Best of our wild blogs: 31 Aug 13

Not for the faint-hearted: Internatioal Coastal Cleanup 2013 @ Kranji East mangrove
from Toddycats!

An analysis of the Short-tailed Babbler’s call
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol. 61 (2)
from Raffles Museum News

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Rail Corridor walking trail launched

Ayesha Shaikh Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong on Friday launched a new walking trail along the Rail Corridor for Singaporeans to enjoy.

The trail is the fifth and the last in a series of walking trails known as the Resilience Trails.

360 students from 22 schools were the first to go on the 30-kilometre trail on foot and by bus.

They began the journey at Woodlands Waterfront and made their way across the black iron cast railway tracks at Bukit Timah before ending the walk at Tanjong Pagar railway station.

The five-hour long event emphasised the importance of friendly relations with neighbouring countries.

Singapore History Consultants’ director Jeya Ayadurai said: "(The walk shows) how important relationships are -- not only at the personal level, but also at the international level. So we even discuss Malaysia-Singapore relations within that context."

Jordan Teoh Jia Ern, a Fuhua Secondary School student, said: "This trail actually gives me a more in-depth view of what Singapore's history actually is and I would like to see how it… develops in future."

- CNA/gn

Trace S'pore's rail history on bus, foot
New heritage trail aims to emphasise importance of friendship, self-reliance
Yeo Sam Jo Straits Times 31 Aug 13;

BEHIND the quiet facade of the now-defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station lies a little-known dream that was never realised: The British once had a vision to extend the Malayan railway network from Singapore all the way to France.

This is one piece of esoteric trivia that can be picked up on a new educational trail launched yesterday. Called "Rail Corridor: Our Journey Together Through the Power of Friendship", it is the last in a series of five Resilience Trails focusing on Singapore's historic moments and achievements.

Conceived by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Singapore History Consultants, the trail traces landmarks along the old rail corridor that runs through Singapore to Johor, emphasising the importance of friendship and self-reliance.

For example, at Woodlands Waterfront, where the trail starts, participants can see Singapore and Malaysia's mutual dependency tangibly manifested in the water pipes, the railway and the Causeway.

Participants also travel along Woodlands Road and Bukit Timah Road, which was the route that the Japanese used to advance on the Allied forces during World War II. The trail also includes a section between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Mayfair Park estate, where participants can glimpse remnants of the communal kampung lifestyle.

In all, the 30km journey on bus and foot takes four to five hours to complete, and ends at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in the south.

Some 360 students from 22 schools were the first to experience the trail yesterday, which was launched by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. "It is through trails like this that we are able to learn about Singapore's history, culture and heritage in a more meaningful and engaging way," Mr Wong said.

History teacher Samuel Goh, 28, who was there with his students, said: "I think it was good learning for the kids. It connected them to many things they didn't know about their own heritage and past."

Those interested in the Resilience Trails may find out more at

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Changi Coast Road to be replaced

Royston Sim Straist Times 31 Aug 13;

CHANGI Coast Road, a long scenic route much loved by cyclists, will be replaced by a new surface road that will hug the eastern coastline.

The existing road and park connector beside it will be paved over and become part of Changi Airport's integrated airfield that links Runway 2 and Runway 3.

Currently, it runs alongside the airfield for about 6km.

A new park connector will also be built along with the new road, which will merge with Tanah Merah Coast Road, run along the eastern coastline and then loop back towards Nicoll Drive.

Works on these changes are expected to start in the second half of next year, said the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng yesterday.

Mr Chua did not say when the new road will be ready but The Straits Times understands it has to be completed by 2018.

Only then can the airport's Runway 3 be linked to Runway 2, a project observers say would take about two years.

Changi Airport is scheduled to have a three-runway system by around 2020, a move that will reinforce Singapore's status as a regional aviation hub.

Meanwhile, the existing Changi Coast Road will stay open until the new road is ready.

This new road is estimated to run for 5km to 6km longer than the stretch of Changi Coast Road that it will replace.

It is likely to give motorists access to the future Terminal 5.

Mr Chua said it will be wider than the existing road, which has two lanes in each direction.

The LTA earlier considered converting Changi Coast Road into a partially depressed roadway or tunnel, but found that to be less feasible than a new surface road.

Mr Chua noted that aside from the higher cost of going underground, roads below the surface would require ventilation buildings. These ventilation structures could go up to 40m in height, and would not only take up space but also affect safety.

There are also other safety and security issues to consider if the road runs beneath the airfield, he added. "If there are emergencies in the tunnel, you don't want to be evacuating onto the airfield."

Avid cyclist Jolly Liew, 47, is glad there will be a "replacement road, so our 'playground' will still be there".

Another cyclist, Mr Sidney Lim, 49, wants the authorities to make the new road safer for cyclists.

"If it's a longer route, that's even better. Cyclists here are always looking for a longer loop. Maybe the LTA can consider setting aside a lane for cyclists at certain times on weekends," he said.

Changi unveils plans for new mega T5
Options include a main facility and satellite terminals connected by rail
Karamjit Kaur Straits Times 31 Aug 13;

AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled for Changi's mega new air terminal to cater for up to 50 million passengers a year, as Singapore moves decisively to seal the airport's premier hub status.

Terminal 5, which is slated for completion around 2025, will be bigger than the current Terminals 2 and 3 put together. It will take the form of either a huge single terminal building, or a smaller facility linked to a satellite terminal via an underground rail link.

T5 will be located at Changi East, in an area now separated from the current terminals by Changi Coast Road.

It will be linked to the rest of the airport and possibly house its own MRT station in future.

When completed, the giant addition will boost Changi Airport's maximum capacity to 135 million passengers a year, rivalling the busiest airports today.

This includes London's Heathrow, which handles about 70 million passengers a year.

Announcing the latest plans at a media briefing yesterday, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who leads a 10-member multi-agency committee looking into Changi's expansion, said the future is not just about growing in size. "We want to make it a better air hub," she said.

"The more cities that we are linked to, the more frequent the flights and the more efficient the transfers, then the greater the convenience that we can offer to passengers and the better we are as an air hub."

Industry watchers have said that this expansion is essential because many rival air hubs, including those in Asia, are planning to boost capacity in the coming years. So Changi must move quickly to capture a share of Asia's growing traffic and enhance capacity so that it can "build on its current leadership position", said Mrs Teo.

This is why the development at Changi East will include building a third runway to handle more flights. This runway will be operational around 2020, even before T5 opens.

New aircraft maintenance and repair facilities, as well as hotels and offices, will also be built at the site. This makes the project the biggest airport works since the move from Paya Lebar Airport to Changi in 1981, and also one of the most challenging, said Mrs Teo.

To link the current airport and future terminal, Changi Coast Road will need to be diverted.

More than 40km of taxiways, about the length of the Pan Island Expressway from Tuas to Tampines, will also be built to connect the airport's two existing runways to a third runway.

A 60m-wide canal will also need to be diverted.

To improve access to and from T5, the Land Transport Authority will boost bus links and study various rail options, including extending the current MRT line from T2 to the new T5.

The future Eastern Region Line could also be connected to the new terminal, LTA said.

Airlines and other industry players are excited about the new developments.

Singapore Airlines, which currently operates out of T2 and T3, has already "expressed preliminary interest" in moving to T5, spokesman Nicholas Ionides said.

But there are concerns that Changi could face terminal and runway constraints that will lead to congestion and delays for travellers before the expansion works are completed.

From 66 million now, the airport is expected to grow its capacity steadily in the coming years. It will be able to handle 85 million passengers by 2018 when the future T4 is ready and T1 expanded.

Mr Yap Ong Heng, director- general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said there are plans in place to "stretch" the current two runways.

"It will be busier but it need not get worse," said Mr Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive officer of Changi Airport Group.

"That's the reality, we can't deny it. But we think we have the ability to still provide a service that people talk about."

Changi's T5 to cater to 50m passengers per year
Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The new Terminal 5 at Singapore's Changi Airport is set to be one of the largest terminals in the world, with an initial passenger handling capacity of 50 million per year.

When it begins operations in mid-2020s, it will boost the airport's total handling capacity to 135 million passengers per year.

Changi Airport will also begin operating on a three-runway system from around 2020, instead of the current two.

Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who is chairing the Changi 2036 steering committee, gave these details on the expansion plans for the airport on Friday.

Currently, Changi Airport can handle up to 66 million passenger movements every year, using the two existing runways and three terminals.

The handling capacity will go up to 85 million in 2017, when Terminal 4 is expected to be ready.

However, passenger traffic in Asia Pacific is still expected to grow.

Mrs Teo said: "In Singapore, we are expecting passenger air traffic growth at Changi to be around five per cent per year till the end of this decade, and it will moderate to three to four per cent in the next decade.

"We have to bear in mind that as other airports grow in terms of passenger volumes, we must expect their connectivity to grow also -- even if we do nothing.

"Thus, Changi will need to capture a share of the growing traffic in order to upkeep our current connectivity, and we also need capacity to allow Changi to build on the current leadership position, to establish new city links with more airlines."

To this effect, a 1,080 hectare reclaimed site at Changi East will be redeveloped to become Terminal 5.

The terminal will be linked to the other terminals at Changi Airport to make it easier for transfers and for airfield operational efficiency. The terminal will also be connected to the MRT network and sited near to hotels and offices.

To the north of the terminal, land has also been set aside for facilities for airfreight and air express operators as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul activities.

The committee is looking at two options to build the terminal -- a Y-shaped design or a T-shaped design.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will be seeking views from stakeholders over the next two months to refine the layout of the terminal. A concept plan is expected to be finalised in the first half of 2014, before works begin in the second half of 2014.

To make way for an integrated airfield, the existing Changi Coast Road will be diverted and replaced with a new road and park connector further east, along the eastern coastline. The new Changi Coast Road will be ready before Runway 3 is operational around 2020.

The existing Runway 3, currently used by the military, will be extended from 2.75km to 4km to handle larger passenger aircraft.

Almost 40km of new taxiways will also be built to connect the runway with the current airport and to allow for efficient aircraft movement.

New facilities such as navigation aids, airfield lighting systems and a fire station will need to be built.

Access to the area will also be improved.

Chua Chong Kheng, deputy chief executive of the Land Transport Authority, said: "As we plan for the extension or expansion of the airport, we will also need to expand our rail and road network to meet the transport needs of everyone travelling to the Changi Airport area.

"As part of our rail expansion plans, we are studying how we can link our rail network to the new Terminal 5, and we will also look at the adequacy of bus services and see how this can be beefed up."

Planning and preparatory works for the project have already started.

Mrs Teo said the developments at Changi East require careful coordination and will stretch over several terms of government.

She said: "For passengers, Changi must mean superior connectivity, convenience and comfort. So these plans are significant because they strengthen our air hub.

"But there is also special meaning for Singaporeans. Changi connects us to the world and the plans open the path to new business and job opportunities. That is really the bigger story to be told."

- CNA/ac

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Future builders, designers to gain from redevelopment of eastern Singapore

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The government's move to redevelop the entire eastern part of the country will provide today's young -- the nation's future builders and designers -- tremendous opportunities in Singapore's development in the next 30 to 40 years. That is according to Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing.

He was speaking to some 200 students who took part in this year's Singapore Amazing Machine Competition.

The budding scientists and technologists, who worked in teams, had to incorporate as many scientific concepts into their contraptions.

Mr Chan, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence, said that as a small country, Singapore faces many constraints -- but that can also be turned into opportunities.

He cited the example of the plan to move Paya Lebar Airport to Changi. Having taller buildings in the Paya Lebar area could present opportunities to break new ground in building technology.

Mr Chan said: "There cannot be a strong Singapore, with a strong economy or a strong defence system, without a strong core of scientists and technologists amongst us.

"It is that important role that you have the opportunities to fulfil in the coming years, and the government will make sure we continue to invest in our science and tech education to ensure that Singapore continues to maintain a core group of people in Singapore with a depth of expertise."

Mr Chan also highlighted healthcare as another area of putting science and technology to good use.

He added: "In 2030, we may have almost a million people over 65 years old. For the pessimists amongst us, that might spell tremendous challenges, but for optimists and scientists and technologists amongst you, that spells tremendous opportunities for us to have a new generation of medical equipment and monitoring devices."

- CNA/ac

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Property analysts expect Bidadari to be most popular housing area

Hu Jielan and Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Bidadari is expected to be the most popular of the three recently announced housing areas among home buyers due to the area’s convenient location.

Property analysts compared the area with Punggol Matilda and Tampines North and said that Bidadari’s city-fringed location and proximity to two MRT stations will work in its favour, especially among younger people.

The experts said that even its history as a cemetery is unlikely to ward off potential buyers.

Eugene Lim, ERA’s key executive officer, said: "I think by and large, most people have got around the superstition thing. And most of the buyers today are younger, and they actually look at the concept as a whole, the region as a whole, and are not very superstitious anymore."

Analysts expect Punggol Matilda to be the next popular choice among home buyers with its waterfront location.

While buyers can look forward to new urban design concepts in the three areas, analysts said they do not expect prices to differ much from the new flats in other locations.

PropNex David Poh & Associate Pte Ltd Managing Director David Poh said: "With new concepts, new designs and facilities, cost of construction will go up. But I don't think the price of BTOs (Build-To-Order) will go up because of this. The government has announced that they want to make BTOs affordable for any Singaporeans who want to buy a flat."

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is seeking public feedback on development plans for the three housing areas.

Members of the public can view an exhibition showcasing the plans at HDB Hub Atrium till September 15.

- CNA/gn

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Aug 13

A Pragmatic Singaporean's approach to nature
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Diving for Treasure: Singapore Style - a video clip of the Southern Expedition from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Butterflies Galore! : Aberrant Oakblue
from Butterflies of Singapore

Ulu Sembawang Park Connector Welcomed Taichung Friends
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

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HDB unveils plans for three new housing areas

Olivia Siong Channel NewsAsia 29 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Three new housing areas will be launched over the next few years, offering 40,000 new homes in all. They are Punggol Matilda, Tampines North and the new centrally-located estate of Bidadari.

Homebuyers will be able to apply for units as soon as September -- when some 500 units at Punggol Matilda are launched by the HDB.

From waterfront living at Punggol Matilda, to a boulevard park at Tampines North, and preserving the heritage and greenery at Bidadari -- these plans were unveiled by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the HDB's "Future Homes, Better Lives" Exhibition.

Mr Khaw said: "The plans for Bidadari, Tampines North, and Punggol Matilda, will capitalise on their individual distinctive character so that they can all achieve a unique identity and provide a unique living experience.

"The planners of HDB have carefully built on each estate's history, distinctive local flavour and features. As we rapidly expand our building programme to create new precincts in new towns, my instruction to HDB is to seize every opportunity of building new precincts, to build on our strong foundation, so as to advance our social mission. Every new town must be better than the previous one."

Punggol Matilda, which is about one-tenth the size of Toa Payoh town, and will be a waterfront home to about 28,000 residents with 8,000 flats.

One of seven distinct districts in Punggol new town, Punggol Matilda will take inspiration from the historic Matilda House in its area -- this will be reflected in a new housing form that will be offered.

The district will also pilot a new "landscaped deck" housing concept -- where centralised amenities are built on elevated decks, with car park facilities underneath. The HDB said this will allow more generous building-to-building space and give residents "door-step" accessibility to precinct amenities located on the landscaped deck.

The second new area is Tampines North -- an extension of the existing Tampines town.

Taking after the town's shape as a leaf, it will see a boulevard linear park serve as the "main vein". With an area of about 240 hectares, it is also about three times the size of Bidadari estate.

The district will house about 21,000 units -- with about 80 per cent being public housing, and the rest private housing. The first public housing units will be launched in the second half of 2014.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated is the Bidadari estate, located in central Singapore.

Once a cemetery, it is now a green space and recreation area for residents around the estate. With a land area of 93 hectares, Bidadari is expected to have 11,000 residential units -- with about 90 per cent set aside for public housing. The first flats will be launched in 2015.

The existing greenery will also be preserved with a new park, and a lake being planned as the green lung for the area.

The Upper Aljunied Road will also be fully pedestrianised.

All the building in the three areas will be about 16 to 17 storeys tall.

Property analysts expect the Bidadari Estate and the Punggol Matilda district in particular, to prove popular with homebuyers.

"Bidadari because it's around the city fringe and also around the Bidadari estates there will be three MRT stations. Another one would be the Punggol Matilda estate, because it has the unique feature of having the pedestrian veranda that can connect the residents all the way to the beach," said Nicholas Mak, Executive Director for Research and Consultancy at SLP International Property Consultants.

Another common feature -- the three new areas will come with cycling paths and pedestrian networks.

Each area will take 10 to 15 years to complete.

- CNA/ac

3 new estates, 40,000 homes
Sumita Sreedharan Today Online 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE — Community gardens, huge parks of up to 10 hectares, walkways lined with greenery and landscaped decks integrated with housing blocks. Amenities like these will feature prominently in the three new housing estates of Bidadari, Tampines North and Punggol Matilda, the plans for which were unveiled yesterday at an exhibition at Toa Payoh HDB Hub. Together, these estates will yield 40,000 new public housing units.

Speaking at the exhibition, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that promoting “pervasive greenery and community gardens” will be one of five characteristics of every new town, or what he described as the “next generation of housing”. The others are encouraging interaction and healthy living among residents, as well as energy efficiency, recycling and higher productivity be it in refuse collection or the construction of the flats.

“As we rapidly expand our building programme to create new precincts in new towns, my instruction to HDB is to seize the opportunity to build on our strong foundation and to advance our social mission. Every new town must be better than the previous one,” Mr Khaw said.

He added: “These fresh planning and design ideas will characterise our next generation of public housing.”

On the three new upcoming towns - which are slated for completion over the next 10 to 15 years - Mr Khaw pointed out that the development plans will “capitalise on their distinctive character to bring about a unique identity and living experience”. “The planners have carefully built on each estate’s history, distinctive local flavour and features,” he said.

For example, Bidadari Park will feature heritage trees, Tampines North will boast a 10 ha Quarry Park - in a nod to Tampines’ past as a sand quarry site - and Punggol Matilda will have verandahs and colonnaded walkways inspired by a conserved property in the vicinity, the Matilda House,

Applications will open for a Build-to-Order project in Punggol Matilda in the BTO exercise next month. Buyers can expect units in Tampines North and Bidadari to come on stream in the second half of next year and 2015, respectively.

HDB said the pricing of projects in these estates will depend on the location, design and the different attributes of the flats such as floor area, design features and orientation, as well as the resale prices of nearby HDB units.

Most analysts whom TODAY spoke to expect the projects in Bidadari to be the most popular among the three new estates, due to its centralised location and links to transportation nodes. PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail, however, felt that Punggol Matilda could potentially be most attractive. “Punggol is attracting a lot of attention, mainly because of lifestyle amenities and facilities,“ he said.

All three new estates will have extensive cycling and pedestrian networks. In terms of public transport, Bidadari will be served by the North-East Line (NEL) and Circle Line (CCL), while Punggol Matilda will be near the Punggol LRT line. New bus interchanges will also be built in Bidadari and Tampines North. Chris International Director Chris Koh noted that currently, Tampines North is the least accessible by public transport as there are no MRT or LRT stations in the vicinity. Analysts also wondered whether Tampines North would be classified as a mature estate given that it is part of the larger Tampines town, leading to its flats being priced higher.

ERA Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim said: “Tampines North could possibly be considered as part of the mature town of Tampines... residents there will be able to access the regional centre without being directly affected by the hustle and bustle.”

Tampines North: A ‘green shoot’ of Tampines Town
HDB fly-through of Tampines North development plan
Xue Jianyue Today Online 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE — Tampines North, with an estimated 21,000 dwelling units spread across 240 hectares, will be added to the existing Tampines Town.

Envisioned as the “green shoot” and extension of Tampines Town, the new estate will consist of four housing districts — Park West District, Green Walk District, Park East District and Boulevard District — each with a unique housing design.

The first housing parcel in the Park West District will be launched in the second half of next year.

A Boulevard Park — featuring a stretch lined with seasonal flowering trees — will run through the estate, providing residents with a seamless connection from Sun Plaza Park to Sungei Api Api. Community spaces and facilities such as childcare centres will be located along the park.

A second major park, Quarry Park, will also be created and could feature a quarry pond, inspired by Tampines’ history as a sand quarry site.

Apart from the two major parks, smaller ones will be scattered across the estate, and linked to one another by a pedestrian and cycling network weaving through the housing districts.

A new landmark mixed development, with mixed commercial and residential use as well as a bus interchange, will be a focal point for residents in Tampines North. The Tampines North Hub could be integrated with a plaza square and a green arcade,

A landbridge will also mark the gateway into Tampines Town, which will consist of 90,000 units with the inclusion of Tampines North.

This bridge will link the Quarry Park to Sun Plaza and Boulevard Park, allowing Tampines North residents to connect with the rest of Tampines Town.

Tampines North is one of three new housing areas being showcased at HDB’s “Future Homes, Better Lives” Exhibition this evening (Aug 29) at the HDB Hub Atrium.

The exhibition showcases the broad development plans for three new housing areas — Bidadari, Tampines North, and Punggol Matilda. It will be held from today to Sept 15.

New Alkaff lake for Bidadari estate
HDB fly-through of Bidadari development plan
Xue Jianyue Today Online 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE — The 93-hectare Bidadari estate, with 11,000 housing units, will feature a lake inspired by the former Alkaff Lake Gardens.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has envisioned the estate as a “tranquil urban oasis” for residents.

There will be six neighbourhoods — Alkaff, Bartley Heights, Sennett, Park’s Edge and Woodleigh — with the first housing parcel in Alkaff Neighbourhood to be launched by 2015.

The new Alkaff lake will be located in a new Bidadari Park, of around 10 hectares. The park will integrate an existing Memorial Garden commemorating the heritage of Bidadari Cemetery.

When the estate is ready, residents can access the nearby Bartley and Woodleigh MRT stations through pedestrian and cycling pathways.

A 20-metre wide greenway, lined with rest spots, commercial and communal facilities, will also cut across the estate from Bartley Road to Upper Serangoon Road. A town centre called Market Square will feature public housing integrated with community facilities and a bus interchange.

To bring back the rich and fond memories of Bidadari, the estate will feature a Heritage Walk showcasing stories of Bidadari’s history and contributions of prominent personalities, including Syed Shaik Abdulrahman Alkaff, a famous merchant and landowner whom the Alkaff Lake Gardens was named after.

Built in 1929, the garden was an attraction in pre-war colonial Singapore. In its heyday, families rowed boats in the lake and dating couples frequented the surrounding man-made hills. While the garden survived the Japanese Occupation, it was bought by a realty company in 1949 and subsequently redeveloped into a school and a private residential estate.

Bidadari is one of three new housing areas being showcased at HDB’s “Future Homes, Better Lives” Exhibition this evening (Aug 29) at the HDB Hub Atrium.

The exhibition showcases the broad development plans for three new housing areas — Bidadari, Tampines North, and Punggol Matilda. It will be held from today to Sept 15.

New public housing concept at Punggol Matilda
The new form of housing will have a landscaped deck and hybrid car park
Xue Jianyue Today Online 30 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE — To provide residents with a greater sense of spaciousness, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will be introducing a new form of housing with a landscaped deck and hybrid car park at Punggol Matilda.

This concept consists of housing blocks built around precinct spaces located on elevated decks. Car park facilities are provided beneath it.

There will be longer distances between buildings. Integrated landscaped decks also provide “door-step” accessibility to the precinct amenities.

The HDB has identified a few suitable sites in Punggol Matilda to be designed with this new housing form. About 500 units will be launched next month.

The new Punggol Matilda estate was named after the Matilda House, a colonial house built in 1902 at Punggol’s waterfront. It inspired architects to include verandahs and colonnaded walkways into its design.

Punggol Matilda will thus feature open lawns and dense tree groves to resemble the tropical fruit orchard that once surrounded the house. One of the oldest houses here, the property was given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2000.

When fully complete, Punggol Matilda, a waterfront housing district, will consist of 8,000 units that are expected to house about 28,000 residents. The development of the district is part of the Phase 2 master plan for Punggol New Town which was unveiled in October last year.

To connect residents to the waterfront, there will be three corridors across the estate.

The central corridor, along Punggol Field, is planned as a community street with pedestrian-friendly features such as an “urban verandah”. The two-storey high verandah will provide shelter for residents walking from the waterfront to future commercial developments. The community street will have amenities such as a proposed waterfront shopping centre, eating houses and shops to serve the residents.

The other two corridors are envisioned by HDB as boulevards lined with trees.

Punggol Matilda is one of three new housing areas being showcased at HDB’s “Future Homes, Better Lives” Exhibition this evening (Aug 29) at the HDB Hub Atrium.

The exhibition showcases the broad development plans for three new housing areas — Bidadari, Tampines North, and Punggol Matilda. It will be held from today to Sept 15.

Ambitious plans for 3 new HDB projects
Charissa Yong Straits Times 30 Aug 13;

FROM lush spaces for neighbourly bonding to cycling trails for healthy living, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan promised that each new Housing Board project would be a cut above the rest.

"Every new town must be better than the previous one," he said as he unveiled plans for the upcoming Bidadari, Tampines North and Punggol Matilda districts yesterday.

These projects will yield 35,000 public homes and 5,000 private units in stages over the next 10 to 15 years. While prices have not yet been released, Mr Khaw gave a glimpse of the amenities which will be on offer.

Bidadari, which will offer 10,000 public homes ranging from studio apartments to five-roomers, will have a man-made lake inside a 10ha park which will be a tenth of the estate's size.

Punggol Matilda will include an elevated, landscaped deck with verandahs, colonnades and a pavilion resembling the iconic Matilda House, after which the district is named. The south-western Punggol district, which will have 8,000 HDB units, will also have boulevards leading to a new waterfront shopping centre.

At Tampines North, which will eventually have 17,000 HDB flats, residents can unwind at a new shopping centre, which will be integrated with the bus interchange, or at the estate's two parks. A pond with a sandy beach is also on the cards, a nod to the area's past sand quarries.

Each town will have several common amenities, including public spaces such as community gardens, where residents can mix with one another, said Mr Khaw.

"They create a quality living environment where families and communities can grow."

These new estates will feature more greenery. At Bidadari, for instance, a canopy of mature trees along a stretch of Upper Aljunied Road will be preserved, and the road itself will be converted into a pedestrian walkway.

Cycling and pedestrian networks will also be a part of every new town, to promote healthy lifestyles. "We will look after the interests and safety of pedestrians and cyclists... We will encourage more to cycle and walk rather than drive," said Mr Khaw.

All future towns will also be energy efficient and have separate chutes for recyclables, he added at the launch of an exhibition yesterday featuring these plans at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh. It runs till Sept 15.

Punggol Matilda's new homes will be the first to be launched, with 500 three- and four-room flats on offer during next month's Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise.

Tampines North's initial batch of BTO flats will go on sale in the second half of next year, followed by Bidadari's in 2015.

Blocks in these areas will be up to 17 storeys high. Details will be available closer to the launches.

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Residents recall Paya Lebar's civilian airport and kampung days

Memories take flight over 'wide swamp'
Charissa Yong And Joanna Seow Straits Times 30 Aug 13;

MENTION Paya Lebar, and it conjures up many different memories.

For 59-year-old Mr David Sia, what comes to mind is the former Paya Lebar Airport terminal building which he frequented with his cousins in the 1960s.

"We watched the planes from the viewing gallery on the open rooftop.

"It was a joy to look at them coming in and touching down," said the corporate trainer.

For others, Paya Lebar is an industrial town, dotted with low- rise hardware and repair workshops, and offices in the Singapore Post Centre and iPark complex.

The area will be transformed again after 2030 when its iconic airbase moves to Changi, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech, and new homes, offices and factories take its place.

The space was first used by the international Paya Lebar Airport from 1955.

It was converted into an airbase in 1981, when Singapore became such a popular destination that Changi Airport was opened to accommodate the traffic.

Today, military planes still roar overhead, a familiar sound for many long-time residents.

"They interrupt conversations for minutes," said Mr Sia, who grew up in Paya Lebar.

"Apparently the farmers back then said their chickens were so disturbed they couldn't lay eggs."

But Paya Lebar was also once a notorious gangland, said Mr Sia.

"If you were a stranger and came here, there'd be eyes on you. You might have been challenged to a fight.

"Gangsters would warn us and our neighbours beforehand to stay indoors on the nights that fights took place."

The town began as a "wide swamp" - which is exactly what Paya Lebar means in Malay. Sand quarries and rural settlements dotted the area.

Former residents like Mr Azhari Mohamad remember when home was a wooden kampung house where the current Paya Lebar MRT station now stands.

He and his family had to make way for the new development in 1979.

The 46-year-old drinks stall manager still misses the kampung atmosphere.

Where Paya Lebar starts and ends is loosely defined.

Its two main roads, Paya Lebar Road and Upper Paya Lebar Road, span five MRT stations - Paya Lebar, MacPherson, Tai Seng, Bartley and Serangoon.

Several workers at the SingPost Centre next to Paya Lebar MRT station said they liked the location and the lack of crowds.

That could change though with work already under way on the Paya Lebar Square office complex, which is part of government plans to spruce up the area with more shops, hotels and open spaces.

"It's pretty peaceful here, not as congested as the Central Business District," said information technology security consultant Antara Chakraborty, 30.

Ms Wong Siew Yim, 28, a network engineer, said that the food options were "good and cheap", especially at the hawker centres in the industrial estates nearby.

Further north, Tai Seng is a sprawl of warehouses, factories and headquarters of food and beverage companies like Sakae Sushi and BreadTalk.

Some of the shophouses that used to house bakeries and a flour mill still remain.

Today, several have become popular eateries that sell food like pork rib soup and roast duck rice.

Further up, the low-rise industrial estate of Defu Lane and the peaceful housing blocks of Lorong Ah Soo border the airbase.

On Defu Lane, subcontractors and workshop owners say that not much will change for them when the airbase goes.

"Our customers don't come from here anyway," said Mrs Soma Kumar, 48.

She has been repairing furniture with her husband in the same corner workshop for the past 20 years.

Lorong Ah Soo residents and shopkeepers are curious about what the future will bring.

Several, like minimart employee Rani Veddapan, 58, said that their business may pick up with more people coming to the area.

Residents too are hoping the increase in human traffic will bring benefits.

"Maybe there'll be more eating places nearby and better transport too.

"But taller buildings will block the breeze," said administrative assistant Jocelyn Lam, 53, who lives in a 13th-floor flat in Paya Lebar.

Her neighbour, seamstress Chok May, is looking forward to a new shopping centre or two, and fewer factories.

Said the 50-year-old: "But by then, I'll be old already. It's the next generation, kids growing up now, who will benefit from the changes."

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ASEAN ministers urged to support recommendation on haze monitoring system

Teo Chia Leen Channel NewsAsia 29 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) said ASEAN environment senior officials will propose to the ASEAN environment ministers to support the recommendation of the 15th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution regarding the Haze Monitoring System.

At the meeting, Singapore also emphasised the need for continual swift response actions by Indonesia to prevent the number of hotspots in the region from increasing.

NEA said the Indonesian authorities also provided updates on their efforts to respond to fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan that caused transboundary haze.

The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the good band while the 24-hour PM2.5 is expected to be slightly elevated.

NEA said all persons can continue with normal activities.

NEA also said Singapore could still experience slightly hazy conditions over the next few days due to the accumulation of particulate matter under light wind conditions.

- CNA/gn

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First court case over haze may start next month

Zubaidah Nazeer Indonesia Correspondent In Jakarta Straits Times 30 Aug 13;

THE first case of a company charged with illegal burning may land in a Riau district court next month, said a senior Indonesian official, even as the haze thickened and meteorologists warned of more hot spots through October.

"Most of the cases have moved to the investigations stage and we expect the first case ready to be in court by end of September," Mr Mas Achmad Santosa, deputy of a presidential task force, told The Straits Times on the sidelines of a United Nations-led workshop on Forestry Law.

He declined to name the company, citing ongoing legal proceedings, but said the charges would extend culpability to corporations and executives. "We are serious about nailing them down," he said.

Separately, the Forestry and Environment Ministers told the Straits Times that farmers were still setting fire to land and that changing the habit of burning land to clear it will take a long time.

Yesterday's hot spots over Sumatra dwindled to 28 from 99 on Wednesday. Though the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in Pekanbaru went down to 100 today after hitting 320 on Tuesday, televised footage showed villagers there struggling to put out fires after 17 of their houses were burned.

Singapore's air quality stayed in the "Good" PSI range. The National Environment Agency said Singapore could see slight haze in the next few days.

Air quality in the northern Malaysian states hit the unhealthy range before improving yesterday.

The persistent haze prompted Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel yesterday to describe Indonesia as "problematic" in dealing with it. Indonesia has yet to ratify an Asean haze treaty and prefers to deal bilaterally with the worst-affected countries.

"They are willing to provide photographs of the hot spot areas to us but not to the Asean secretariat overseeing the issue," he told reporters in Malaysia, referring to Indonesia.

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Malaysia: No quick solution to haze woes

Sameer Ahmed Shaikh, Hashini Kavishtri Kannan and HAni Shamira Shahrudin New Straits Times 30 Aug 13;

NO AGREEMENT: Indonesia yet to ratify Asean pact on transboundary haze pollution

KUALA LUMPUR: THERE is unlikely to be a quick solution to the haze issue anytime soon. This is because the Indonesian government refuses to take the matter to the Asean Secretariat, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

He said Indonesia preferred to have a "government to government" meeting with Malaysia and Singapore, rather than taking the matter to the Asean Secretariat.

Palanivel said he was informed by his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Balthasar Kambuaya, that a decision on the matter would be made only after the Indonesian parliament meets in December, either this year or next.

Indonesia has yet to ratify the Asean Agreement on Haze Transboundary Pollution brokered in 2002.

"We are ready to provide all the support needed to them, especially the cloud seeding planes, but we will have to wait for the Indonesian government to make a decision."

Palanivel added that the haze situation in Kedah and Penang improved with a reduction in the API reading yesterday.

He is, however, still concerned that the haze situation may worsen.

"I don't want the schools to be closed again. I am worried that it will affect students sitting their examinations," he said after opening the National Utility Mapping Seminar 2013, themed Utility Mapping -- Driving Sustainable Development, here yesterday.

A total of 300 participants attended the seminar organised by the Survey and Mapping Department.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment (DoE) said all 51 air monitoring stations nationwide recorded healthy and moderate readings.

"The public is advised to avoid carrying out all forms of open burning, except for cremation, ritual burning, charcoal barbeque grills and the flaring of gas.

"They are also advised to report such activities to the fire and rescue department," it said.

As of 5pm, Air Pollutant Index reading in Sungai Petani, Langkawi and Alor Star showed moderate readings compared with the previous day, when readings shot up to unhealthy levels.

The readings improved from the unhealthy mark (92 and 82) respectively on Wednesday.

Air quality in Seberang Prai, Penang also improved yesterday with an API reading of 63 compared with the day before, which recorded an API of 102.

Palanivel said the seminar was aimed at raising awareness of the need to have an organised and proper underground utility mapping system for all the agencies.

He said the government realised the importance of having an organised, comprehensive and updated underground utility infrastructure to ensure steady development of the country.

'Unhealthy' air in 2 towns
Zarina Zakariah AND Phuah Ken Lin
New Straits Times 29 Aug 13;

LIMIT OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES: Kedah, Penang raise alert as haze makes comeback

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Air Pollutant Index (API) recorded unhealthy air quality in two towns at 5pm yesterday, following the detection of haze since Monday.

Sungai Petani in Kedah recorded an API of 104 at 5pm, but saw a reduction to 102 at 7pm, while Seberang Jaya in Penang recorded a 101 API level at 5pm, but returned to "moderate" level of 100 two hours later.

Other areas nationwide still hovered between "good" and "moderate", according to the Department of Environment (DOE).

Air pollution is considered "hazardous" when the API has a reading of 301 and above; "very unhealthy" at 201 to 300; "unhealthy" at 101 to 200; "moderate" at 51 to 100 and "good" at 0-50.

A total of 33 areas in Johor, Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Malacca, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur had recorded "moderate" API levels. The 16 API stations in Sabah and Sarawak registered "good" API readings.

A satellite image from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed 308 hot spots in Sumatra, Indonesia, believed to be the contributory factor to the haze, compared with to only 264 hot spots registered on Monday.

Thick haze was also reported in Kota Pekanbaru, capital of Riau, and had resulted in flight disruptions at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport.

Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency said it was assisting its district counterpart in tackling the haze by enlisting the use of water bombers.

The nation last saw the haze last month and an Asean forum was organised in which Indonesia assured its neighbours that it would ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, brokered in 2002.

In Alor Star, the state Health Department advised those in southern Kedah to take precautionary measures as the API in Sungai Petani hits the unhealthy level.

Its director Dr Ismail Abu Taat said those with asthma should limit outdoor activities.

"Those who feel unwell should seek immediate medical attention, especially if they experience breathing difficulties or discomfort," said Dr Ismail.

The DOE monitoring station in Bakar Arang and Sungai Petani showed the API reading had increased from 94 at 6am to 104 at 5pm yesterday.

The API in Langkawi and Alor Star also showed significance increase from 77 and 71 at 6am yesterday to 96 and 89 respectively.

In Kangar, the API reading also showed an increase from 71 at 6am yesterday to 86 as of 5pm.

In George Town, state Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the state government had distributed face masks for free to schoolchildren.

Haze blanketed the island and the mainland yesterday with the API reaching "unhealthy" levels.

At 6am, the API readings in Seberang Jaya, Prai and Penang island were 89, 77 and 83 respectively. At 5pm, the API readings increased to 101 in Seberang Jaya, 88 in Prai and 96 in Penang island. It also saw poor visibility along the Penang Bridge.

State DOE assistant director (operations) Badili Shah Ahmad said it was difficult to forecast whether the air quality would worsen, but hoped for rain to clear the air. Additional reporting by Zahratulhayat Mat Arif

Rain helps clear haze in Penang
The Star 30 Aug 13;

GEORGE TOWN: A late night rain brought an improvement in the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in Penang, a day after the state was heavily shrouded in haze.

As at 5pm yesterday, the API at Universiti Sains Malaysia and Prai were both recorded at the healthy level of 64 as compared to 82 and 87 previously while it was 57 at Seberang Jaya, down from 76.

Visibility in the state had also improved with the Meteorological Department’s website recording a range of 7km in all three locations as at 5pm.

Various locations in Kedah and Perlis also recorded a slight improvement in the API readings.

The API in Bakar Arang, Sungai Petani, which reached an unhealthy level of 104 on Wednes-day, dropped to a moderate level of 55.

Air quality in Langkawi was recorded at 54, an improvement from 69 previously, while in Alor Setar, it was at 56, down from 75.

Perlis also enjoyed good air quality with the API reading dropping to 48 yesterday from 69 on Wednesday evening.

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Indonesia: Fighter planes monitor fires in Riau

Antara 29 Aug 13;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Several of the Air Force`s Hawk 100/200 fighter planes have been deployed to monitor bush fires in Sumatra`s Riau Province.

"Not only helicopters (have been sent), but some Hawk fighter planes have also been used to monitor fires in Riau. We are monitoring the situation while conducting flying exercises," Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base spokesman Major Pilfadri said to Antara here on Thursday.

To help the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) fight land and forest fires in Riau, he said the air force had also fielded three helicopters, one Cicorski and two Bolcos, to conduct water-bombing operations.

"A Cassa plane that conducts weather-modification operations has also been deployed," he added.

BNPB spokesman Agus Wibowo explained that he had also coordinated with several companies this time around to get assistance with fighting the fires.

"Two companies that have pledged their cooperation are PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper and Sinarmas Group," he stated.

He noted that the two plantation and forestry companies had contributed two helicopters to monitor the fires and conduct fire fighting operations.

"During a fire several months ago, these two companies had actively assisted BNPB," he said.

He claimed BNPB does not yet know how much land has been burned due to the actions of irresponsible people.

"What is certain is that the fires are mostly located in lands belonging to plantation or forestry companies," he remarked.

The fires have led to an increase in air pollution in the region.

Light rain fell briefly on Thursday morning, reducing the level of pollution from the fires.

Compared to the day before when visibility was only about 300 meters, "the air this morning is fresher," stated Minem, a resident.

Even so, many people are continuing to wear masks while outdoors.

Head of the local BNPB office Said Saqlul Amri said cloud seeding would continue to produce rain, adding that the Agency of Technology Assessment and Application had put a minimum of two tons of salt into the operation every day.

The local health service announced that air conditions in the region over the past two days since Tuesday have been dangerous, noting that it had recorded an air quality standard of 300 PSI.

The local office of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) confirmed that the number of fires had dropped drastically.

Based on NOAA 18 satellite images, local BMKG staff member Slamet Riyadi pointed out that there were 26 fires in Riau, across three districts: 15 were in Pelalawan, six in Indragiri Hulu, and five in Indragiri Hilir.

Initially, 152 fires had been recorded, mostly in Pelalawan, creating thick smog above Pekanbaru, he added.

Reporting by Fazar Muhardi, FB Anggoro

Haze forces temporary closure of schools in Pekanbaru
Antara 29 Aug 13;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Pekanbaru education office has temporary closed kindergartens and elementary schools partly in the city, which have been hit by haze.

Kindergarten, first, second and third grade students are prone to haze-induced respiratory problems, and therefore, they are spared from going to schools, said Head of the Pekanbaru Education Office Zulfadil on Thursday.

Students from the fourth to 12th grades still have to go to school despite the haze problem, he added.

The Riau provincial health office has warned that the air condition in Pekanbaru, the province`s capital, is categorised as dangerous.

Dewani, the head of the Riau health office, said the pollutant standard index in the city hit 320 PSI on Wednesday but it decreased to 100 PSI on Thursday morning.

The office, therefore, recommended the closures of schools for kindergarten until third grade students.

On Wednesday, three students fell unconscious while joining outdoor sport activities.

Last Tuesday, a state Islamic Junior High School (MTsN) in Pekanbaru was temporarily closed as a result of the haze covering the city following the reemergence of hotspots from forest and plantation fires.

"We have decided to send the students back home because the conditions created by the haze are quite worrying," Sofyan, a teacher at MTsN Andalan, said.

Initially, the students had taken classes as usual in the morning, but as the day progressed, the haze had entered the classrooms, and most of the students had started to complain of eye irritation and respiratory problems due to the fog, he stated.

After getting permission from the city`s religious affairs office, the school discontinued teaching and sent approximately 600 students home.

The haze reduced visibility in Pekanbaru to around 500 meters on Tuesday morning.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Riau`s 10 districts and cities had a total of 264 hotspots earlier this week.


Editor: Jafar M Sidik

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Aug 13

Chek Jawa Boardwalk Anniversary trip on 7th Sep (Sat)
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Flower fly power
from The annotated budak

Butterflies Galore! : Lesser Harlequin
from Butterflies of Singapore

Tiny but mighty: Halophila beccarii on Singapore's northern shores from wild shores of singapore and Beccari the explorer and Singapore

12 new solitary ascidians records for Singapore
from wild shores of singapore

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Number of hotspots in Sumatra drops sharply

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 28 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: There has been a sharp drop in the number of hotspots detected in Sumatra.

According to the latest numbers from the National Environment Agency (NEA), 99 hotspots were recorded on Wednesday, a sharp drop from the 308 hotspots detected on August 27.

On August 26, the number of hotspots in Sumatra jumped to 488 to hit its highest in 30 days.

However, NEA noted that the actual number is uncertain due to cloud-cover over Sumatra.

It added that the occurrence of showers may have helped to subdue some of the hotspot activity.

The NEA said showers are forecast over central and southern Sumatra for the next few days.

It also added that Indonesia has said that water bombing and cloud seeding are underway to put out the fires.

- CNA/fa

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Important for students to learn about climate change from young: Heng Swee Keat

S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 28 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said it is important for the nation to start with the young in nurturing responsible citizens.

He said schools prepare students to be conscientious stewards of the planet in many ways.

Presenting prizes to winners of the Senoko Sustainability Challenge organised for schools on Wednesday, Mr Heng noted that the school curriculum covers climate change and sustainability from various angles.

Students learn about biodiversity, global warming and climate change.

Competitions like the Senoko Sustainability Challenge are another avenue for them to learn about environmental sustainability.

More than 100 entries were received for the competition.

- CNA/nd

Energy-saving ideas: Mirror trick and hotel perks
David Ee Straits Times 29 Aug 13;

FOR bright students, a dim classroom is simply not good enough.

So a group of secondary school children has come up with a novel way to let more light in during lessons - using the sun and a system of mirrors and prisms.

These were placed strategically around the classroom, meaning there was less need for ceiling lights during the day.

The idea from students at NUS High School of Mathematics and Science was one of the "practical and doable solutions" that emerged as winners in this year's Senoko Sustainability Challenge.

More than 400 students spent several months putting themselves in the shoes of policymakers. Their goal was to come up with ways for Singapore to stay resilient against the impact of global climate change. Their ideas were judged by a panel that included biologist and former National Parks Board chairman Leo Tan. Yesterday, he praised the level-headed way in which they approached the challenge, saying: "They were not dreaming (about) science fiction... they were saying, 'we can do this today.'"

Other winners included a team from Raffles Girls' School which realised hotel guests would be more inclined to save energy if they were offered perks in return.

Their proposal, pitched to the Intercontinental Hotel Group, offered customers incentives such as spa treatments, dining vouchers and discounted stays if they kept their energy use down.

This could help to both prevent waste and "maximise" guests' enjoyment, said team member Poh Yong Han, 16.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told the students they would "grow up to be the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow". This means they must be aware that their small "green" efforts will have a large impact over time, he said at yesterday's ceremony at the Mandarin Orchard hotel.

The Senoko Sustainability Challenge was first launched in 2005. This year, it attracted more than 100 entries from 52 schools.

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Indonesia: Haze Threatens to Return as Riau Burns Again

Camelia Pasandaran and Dessy Sagita Jakarta Globe 27 Aug 13;

A map from the Indonesian meteorological service shows the increased number of hotspots in Sumatra on Tuesday. (Image courtesy of BPNB)

Singapore and Indonesian officials traded barbs on Tuesday as the haze crisis that cast a shadow on the two countries’ relations in June threatened to reemerge.

“An exercise in frustration — big increase in hot spots (488) in Sumatra today,” Singapore’s Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook. “We have been spared so far because of wind direction.”

Air quality in Singapore remained at “good” levels on Tuesday afternoon, within a range of 26-35. Singapore’s air degraded to “very hazardous” levels on June 21, breaking 400 on the Pollutant Standards Index, the city state’s National Environment Agency reported.

“We remain at risk,” Balakrishnan said. “Have to keep up the pressure on Indonesian authorities and companies to do the right thing for the sake of their own citizens and ours.”

The head of Singapore’s National Environment Agency, Ronnie Tay, said he had spoken with his counterparts in Indonesia about the acute increase in hotspots.

Tay wrote in a public release that meteorological forecasts for the next few days predicted southerly and southeasterly winds flowing over the Strait of Malacca. A shift to a more southwesterly wind direction could, however, bring haze back to Singapore.

Forestry Ministry spokesman Sumarto confirmed to the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that the number of hotspots was increasing, but denied the total was as high as the 488 reported by Lion City authorities.

“According to [Indonesia’s] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], there are 265 hotspots as of this morning,” he said. “Yesterday, 101 hotspots were recorded — a major jump from last week’s 19-25 hotspots.”

The difference between Singapore and Indonesia’s hotspot figures are more instructive of the two countries’ differing methodology, not of an attempt to overdo or underplay the situation on the ground in Sumatra.

Smoke signals?

Yopita Gustini, a resident of Pekanbaru, Riau, said visibility had worsened to less than 500 meters.

“I had to turn on the car lamps even in the morning when I was driving in,” Yopita told the Jakarta Globe. “I drove really slowly out of fear for my safety.”

Air quality on Tuesday was not as debilitating as Riau residents saw in June, she said.

“It’s not as bad as the last time, but what makes me afraid is that it has not been raining the past few days,” Yopita said. “If the weather and the temperature persist, I’m afraid the fire will be just as big as the last time.”

The 30-year-old added that she had begun wearing a face mask three days ago because she had started to experience a degree of respiratory difficulty.

Yopita called on the government to instigate greater weather-modification efforts in the province.

“Don’t wait until weeks later,” she said.

The Indonesian government was criticized during the peak of the haze crisis for the lack of speed with which it took action against hotspots in Sumatra.

As firefighters struggled to stay ahead of the curve in June, the government ordered the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to seed the clouds above Riau province — a method used to create artificial rain — and drop water from agency helicopters’ Bambi buckets.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho confirmed that the government was acting in Riau.

“Today there was water-bombing in Pelalawan with one Boco and one Sikorsky helicopter,” he said. “They can carry 4,500 liters per flight.”

Thick smoke over Pekanbaru disrupted flights at the Riau capital’s international airport — only one flight was able to land yesterday at Sultan Syarif Kasim airport. Planes were instead diverted to nearby airports in Medan and Batam.

Under fire

The Indonesian government confirmed that the Sumatra hotspots were once again caused by slash-and-burn clearance of land — the easiest way to make way for, primarily, palm oil plantations.

“99 percent of the hotspots were caused by individuals or groups,” Sutopo said.

Despite international outcry over the extent of slash-and-burn only weeks ago, Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry said the practice continued to thrive.

“More places are burning because of a rise in temperature and the lack of rain over the past few weeks,” Sumarto said. “Some underground fires that were already burning flared up again, and local people are also burning forest to clear land.”

Sumarto called the hotspots a disaster, and asked that the government be given more time by the people of Sumatra and Singapore to address the intractability of the problem.

“It’s difficult to prevent people from using traditional methods of land clearing,” he said. “It takes a long time for them stop.”

At least one Riau resident believes this a tradition that needs to be nixed.

“What’s even more important is the law enforcement,” Yopita said. “I hope the government will take serious action against those who started the fire, because spending money on artificial rain will not do anything as long as these people keep burning the forest.”

Three flights diverted due to haze in Pekanbaru
The Jakarta Post 27 Aug 13;

Poor visibility, caused by thick haze, at Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, forced the rerouting of three flights.

A Garuda Indonesia aircraft that was scheduled to land at Sultan Syarif Kasim II on Tuesday morning was diverted to Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra.

Meanwhile, a Lion Air plane from Jakarta, which was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m., was rerouted to Batam, Riau Islands, as visibility dropped to less than 500 meters due to the haze.

The airport’s duty manager Baiquni said the Garuda plane departed from Jakarta at around 4:30 a.m. and should have arrived in Pekanbaru, this morning.

“But due to the low visibility the pilot diverted the aircraft and landed in Kualanamu, Medan,” he said in Pekanbaru on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Meanwhile, an Air Asia plane from Kualanamu Airport, Deli Serdang, was forced to return after it received information about the thick haze that was blanketing Pekanbaru Airport.

“Almost all flights were delayed,” Baiquni said.

Despite the haze at Sultan Syarif Kasim II, several pilots were determined to land there and an Air Asia plane, flying from Bandung, West Java, arrived at 7:30 a.m.

“We, as the airport operator, are only required to inform of the conditions. We leave take off and landing decisions to the pilot and airline company,” said Baiquni.

He said that the haze, from the ongoing forest and peatland fires in Riau, was the worst it had been over the last few months. (hrl/ebf)

Ash rain in Pekanbaru after forest fires
Antara 28 Aug 13;

Pekanbaru, Riau Province (ANTARA News) - Several areas in Pekanbaru have been hit by ash rain, following forest fires for the past two days, said an official.

"There is rainfall in the form of ash particles. We believe this phenomenon occurs when there are forest fires," said Chief of Environmental Health Affairs from the province`s Health Office Dewani on Wednesday.

Earlier, spokesperson for the Riau Administration Office announced that the air quality in the area has deteriorated and is unsuitable for locals. The announcement was made when the Air Pollution Standard Index (ISPU) in Pekanbaru reached 300 (normal pollution index in an area is around 0-50).

Dewani said ash rain causes respiratory disorders and irritation in eyes and skin. Therefore, she urged locals to avoid outdoor activities.

(Reported by FB Anggoro/translated and edited by Amie Fenia Arimbi/KR-BSR/O001)

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Around 200 hotspots detected in C. Kalimantan
Antara 28 Aug 13;

Sampit, Central Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Around 200 hotspots have been detected in Central Kalimantan, according to Andreas Dodi, a researcher at the Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

"The province is on high alert of possible forest fires, following the presence of hotspots," he said, adding that the high temperature in the province increases the possibility of forest fires.

Based on the information provided by the province`s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the rainy season in Central Kalimantan has just begun. However, people are being warned about the possibility of forest fires. They have been told not to burn large areas of land to create plantations.

"As of now, air quality in the province is at a normal level," he added.

(Reported by Unting Setiawan/translated and edited by Amie Fenia Arimbi/KR-BSR/O001)

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Malaysia: Haze comes back with a vengeance as air quality worsens

Christopher Tan, Embun Majid and Winnie Yeoh The Star 29 Aug 13;

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians feared haze will return with a vengeance as the air quality in several states worsened, especially in Kedah with the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Bakar Arang, Sungai Petani reaching an unhealthy level of 104 – the highest reading in the country.

The API measurement registered at the Department of Environment (DOE) monitoring station recorded the index at 4pm.

It was initially 94 at 6am before it went up to 99 by 10am.

In the tourism haven of Langkawi, it showed 77 at 6am before increasing to 86 by 10am and shot up to 96 at 4pm.

An increase in API was also noted in Alor Setar where the reading showed 71 (6am) and 77 (10am). The API increased to 87 by 4pm.

In Penang, the API in Seberang Jaya saw an increase from 89 at 6am to 94 by 10am before going up further to an unhealthy level of 103 at 4pm.

Moving south, several areas in Ipoh also recorded moderate air quality.

The API in Sri Manjung was 87 at 4pm while other areas such as SK Jalan Pegoh (82), Kampung Air Putih (75), Jalan Tasek (67) and Tanjung Malim (56) recorded such readings at the same time.

In Port Klang, it neared the unhealthy level when it increased from 77 (6am) to 82 (4pm).

In Malacca, the API in Bukit Rambai recorded 91 at 6am and 95 at 4pm while Bandaraya Melaka recorded 73 (6am) followed by 75 (4pm).

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 and 100 (moderate), 101 and 200 (unhealthy), 201 and 300 (very unhealthy), and 301 and above (hazardous).

This latest haze situation is once again blamed on an increase of hotspots in Sumatra, where the smog shifts direction depending on where the wind blows.

Penang Education Department director Datuk Ahmad Tarmizi Kamaruddin said all schools in areas where the API had hit above the 200 mark would be closed immediately.

“If the API hit more than 150, all outdoor activities such as Physical Education must stop,” he said.

Penang Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin advised the public to wear three-ply face masks as it offered better protection.

The state government also plans to distribute masks to the public.

Kedah Health Department director Dr Ismail Abu Taat advised residents there to avoid outdoor activities if the API reading in­­creases.

Haze: Penang, Kedah air quality back at unhealthy levels
Christopher Tan and Winnie Yeoh The Star 28 Aug 13;

GEORGE TOWN: Air quality in northern states in Malaysia - especially in Kedah - has worsened with the Air Pollutant Index (API) reaching unhealthy levels.

In Bakar Arang, Kedah, the Department of Environment (DOE) monitoring station recorded an unhealthy API reading of 104 at 4pm, which had been escalating since early morning.

Likewise, the API in Seberang Jaya 2 had an unhealthy reading of 103 at 4pm.

The API in Langkawi was 77 at 6am before increasing to 86 by 10am, but shot up drastically to 96 at 4pm.

An API of 87 was noted in Alor Setar at 4pm, up from 71 (6am) and 77 (10am).

In Penang, the API in Seberang Jaya 2 increased from 89 (6am) to 94 (10am) before reaching unhealthy levels of 103 (4pm).

In Prai, the API reached 88 at 4pm, while Universiti Sains Malaysia a reading of 96 at 4pm.

In Kangar, Perlis, API reading of 85 was recorded at 4pm, up from 71 (6am) and 79 (10am).
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), and 301 and above (hazardous).

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Malaysia: Close watch on poaching at Belum park

Audrey Dermawan and Slyvia Looi New Straits Times 29 Aug 13;

ONGOING CRACKDOWN: Multi-agency enforcement carried out on regular basis

CHECKS on poaching at the Royal Belum State Park is being undertaken through a multi-agency enforcement approach.

State Health, Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Nolee Ashilin Mohamed Radzi (BN-Tualang Sekah) said among the authorities involved are the Perak State Park Corporation (PTNP), Wildlife and National Parks Department, Forestry Department, Anti-Smuggling Unit and police with the support of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

"Enforcement is being carried out, especially during weekends and public holidays, along the East-West Highway based on tip-offs from NGOs.

"Since October 2011, PTNP had created check points at the entrance to the Royal Belum State Park to check and monitor boats that enter the park," she said, adding that the check points are operational 24 hours.

She was replying to Salbiah Mohamed (BN-Temengor), who asked on the steps taken to curb poaching in the park.

Nolee also said that the Wildlife and National Parks Department had patrolled the area 135 times between last year and July of this year.

"During the patrols, the department had successfully destroyed 38 traps and demolished two camps used by poachers in Belum forest," she said, adding that 65 closed-circuit televisions had been installed along the East-West Highway to track poaching activities.

She said that the state government had allocated RM300,000 the Forestry Department to reduce encroachment into the park.

"From September last year, the Hulu Perak district forestry office had taken the initiative to set up a special action unit to have joint operations with other enforcement agencies at the corridor of the Grik - Jeli Highway," she said.

Police had also arrested 34 foreigners and nine locals for encroaching, she added.

"Marine police also check on boats and vehicles that stop at the Pulau Banding public jetty," she said, adding that a total of 1,730 checks had been conducted from last year until July this year.

Earlier, state Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Saarani Mohamad told Datuk Abdul Manaf Hashim (BN-Pengkalan Baru) told the state assembly that the Kampar District Council had implemented recycling of disposed food to be turned into compost.

"Until the end of last year, 260 homes from four villages in Kampar had participated in the programme."

On another matter, the state recorded a 0.12 per cent or 283 pupils dropping out of primary school as of June 30 this year, while another 233,970 were in attendance.

State Education Committee chairman Dr Muhammad Amin Zakaria (BN-Batu Kurau) said several measures been taken to encourage these dropouts to "return" to school.

"Among them is the Jom Ke Sekolah programme. Besides that, there will also be house-to-house visits by teachers to the affected students to find out the reasons for dropping out," he said when replying to a question by Mohd Zawawi Abu Hassan (Pas-Gunung Semanggol).

Amin said another reason for them dropping out could be due to poverty.

Meanwhile, an opposition assemblyman urged the state government to look into the root cause as to why Indians formed the bulk of those involved in criminal activities.

Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Kepayang) said according to statistics from Bukit Aman, 71 per cent of arrested gangsters were Indians. He also expressed his worry over the recent spate of crimes in the country.

Nga, who is also Taiping MP, claimed that the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance (EO) had nothing to do with the increase in crime cases.

"There is no proof to substantiate that. That excuse is being given to justify a new law to withhold suspects without trial."

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Malaysia: Totally protect the sambar deer, or lose it forever

WWF 27 Aug 13;

27 August 2013, Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) is calling for urgent and decisive action to save the sambar deer, a critical food source for wild tigers and a species that is already missing from several protected forests in the country.

The sambar deer, locally known as rusa, is facing extinction in Peninsular Malaysia due to poaching for its meat and for sport. Despite a six-year moratorium on hunting sambar deer that was put into place in 2009, scientists have found no evidence of population recovery to date.

The sambar deer has not been captured in camera trap studies in selected forests in Kelantan and Pahang, and are seen less frequently in areas studied in Johor by MYCAT partner organisations.

Rather than waiting until the moratorium runs out in 2014, MYCAT calls for an immediate change of the sambar deer’s legal status - from hunted species to totally protected species - under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

Total protection means absolutely no hunting or trade. Under the Act, penalties for hunting or keeping totally protected wildlife can reach RM300,000 (approx. USD91,075) and/or 10 years jail.

“The sambar deer needs both on-the-ground and legal protection now. The former has proved difficult given the meagre resources at hand, but the latter can be done today by the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment. It a serious situation and we hope he will give the sambar deer full legal protection,” says MYCAT General Manager, Dr. Kae Kawanishi.

This call is prompted by research in northern Taman Negara National Park, Pahang where MYCAT found that beyond the western border of the Park, the sambar deer is nearly extinct due to poaching. Even inside the Park, it has remained a rarity since the 1990s. Meanwhile, tiger population in the same area has plummeted over the past decade. In southern Pahang, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-Malaysia Programme has also not recorded any sambar deer on camera traps.

In Kelantan, WWF-Malaysia did not record any evidence of the sambar deer in scientific studies conducted in 2004, 2005 and 2012. PERHILITAN’s records show that the sambar deer was legally hunted in the same area in the early 80s, but it is now likely locally extinct in the Gunung Basor and Gunung Stong Utara Forest Reserves in Kelantan.
However, in Johor, where there has been a strictly-enforced hunting ban since 2008, the sambar deer have often been camera-trapped but less frequently than wild boar and bearded pigs.

“The data is clear. Strict field enforcement linked with a sympathetic policy of protection is crucial if the sambar deer is to survive,” says WCS-Malaysia Programme’s feline biologist, Liang Song Horng.

The survival of the sambar deer is also pivotal to realising the country’s goal of saving the Malayan tiger, our experts warn. A recent WWF-Malaysia study in Belum-Temengor found that where there are more sambar deer, there are more tigers.

“The sambar deer is the largest preferred tiger prey species. It provides the tiger with the greatest energy for the effort spent hunting it,” says WWF-Malaysia’s tiger biologist Dr. Mark Rayan.

“So, the two species are inextricably linked. If sambar deer numbers go down, tiger numbers will too and the evidence is already pointing in that direction,” he adds.

MYCAT urges this action in the hopes of making enforcement simpler for authorities and ensuring continued protection for the sambar deer, which has seen its wild population decimated by persistent illegal hunting for the wild meat market.

“Poaching has already driven the wild banteng and Javan rhino to extinction in Peninsular Malaysia, with the Malayan tiger and many other species not far behind. The time to avert this crisis is now,” says TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Acting Regional Director, Dr. Chris Shepherd.

Rusa needed to save the tiger
Isabelle Lai The Star 8 Sep 13;

PETALING JAYA: A scientific study has discovered a direct link between sambar deer and tiger populations, leading to calls to declare the sambar deer a totally protected species or risk its extinction in peninsular Malaysia.

“Where there are more sambar deer, there are more tigers. It is very clear that the number of tigers was threefold higher in Royal Belum State Park where there is a significantly higher sambar population,” said WWF-Malaysia tiger biologist Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj.

He added this link between the two species was one of the significant findings of his four-year-long PhD study done at the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.

The sambar deer was the tiger’s largest preferred prey, he said.

Darmaraj explained that sambar deer, locally known as rusa, were more likely to populate areas which were far away from human populations and settlements, pointing out that there was restricted access to Royal Belum compared to the Temengor Forest Reserve.

He believed that Malaysia could double its tiger population by 2020 in some areas but stressed that tiger prey populations, such as the sambar deer, had to be increased as well.

Experts estimate there are around 500 tigers left in the peninsula, but Darmaraj’s study indicates that there could be just 300 to 400.

The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) warned the sambar deer’s survival was “pivotal” to realising the goal of saving the Malayan tiger.

It urged that the species be totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“Total protection means absolutely no hunting or trade. Under the Act, penalties for hunting or keeping totally protected wildlife can be 10 years in jail, a RM300,000 fine, or both,” said MYCAT general manager Dr Kae Kawanishi.

Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic South-East Asia acting regional director Dr Chris Shepherd said the authorities must stop the poaching before the sambar deer and other species become extinct.

The sambar deer is facing extinction in the peninsula due to poaching for its meat and sport, and is already missing from several protected forests in the country.

There has been a six-year moratorium on hunting the sambar deer since 2009 but scientists have found no evidence of population recovery.

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Eighty sea turtles wash up dead on the coast of Guatemala

Eighty dead sea turtles have been recorded since the first week of July on the country's southeastern beaches
Lacey Avery for Mongabay 28 Aug 13;

An assortment of marine animals and birds reside along the black volcanic sand beaches of Guatemala's Pacific coast, but lately both residents and visitors on the southeast beaches of the country have observed a tragic event – the stranding of dead sea turtles.

Eighty dead sea turtles have been recorded since the first week of July on the beaches of La Barrona, Las Lisas, Chapeton and Hawaii according to a statement released by the Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (ARCAS), a Guatemalan non-profit organization formed by citizens in 1989.

"The entire coast has historically been a significant nesting area for olive ridley and leatherback sea turtles," Colum Muccio, ARCAS administrative director, told While not known to nest in Guatemala, east pacific green turtles forage in estuaries and mangrove waterways along the Pacific coast.

Tucked between Mexico and El Salvador, the 250 kilometers of coast is divided by 14 river mouths and peppered with beautiful mangrove wetlands and lagoons. In 1993, ARCAS initiated conservation activities in the Hawaii area with hopes of counteracting threats to leatherback and olive ridley sea turtle populations. The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, while the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) is listed as Vulnerable.

"We manage two of the 24 hatcheries on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, and carry out research and advocacy for sea turtle conservation," Muccio said.

According to the statement, nearby residents are worried because sea turtles are a valuable resource. Not only do the sea turtles draw tourists to the coast, but, despite their endangered status, the eggs are also a source of income.

"Sea turtle conservation efforts in Guatemala rely on the use of hatcheries, which are managed as part of a quasi-legal egg harvest," Muccio said. "Villagers are permitted to collect eggs that are deposited on Guatemalan beaches on the condition that 20 percent of each clutch is donated to a nearby hatchery."

The system was initiated in the mid 1980s to promote the sustainable use of sea turtle eggs, Muccio continued. The operating hatcheries along the Pacific coastline function at various levels based on financial resources of the administering organization.

Muccio states many hatcheries are underfunded, short-staffed and operating with limited scientific knowledge. Several hatcheries do not carry out beach monitoring or research activities, contributing to the deficit in accurate nesting and stranding data.

"Many projects are lacking in the key elements necessary for the present community-based conservation system to function successfully," Muccio said.

In addition to egg harvesting, one of the main threats to sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Guatemala is fisheries by-catch. The statement notes that the appearance of dead turtles on the beach coincides with the presence of shrimp trawlers in waters off these beaches.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that when shrimp trawlers appear in the ocean that we begin having stranded turtles," Muccio said.

Although Guatemalan trawlers are required to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs), Muccio said that enforcement is difficult and fines are very light.

"We are currently working on instituting a ban on bottom trawling," said Muccio. "This has recently been done in Belize, Costa Rica and Ecuador and El Salvador doesn't allow them closer than 3 miles from shore."

Leading marine turtle conservationists and researchers presented a petition to the government of Guatemala expressing their concern. According to the statement, the petition requests that the government take action to counter the mortality of sea turtles, including the monitoring of shrimp trawlers to establish the impact on marine turtle populations.

"Sea turtles are also very much part of the identity of the local culture and local communities often take pride in their hatcheries and their contributions to save the sea turtle," Muccio said.

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FAO: Save food campaign Asia-Pacific kicked off

Initiative aims to reduce post-harvest and consumer food waste
FAO 27 Aug 13;

Bangkok, Thailand, 27 Aug 2013 - Denouncing the huge amount of food that goes to waste, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Hiroyuki Konuma, announced a new initiative aimed at stopping post-harvest food losses and market-to-consumer food waste.

"The Save Food Asia-Pacific Campaign seeks to raise awareness about the high levels of food losses - particularly post-harvest losses - and the growing problem of food waste in the region," Konuma said.

"FAO estimates that if the food wasted or lost globally could be reduced by just one quarter, this would be sufficient to feed the 870 million people suffering from chronic hunger in the world," said Konuma.

The announcement came as Konuma opened the two-day High-Level Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Food Losses and Food Waste in Asia and the Pacific Region in collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology and other partners.

More than 130 participants from 20 countries attended the Consultation, including four Agriculture Ministers. The Consultation will study ways to reduce food loss and waste and is expected to issue a communiqué outlining actions that can save food from farm to table.

According to Konuma, "The world produces more or less sufficient food to meet the demand of its current population of 7 billion. However, 12.5 percent of the global population, or 868 million people, equivalent to one in eight people, go hungry every day. In 2012, the Asia-Pacific region was home to 536 million hungry people, or 62 percent of the world's undernourished."

The Asia-Pacific region benefitted from rapid economic growth in the first decade of the 21st century. But, successful economic growth did not alleviate hunger and poverty, because the benefits of economic growth were unevenly distributed, resulting in a widening income gap in many countries in the region.

According to statistics from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 653 million people across the region, lived below the national poverty line in 2010.

Inefficient food systems

Yukol Limlamthong, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, speaking at the Consultation's opening session, said: "Within the context of Asia and the Pacific Region, more effort is needed to raise global awareness of the critical issue of food losses and particularly post-harvest losses as well as food waste, which is a is increasing nowadays."

Limlamthoung added: "The Government of Thailand is deeply committed to working with FAO and with other partners and stakeholders in the region to promote the security of the region and also of the world."

Indian geneticist M. S. Swaminathan, who played a leading role in India's Green Revolution, said in his keynote address on reducing post-harvest losses for food security: "Food waste is also a waste of natural resources like land and water. To a great extent, food losses and waste are symbolic of the inefficiencies of food systems" and this explains "why food losses and waste are becoming so central to discussions on both food security and sustainable development."

Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, Interim President and Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology, said in his remarks: "The issue of food loss and waste is important to our agenda at AIT." It is cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary and is being scientifically targeted by several fields of study at AIT including the recently opened Asian Center of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI).

The Save Food Campaign Asia-Pacific will be an on-going advocacy initiative that will appeal to consumers to have more respect for food and to stop wasting this precious commodity.

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