Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jan 13;

asian open-billed stork I @ seletar - Jan2013
from sgbeachbum

Pasir Ris mangroves featured in the Weekender
from wild shores of singapore

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Malaysia: Floating rubbish putting off visitors at Marine Park

New Straits Times 26 Jan 13;

KOTA KINABALU: An Australian family was not happy when they were greeted by floating rubbish while on their way to Manukan Island, near here, last week.

The family was on holiday and one of the items in their travel itinerary was to visit the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP).

They, along with other visitors, had boarded a boat at the Jesselton Point jetty and the first few minutes of the ride was already an eyesore.

Andy Bennedict, 27, shared their sentiment and as a local and a friend who guided the family, he felt embarrassed.

"They asked where the rubbish came from and whether the government was doing anything about it. They were not happy because cleanliness is very much emphasised in Australia.

"A great journey should start with a clean view.

"The jetty is the starting point for tourists to go to TARP, so if the surrounding is already dirty from the beginning, tourists will not be excited," he said yesterday.

He said there were a lot of debris at the jetty and many were floating on the water surface close to the mainland while the cleanliness level at the TARP islands was satisfactory.

Recently, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said rubbish pollution had reached an alarming level in Sabah and there were cases where tourists did not want to come here.

He said the sight of wastes at tourist spots could drive potential tourists away, adding that locals should play their role and participate in cleaning activity to maintain a clean environment.

Last year, City Hall had stepped up efforts to make Kota Kinabalu a clean city. These included the introduction of proper waste management programme to the people living on the islands and coastal areas within the city's jurisdiction.

Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said City Hall had been carrying out various intensive cleanliness programmes on the mainland as well as nearby villages on Gaya Island.

He also gave an assurance that enforcement efforts would be intensified to curb the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish like plastic bags into the sea.

Dive operators in the state have also contributed to underwater conservation by implementing Project Aware.

The move by scuba divers have helped to keep the ocean clean from debris and it has been conducted here, on Mantanani Island, Mabul Island and in Semporna.

University Malaysia Sabah students had also taken the initiative to clean up beaches.

They spent three hours picking up rubbish along the bay in Likas here, last month.

More than 30 volunteers, comprising locals and foreigners, had joined in the effort to create a clean city environment.

In April, Astro would be attempting a Guiness World Record for the longest underwater clean-up project at 14 dive sites at TARP.

The Astro Kasih Beautiful Malaysia project hopes to create an awareness of marine conservation and, at the same time, engage with local community.

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A new capital for Indonesia?

Jakarta is increasingly under strain from intense activities and the effects of climate change
Zakir Hussain and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja Straits Times 27 Jan 13;

Beijing has Shanghai, New Delhi has Mumbai, and Washington DC has New York.

Jakarta, though, has just Jakarta, and it hits home harder when a disaster - like the recent severe flooding - strikes, paralysing businesses and ordinary life for several days.

But the floods, which may recur in coming weeks, have reignited debate on whether Indonesia ought to relocate its capital.

The world's fourth most populous country after China, India and the United States is also the only one its size to have an administrative centre and crucial financial hub rolled into one location.

Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria, which trail in the population rankings, all relocated their seats of government decades ago.

Senior Indonesian officials and commentators now say the city of 10 million packed into 661 sq km - twice the density of Singapore - is no longer able to sustain the intense activity and lack of planning associated with it.

This has also rekindled interest in alternative sites for the capital. It is not a new discussion.

Founding president Sukarno, in fact, designed and built Palangkaraya in central Kalimantan for this purpose 55 years ago. The city on the island of Borneo has wide boulevards and is one of the country's best planned areas - but the move was shelved amid an economic crisis in the early 1960s.

Former president Suharto proposed Jonggol in West Java as an alternative, but this too never materialised.

As Jakarta comes increasingly under strain and attack from climate change and the elements, a change seems inevitable.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's special staff member for regional development and autonomy, Dr Velix Wanggai, told reporters last week that Dr Yudhoyono had, at a meeting with media editors two years earlier, already discussed various scenarios for moving the capital.

"According to the President, Jakarta can no longer accommodate the interaction between man and the environment," he said.

At risk of being erased

Last year, Jakarta celebrated its 485th anniversary.

A trading port had existed on its northern parts since the 4th century, and changed hands several times. In 1527, after troops from the kingdoms of Demak and Cirebon defeated the Portuguese there, the city was renamed Jayakarta or "city of victory". The city of Jakarta has grown from that area.

Planners now wonder whether Jakarta will triumph against rising sea waters or cease to exist as it is by the time it turns 500 in 2027.

A study by the World Bank and Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics several years ago projected that without better defences, the sea will reach the presidential palace, some 5km inland, in 2025, inundating the land between the centre of town and Kota Tua, Jakarta's historic old Dutch city.

For the first time since 2007, floodwaters reached the palace two weeks ago, and Dr Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa gamely rolled up their trouser legs and stood in the calf-deep flood.

Last year, former governor Fauzi Bowo elaborated on plans for a dyke to avert such a calamity and revitalise the northern coastline, a project that successor Joko Widodo says should now be hastened.

The wall is estimated to cost some 50 trillion rupiah (S$6.5 billion), and the figure could soar to 200 trillion rupiah if land is reclaimed to create developments around a dam, according to media reports.

By comparison, a group of academics estimates it would cost 100 trillion rupiah to move the capital.

But as Republika columnist Nasihin Masha noted recently, the cost of traffic congestion in Jakarta already adds up to some 46 trillion rupiah a year in wasted fuel and time.

And even if a move happens, Jakarta would still need the wall to stave off erosion.

University of Indonesia urban ecologist Rudy Tambunan hopes discussions about moving the capital do not divert public attention from decades-old problems - Jakarta, after all, must be liveable to those who stay on.

"There have been good plans in the past, but implementation has not been consistent. We tried to spread business activity out from Jakarta - for example, the steel industry to Cilegon, the automotive industry to Karawang and Cikampek, textiles to Bandung. But this did not continue," he said.

Some, like Parliament Speaker Marzuki Alie, say if the city is to have any hope of resolving its most pressing woes, a new capital has to come about.

"Otherwise, its condition will remain like this until the end of time. The capital must first be shifted; only then can Jakarta's problems be resolved in stages," he said.

The mechanics of moving

So if the capital relocates, what exactly would be moved and where to?

Dr Wanggai says there are three options which should be debated openly and thoroughly.

One, the status quo remains, but a total overhaul of flood-prevention, transport and urban planning is needed.

Two, a new capital is built from scratch.

Three, the capital remains in Jakarta, but the seat of government moves.

Option No.3 is likely to be the most feasible. Malaysia made such a move when ministries moved from Kuala Lumpur to the new administrative centre Putrajaya in 1999 to ease the impact of congestion and overcrowding on government.

Regional Representative Council head Irman Gusman feels it would be most effective to move Indonesia's administrative capital and keep Jakarta as a business city.

He is open to moving the government to a suitable site in Banten or West Java, or even Palangkaraya, now the capital of central Kalimantan province with just 220,000 residents and 2,400 sq km of space.

People's Consultative Assembly chief Taufik Kiemas, meanwhile, has suggested Yogyakarta, which was Indonesia's capital from 1946 to 1948 after the Dutch attacked Jakarta.

Dr Marzuki prefers a more greenfield location, telling reporters: "All government offices could be housed in one location, with supporting housing, public and social facilities... It need not be far from Jakarta."

However, public policy academic Andrinof Chaniago argues that a new capital should be sited in Kalimantan, which has 30 per cent of Indonesia's land mass but only 7 per cent of its population.

Conversely, crowded Java has 60 per cent of the country's population on just 7 per cent of its land area.

Prof Chaniago and three other researchers prepared a paper on moving the capital to Kalimantan several years ago.

They have seized on the momentum from the current debate to argue that such a move will help re-orientate development and investments away from Java - a step Indonesia needs to make to ensure growth and wealth are more evenly spread and sustainable. As it is, some 60 per cent of the country's money circulates in the Jakarta area.

"Shifting the seat of administration to Kalimantan will better re-orientate Indonesia, make it easier to bring order to Jakarta and save the future of Java," he said over Twitter on Wednesday.

Dr Wanggai said distributing growth more equitably ought to be a consideration in selecting a capital. He added that President Yudhoyono hopes a strategy for moving will be finalised by the end of his term in October next year.

"This is not just a decision for the President, but a national one," he said.

But nobody expects anything to happen any time soon. With plans still in the preliminary stages, officials expect an actual move could take anything from six to 12 years after the go-ahead is given.

Rising sea waters, inland flooding

A study by the World Bank and Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics several years ago projected that without better defences, the sea will reach the presidential palace, some 5km inland, in 2025, inundating the land between the centre of town and Kota Tua, Jakarta's historic old Dutch city.

Five possibilities

Where should Indonesia's new capital be? These five places keep turning up in the debate.

Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan

Former strongman Sukarno proposed this 2,400 sq km city on the island of Borneo for a future capital, and its wide roads were designed with this in mind. Situated smack in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago, in an area relatively free from natural disasters, it now has only 220,000 residents.

Jonggol, West Java

Former president Suharto mooted a move to Jonggol, in Bogor Regency, West Java. Hundreds of hectares were cleared by developers, including one linked to a son of the former strongman. Its close location, just 50km east of Jakarta, was expected to make for a smooth relocation, but the land is now largely disused.

Purwokerto, Central Java

This town in the middle of Java with 300,000 residents has good infrastructure and road connections and was mooted by officials several years ago.


Indonesia's capital from 1946 to 1948 after the Dutch attacked Jakarta. With 400,000 residents, it is fairly accessible and widely regarded as an emerging cultural centre.

Palembang, South Sumatra

One of the oldest cities in Indonesia, Palembang, with 1.6 million residents, is in an area relatively free from natural disasters, has developed infrastructure and played host to the 2011 SEA Games.

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Humans are a 'plague on Earth': David Attenborough

Humans are a 'plague on Earth': Sir David Attenborough warns that negative effects of population growth will come home to roost
The Independent 22 Jan 13;

TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough has warned that human beings have become a “plague on the Earth”.

The 86-year-old broadcaster said the negative effects of climate change and population growth would be seen in the next 50 years.

He told the Radio Times: "It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so.

"It's not just climate change. It's sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde.

"Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.

"We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia - that's what's happening. Too many people there. They can't support themselves - and it's not an inhuman thing to say. It's the case.

"Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a co-ordinated view about the planet, it's going to get worse and worse."

Sir David, whose landmark series are being repeated on BBC2, also said that his style of presenting would soon be extinct.

He told the magazine: "I'm not sure there's any need for a new Attenborough. The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.

"It's much cheaper to get someone in front of a camera describing animal behaviour than actually showing you (the behaviour). That takes a much longer time.

"But the kind of carefully tailored programmes in which you really work at the commentary, you really match pictures to words, is a bit out of fashion now... regarded as old hat."

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