Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jan 13;

LTA's proposed Cross Island Line (CRL) cuts through the Central Catchment Forest Reserve
from Habitatnews

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Exhumation at Bukit Brown cemetery deferred

Lip Kwok Wai Channel NewsAsia 22 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE: The registration deadline for exhumation of graves at Bukit Brown cemetery has been extended till April.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said as of 21 January 2013, LTA has received 1,216 applications to claim unmarked graves.

Authorities have also said the exhumation date has been pushed back as some graves have not been claimed. Documentation work of over 3,000 graves is nearly complete.

The exhumation comes as the Land Transport Authority will construct a new dual four-lane road by 2016 in Bukit Brown to alleviate congestion along Lornie Road and the PIE during peak hours.

Users of Android smartphones or tablets can now turn to an app, developed by the Working Committee and Centre of Social Media Innovations for Communities, to seek information about selected graves.

For a start, there will be information on 23 graves and more graves will be included later. There are also plans to document exhumation-related rituals.

Leader of the working committee for Bukit Brown cemetery, Dr Hui Yew Foong, said: "Usually we look out for interesting rituals that are performed before exhumation. Or if we suspect there are interesting artefacts buried with the deceased, we will ask the family for permission to document the exhumation itself.

"One recent case involved a family that came from China. They came from China, to go through the exhumation process, claim the remains of their ancestors, went for the cremation. Then they brought ashes back to China, so we did the documentation of the whole process."

- CNA/ck

Many yet to claim graves at Bukit Brown
Exhumation to begin after Qing Ming; documentation work close to completion
Grace Chua Straits Times 25 Jan 13;

STUDENT Toh Zheng Han and his family will be conducting Qing Ming Festival rituals at the Bukit Brown cemetery this year for the first - and last - time.

His maternal great-great-grandaunt's grave is among 3,746 that will be exhumed to make way for a new road.

The 25-year-old's family claimed the grave last September after finding the burial record in a family genealogy book.

But some two-thirds of the graves affected by the new dual four-lane road, meant to ease peak-hour congestion in Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway, remain unclaimed.

The cemetery, in existence since 1922 and closed to burials since 1973, has some 100,000 graves in all.

Heritage buff and cemetery guide Raymond Goh said the unclaimed graves may be Qing-dynasty ones moved from other parts of the country or those belonging to Hokkiens and Straits Chinese.

Other dialect groups such as the Cantonese and Teochews had other cemeteries in the past so fewer of them are likely to be buried at Bukit Brown, added Mr Goh, who has been helping descendants locate graves.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said the deadline for relatives to claim graves has been extended till after the Qing Ming period in late March and early April. Exhumation will begin after that.

The LTA will pay for the cost of exhumation, the cremation of remains and the storage of ashes in a government crematorium and columbarium. Ashes from unclaimed graves will be scattered at sea after three years.

The LTA's tender to build the new road closed last October and has not yet been awarded.

Meanwhile, documentation work on the affected graves is almost complete, though the data has not yet been analysed, said Dr Hui Yew-Foong of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, who is leading the process.

It was commissioned by the authorities after heritage groups spoke of the need to commemorate the history of the place.

Dr Hui said the deadline extension may help those who, for one reason or other, have not made claims.

"Sometimes, claimants may not have come forward because they think other relatives may be claiming. The extension also gives families more time for closure," he added.

But Mr Goh pointed out that some may not even know they have relatives buried in Bukit Brown.

Polytechnic administrator Gan Su-Lin, 46, realised she had kinfolk buried there only after she checked the LTA's burial register.

Her family had the remains of her grand-uncle and his wife - who she thought were buried in Malaysia - exhumed privately in October.

"I'm vexed that we rushed his disinterment, believing that the public exhumations would begin before Qing Ming 2013," Dr Gan said.

"Many of us who arranged for private exhumations did so because we wanted to do right by our ancestors and ensure they were resettled properly and with dignity."

To view the Bukit Brown burial register and find out details on how to go about claiming graves, visit

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Indonesia: Green turtle smuggling into Bali continues

Luh De Suriyani Jakarta Post 21 Jan 13;

The smuggling of the endangered green turtle into the island of Bali is mostly conducted to meet the continuing demand for turtle meat for human consumption. The Balinese consider turtle meat to be a delicacy.

The Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSD) stated that the smuggling of 80 green turtles into Bali had been foiled in 2012.

Soemarsono, chairman of BKSD, shared with Bali Daily on Friday morning that: “The modes of turtle smuggling are similar with the use of water transportation and port entry, but the smugglers were clever enough to stop at different ports, especially smaller ones and traditional fishing ports, across Bali.”

He said that turtle meat was still in high demand among the Balinese and that some food stalls and restaurants serving turtle meat were still operating in Jimbaran in Badung regency and in Gianyar regency.

Green turtles are strictly protected under a decree as their population is under threat from over-harvesting of both eggs and adults, as well as from accidental mortality in fishing nets.

Green turtles are widely harvested for their meat in many tropical countries, including Indonesia, which has banned its trade and consumption since 1996.

According to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an estimated 100,000 green turtles are killed in Indonesian and Australian waters every year. Green turtle consumption in Bali reached its peak in the late 1970s, when more than 30,000 green turtles were landed every year. In 2002, landings were estimated at 684 green turtles every year.

Despite protests by animal welfare groups and a tourist boycott of the island, turtle meat remains a delicacy among the Balinese.

Illegal and legal turtle traders in Bali often justify their activities on the grounds that turtles and turtle meat are important elements in various Hindu rituals. However, the influential Hindu High Council (PHDI) issued a bhisama (religious decree) on Aug. 31, 2005 stipulating that other animals or symbols, drawings or cakes in the forms of those animals could satisfy the ritual requirements for endangered species, including turtles, eagles, tigers and other protected animals.

The bhisama was considered a significant breakthrough for the conservation of endangered species used in religious rituals.

Soemarsono said that to maintain the green turtle population, there were several turtle breeding and conservation centers on the island, including at Serangan Island near Benoa.

“There is an unregistered turtle conservation and breeding center belonging to a British national at Lovina Beach in Buleleng regency, north Bali. We will monitor its activity,” he said. In those breeding and conservation centers, BKSD has tagged and installed microchips in 200 green turtles for identification and tracking purposes. BKSD is currently active in conducting special monitoring activities in several areas, allegedly centers of the turtle trade.

“It has been quite difficult for us to get real evidence from food establishments selling turtle meat. Sometimes, we could only find dishes made of other meats,” Soemarsono said.

BKSD also received a report from Pro Fauna animal conservation organization saying that some souvenir and handicraft shops were selling items made from turtles.

A local journalist shared his experience of visiting a restaurant selling turtle meat on Jl. Bypass Ida Bagus Mantra in Gianyar. “Some government officials asked me to accompany them eating turtle meat dishes at the restaurant.”

BKSD has launched a number of programs and strategies to protect and conserve turtle hatchings, with centers in Perancak village in Pemuteran (Buleleng, north Bali), Kuta, Tegal Besar and other locations across Bali.

Illegal turtle trade returns to old scheme
Muliarta Jakarta Post 25 Jan 13;

The illegal green turtle trade in Bali has returned to an old style, the smuggling and trading of living animals, environmental activists claimed.

Wayan Wiradnyana, chairman of the Bali Sea Turtle Society, said in a meeting in Denpasar on Thursday that the newest mode of alleged illegal trading of turtles was smuggling and trading living turtles onto the island.

“In the past few years, the turtles were slaughtered and cut into pieces to trade the meat on the black market, but since the last year, the trend has returned to its original illegal scheme — trafficking living turtles,” maintained Wiradnyana.

He elaborated that trading turtles in the form of cut meat was aimed at cheating the authorities. “They [the police and the authorities] would find it hard to recognize whether it was turtle meat or cuts of fish meat,” he said.

Now, the trend had changed. Turtles were being smuggled alive as the price was very high on the black market, he said. Moreover, sellers were suspicious that the cut up turtle meat was mixed with fish or other animal meat, he added.

Generally, a green turtle of 30 to 40 centimeters length in the carapace will be sold for Rp 1 million (US$103.50).

“We have also found that the turtles were being trafficked from the island of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara. Previously, the turtles were mostly procured from Sulawesi, Maluku and Kalimantan,” he added.

Wiradnyana said that he presumed that Sumbawa had abundant green turtles.

“If this illegal traffic of turtles continues, we are afraid that the population of the animals will be
endangered,” he said.

Green turtles are strictly protected under a decree as their population is under threat from over-harvesting of both eggs and adults, as well as from accidental mortality in fishing nets.

The green turtles are widely harvested for their meat in many tropical countries, including in Indonesia, which has banned its trade and consumption since 1996.

The smuggling of the endangered green turtles onto the island of Bali has been ongoing to meet the demand for their meat. Traditionally, the Balinese people consumed turtle meat as a delicacy.

Legal and illegal turtle traders in Bali have claimed that their activities were an important part of religious rituals.

Some rituals in Bali required offerings using the meat of turtles and other protected species, such as eagles and tigers. However, the influential Indonesian Parishada Hindu Council (PHDI) issued a religious decree in August 2005 stipulating that other animals or symbols, drawings or cakes in the forms of those animals, could satisfy ritual requirements.

Meanwhile, Made Arjaya, chairman of Commission I of Bali Legislative Council, stated that people illegally trading in turtles should not use ritual activities as an excuse for such illicit practices. “I am hoping that the authorities have imposed strict punishments and sanctions against those committing such illegal activities,” the legislator said.

Wiradnyana said that turtle trade in Bali had sharply dropped by around 90 percent from 1999’s figure when around 27,000 to 30,000 turtles were traded annually.

According to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an estimated 100,000 green turtles are killed in Indonesian and Australian waters every year. Green turtle consumption in Bali reached its peak in the late 1970s.

Sr. Adj. Com Handoyo Supeno from Bali’s water police said that the number of cases of illegal green turtle smuggling had been falling significantly.

“There were a few people who provided the animals and the demand has been decreasing,” he said.

Last December, Bali’s water police foiled an attempt to smuggle 33 green turtles.

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Buying 'funny fruit' will help feed the world: UN

Nina Larson (AFP) Google News 23 Jan 13;

GENEVA — Make a shopping list and buy "funny fruit" to cut food waste and help the world "shape a sustainable future," two UN agencies urged on Tuesday.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organzation (FAO) and partners unveiled a campaign dubbed "Think-Eat-Save Reduce Your Foodprint" to change global practices that result in the loss of 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year.

The programme is aimed primarily at consumers, food retailers and the hotel and restaurant industry, and is based on three recommended actions: think, eat, and save.

"In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense - economically, environmentally and ethically," a statement quoted UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner as saying.

"We're doing something that is completely irrational," he lamented to reporters in Geneva, before adding that he hoped the campaign would "literally mobilise tens of millions of people to become part of the solution."

FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva pointed out that in industrialised nations, around 300 million tonnes of food are wasted each year, "because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption."

That is more food than is produced in sub-Saharan Africa, and is enough to feed the estimated 830 million people who now go hungry worldwide, he added.

The programme estimates the overall cost of wasted food at about $1.0 trillion (751 billion euros) per year, with most losses occurring in production stages -- such as harvesting and distribution -- and blamed on problems from storing food in difficult climatic conditions to unreliable harvests.

It is retailers and consumers, whoever, who are usually guilty of wasting food.

Consumers can participate in a global effort by respecting a few simple recommendations, the UN agencies said.

Planning meals, making shopping lists and avoiding impulse buying helps, as does staying alert "to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need."

Another good idea is to "buy funny fruit" or vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out because their size, shape or colour do not meet market standards.

Tristram Stuart of the Feeding the 5,000 campaign told reporters in Geneva: "Wonky fruit and vegetables are very often left on farms across Europe and North America simply because they don't meet the cosmetic standards of retailers, and they are left on fields to rot."

People, he insisted, must "adopt the value that food is simply too good to waste."

Paying attention to expiry dates and "zeroing down your fridge" with recipes that use up food set to go bad helps, the UN agencies said, as does freezing food, asking restaurants for smaller portions, eating leftovers, composting food or donating it to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.

Retailers can offer discounts for food that is nearing its sell-by date, standardise labels and donate more food.

Restaurants were urged to "limit menu choices and introduce flexible portioning," to audit how much food they waste, and to set up "staff engagement programmes."

Finally, an Internet site, is to serve as a global platform for sharing information on other initiatives that people come up with.

For the campaign to work, everyone has to get involved -- families, supermarkets, hotel chains, schools, sports and social clubs, company CEOs, city mayors, and national and world leaders, the Rome-based FAO said.

According to the Britain-based not-for-profit organisation WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which is offering its expertise to the FAO for the campaign, the average British family could save £680 ($1,090, 815 euros) per year by tackling food waste.

Throwing away good food wastes the land, water, fertilizers and efforts used to grow it, Steiner said, while the transport involved generates excess greenhouse gases.

European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik told reporters via videolink that he was "delighted" with the campaign against food waste.

Food production and consumption "must be one of the most inefficient uses of global resources," Potocnik said, insisting: "We must stop taking our resources for granted before it is simply too late."

Think, Eat, Save: FAO, UNEP and partners launch global campaign on food waste

Consumers, industry, government can all help to reduce 1.3 billion tonnes of yearly waste and losses
FAO 22 Jan 13;

22 January 2012, Geneva/Rome - Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and partners.

The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption - run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf - and the UN Secretary General's Zero Hunger Initiatives. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.

The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices.

Think.Eat.Save. aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world.

Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around $1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages - harvesting, processing and distribution - while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain.

"In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense - economically, environmentally and ethically," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted - not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away," he added. "To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources."

"Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives. In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption," said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. "This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world."

"If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world," Graziano da Silva added.


The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures, some of which follow:

More than 20 per cent of all cultivated land, 30 per cent of forests and 10 per cent of grasslands are undergoing degradation;
Globally 9 per cent of the freshwater resources are withdrawn, 70 per cent of this by irrigated agriculture;
Agriculture and land use changes like deforestation contribute to more than 30 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions;
Globally, the agri-food system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of end-user available energy;
Overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish, some 30 per cent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited.

Part of the trigger for the campaign was the outcome of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, in which Heads of State and governments gave the go-ahead for a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns. Developing an SCP programme for the food sector must be a vital element of this framework, given the need to sustain the world's food production base, reduce associated environmental impacts, and feed a growing human population.

"There can be no other area that is perhaps so emblematic of the opportunities for a far more resource-efficient and sustainable world - and there is no other issue that can unite North and South and consumers and producers everywhere in common cause," said Mr. Steiner.

According to FAO, roughly 95 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries are unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; infrastructure; packaging and marketing systems.

However, in the developed world, the end of the chain is far more significant. At the food manufacturing and retail levels, large quantities of food are wasted due to inefficient practices, quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels, and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large.

Per-capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kg a year in Europe and North America/Oceania, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year.

According to WRAP, the average UK family could save £680 per year ($1,090) and the UK hospitality sector could save £724 million ($1.2 billion) per year by tackling food waste.

"In the UK, we have shown how tackling food waste through engaging with consumers and establishing collective agreement with retailers and brands, reduces environmental pressures and aids economic growth," said Dr. Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP. "With a rising population, even more pressure is going to be put on resources, and we are excited to be a partner in UNEP and FAO's Think. Eat. Save. campaign, which is a great start to tackling food waste on a global scale."

In a similar vein for other parts of the world, the European Union is looking into the issue of food waste, and the European Commission has lent its weight to the new initiative.

"In the EU we have set ourselves a target to halve edible food waste by 2020 and to virtually eliminate landfilling by 2020; the Commission is planning to present ideas next year on the sustainability of the food system which will have a strong focus on food waste," said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment.

"Less food waste would lead to more-efficient land use, better water resource management, more sustainable use of phosphorus, and it would have positive repercussions on climate change. Our work fits perfectly with the launch of this initiative," he added.

For the campaign to reach its huge potential, everyone has to be involved - families, supermarkets, hotel chains, schools, sports and social clubs, company CEOs, city Mayors, national and world leaders.

The campaign website ( provides simple tips to consumers and retailers, will allow users to make food waste pledges, and provides a platform for those running campaigns to exchange ideas and create a truly global culture of sustainable consumption of food.

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