Best of our wild blogs: 20 Mar 13

GreenDrinks Singapore 2013, Population White Paper Video
from Green Drinks Singapore

Prepping the Otter Trail: the recce with new guides
from Toddycats!

New articles on Nature in Singapore website
from Raffles Museum News

Preparing for the move, articles in Straits Times and 联合早报
from Raffles Museum News

Book Review: The Unfeathered Bird by Katrina van Grouw
from Bird Ecology Study Group

APP conservation policy came after it pulped most of its forests
from news by Rhett Butler

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Singapore buildings to switch off lights for Earth Hour

Channel NewsAsia 19 Mar 13;

SINGAPORE: More than 100 buildings, locations and organisations in Singapore will switch off their lights as part of the global Earth Hour initiative by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

They will turn off their lights for one hour from 8.30pm on 23 March, joining national monuments around the world that will do the same.

These include the buildings in Marina Bay, such as ArtScience Museum, Gardens by the Bay, Esplanade, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion and Singapore Flyer.

The three tallest buildings in Singapore -- One Raffles Place, Republic Plaza and United Overseas Bank Plaza -- will also take part in Earth Hour.

- CNA/al

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REDD+ working unit urges Indonesia govt to extend forest moratorium

Antara 19 Mar 13;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) National Strategy Working Unit urged the Indonesia Government to extend the forest moratorium that will expire in May 2013.

"We recommend the moratorium to be extended one or two more years as the government is not ready to institutionalize the permit and management for forest utilization," Spokesperson of REDD+ Working Unit Mubariq said on a discussion on forest moratorium here Tuesday.

The forest moratorium was regulated in the President Decree no.10/2011 suspending the concession of primary forest and peat land for two year period.

The moratorium was aimed to evaluate the economic growth and its implication towards the natural resource in Indonesia and it would expire in May 2013.

Mubariq said there were overlapping coordination in 15 state institutions regarding the concession.

The institutions were considered to have different maps of forest concession. Thus, the extension on moratorium would be used to organize the management and the legal issues towards the concession.

Moreover, the period would be used to finish the mapping in 11 prioritized provinces in the REDD+ program, Mubariq said.

Mubariq said the government and oil palm plantation enterprises would not be handicapped by the moratorium extension as it would not hamper the economic growth of the oil palm and mining sectors.

"There have been more than enough, or even to many permits on active mining. In the other hand, there is four hectares of new oil palm plantation that would not be fully planted until the next 10 year. So, there is no reason that the moratorium extension would be economically disadvantageous," Mubariq said.

The only reason for enterprises to worry about the extension on moratorium was the incapability to expand oil palm plantation area if the moratorium imposed for the next years ahead, he said.

The land expansion was caused by the high added value in upstream industry sectors, Mubariq said. "Moreover, the increasing population causes land prices to increase periodically. Thus, the speculation and future investment motives emerge".

Mubariq said the moratorium should not be considered as a anti-oil-palm action. The oil palm sectors, in other hand, yielded a great amount of national income and provide a lot of work opportunities contributing to reduce poverty rate.

"However, we still need a proper map of concession and new management of land use permit to prevent overlapping performance," Mubariq said.

The REDD+ National Strategy is a follow up step taken by the government in the commitment of reducing CO2 emission or green house gas in Indonesia.

The commitment is supported by the Norwegian Government with a signed Letter of Intent on May 26 2010.

Meanwhile, people around the globe will celebrate the World`s Forestry Day on March 21.

This momentum is celebrated to remind communities of the importance of forests and the many benefits which can be gained from them.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Saving Jakarta from flooding

Studies under way to clean up flood-prone Ciliwung river, but squatters won't budge
Zubaidah Nazeer Straits Times 20 Mar 13;

JAKARTA - Whenever heavy rains hit Jakarta or highland areas in West Java, residents along one stretch of the Ciliwung River in the capital city are overwhelmed by floodwaters that rise as much as two storeys high.

Yet, those who live on the river bank like Madam Arimawati, 30, refuse to move away from the smelly, polluted river.

"The river and the community have provided for me and my family for so many decades, and this area is home to me," said the mother of two, whose parents and sister live with her along Jakarta's biggest river.

After the downtown area flooded in early January, the future of her Kampung Melayu home may not be secure, as officials have started looking closely at how to ease the flooding. The plans could include moving out squatters like her and widening the river banks.

Forty-six students in a workshop run by the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) - a research institute jointly set up by Singapore's National Research Foundation and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich - are studying the Ciliwung River and the 350,000 people living around it.

They plan to come up with proposals to reduce the flood risk, rid its clutter by illegal squatters and transform the waters into a river teeming with life.

"Today, the problem at this river is very extreme," said Professor Christophe Girot, the project's leader and ETH Zurich's chair of landscape architecture. "There is severe overcrowding and no respect for the water and the environment."

Indeed, the issues plaguing the river community are a reflection of the chronic problems the capital city faces as it grapples with overcrowding and a lack of commitment to see through programmes to improve outdated infrastructure.

The floods in January jolted the authorities when a dyke burst and waist-deep water flooded the streets, paralysing central Jakarta.

The massive flooding revealed complacency in flood-containment plans in a city cut by 13 rivers, of which the Ciliwung is the largest.

On Monday, students from the National University of Singapore and ETH Zurich partnered those from the University of Indonesia and Bogor Agricultural University to collect data and talk to residents as they studied two large river communities to come up with ideas on rehabilitating the Ciliwung.

Their workshop is part of a five-year study by the FCL's 14 researchers, comprising experts such as hydrologists, engineers and landscape architects.

"The challenge here is the high-density living, and how you get residents to change their habits at a river they depend on for bathing, washing laundry, swimming and sanitation... relocating people will not be easy," said Ms Herlily, vice-chair of the University of Indonesia's Department of Architecture.

Another problem is the lack of terrain maps. That has forced the researchers to hit the ground to map out settlements and create a 3-D model to simulate flood plans. They also flew drones over the area to survey the land.

The World Bank and the South Korean government have pledged billions of dollars to dredge the river and ease floods. But getting residents to move out would be another thing.

Said Madam Arimawati: "I will never move, not even to a place that has a nice new television... because this is my tanah air (homeland)."

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Bushmeat Trade Is Transforming Rain Forest

Tia Ghose LiveScience Yahoo News 20 mar 13;

Bushmeat hunting, or the hunting of meat from wild animals, may be transforming the rain forests in Africa.

When hunters kill gorillas and other primates for their meat, the primates no longer disperse the seeds of some fruit- and nut-bearing trees, and wind-dispersed seedlings take root instead, according to a study published today (March 19) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"The seedling communities of the forest floors are really different in a hunted forest compared to a well-protected forest," said study co-author Ola Olsson, an ecologist at Lund University in Sweden. "In the long run, that's going to make the hunted forest look quite different from what they do today."

The hunting could also impact the people who rely on fruits from the trees for food, Olsson added.

Illegal practice

Though illegal, hunting for bushmeat from wild or endangered animals such as primates is now widespread in Africa. [Image Gallery: 25 Primates in Peril]

Population increases have forced people to live at the forest's edges. Protein-rich food is often scarce, and there are few taboos against eating nonhuman primates.

New roads, guns and cars also enable people to hunt gorillas and bring carcasses to city markets, where they fetch a handsome sum, Olsson said.

Hunted and protected

To find out how primate hunting affected the forest, Olsson and his colleagues surveyed trees and mammals in the Nigerian rain forest bordering Cameroon. Park rangers protected some forested areas, which teem with monkeys and gorillas, while nearby hunted areas were full of rodents such as rats and porcupines.

Whereas similar large trees dominated both types of forest, the seedlings looked very different.

Well-protected forests had many seedlings, such as the bush mango, that rely on primates to spread their seeds. Many of these trees bear fruits or nuts that humans also eat.

Hunted forests held seedling species that relied on wind to disperse their seeds.

In a generation, that could fundamentally change the forest ecology, he said.

And whereas gorilla and monkey meat does provide protein for local people, the fruit trees the primates maintain may be an even bigger economic benefit to people, Olsson said.

Important work

The findings show yet another devastating impact of the bushmeat trade, said Joanna Lambert, an ecologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio who was not involved in the study.

"Without primates and other large-bodied mammals, forests are not regenerating in the way they've evolved to do over millions of years," Lambert said.

Ending bushmeat hunting requires several tactics. Increasing fines and enforcement could help, as would improving local populations' access to other protein-rich foods, Lambert told LiveScience.

But another strategy, one that helped gorilla populations rebound in Rwanda and Uganda, is to pay former hunters to serve as park rangers or wildlife guides for tourists, she said.

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