Best of our wild blogs: 19 Nov 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [12 - 18 Nov 2012]
from Green Business Times

The Walking Leaf
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Random Gallery - Banded LineBlue
from Butterflies of Singapore

Magnificently Terumbu Semakau
from Peiyan.Photography and Fishy and Sluggy Day at St. John's Island and Stormy Trip to Hantu Lagoon

Some Critters Outside NTU
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Plant-Bird Relationship: 13. Bignoniaceae, Bombacaceae, Bromeliaceae, Caricaceae, Casuarinaceae and Combretaceae from Bird Ecology Study Group

Spotted House Gecko
from Monday Morgue

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Philippine authorities allow dolphin export to Singapore

Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 18 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE: The Philippines authorities have approved the export of 25 Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins to Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park.

Animal welfare groups in the Philippines had tried to block export of the dolphins in a court case, which they lost last month.

A Marine Life Park spokesperson said the park is pleased to receive the permit and looks forward to welcoming the dolphins to their new residence.

The park said it has followed all international and multi-national regulations and guidelines.

For over three years, the dolphins have been under the care and supervision of a team of veterinarians and marine mammal specialists.

- CNA/xq

Philippines 'okays export of RWS dolphins'
Permit said to be granted for them to come here, despite talk of appeal
Alastair McIndoe Straits Times 19 Nov 12;

MANILA - The Philippine authorities have reportedly issued an export permit for 25 bottlenose dolphins to be sent to Singapore's Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa.

Animal welfare groups in the Philippines had tried to block the move in court, but lost their civil suit last month.

The Philippine Star newspaper yesterday, quoting Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez, said the Department of Agriculture had issued the export permit on the bureau's recommendation. It was not clear when the permit was issued.

Officials were not available for comment on when the dolphins, which were caught in the Solomon Islands and brought here between 2008 and last year, will be exported to Singapore.

On Oct 17, a court in Quezon City denied a petition by animal welfare groups to renew a "temporary environmental protection order" blocking the dolphins' export to Singapore.

While there has been talk of an appeal, nothing appears to prevent the dolphins from being sent to Singapore now that a permit has been granted.

But Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) maintained yesterday that not all legal avenues have been exhausted. Executive director Louis Ng said there would be a case at the courts today. He gave no other details but last month, Acres said it was planning to file an appeal to the courts.

The dolphins are being held in a special enclosure at Ocean Adventure, an open-water marine park at Subic Bay, where they were being acclimatised to a life in captivity while Marine Life Park was under construction.

The park is scheduled to open next month.

A spokesman for the park, responding to The Straits Times' queries, said it is looking forward to welcoming the dolphins to their new residence in Singapore.

"We have followed all international and multi-national regulations and guidelines, which is expressed by the favourable approval of our re-export," said the spokesman yesterday.

Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han in Singapore

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Green educational trails to be conducted at Lorong Halus Wetland

AsiaOne 18 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has launched a partnership with the North East Community Development Council (NECDC) to conduct monthly green educational trails at Lorong Halus Wetland for one year.

This first of its kind partnership seeks to raise environmental awareness among heartlanders and residents of the North East District, and foster a heightened sense of concern and ultimately action in line with environmental protection.

"Heartlanders represent a key target group in spreading the environmental message, as habits may be more deeply ingrained and require time and effort to change," said Mr Jose Raymond, Executive Director of the SEC.

SEC and NECDC will train volunteers from the district, who will in turn conduct the trails.

The trails will be conducted once a month at no charge to North East district residents. The duration of each trail is one hour and will cover topics such as water and nature conservation, as well as waste management.

To ensure quality control and audibility in an outdoor environment, the group size will be capped at 20 per trail.

To cater to different individuals, SEC is looking to ascertain the demographics of participants prior each trail to tailor the experience accordingly.

For example, based on the majority demographic of a particular trail, efforts will be made to translate key snippets into Malay, Mandarin or even in dialects, if necessary.

"The Green Trail@Lorong Halus Wetland serves two purposes. It heightens North East residents' awareness of the environment as this walk can enable them to learn more about nature in a location within our district. This is also a good bonding platform for neighbours and friends," said North East CDC's Mayor Teo Ser Luck.

Formerly a landfill site, Lorong Halus Wetland sits next to Serangoon Reservoir, Singapore's 17th reservoir.

The area was a dumping ground for Singapore's waste from 1970 to 1999, and occupied 234 hectares - more than 100 football fields - along the eastern bank of then Sungei Serangoon.

It has since been transformed to become an important source of water supply, and the wetland is now home to a myriad of biodiversity that provides opportunities for recreation, research and education.

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Be careful of wanting slower growth: Vivian Balakrishnan

Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 18 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE: Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has warned about wanting slower growth for Singapore in the hope that social inequality might be reduced.

He said if the country does not seize growth opportunities, it could mean fewer and poorer quality jobs for people.

Dr Balakrishnan was asking Singaporeans to think carefully about what they want for their future, in a dialogue with residents on Sunday.

Should Singapore hold on to the values which brought the nation to where it is today?

Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posed this question to Bukit Panjang residents in the ongoing National Conversation.

He said the rapidly evolving global landscape means values in Singapore are also changing.

But the anchor, he suggested, is a fair and just society, so Singaporeans should have their chance to speak up.

Issues raised by residents at the session included overcrowding on public transportation, the adequacy of healthcare facilities, and stress brought about by the education system.

Some also suggested solutions to the problems.

"Subsequently, what the government is going to follow up on these issues are what I would be very concerned about," said resident Alice Lo.

"Because we don't want it to be empty talk, (with) no action or no follow up."

Dr Balakrishnan said there is good reason for Singaporeans to be anxious about the future, as the country is facing intense global competition not witnessed before.

He added that people have to be equipped through education, to take on the jobs of tomorrow.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "The fact that the changes are occurring so rapidly is very unsettling for many of us. So that's the backdrop behind the anxiety which we can feel on the ground. It's important that the conversation, however, leads to a positive conclusion and brings us forward."

Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore has to ensure its family structures and social safety nets are ready, for a future where the population is ageing and communal relations may not be as strong as before.

- CNA/xq

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Malaysia: Aerial patrols for the jungles

The Star 19 Nov 12;

PUTRAJAYA: Environmental protection efforts will be expanded to the skies following the decision to launch the Aerial Jungle Monitoring Programme early next year, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said.

The Cabinet had agreed during its meeting last week to provide RM2mil to fund the programme, which is aimed at improving enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, said Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

The aerial patrols would keep tabs on development projects that are carried out in the jungle.

Aerial monitoring would also be extended to other sources of pollution including open burning, release of black smoke from industrial chimneys, release of effluents into the groundwater, beach and coastal pollution and oil spills.

“The programme is needed to carry out enforcement of conditions laid out in the approval of the EIA (environmental impact assessment) for projects, especially at high altitudes.

“For projects in jungles that do not fall under activities laid out in the EIA, the need for erosion and sediment control plan (ESCP) and best management practices can be identified and stated in conditions for logging licences. It can also minimise river pollution,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Douglas added that the programme will be an integrated effort – called 1 NRE Enforcement – which would involve agencies under his ministry with the aim of utilising all available manpower and resources to check on the development projects.

“Aerial monitoring is aimed at improving effectiveness in locating sources of pollution or incidents where environmental laws are broken, especially in areas which are difficult to access overland,” he said.

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Malaysia: Sabah lauded as a beacon of hope for orang utan

The Star 19 Nov 12;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is becoming a beacon of hope in orang utan conservation in Borneo following the state government’s move to expand the areas designated as the primates’ key habitat.

Wildlife non-governmental organisation research group Hutan co-director Dr Marc Anrenaz said Sabah’s decision to gazette 128,000ha from the lowland Ulu Segama forest reserve in Lahad Datu as a protected area meant that about 60% of the state’s orang utan were now living in conservation zones.

“This is a huge improvement compared to the last decade when only 30% of the orang utan in Sabah were living in protected forests,” he said.

Dr Ancrenaz said this when revealing the findings of a research on orang utan in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan which he was involved in and which was recently published in the scientific journal PLoS One.

He said the research found that since orang utan were often found in timber concession areas, good management of such areas was important in ensuring the continued survival of the primates.

The fact that Sabah’s Forestry Department now requires all timber concession areas to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) by the end of 2014 was good news for the conservation effort, added Dr Ancrenaz.

The situation in the rest of Borneo is however not as promising for the primates due to an expansion of agriculture activities often at the expense of orang utan habitat, the researchers found.

Dr Serge Wich, the lead author of the research report titled Under-standing the Impacts of Land-Use Policies on a Threatened Species: Is There a Future for the Bornean Orang-utan?, said lowland jungles – which were the favourite habitat of the orang utan – were often considered prime areas for timber extraction or agriculture activities such as plantations.

Orang utan population on the rise
New Straits Times 26 Nov 12;

KOTA KINABALU: The expansion of protected forests has boost the population of orang utan in Sabah.

New additions to existing totally protected areas (TPAs) since 2005, has seen their number increase from 38 per cent to 60 per cent in the past seven years.

HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Programme (HUTAN-KOCP) co-director Dr Marc Ancrenaz said the state government's move to increase protected forest areas not only benefited the wildlife but the people, too.

He said the Sabah Forestry Department had recently increased the percentage of forests under Class I Protection Forest Reserve, which in turn had increased the number of TPAs.

The protected areas are also home to the Borneo pygmy elephant, Sunda clouded leopard, Sun Bear, hornbills and other unique Borneo species.

(HUTAN-KOCP is a non-governmental Organisation based in Sukau, Kinabatangan)

It has been working with Sabah Wildlife Department to develop and implement innovative solutions to conserve the orang utans in Sabah for the past 15 years.

"The recent areas re-gazetted as Class I are lowland forests which are favoured for agriculture development.

"However, the state government has shown that they value environmental security in the long term by making them TPAs instead of going for short-term gains," said Ancrenaz, who has been involved in wildlife issues in Sabah since 1998.

However, Hutan-KOCP co-founder and primotologist Dr Isabelle Lackman said the isolation and fragmentation of TPAs remained the biggest issue when it came to the conservation of orang utans in the state.

She pointed that while the Kinabatangan had been protected by the department, the sanctuary was broken up with some TPAs being totally isolated.

"This is not healthy for the long- term survival of the orang utans in the area.

"Our studies have shown that we need to reconnect patches of forests to ensure that we have a viable orang utan population in the future."

She said this could be achieved by reconnecting forests, either by having patches of forests that the orang utans could roam, or a contiguous corridor of forests.

Lackman said all planned and future conversion of even small forest patches needed to be stopped to ensure the viability of the long-term survival of the orang utan population in the lower Kinabatangan area.

"The future of agriculture, such as oil palm, relies on an increase in yield productivity, and not on further agriculture expansion."

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Taiwanese oil firm denies scrapping Malaysia investment plan

Focus Taiwan 18 Nov 12;

Kuala Lumpur and Taipei, Nov. 18 (CNA) Taiwan's state-run oil refiner CPC Corp., Taiwan (CPC) denied reports Saturday that it was scrapping a planned investment project in Malaysia, saying the plan was still undergoing a feasibility assessment.

CPC Vice President Chen Ming-huei told Malaysia's Oriental Daily News that he was unaware of any Taiwanese reports that Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co., the CPC subsidiary making the investment, had dropped its plan to invest in Malaysia.

Taiwan's Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported Thursday that Kuokuang planned to build a NT$10 billion (US$343 million) methyl methacrylate plant at Taichung Port because its investment project in Malaysia had stalled. Methyl methacrylate is used to manufacture resins and plastics.

Analysts said Kuokuang hoped to build a petrochemical complex covering the full petrochemical supply chain in Malaysia, but progress has been slow because of difficulties in securing land, the report said.

Facing problems in Malaysia, Kuokuang decided to first invest in facilities producing high value-added petrochemical end-products in Taiwan, and it is expected to sign a NT$55.4 billion investment deal to put plants in Taiwan's main port areas, including the one in Taichung.

The report added that Kuokuang is planning to differentiate itself from local firms by using eco-friendly and more advanced petrochemical materials and techniques to improve the competitiveness of its products.

Chen clarified that Kuokuang is still evaluating its planned investment in Pengerang in the southern Malaysian state of Johor and has not decided to pull out of the Southeast Asian country.

He said that Kuokuang in principle would focus on research and development of high-end products in Taiwan and mass production overseas and described Kuokuang's investments in Taiwan and those in Malaysia as separate matters.

Chen said Taiwan has only a limited amount of land, and mass production of petrochemical products requires a place like Pengerang that has large tracts of land available for manufacturing.

Oil and natural gas authorities in Johor also said they have not received any word from CPC that it was withdrawing its investment plan.

Kuokuang had originally planned to build a naphtha cracking and petrochemical complex in Changhua in central Taiwan but was forced to scrap the project last year because it did not pass local environmental assessments, eventually deciding to move it overseas.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in May this year that a Taiwanese petrochemical firm had promised to invest in a petrochemical complex in Pengerang set up by Petronas, Malaysia's state-run oil firm.

The investment plan, estimated at US$120 billion, will include an oil refinery and a naphtha cracker.

Taiwan Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang later confirmed that the Taiwanese firm Najib was referring to was Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology.

The Pengerang project has drawn opposition from local residents, however, who staged a protest in May over pollution concerns.

(By Kuay Chau-churh and Scully Hsiao)

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Thailand: Sustainable shrimp farming benefits CP

Taiwan industry decline taught species diversity
Bangkok Post 19 Nov 12;

The decline of Taiwan's shrimp industry in the 1980s not only opened up lucrative business opportunities but also taught Thailand a great lesson about operating aquaculture with the utmost concern for the environment.

A "gold rush" attitude drove Taiwanese investors to expand black tiger prawn farms until many mangrove forests had been destroyed.

Environmental problems caused by extensive shrimp aquaculture had developed before the industry was seriously affected by plummeting black tiger prawn production, which fell to only 20,000 tonnes in 1988 from 100,000 tonnes a year earlier.

The slump forced many Taiwanese producers to open new farms in Southeast Asia, with Thailand starting to prosper in the late 1980s when the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group was a key player.

Chingchai Lohawatanakul, vice-chairman of Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, the conglomerate's flagship, said the CP Group began a study on the aquaculture of black tiger prawns in 1988 with the help of specialists and academics.

"A year later, the business took off with satisfactory production in the first year," he told participants at the Global Aquaculture Outlook 2012 (Goal 2012) conference held in Bangkok recently.

"Production in the first year was impressive, as was the profit. Our farm was big, and there was a shortage of shrimp supply in the world market at that time."

As supply from Taiwan declined, Thailand was not slow to seize the opportunity.

Through cooperation between public and private sectors, Thailand has gradually emerged as the world's top shrimp producer and exporter.

It produced 510,000 tonnes of prawns last year, with two-thirds exported to generate revenue of more than 110 billion baht.

Thailand's shrimp sector focuses now more on farming than on wild catches.

From 1987, production of farm-raised black tiger prawn in Thailand rose each year to surpass 100,000 tonnes in 1990 as demand grew from abroad.

The bright outlook continued as the country's 8th National Plan (1997-2001) set the target for black tiger prawn production at 350,000 tonnes by 2001.

It was set after aqua produce earned substantial export revenue of 43 billion baht and was listed among the top 10 export items in 1996.

Thailand remains the world's largest shrimp exporter, selling 427,580 tonnes valued at 100 billion baht in 2010 and 392,600 tonnes worth 110 billion baht last year.

In the first eight months of this year, Thailand exported 222,247 tonnes of shrimp products worth 61 billion baht.

Mr Chingchai, 72, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Global Aquaculture Alliance at the conference, helped drive the CP Group to become the world's leading producer of aquatic animals.

After the company's great success with black tiger prawn production in the first five years, the Thai sector suffered severely from an outbreak of white spot disease that plunged it into crisis.

Mr Chingchai decided intensive research and development (R&D) could be the key to combating the critical situation.

CP spent 2% of its business value on R&D of shrimp species for sustainability. That policy has continued until this year, when it spent almost US$40 million so that it would have a variety of shrimp species.

Mr Chingchai says Penaeus vannamei (Pacific white shrimp) is a good example of the company's success in developing shrimp species and its aquaculture.

Production of white shrimp had surged to 600,000 tonnes by 2010, less than 10 years since the species was introduced to the country.

Better farm management and proper care of wastewater will help the industry to expand sustainably, he said.

"The building of sustainability in aquaculture is meant to develop not only species diversity but also the systems of feeding, incubation, farming, processing and marketing," said Mr Chingchai.

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