sabah last year, dismissed the allegations.

"Ultimately, these are people movements," he said. "People are frustrated and we happen to come in at the right time to respond to society's call."

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Malaysia: Why the Central Forest Spine is important

New Straits Times 8 Oct 12;

THE Central Forest Spine (CFS) is a master plan to enable animal and plant species in the country to continue to thrive for future generations.

Under the plan, four major but isolated forest complexes will be connected to form one large 5.3 million hectare forest complex.

It would allow animals to roam freely from the north to the south of the peninsula, ensuring that they would be able to breed.

According to Dr G. Balamurugan, an environmental consultant with Ere Consulting Group which was involved in the initial studies, the CFS is a long-term plan for the survival of our animal species.

Due to the low population of many endangered species, a limited gene pool may hinder their survival.

Connecting the forests will also allow other smaller animals to be spread out in all the forested areas. Plants, too, as seeds are carried by these animals, would be deposited wherever they roam.

The four main areas are the Titiwangsa-Bintang-Nakawan Range, National Park to Eastern Range, the Southeast Pahang Swamp Forest, Tasik Chini and Tasik Bera and the Endau Rompin National Park-Kluang Wildlife Reserve.

The forest complexes will be connected through a network of 37 linkages. Of these, 20, which are known as primary linkages, will directly link the previously disconnected forests, while another 17, known as secondary linkages, will involve creating stepping stones of greenery to connect between forested areas.

Among the animals that would benefit from the implementation of the CFS include big endangered mammals like the Sumatran rhinoceros.

Ecologist and biodiversity conservationist Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz said it was one of the best conservation plans he had seen and that it was a useful tool for his team to draft a National Elephant Conservation Action Plan, which would be fashioned after the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan -- the first holistic animal conservation plan of its type that looks at the preservation of the Malayan tiger.

"Now, we are doing more research to understand how effective things are like the viaduct, and how to best complement the corridors in these areas."

Forest plan workable, says MB
New Straits Times 8 Oct 12;

KUANTAN: The Pahang government is fully behind the Federal Government's Central Forest Spine master plan and will bring up the issue of its implementation during this week's executive committee meeting.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said it was a workable plan to link four major forest areas in the peninsula to form a super forest area stretching from the north to the south of the peninsula.

"It is a great plan that will help ensure the survival of endangered wildlife species like tigers, elephants and rhinoceros.

"We need to protect them because we do not want our future generations to know these animals only through pictures," he said at the sidelines of a get together with the Chinese community at SMK Tanah Putih, here, yesterday.

However, he cautioned that a plan of such scope would involve overlapping territorial claims and ownership.

"We support the plan, but we have to make a careful and thorough study to iron out certain issues. For example, when one views the plan on a map, one might see plain forest. But on the ground, it is a Felda scheme. We'll study the situation on the ground first before taking it from there."

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Indonesia: Plastic waste pollutes mangrove forest in Bali

Antara 7 Oct 12;

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - Tens of tons of plastic waste from the sea have been polluting the mangrove forest area in Ngurah Rai Forest Park, South Denpasar, spokesman of Bali forestry office said.

"Everyday we have four trucks fully loaded with plastic waste taken from the area. That waste is not from the mangrove forest but we think it came from the river and streamed down to the sea," Head of Protection Division of the Bali Forestry Office Suratman said here, Sunday.

The local authority is overwhelmed in cleaning the mangrove forest as the plastic waste is abundant, stuck in the mangrove roots, and scattered in the 102-hectare mangrove forest.

The cleaning service personnel also have to face the thick mud that could hamper and slow down the plastic waste removal in the area.

"We fail to prevent its (plastic waste) coming as it is from the sea," Suratman said.

The plastic waste usually can be seen during the noon until 04.00 p.m. local time when the tide is in low level.

Therefore, Suratman also urged people not to throw away plastic waste in the river or sea as they can be caught up and then polluted the mangrove forest.

Despite plastic waste, the Forest Park is also tainted by vandalism, graffiti on its pavement, gazebos or resting area and also the wooden tower.

The Head of Ngurah Rai Forest Park Office, Irwan Abdullah, said that the authority could not do much to prevent the vandalism.

"We have routinely asked and checked visitors to avoid committing the vandalism. But they somehow slipped and ignored the instruction," Irwan said.


Editor: Suryanto

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Indonesia: 1,800 People to be Relocated for Sea Turtle Refuge

Tunggadewa Mattangkilang Jakarta Globe 6 Oct 12;

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The Berau district administration will relocate 700 households, or about 1,800 people, from the island of Derawan, East Kalimantan, amid plans to turn the island into a refuge for sea turtles and as one of the province’s marine tourism spots.

“The island’s conservation has to be maintained. Therefore the population on Derawan Island has to be controlled to prevent it from becoming too dense,” said Berau district head Makmur HAPK on Friday. “We will speak with the residents of the island so that they will agree to be relocated.”

Makmur said that the island was first inhabited in the 1960s by people from the Bajoe tribe of South Sulawesi but that people from other areas, primarily fishermen, started to inhabit the island.

The island’s rich marine ecology, especially its coral reefs and green turtles, are its main attractions. The island attracts about 22,000 tourists each year.

“The island is a conservation area that needs to be protected,” Makmur added. “However, we also need to be careful in implementing the policy to relocate the locals.”

The district administration has prepared 1,400 hectares of land for the relocation. Each household will get two hectares of land that can be used for farming.

The district administration will also ensure that the residents are relocated to coastal areas that will suit their backgrounds as fishermen.

The two areas currently being considered for relocation are Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Kasai, which are part of the Derawan subdistrict.

Makmur said that the residents who agree to be relocated will still be the owners of their land on the Derawan Island. The local administration will build home-stays and facilities to support tourism on the island.

“The residents are still the owners of their land but the government will rent the land out so that the locals can still get to maintain their rights. We just want the island to be used completely as a tourist area,” he said.

Derawan Island subdistrict head Zulkifli said that so far 40 households have agreed to be relocated.

“We had to encourage them because the land is still theirs, but they agreed to be relocated because they will get two hectares of land,” he said.

Derawan Island and 11 others with a combined total area of 1.2 million hectares have been declared as the Berau Marine Conservation Area (KKLB) since 2005.

He added that Derawan Island is a place where green turtles lay their eggs. There were about 20 turtle nests found on the island with each one containing about 100 eggs. But the eggs are often stolen and some turtles are even slaughtered and turned into souvenirs.

The green turtle population in the Berau marine conservation area has declined by about 70 percent in the past decade.

The island’s tourism spot is currently managed by the Berau district administration while the conservation of its green turtles and coral reefs are managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Turtle Island in Kalimantan Now Under Govt Control Amid Dispute
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang Jakarta Globe 12 Oct 12;

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The Berau district administration is temporarily taking over the management of Sangalaki Island, a breeding ground for green turtles that has been declared a conservation area by the government, following a dispute between residents and conservationists.

There are about 20 to 30 breeding sites scattered across the island, which is also a popular diving site, and each spot can produce up to 100 eggs.

Locals have been complaining about the harsh treatment they receive from conservationists, who in turn accuse them of stealing turtle eggs. Residents of the area recently told the Tribun Kaltim newspaper that conservation officials had even extorted fishermen.

The dispute has forced conservationists to leave the island and has left thousands of turtle eggs and baby turtles abandoned.

Berau administration officials said they would temporarily take over the conservation activities with the help of local officials and police pending a decision on the matter from the central government.

The island was previously managed by the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

“The Berau district administration will take over the supervision of the island until a joint decision to solve the island dispute is issued,” district head Achmad Rifai said on Thursday.

“We’re ready to manage the island.”

He added that the dispute arose because local fishermen felt they were being sidelined by conservationists, led by the BKSDA working in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Berau Turtle Foundation. They said that the turtle conservation activities were made so exclusive that even the locals were not allowed to visit the island, while NGOs and other organizations were free to enter and leave the island as they pleased.

Achmad said that in future, the residents of the island should be empowered and involved in the conservation efforts, adding that every policy and regulation must include citizens to prevent the supervision of the island becoming too rigid.

“The BKSDA must evaluate its policy on how it manages the island. The people must be involved. They live there, so they shouldn’t just be spectators,” he said.

The district administration and the Berau district legislature have also rejected the BKSDA’s request to manage the island again. Saga, a deputy legislative speaker, said the rejection was meant to thwart new problems from arising regarding the administration of the island.

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