Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jan 13

A guide to plants in Singapore's Urban Forest
from wild shores of singapore

Rings a bell
from The annotated budak and Daylight robbery

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Singapore intercepts illegal shipment of raw ivory tusks

Channel NewsAsia 30 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has stopped a large illegal shipment of raw ivory tusks on the way from Africa.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and Singapore Customs intercepted the shipment of about 1.8 tonnes of tusks in the second largest ivory seizure since 2002.

Acting on a tip-off, the AVA and Singapore Customs inspected the shipment that was declared as waste paper on January 23 and found 1,099 pieces of raw ivory tusks packed in 65 gunny sacks.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of which Singapore is a signatory to, all African and Asian elephants are endangered species.

International trade in ivory has been banned since 1989.


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WWF-Malaysia: Long-Term Solutions Needed for Conservation of Borneo Pygmy Elephants

WWF 30 Jan 13;

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia – WWF-Malaysia is concerned about the recent pygmy elephant deaths in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve.

“WWF-Malaysia is providing support to the Sabah Wildlife Department and is part of the special taskforce that has been set up by the Department to further investigate the matter. Our patrolling teams worked closely with the Department in unearthing the incident,” said WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius S K Sharma.

According to reports, all the deaths have happened in areas where forests are being converted for plantations within the permanent forest reserves.

“The central forest landscape in Sabah needs to be protected totally from conversions. All conversion approvals need to be reviewed by the Sabah Forestry Department and assessed not purely from commercial but the endangered species and landscape ecology perspectives”, Dr Dionysius said.

“Conversions result in fragmentation of the forests, which in turn results in loss of natural habitat for elephant herds, thus forcing them to find alternative food and space, putting humans and wildlife in direct conflict”, he added.

Holistic long-term solutions need to be put in place to address and mitigate the problem, Dr Dionysius said.

He said that elephants need to be elevated to a ‘totally protected’ status under Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of Sabah, which has been recommended in the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016, but yet to be implemented.

“Frequent and large scale patrolling is critical to avoid such conflict from happening again. However, given the vast area that requires patrolling, it is a massive task for the Sabah Wildlife Department. More resources, including manpower, hardware and finances, should be allocated for the Department. The existing honorary wildlife warden programme of the Department is doing well and should be expanded,” Dr Dionysius said.

The Borneo pygmy elephants are an endangered species. There are approximately 1,200 of these evolutionarily unique elephants in Sabah and all of Borneo. Ten carcasses of the endangered elephants were found dead within the central forests of Sabah which is also a part of the Heart of Borneo.

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Dolphin slaughter affecting Solomon Islands tourism

Campbell Cooney and Sam Bolitho Radio Australia 30 Jan 13;

A Solomon Islands tourism operator has called on the government to take urgent steps to resolve a dispute that has led to the killing of dolphins.

A Solomon Islands tourism operator has called on the government to take urgent steps to resolve a dispute that has led to the slaughter of dolphins.

Earlier this month, Fanalei village on Malaita Island captured and killed 700 dolphins after falling out with US conservation group, the Earth Island Institute.

The dispute was over money the villagers say they were owed, in return for foregoing their annual hunt.

Another 300 animals have since been killed, with the villagers saying the slaughter will continue until they get their money.

Dive operator, Danny Kennedy, says the dispute is affecting tourism to the country and it is up to the government to end it.

"They should be looking to do something within the next few days, fly in somebody from the Ministry of Conservation, maybe the general manager of the tourism authority to go out there and talk to them and try to quell the slaughter."

The chairman of the village's representative association in Honiara, Atkin Fakaia, says they are not talking yet.

"They have the negative attitude towards us for the slaughters over a week ago," he said.

The institute says it has provided all the money it promised but the Honiara-based villagers are not passing it on.

The kill has led to a stand-off in Fanalei, with the chief there criticising it, and then being removed from his position for his words.

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Let's build green defences against rising sea

Waterfront cities such as Auckland need buffers to combat likely flooding, writes Matthew Bradbury.
New Zealand Herald 30 Jan 13;

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the city was buffeted by immense tidal surges and inundated by flood waters. It was both a reminder of the might of nature and a warning to all waterfront cities.

It illustrated that the construction of dense, heavily built up cities exacerbates the effects of storms. Roads and pavements increase the chances of flooding by preventing rain from soaking into the soil.

Heavy seawall defences can actually aggravate flooding.

An answer could be found in the building of a soft green infrastructure that imitates natural systems.

This is one of the conclusions of a draft report by the NYC2100 commission. The report makes a number of recommendations. Green roofs, pavement swales and urban wetlands that will reduce stormwater build-up. The restoration of a natural littoral by rebuilding native marshes and wetlands to help mitigate storm surges.

If this sounds far-fetched we should look at the new waterfronts being constructed in China.

With so many Chinese cities either on the coast or along rivers, the environmental issues of flooding, stormwater control and pollution have concerned the Chinese authorities for a number of years.

However, Chinese designers have also seen these environmental problems as an opportunity to create sorely needed public space.

Houtan Park, designed by Turenscape and built for the Shanghai Expo in 2010, is a great example. The 17ha park is located along the heavily polluted Huangpu River.

The park features a 1.7km-long wetland (roughly the distance from the Wynyard Quarter to the Bledisloe container terminal in Auckland). The wetland acts as a soft waterfront flood barrier replacing the stark concrete levee and is also a green retreat from the hectic city life of Shanghai. In addition it treats the heavily contaminated water from the Huangpu River through a series of ponds and reed beds, improving the quality of the water before returning it to the river. The Auckland CBD is a highly urbanised district with large areas of impervious surfaces. During storms there are large discharges of stormwater into the harbour. A rise in sea level through climate change with increased storm events can be expected to lead to widespread urban flooding.

To prevent this we should consider a waterfront that is radically different to the promenade of bars and restaurants of the Viaduct.

It will be more like a park, a watery littoral with native wetlands and coastal planting. Paths and boardwalks would weave in and out of an ever-changing landscape as the tide rises and falls, the growth of native flora would encourage the return of native fauna, the waterfront could become a valuable ecological link between the Waitakeres and the archipelago.

A good example of how this new waterfront might look is a proposed park for the Wynyard Quarter designed by Bryce Hinton. He suggests turning the end of the Wynyard quarter into a park with reserves, public spaces and fields. The edge would be protected with buffer zones of mangroves. The green infrastructure would also treat the millions of litres of contaminated stormwater from the Freemans Bay catchment. The result would be a new kind of public park for Auckland.

The implications of Hurricane Sandy are profound. This is an opportunity for Auckland to develop the techniques needed to ameliorate the effects of climate change.

The green waterfront could become New Zealand's calling card to the world.

Matthew Bradbury is senior lecturer in the department of landscape architecture at Unitec, Auckland.

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