Best of our wild blogs: 3 Jun 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [27 May - 2 Jun 2013]
from Green Business Times

6 Jun (Thu): The Wallace Lectures "Copepods -- an introduction to the 'Insects of the Sea'" by Prof Rony Huys from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Reef of rolling stones
from The annotated budak

Video clip of "Lace Corals and Moss Animals" a talk by Dr Kevin J. Tilbrook from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Plant hunt on the Day Off from the Southern Expedition from wild shores of singapore

Butterflies@Gardens by the Bay
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

A walk by the reservoir (Upper Pierce Reservoir)
from Rojak Librarian

Chinese Pond-Heron - Plumage Transition
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Blue-clawed Swimming Crab
from Monday Morgue

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Extracting groundwater could cause Singapore to sink

Straits Times Forum 3 Jun 2013

STUDYING the potential of tapping underground water sources would be a waste of money, and national water agency PUB should not embark on such an exercise ("PUB calls for tender on studying groundwater potential"; April 27). The consequences could be disastrous.

First, the ecosystem of underground aquifers is complex and fragile, and once disturbed, the change is generally irreversible.

Singapore is a small island and the quantity of water that can be extracted from underground aquifers would be very limited.

Also, any suggestion that the aquifers in Singapore could be topped up by rainwater is wishful thinking.

In recent years, large tracts of land have been covered by concrete as more developments have been built.

The ground areas that allow rainwater to permeate through are thus very limited.

Once groundwater is extracted, there is no way to replenish the supply.

In addition, Singapore is a small island surrounded by the sea.

Once freshwater is pumped out, saltwater intrusion into the aquifers could easily occur, resulting in salination of the remaining groundwater.

There are several famous "sinking cities" around the world - Shanghai, Houston and Mexico City, to name a few.

The main reason why they are sinking is the extensive extraction of water from underground aquifers for human consumption.

If we ignore the experiences of these cities, we could be on our way to creating a sinking island.

Wong Ming Keong (Dr)

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Government to track Singapore's carbon emissions

5-year-plan will monitor emissions and how much is absorbed by plants
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 3 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE is embarking on an ambitious five-year plan to take stock of and monitor the entire island's carbon emissions.

The National Parks Board (NParks) wants to set up a system which will allow it to track emissions and how much of it is absorbed by the country's greenery.

The project, which is expected to start by the end of this year, will even include roadside trees and playing fields, according to a tender document posted by NParks on procurement website GeBiz last month.

Carbon-accounting experts believe the data could help Singapore improve its plans to take better care of the environment.

If the research reveals for example, that a certain plant species absorbs more carbon dioxide, more of those plants could be planted in housing estates, said the experts.

According to the tender, data from the project will be included in Singapore's Biennial Update Reports to the United Nations, the first of which is due by the end of next year.

This tabulates the country's greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them, said NParks director Lena Chan. Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes Singapore, agreed to submit such reports during a conference in South Africa two years ago.

In 2010, Singapore emitted around 43 million tonnes - about 0.2 per cent of the world's output - of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

If the country had done nothing after 2005 to reduce emissions, its output in 2020 would reach 77.2 million tonnes. The Government has pledged to cut emissions by 7 per cent to 11 per cent below this projection.

As part of the latest project, Singapore's land will be divided into six categories: forest, cropland, grassland, wetland, settlements and other land.

About 56 per cent of Singapore's land is covered by greenery. Of this, 27 per cent is actively managed vegetation such as parks and gardens while the other 29 per cent includes swamps, marsh, forest and scrubland.

Land plots will be chosen to represent these categories as well as various vegetation types. Researchers will identify plant species in some of these plots, collect plant and soil extracts and measure their carbon content. Data will be collected annually to track the country's carbon balance.

One way to quantify the carbon being absorbed in grass, for instance, is to dry a plot sample in an oven, said Dr Alex Cobb from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, who is involved in a similar project here.

"This gives you the grass' biomass. Then you take a smaller sample of the dried material and measure its carbon content," he said. Dr Cobb added that some land categories such as forests would offer more challenges, as they contain more types of plants and trees. One possible method is to record the trees' diameters and compare them with available data to come up with carbon estimates, he said.

Nature Society of Singapore president Shawn Lum said: "Essentially, for every kilogram a tree grows, about half of that is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere."

Dr Lum added that NParks could tap on the work of several other projects. The National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education have already compiled some carbon data on Bukit Timah trees, and primary and secondary forests here.

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Malaysia: 'Save Camerons, enforce Land Conservation Act'

New Straits Times 3 Jun 13;

IPOH: A group of environmental activists have urged the Federal Government to enforce the Land Conservation Act 1960 to curb the increasing environmental degradation in Cameron Highlands.
The Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (REACH) said the time had come for the federal authorities to clamp down on illegal land clearing in the highlands.

President R. Ramakrishnan said the rampant clearing at the highlands was being carried out right under the noses of the local and state authorities.

"But nothing has been done to stop the ongoing destruction. There was a slowdown in land and forest clearing activities in the early part of the last decade but things have started to pick in the last few years.

"In fact, the pace has quickened as though to catch up with the lost years when hill clearing was temporarily disallowed after the Blue Valley incident."
Ramakrishnan was referring to the massive land clearing in Blue Valley, which resulted in three lush green hills being defaced, after clearing works were carried out with heavy machinery by a vegetable farm operator.

The incident, which took place between 2002 and early 2003, made headlines with scores of parties, including then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad condemning the act and demanding immediate action against the culprit.

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