Best of our wild blogs: 7 Nov 12

Wild Singapore book in the news!
from wild shores of singapore

Ruddy Kingfisher collided onto a glass window
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Singapore's 'surprisingly green face' in new book

David Ee Straits Times 7 Nov 12;

Wild Singapore's co-authors (from left) Geoffrey Davison, Ria Tan and Benjamin Lee traced Singapore's natural history from the early 1800s, taking in the breadth and depth of existing flora and fauna. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

BRITISH publisher John Beaufoy was taken aback in 2010 when he was pitched the idea for a book on "wild Singapore". He thought it was an oxymoron.

But two years on, the book will sit on shelves worldwide alongside other titles in the "Wild" series, such as Wild Sabah and Wild Sri Lanka.

The 208-page hardcover book will be launched on Friday at the Botanic Gardens.

Mr Beaufoy, who will be flying in from London for the launch, said: "I think many people overseas will react in a similar way to me - they will be surprised, and I must say, rather delighted by the surprisingly green face of Singapore that the book presents."

Its authors are three conservationists: Dr Geoffrey Davison, assistant director of the National

Biodiversity Centre, Mr Benjamin Lee, assistant director of nature parks at the National Parks Board, and Ms Ria Tan, a blogger and an expert on marine life here.

The book traces Singapore's natural history from the early 1800s, taking in the breadth and depth of existing flora and fauna, which the authors know will leave many Singaporeans as bewildered as Mr Beaufoy was.

It is a reaction the authors have seen time and again. When Ms Tan posted photographs online of starfish and otters taken on Singapore coastlines, she had to vigorously defend their authenticity. People had commented: "Singapore, meh?"

Even pods of bottlenose dolphins can be spotted in Singapore's southern waters, according to the book.

Nature and wildlife are often "literally right in your backyard", the authors said. People just have to go out and notice it.

The book, priced at $69.99 (including GST), is available at major bookstores.

Related links
Wild Singapore book on the wild shores of singapore blog

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What's a garden city without such sweet twitterings?

Straits Times Forum 7 Nov 12;

THE Asian Koel roosts in Bedok as well, where I live ("It's a big bird and a nuisance, but it's protected" by Mr Daniel Ng; last Saturday). Unlike Mr Ng, their distinct and piercing cries are music to my ears; this is what nature is about - the sound of birds in lush greenery.

If we wish Singapore to be a garden city, we cannot expect to hear no cries of birds and see butterflies fluttering quietly around in the "garden".

It is the cries of birds that make you feel that you are close to nature. Apart from Koels, there are also other big birds that give out various cries, some of which are very melodic.

Surely, one cannot ask the authorities to get rid of them.

If you live near the MRT tracks, as I do, you hear the trains start moving from about dawn, with their rumbling stopping only around midnight.

The din of traffic is also a constant.

Yet, residents must and can tolerate the noise because we want roads and transport facilities to be nearby for our convenience.

To balance such man-made cacophony, we ought to welcome the sweet music of nature.

Khairon Bibi Mastan (Madam)

It's a common bird, so why is it protected?
Straits Times Forum 7 Nov 12;

I EMPATHISE with Mr Daniel Ng ("It's a big bird and a nuisance, but it's protected"; last Saturday).

Like Mr Ng, I suffered too after the Asian Koel began roosting in the trees near my HDB unit in Jurong East more than a year ago.

It would screech loudly and incessantly for several hours every morning, usually starting at about 5am, and sometimes even as early as 4am.

The noise from this bird is as loud as having a car horn sounding just outside your window.

It is impossible to sleep once the bird starts its morning screeching.

Fortunately, the bird has moved a little further from my home in recent months, bringing my family a much needed reprieve.

Still, I always worry about the agony we would have to endure again should the bird move back near my home.

As the Asian Koel appears to be commonly found here and in Malaysia, why does the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) classify it as a protected species?

I have seen it in most parts of Singapore, such as Jurong West, Chinese Garden, Fort Canning Park, West Coast Park, Sungei Buloh, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Thomson Road and Maxwell Market.

When I travel to Malaysian towns like Kuching in Sarawak, Ipoh and Malacca, the Koel's distinct voices are commonly heard there as well.

I hope the AVA can consider removing this noisy bird from the protected list so that long-suffering residents like Mr Ng and myself can finally have some peace and decent shut-eye.

Sia Beng Choo (Ms)

Birds deserve protection
Straits Times Forum 7 Nov 12;

I EMPATHISE with Mr Daniel Ng ("It's a big bird and a nuisance, but it's protected"; last Saturday). I have encountered these Asian Koels in my estate too.

Yes, they were a nuisance, but I was glad that my estate was a suitable place for them to breed. These birds are seasonal and usually breed between March and August.

I have seen the brown and white spotted female and black male in my neighbourhood. In fact, one of the male birds crashed into my window once, and I nursed it until it was well enough to fly off.

Sadly, I do not see these birds, or the kingfishers or the woodpeckers, in my estate anymore due to the loss of habitat.

So, I count Mr Ng fortunate to be living amid natural greenery and to have seen these birds, as many Singaporeans have not.

Let us adapt and tolerate these protected birds.

Melinda Ann Michael (Ms)

Leave the birds alone
Straits Times Forum 7 Nov 12;

THE Asian Koel is a member of the cuckoo order of birds ("It's a big bird and a nuisance, but it's protected" by Mr Daniel Ng; last Saturday). I like the calls of these birds, especially early in the mornings and evenings.

To me, they signify the start and end of a day. It is nature's way of telling us the order of things.

To live near lush greenery amid such creatures is a blessing. Just as we, as humans, have a right to life, so too do these beautiful creatures.

Perhaps Mr Ng should take a moment to understand and explore the lush surroundings he lives in and appreciate the biodiversity.

I hope the authorities and the public can leave the birds alone and conserve that piece of lush greenery.

John Lim

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More calls for accounting standards to meet sustainability goals

Lynda Hong Channel NewsAsia 6 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE : Getting more Asian corporates to improve accounting standards by factoring in natural, human and social capital got louder on Tuesday in Singapore.

Environmental organisations are now focusing on getting more Asian business leaders to account for sustainability.

For example, pollination of bees to gather nectar from flowers is estimated to cost some US$200 billion.

This hefty price tag is according to estimates from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Business Coalition .

Such drive to value nature in dollars and cents - or what is known as natural capital - is gaining traction in the business world.

Pavan Sukhdev, Director, TEEB Business Coalition, said: "I think business leaders are wise to understand that free lunches don't go on forever. And they understand that they are facing huge risks. And risks are accelerating because scarcities are coming up and they are already affecting business operations."

On Tuesday, two environmental groups were launched in Singapore - The Business Council for Sustainable Development Singapore, and the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Business Coalition.

The two organisation will work together in helping businesses be more sustainable, using natural capital as a way to help companies with their sustainable reporting."

Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: "We are focused initially on the truly developing countries, the ones that need more support from an organisation like ours. Secondly, Singapore as an economy itself, is not the largest economy to focus on. But now, with the regional function that Singapore is playing, we thought it would be a critical moment to get Singapore and Singaporean business involved."

And businesses be further pushed to adopt sustainable practices.

Peter Seligmann, Chairman & CEO, Conservation International, said: "Businesses are much more inclined to understand these issues than governments and the reason is that businesses understand that revenues have to exceed expenses. And so they understand that. If they don't have the proper accounting and if they don't put a right value to it, then they are going to lose it. Governments don't mind going into the deficit, and businesses are more inclined to engage."

The Global Reporting Initiative, which has one of the most widely used sustainable standards for reporting, says its standards are now being reviewed and updated.

Herman Mulder, Chairman, The Global Reporting Initiative, said: "We want to make linkage with integrated reporting, which is the future, where the financial report, the sustainability report and some other reporting is part of a corporate report, which is much more comprehensive, much more forward looking."

A recent study has estimated that some 2 to 4 trillion US dollars are not being factored in the books annually.

This cost may have increased steadily since the study was conducted four years ago.

Speaking at the launch of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan called for a coalition of diverse stakeholders in dealing with the haze issue in the region.

Dr Balakrishnan pointed out that governments, private companies, and non-government organisations each have a role to play.

They must work together in resolving matters concerning the environment.

Making reference to the haze problem that has plagued the region every year, Dr Balakrishnan said the matter cannot be fixed because central to the predicament is an economic issue.

He lamented that so long as plantation companies can get away with the cheapest method of clearing the forest, that is by burning it, they will do so.

Dr Balakrishnan added that as long as governments do not have political will and take investigations and enforcement seriously, the problem cannot be resolved.

Thus, he stressed that a creation of coalition of stakeholders is needed for a long term impact which can make a difference to human welfare.

- CNA/ch

Group to put costs to green effort launched
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 7 Nov 12;

FELLING trees and selling the timber may stimulate the economy, but there are hidden costs, such as an increased risk of floods and the loss of flora and fauna.

A new environmental group launched in Singapore yesterday wants to identify such costs of business and put a monetary value to them where possible.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Business Coalition launched its global headquarters in Singapore at the Botanic Gardens.

It aims to allow governments, organisations and companies to build an economic case for better protection of the earth's natural resources, said its director, Dr Dorothy Maxwell.

The coalition includes notable accountancy and conservation groups and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

It also has representatives from Puma and Deutsche Bank, and its board is co-chaired by Singapore's Mr Gerard Ee, an EDB director.

Said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who was a guest at yesterday's launch ceremony: "The age of cheap natural resources is coming to a close. You need coalitions of diverse stakeholders in order to create anything worthwhile which will make a long-term impact."

The launch was part of yesterday's one-day Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development, organised by local media company Global Initiatives and attended by companies and organisations worldwide.

Another group, the Business Council for Sustainable Development - Singapore, was also launched during the forum.

International business, government and civil society leaders join forces in global forum for valuing natural capital
IUCN 6 Nov 12;

International leaders from business, government and NGOs gathered in Singapore today to mark the launch of the new headquarters of TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) for Business Coalition which aims to achieve a shift in corporate behaviour to preserve and enhance, rather than deplete the earth’s natural capital.

The Coalition brings together global stakeholders and partners, including IUCN, to study and standardise methods for natural capital accounting to enable its valuation and reporting in business.

This is the business application of the G8+5 and UNEP-supported TEEB programme, led by Pavan Sukhdev. It provides a compelling economic case for the conservation of natural capital and is the cornerstone of current Green Economy policy.

“Valuing nature is at the heart of sustainable development and is everybody’s business. If we are to achieve the goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2020, we must engage all sectors of society, not least the private sector. That’s why IUCN, involved in TEEB since its beginning, helps businesses integrate biodiversity and livelihood values in their decision-making. I hope that the TEEB for Business Coalition will go a long way in promoting biodiversity-friendly businesses worldwide,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre.

The Coalition is a Not for Profit organisation and has secured cornerstone funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, as well as from the United Kingdom and Singaporean Governments. Headquartered in Singapore, it will provide a growing knowledge hub in the Asia-Pacific region and internationally on natural capital valuation in business.

The Coalition’s activities focus on global stakeholder engagement, focused research and development of methods for natural capital accounting. Its founding members have pioneered much of the science and business case for natural capital valuation and accounting, providing a credible platform to take the business application of this forward. These existing activities will be built on to ensure the necessary stakeholders from business, government, support organisations, academia and NGOs inform effective and pragmatic methods.

Also announced at the launch was the appointment of Dr. Dorothy Maxwell as the Director for TEEB for Business Coalition. Dr. Maxwell joins the Coalition with over 20 years’ professional experience working in the environmental/sustainability arena in business, government and academia in the EU, USA and Asia-Pacific.

The ceremony took place as part of the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development, which presented practical ways to accelerate solutions for a more sustainable world while increasing business and industry growth. The Forum serves as a platform for leading global companies to discuss deeper integration of sustainability and social responsibility to deliver longer-term business success. Forum participants took this opportunity to participate in various discussions related to the Coalition and agreed next steps.

For more information, visit

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Malaysia: Johor worst-hit by floods

The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 6 Nov 12;

PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA - The number of flood evacuees has risen to more than 4,000 due to continued heavy rains in Johor, Selangor, Perak and Malacca.

The National Security Council, in its website ( said 4,248 evacuees were moved to 30 relief centres Tuesday evening, compared to 3,675 on Monday evening.

Johor continued to be the worst-hit area with 1,979 evacuees, followed by Selangor (1,957), Perak (203) and Malacca (109).

Batu Pahat and Ledang were the worst hit areas in Johor, while Kuala Langat and Sepang was the most affected in Selangor.

Melaka Tengah and Jasin were the areas flooded in Malacca, while Hilir Perak in Perak was also affected.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Corporation Sdn Bhd meanwhile said that it had put in place flood mitigation plans following a flash flooding incident near its construction site at Section 16 in Petaling Jaya.

The company's director of strategic communications and public relations Amir Mahmood Razak said the plans put in place by its contractors, aimed to keep drainage at all its construction sites clear of rubbish to ensure such incidents do not recur.

“We also have our Emergency Response Team (ERT) on standby with machines to monitor all drainage systems local to the sites, and assist DBKL to immediately clear debris, if any, from drains,” said Amir Mahmood in a statement.

Monsoon deluge begins a month early
The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 6 Nov 12;

PETALING JAYA - The heavy rainfall and flooding have come a lot earlier than expected, considering that last year's northeast monsoon season only started a full month later.

"We were expecting the rainfall to come early, but not this early," said National Security Council secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab.

Last year, he said, the council had braced for floods at the end of November, but "the waters only rose in the first week of December.

"This year, the rains started in October," Thajudeen said, adding that the council was nonetheless ready for the worst, with all its national level meetings on flood preparations having been concluded a month ago.

The council said the worst hit states were Johor, Selangor, Perak and Malacca.

According to the council's website (, the eight worst hit spots are Batu Pahat, Kluang and Ledang in Johor, Hilir Perak, Melaka Tengah and Jasin and Kuala Langat and Sepang in Selangor.

Flash floods also occurred in several areas in the Klang Valley following several hours of non-stop rain, causing massive traffic jams at stretches of the Federal Highway, including the road leading to the Subang airport.

There were no deaths, but the council said that 3,675 people had been evacuated to 35 relief centres as of press time yesterday, with the highest number recorded in Johor (2,042) followed by Selangor (1,255).

The portal said that over 10 rivers in Johor, Selangor, Perak, Perlis and Negri Sembilan had reached danger levels.

Motorists have, in the meantime, taken to Twitter to report a flash flood at Glenmarie, near the exit to the North Klang Valley Expressway.

A Twitter user @AjamHudson reported flooding at Kota Damansara while @meerakamaruddin tweeted that the floodwaters at PTPL College in Shah Alam rose to knee-high levels.

Meanwhile, Tenaga Nasional Berhad said: "Ensure that appliances that have been submerged under floodwaters are checked and tested by an electrician registered with the Energy Commission before using them again."

In a statement, it urged people to remind their children not to go near fallen electric poles or exposed electric wires.

"If you see fallen electric poles or exposed electric wires, call the nearest TNB office immediately or TNB CareLine at 15454," it said.

TNB said it would automatically shut down the power supply to an area once it detected a dangerous floodwater level.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, meanwhile, said contingency plans were in place to ensure minimal disruptions to the SPM and STPM examinations.

"The flood is nothing new, we face this every year. What is important is for those affected to follow instructions issued by the authorities if they need to be evacuated," he said after opening the World Innovation Forum yesterday.

Weak El Nino spells more rain until March
New Straits Times 7 Nov 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: The wet season which had rendered close to 4,000 victims to be relocated so far, is expected to last until early March next year, said the Meteorological Department yesterday.

Findings by the department showed that this year's monsoon would be a tougher ride as a weak El Nino, which had started around September, is expected to continue until next February.

"With it's weak intensity, the El Nino is not expected to affect the weather conditions much in Malaysia.

"The weather would be harsh, but the intensity of the storms would not be extreme," the department said in a statement.

The north-east monsoon, which had hit the nation this month, started off as a steady wind from the east coast. During this season, states in the east coast and south of the peninsular, coastal areas of Sarawak and Sabah's east coast would experience heavy rains, which would last up to two to three days due to the surges of the monsoon.

"In extreme weather cases, episodes of heavy rain can last up to three to eight days which could result in flooding.

"However from now until January, wetter weather is to be expected throughout the east coast states, especially in Kelantan and Terengganu."

Perlis, Kedah and Penang on the west coast may also experience flooding.

East Pahang as well as low lying areas in Johor, such as Segamat, Mersing, Kluang, Batu Pahat and Kota Tinggi, are in the danger zone.

Department spokesman Ramlan Ab Rahman from the central forecast division said the severity of the rain would differ from time to time according to the east coast winds.

"The west coast will be one of the worst hit areas as the east coast wind will be directly impacting that region. Heavy rainfall is to be expected in the afternoons."

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Malaysia: Zoning for firefly habitats in Kampung Dew

Elween Loke The Star 7 Nov 12;

WORK is underway to gazette firefly habitats in Kampung Dew, Kuala Gula near Taiping as protected areas by early next year.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said once gazetted as protected areas, enforcement officers would be able to take action against those posing a threat to the survival of the firefly population there.

“There is a need for a survey to be carried out in the area before the state government can come up with a zoning plan.

“Hopefully, the survey can be completed fast so that I can bring up the matter to the state executive council for deliberation,” she told reporters after visiting the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport last Thursday.

The survey would be jointly conducted by the Malaysian Nature Society and Pertubuhan Kelip-Kelip Cahaya Alam Perak (KECAP).

Hamidah said the move to gazette firefly habitats in Kampung Dew was necessary to maintain its colony of fireflies.

“The population of fireflies there is fast dwindling.

“We need to protect the habitats, which are an important asset to tourism in Kampung Dew,” she added.

According to Hamidah, the cutting down of berembang trees (Sonneratia Caseoraris), a preferred habitat of fireflies, could be the cause for the decline in the winged beetles’ population.

“Once the area is zoned and gazetted, people would no longer be allowed to chop down berembang trees and clear the land for agriculture purposes,” she added.

A buffer zone of 50m between riverbanks and Sungai Kuala Sepetang would also be created to ensure that the firefly habitats were unperturbed by agriculture and shrimp-farming activities, she said.

KECAP secretary in charge of publicity Shukor Ishak said the organisation was working closely with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to plant more berembang trees in the area.

“It takes about a year for the trees to grow and become a suitable habitat for the fireflies.

“For a start, we would be planting 20 berembang trees during the Fireflies Festival (Pesta Kelip-Kelip) on Nov 11,” he said, adding that more trees would be planted in stages.

Kampung Dew, according to Shukor, had to date, received about 5,000 visitors, mostly from Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.

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Malaysia: Forest conservation also creating jobs

New Straits Times 7 Nov 12;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will continue to strive to excel in the governance of best practices in forest management and conservation.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman stressed the key focus in driving sustainability was restoration and rebuilding of the productive capacity of forests.

This includes rationalising forest land use from the ecological and social perspectives and further developing as well as capitalising ecosystem services provided by the forest and its biodiversity in search of sustainable financing.

"The state government recognises the need for wide stakeholder participation and for this reason, adopts an open and wide partnership programme at the local and international level as part of our efforts to institutionalise the conservation and management of our forests."

Musa said this in his speech delivered by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yee Moh Chai at the International Conference of Heart of Borneo (HoB) here, yesterday.

HoB is aimed at conserving and managing the ecologically interconnected highlands of Borneo and parts of the adjacent foothills and lowland rainforests covering 22 million ha.

Describing it as Sabah's brand towards a greener pathway, Musa said the two-day conference would provide the state government with ideas and recommendations to make HoB a better place for wildlife, the environment and the economy.

"Much has been achieved in Sabah since the inception of HoB (in 2009). Sabah Forestry has received funds through the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry for the implementation of the HoB programmes.

"These funds are used to carry out biodiversity documentation on various selected forest reserves and social baseline studies of nearby communities."

To date, 17 forest reserves have been surveyed and results incorporated into the preparation of forest management plans that contribute significantly to the best practices in forest management, added Musa.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said 1.3 million ha of Sabah forest was now totally protected and the HoB project had created job opportunities for indigenous people.

"Restoration works started from zero to about 440,000ha now and the best thing about it is that the benefit of this work goes to the community in the interior.

"We are creating what we call 'kampung taukeh', which means indigenous people skilled at forest management work are given contracts on a commercial basis."

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Whale sharks give Donsol, Sorsogon ‘new lease on life’

Jonathan L. Mayuga Business Mirror 6 Nov 12;

FROM a sleepy fishing and agricultural town in Sorsogon, Donsol is now bustling with tourists that provide jobs and livelihood to its people, thanks to the butanding, the whale sharks that frequently visit the area and a successful conservation program.

The whale shark is a now among the more famous tourist attractions in Sorsogon and the Bicol region, the World Wide Fund-Philippines (WWF) said in press statement.

The WWF said that 15 years ago, the coastal town of Donsol was a fifth-class rural municipality where “weathered vehicles spurred swirling clouds on dusty, unpaved roads.”

The town sits 540 kilometers southeast of Manila, and little was known about it had it not been for its famous butanding that visits its coastal areas.

That was before an amateur home-video brought to Manila by diver David Duran in 1998 revealed whale sharks, the world’s largest fish species, swimming and feeding right in the local bay.

This sparked an idea of making something out of this natural wonder through tourism.

The world’s most popular whale-shark tour then was in Ningaloo Reef, off the western coast of Australia. Whale-shark viewing, however, cost $350 to $500 per head, without the certainty of interaction with the gentle giants.

Donsol’s whale sharks mostly keep within a kilometer from shore, perfect for gutsy tourists bearing snorkels and masks.

According to WWF, with strong government leadership, the townsfolk of Donsol finally decided it was time to promote whale-shark watching as a tourist attraction.

Since 1998, WWF-Philippines has been into a holistic conservation program which ranges from satellite tagging and photo-identification to the effective management of tourism impacts in the town of Donsol.

Current efforts are supported by WWF-Denmark, Ecocean, the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute, Certina and Banco de Oro Unibank (BDO) and include vigorous environmental education drives to transform public-school children into ecological champions.

Donsol currently receives an average of 25,000 visitors each summer, a sharp contrast to the 867 recorded in 2002. Boat trips also rose from barely 340 in 2002 to over 5,300 per season.

“Prior to 1998, Donsol’s yearly boat rental revenues totaled about P14,000. Now they annually breach P14 million,” WWF-Philippines Donsol Project Manager Raul Burce said.

He said thanks to the presence of the whale sharks, economic benefits are permeating throughout all levels in Donsol and its neighboring towns in the province.

Local government revenue also grew from barely P4,000 in 1998 to P4.6 million per year. Combined, the town’s renowned Butanding Interaction Officers (BIOS) are logging in over P3.1 million per season, exclusive of tips, he said.

Alan Amanse, one of the original Donsol BIOs, said he was able to send all his four children to college because of the whale shark.

He said that before, he only had one small fishing boat. Now, he has three tourism and fishing boats. “I even paid for the newest one with my own money.”

Total revenues from Donsol’s whale shark interaction program rose from barely P18,000 in 2002 to more than P22 million 10 years later. These figures exclude revenues generated by resorts, restaurants, dive gear rentals, souvenir stores and rental vans.

Tourist arrivals have shown upward trends. New income, investment and employment opportunities have popped up every year.

Side by side with their traditional livelihood of fishing, ecotourism has now become Donsol’s second engine of economic growth.

According to Burce, because of the way stakeholders “democratized” Donsol’s system, the people had every chance to “share the joy” of ecotourism and feel the positive impacts.

“Tourism gave us a big boost,” said Jasmine Yanson, a boatman’s wife and mother of seven. “We were able to buy an outrigger boat and household appliances, plus my children were able to finish school.”

Now a first-class municipality, Donsol is frequented by tourists. There are close to 230 tourist rooms available during the high season. From a few hundred curious backpackers, Donsol’s seasonal visitor count has exceeded 25,000, or more than 130 per day.

Aside from boat operators and BIOs, Donsol now boasts of a full complement of tourist personnel and services that include paddle boatmen, resorts, lodging houses and homestays, restaurants, caterers, souvenir shops and gear rental.

Burce said this was made possible by a successful conservation program in Donsol and the province of Sorsogon.

“The economic benefits of embracing conservation cannot be denied. A simple decision to protect whale sharks has greatly improved Donsolano lives. This is the local economy that whale sharks built,” he said.

(Jonathan L. Mayuga)

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Mozambique creates Africa’s largest coastal marine reserve

WWF 6 Nov 12;

The Primeiras and Segundas have been approved as a marine protected area in Mozambique making this diverse ten-island archipelago Africa’s largest coastal marine reserve.

Comprising ten islands off the coast of northern Mozambique, and featuring abundant coral and marine turtle species, the protected area will cover more than 1,040,926 hectares. WWF has worked for eight years to secure this important marine reserve, which has been threatened by overfishing and unauthorised tourism.

“This is a great response to the appeal by local communities to help them protect their resources,” said Florêncio Marerua, WWF Mozambique´s Country Director.

“This is a very important step in our effort to achieve the conservation and sustainable management of Mozambique’s marine and coastal resources, as this adds a globally significant area to the network of marine protected areas along the country’s coast. It is particularly exciting that both the government authorities and local communities recognize the benefits of conserving these resources.”

Located in the northern region of the country, between Nampula and Zambezia Provinces, the declaration of the Primeiras and Segundas environment protection area represents the second major conservation area to be declared within the last two years.

The archipelago includes the most robust and diverse coral community in Mozambique. It is rich in mangroves, marine life, deep underwater canyons and large seagrass beds. Due to cold nutrient-rich upwellings, the archipelago is spared coral bleaching, a common problem in other coral-rich areas, making these some of the most globally productive and important reefs on the planet.

“This declaration by the Government shows they understand and care about the need for conservation of marine resources to support sustainable use by their communities, “said John Tanzer, Director of WWF’s Global Marine Programme.

“Protecting the rich natural resources of this magnificent area will make a major contribution to the long-term food security and livelihoods of the people of the region. It is also a significant contribution by Mozambique to safeguarding the future of the world’s marine environment more generally, and deserves recognition and congratulations to all concerned who worked together to make it possible.”

The area is also of great economical importance. Artisanal, semi-industrial, and industrial fishermen have been carrying out their fishery activities in the same area. Thus, all fishing activity within the archipelago area shows signs of overexploitation, with some species on the brink of collapse.

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