Best of our wild blogs: 15 Jun 13

Battlefield Tour – Sunday 30 June 13
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Save MacRitchie Forest: 5. Refuge for Reptiles
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Hazy Friday
from Lazy Lizard's Tales

Day out at Chek Jawa with special guests
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs and wild shores of singapore and Lazy Lizard's Tales

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Land Use Plan: The good, bad and ugly

Straits Times 15 Jun 13;

DAYS after the White Paper came out, with its projection of a 6.9 million population by 2030, came a policy plan in January showing, among other things, how to accommodate that number.

This is the Ministry of National Development's Land Use Plan.

How the plan squeezes in more people and infrastructure affects the environment in ways that encompass the good, the bad and the ugly, say conservation-minded nature groups.

The good: By 2030, the Government wants 85 per cent of residents to be able to live within 400m of a park, and has a planning target of 0.8ha of parkland per 1,000 people.

Eco groups also like that the plan outlined new nature areas with different habitats: Jalan Gemala in Lim Chu Kang for marshes, woodland and a river; a reef and intertidal area at Beting Bronok off Pulau Tekong; and coastal mangroves at nearby Pulau Unum.

The bad: some of the land reclamation. Environment groups say the plans appear to swallow up biodiversity-rich shores, including mangrove areas in Mandai and Pasir Ris, areas with marine life like Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu, and even perhaps islands like Pulau Hantu.

They are also concerned about how the Cross-Island MRT line goes through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, a gazetted reserve.

In Parliament, Nominated Member of Parliament Faizah Jamal asked if any environmental impact assessment had been done in the first place.

Mr N. Sivasothi, of the Toddycats volunteer group at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, asked why "existing sites under the highest protection can be casually subverted to a transport plan".

The Land Transport Authority is now engaging civic groups on the issue.

This week, it met nature groups and academics, and agreed to hold off conducting its environmental impact assessment until nature groups finish a six-month study on how different rail-line alignments will affect the reserve.

Mr Tony O'Dempsey, council member of the Nature Society (Singapore), also highlighted that there would be high-density developments right up to the edge of nature reserves.

These produce light, sound and smell pollution and changes in lighting and wind flow, he said. "The bite-back is you end up with monkey and other wild animal interactions, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority solution to this problem is culling the animals that become a nuisance."

The ugly: lack of prior consultation, internally and with civic groups and the public, over the overall environmental impact of the Land Use Plan.

Mr Sivasothi said: "The question should be: Has the Government asked these questions on a broad scale?

We should model the situation to circumvent predicted impact, not simply respond to stress points."

Mr O'Dempsey added that the average citizen is not necessarily familiar with longstanding urban plans, "hence the conflict that occurs when the planned use is 'activated' by the agencies".

Rather, plans should be communicated in a more accessible way, he said.

And what of the Government's green-spot guardian, the National Parks Board (NParks)?

The Cross-Island Line was no surprise to NParks, said its former chief executive Kiat W. Tan, now NParks adviser and chief executive of Gardens by the Bay.

"It was always the other shoe waiting to drop," he said. However, he has "great optimism" that an environmentally sensitive alternative can be found, even if expedience is sacrificed.

And NParks chief executive Poon Hong Yuen said Singapore is capable of coming up with creative solutions to the space crunch, such as drainage reserves doubling as park connectors.

When agencies' mandates conflict, a serious attempt is made to find a solution, or at least develop in a way to retain, replace or enhance the greenery that was there before.

"The objective, the most important thing, really is to create a better Singapore for Singaporeans," he said.


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The big tree debate

The past 50 years has seen the greening of Singapore. But even as people become more eco-aware, population needs put pressure on the environment. Grace Chua looks at the challenges.
Straits Times 15 Jun 13;

YOU look out the window of your HDB flat at a view that makes you happy. It is a wide expanse of trees and grass, an open space where children play football or where yellow orioles sing. But one day, hoardings go up, construction cranes move in. And your view is gone.

Some may shrug and see it as the price of progress. Others will be sad at the loss of yet another precious slice of nature in this tiny island of so many people.

And, amid the rise of civic activism, a small but vocal minority might wonder: Could I have done something about it?

Such a scenario is a microcosm of the conflict between urbanisation and nature, that pits the needs of a growing country, such as infrastructure and housing, against less quantifiable needs such as the value of species-rich forests.

However, recently those less quantifiable things have been found to have their own currency, now that the perils of climate change have reared their head, with more pollution and fewer trees able to filter carbon from the atmosphere.

Going green now also means tangible benefits such as realising that trees help filter pollution particles and make for cleaner air, or that, planted wisely, their shade can reduce the need for expensive air-conditioning.

And to some extent, planners see the need to be eco-aware, too, with the latest Land Use Plan released in January setting a target of 0.8 park ha per 1,000 residents by 2030.

Still, there's no escaping that tension, seen just this week as Trains versus Trees. Nature groups are upset over plans for an MRT line through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Ironically, tomorrow marks 50 years since the greening of Singapore took off officially, when the first tree-planting campaign was launched.

Today, that planting campaign still continues, but even as trees are planted, others are chopped down to make way for development.

Can any balance ever be found between a space crunch and the need for different shades of green?

What are the challenges that lie ahead in trying to reconcile the two, especially as Singapore's population grows?

How going green took root

ON JUNE 16, 1963, then-Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planted a slender mempat sapling at a traffic roundabout called Holland Circus.

Trees such as the mempat - known for its pretty pink blossoms - certainly are pretty to have around.

But decades before it became fashionable to be environmentally conscious, Mr Lee put shovel to soil to kick off a tree-planting campaign to help bring rain. It was the middle of a drought at the time, and leaves help send water vapour into the atmosphere.

Pragmatic Mr Lee also wanted to send visitors and investors the message that Singapore was a disciplined nation able to tend to its people and its environment.

As well, an island-wide greening programme was a social equaliser, in contrast to British rule, when only wealthy enclaves like Tanglin had cultivated gardens.

Since 1963, Mr Lee - often dubbed Singapore's "Chief Gardener" - has unfailingly planted a tree every year, typically in November, at the start of the rainy season.

Professor Leo Tan, who in 1973 was a young biology lecturer at the University of Singapore, said: "Originally, people took (trees) for granted. The assumption was that we had enough green. But Lee Kuan Yew had this vision."

Singapore was a fledgling country, and it was not immediately clear why government money should be spent on greening.

But Mr Lee in his memoir, From Third World To First, called it "the most cost-effective project I have launched" to differentiate Singapore from its developing neighbours.

But the scheme was not without flaws. Prof Tan said: "At that time, any green would do. A lot of it was cosmetic, such as trees along the drive from the airport to town. That's the first impression visitors had of Singapore."

There was also little understanding of conservation.

Even as planting took place, much of Singapore's mangroves were cleared as they were thought to breed mosquitoes.

Clearing continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s as natural spaces were developed for housing, ports and industry.

"I watched Tanjong Rhu make way for development, Sembawang for a shipyard. My research site made way for Changi Terminal," Prof Tan said.

"I was really angry as a young lecturer - my research sites became the history of natural history."

In 1986, the Bukit Timah Expressway was built, slicing between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the central catchment forests.

It was the last straw for some. In the late 1980s, several members of the Nature Reserves Board (National Parks Board's precursor) resigned en masse, including Prof Tan, the Nature Society's Mr Richard Hale, and the board's then secretary, Dr Kiat W. Tan.

"We said, 'If we are here to supervise the demise of every nature reserve, there is no point'," said Prof Tan.

But they were persuaded to stay on for the formation of the National Parks Board (NParks) in 1990.

Recalling those eco-wilderness years, Dr Tan, who went on to be NParks CEO and who is now Gardens by the Bay CEO, said there was little civic sense then.

"People were stealing plants. The parks were not used. Some MPs said, why are we wasting so much money on parks and greenery?"

In 1990, signs had to be posted along the East Coast Parkway explaining to the public why the grass was allowed to grow.

Even the tree that Mr Lee planted at Holland Circus was removed when the roundabout made way for a flyover in 1997.

Learning to hug nature

TODAY, there are more than 300 public parks, from pocket-sized neighbourhood ones to destination parks like East Coast Park. About 50 per cent of Singapore is under vegetative cover, more than half of which is "natural" green, like scrublands and forests.

NParks chief executive Poon Hong Yuen says public reception has completely shifted. "In times past, people complained about leaves falling and creating a mess; now when we chop down a tree, people complain."

When NParks recently asked for feedback on what people want from destination parks and an upcoming round-island park network, "people said, 'We don't want our parks to be just manicured, with no wooded area'. That surprised us because in the past, people would tell us they wanted an amphitheatre or a hard court. It's a bit more sophisticated now."

Is that a reaction to being surrounded by more built-up space? Perhaps, he said.

An NParks survey in 2010 revealed that 90 per cent of those polled say parks and greenery are important, even if they do not visit parks. The same number think nature should be conserved, even if they don't visit nature.

Yes, residents still complain of the noise and mess from, say, koels roosting in trees. But planners, academics and the public increasingly recognise the ecological value of nature, which can protect against the effects of climate change.

The Building and Construction Authority looks to mangroves for coastal protection from sea-level rise. The Public Utilities Board has its ABC Waters programme, which cuts flood risk by turning canals into planted, more natural waterways.

And studies from the National University of Singapore (NUS) show that green cover reduces the high temperatures that result when buildings and roads trap heat, and that natural areas support a more diverse range of birds and butterflies than cultivated ones.

Some green innovations developed here have even gone international. Architect Ong Boon Lay came up with the concept of the green plot ratio, which measures the amount and quality of greenery used in architecture and has been applied to cities in Sri Lanka and Egypt.

In 2008, Singapore committed itself to developing the first City Biodiversity Index, which is used by parties to the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diver-sity.

At home, greening has helped shape Singapore's identity as the Garden City, then the City in a Garden.

Take the national Community In Bloom community-garden programme, launched in 2005. At first, people felt the Government should take care of greenery in their estates.

"Now, people see the point of it - it brings the community closer together," said NParks' Mr Poon.

Senior research fellow Belinda Yuen, an urban planner at the Singapore University of Technology and Design's Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, pointed out that besides "active" uses of green space such as for exercise and picnics, there is an indirect psychological benefit.

People like having a view of a garden or nature area, she said - they know it is available to escape to if needed.

Battles and trade-offs

IS THERE a difference in benefit or value depending on whether you're looking at a cultivated park or a natural area?

Little work on that has been done in Singapore yet, Dr Yuen said. "We need to conduct a study to better understand what exact value people ascribe to open space."

But vociferous public debate over areas like a Pasir Ris patch of empty land, slated for an international school, and Bukit Brown cemetery, earmarked for housing, demonstrates "the people don't just want manicured parks, they want wild areas also", said Mr Tony O'Dempsey, a council member of The Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS).

"Promising a manicured park within some distance of each household - as per the White Paper discussion (see other report) - is missing the point of what I think people really want."

The NSS is concerned that small forest patches at Bukit Timah, Lornie, Mandai and Seletar are getting too separated by roads from larger reserves to sustain rich plant and animal life.

It has identified green sites rich in biodiversity that should get higher priority in protection efforts, and is currently preparing a report on the overall green impact of the Government's Land Use Plan.

And Mr N. Sivasothi, an NUS biology lecturer and coordinator of the Raffles Museum Toddycats volunteer group, calls for the protection of specific biodiversity-rich areas such as the Mandai mudflats.

In an impassioned speech on the White Paper and Land Use Plan in Parliament earlier this year, Nominated Member of Parliament Faizah Jamal said the plan's emphasis on parks "reflects a disturbing need for human control - not just green spaces, but indeed the constant need to control life itself".

Afterwards, she said, several MPs came up privately to agree with what she said.

Civil servants and politicians operate based on efficiency and cost-effectiveness, she noted. And providing parks for more users focuses on people, who are also voters.

"But that's not a paradigm that works any more" because of the growing importance of the ecological services that wild places provide.

But how long will it be before nature becomes a real voter issue?

On the one hand, urbanites don't interact with nature every day and don't see the value of the clean air or fresh water it provides.

"On the other hand, I see young people actually doing something about it."

The next 50 years

AS NPARKS' Mr Poon puts it: "The top three challenges for us are space, space and space."

However, it is precisely because the population is growing that more nature also needs to be retained - to address the impact of climate change, serve as an emotional anchor, and meet recreational needs.

But what happens when NParks' mandate clashes with another agency's - say, when planners decide a space is needed for housing?

At the senior levels of government, there is an understanding that greenery is important, said Mr Poon. So there is a serious attempt to come up with a solution - to retain or replace or enhance greenery.

"In the past, we've been quite reactive - the Land Transport Authority says we want to do road-widening, we say you can't get rid of this tree. Now, you're doing road-widening, can (NParks) do something to beautify the area?"

Still, retaining natural or managed areas, and adding new ones, remains a process of give and take.

Later this month, an official tree-planting event will take place at Holland Village Park, not far from where Mr Lee planted his first mempat tree.

And perhaps symbolising how much the need to value the environment has taken root, even amid necessary development, in order to build the pocket-sized green lung - completed in 2011 - it was a carpark that made way.



Mr Lee Kuan Yew plants a tree at Holland Circus as start of island-wide campaign
Parks and Trees Unit formed underPublic Works Department
Post- independence, mangroves at Pandan and Kranji cleared for development


Garden City programme of roadside landscaping launched


The first Tree Planting Day held (November); replaced by Clean and Green Week in 1990


Labrador Beach de-gazetted to be nature park


Parks and Recreation Department formed


Bukit Timah Expressway constructed, cutting through Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserve


Sungei Buloh given nature park status after Malayan Nature Society (Singapore) calls on Government to conserve it


Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) publishes its master plan for nature conservation


National Parks Board (NParks) established to oversee nature reserves, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park


Government publishes its first Green Plan; Lower Peirce Reservoir golf-course development put on hold after environmental impact assessment by NSS


Parks and Recreation Department merges with NParks


Labrador Park re-gazetted as nature reserve


Sungei Buloh gazetted as nature reserve


Eco-link between Bukit Timah and Central Catchment reserves over the BKE is announced; Blue Plan by academics and non-government groups is submitted to Government, proposes specific marine areas that have high conservation value


NParks, National University of Singapore and corporate sponsors begin five-year Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey


Gardens by the Bay officially opened


Government publishes its Population White Paper and Land Use Plan laying out plans till 2030
Nature groups raise concerns about environmental impact, particularly of Cross-Island Line
Land Transport Authority agrees to postpone its Environmental Impact Assessment report till nature groups have studied the effect of different rail-line alignments

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PSI reading climbs in Singapore but remains within moderate range

Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 14 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE: The haze has returned to Singapore. The PSI reading, which measures the haze, was at 54 at 7am in Singapore. It climbed to over 85 after 2pm. At 7pm, it dipped to 82.

Any reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the haze and burning smell are from fires in Sumatra.

NEA said 85 hotspots were detected on 6 June 2013 over Sumatra in Indonesia.

Winds from the southwest or west during the current southwest monsoon season have also brought the haze to Singapore.

NEA said Singapore has been affected by slight haze since Thursday.

It expects the hazy conditions to continue for the next few days.

Some revellers along Singapore's East Coast Park seemed unaffected.

However, shop owners in the area said prolonged haze would affect their business.

One bike shop said it saw a 10 per cent drop in takings due to the haze.

Simon Tan, a bicycle shop employee, said: "Now it's the school holidays. Everybody will come out to enjoy at East Coast Park. And because of the haze, surely (business has been) affected, at least 10 per cent."

- CNA/xq

Haze is back, set to persist over next few days
Neo Chai Chin Today Online 15 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE — Expect smoggy skies over Singapore and the burning smell to linger in the air over the next few days. Posting an update on the situation after Singapore yesterday experienced its haziest skies since October 2010, the National Environment Agency said the haziness and burning smell were caused by fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, brought over by prevailing winds blowing from the southwest or western direction.

The three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading hit 88 between 3pm and 5pm yesterday — the higher end of the moderate range — before it dipped to 82 at 7pm. A PSI reading below 50 is classified as “good”, higher than 50 is “moderate” and anything higher than 100 is “unhealthy”.

Yesterday’s 24-hour PSI reading ranged from 59 to 65 at 4pm, which is within the moderate range. The 24-hour PM2.5 – which measures the concentration of fine particulate matter - ranged from 40 to 49 microgrammes per cubic metre at 4pm. People with heart or lung disease, as well as children and older adults, are advised to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion when PM2.5 levels are between 41 and 65 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The NEA said yesterday that a “slight haze” had hovered over the Republic since Thursday and southwest monsoon conditions have beset the region since the beginning of this week. Typically lasting from June to September, the southwest monsoon season is the traditional dry season for the southern part of Southeast Asia.

With occasional extended periods of drier weather expected in the region in the coming months, the NEA said increased hotspot activities may be expected in Sumatra and Borneo, with transboundary haze affecting the region during periods of persistent dry weather. It added that 22 hotspots were detected over Sumatra on Thursday, down from 85 detected last Thursday due to the presence of “more cloud cover”.

The last time air quality in Singapore entered the unhealthy range was on October 21, 2010 when the PSI reading hit 106. The issue of transboundary haze came up in April, this year during a meeting between Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Both leaders agreed to the renewal of a pact between Singapore and the provincial government in South Sumatra on sustainable farming practices, with Dr Yudhoyono saying he would encourage the governors of South Sumatra and Jambi to continue working with Singapore over the haze problem.

PSI hits 88 as fires in Sumatra bring haze
Walter Sim Straits Times 15 Jun 13;

THE haze is back - and it could be sticking around for Father's Day tomorrow.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was in the "moderate" range yesterday because of the forest fires in Sumatra.

The index hit 88 at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm yesterday - the highest levels so far this year. The reading was also the highest since 2010, when air quality breached "unhealthy" levels.

A PSI reading of zero to 50 is "good", while anything above 100 is considered "unhealthy".

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will continue to closely monitor the hazy conditions, which are "expected for the next few days".

The 24-hour daily average PSI taken at 4pm yesterday at different parts of the island ranged from 59 to 65.

The reading for another air quality scale called the PM2.5, which measures fine pollutants, was also higher in most parts of Singapore.

These tiny particles are more dangerous than larger specks of dust because they can enter the lungs or bloodstream more easily.

NEA advised those who are considered more vulnerable to curtail any prolonged or heavy exertion. They include people with lung or heart disease, children and the elderly.

The agency attributed the hazy conditions to south-westerly winds that carried smoke from central Sumatra, where forest fires have been raging.

Drier weather conditions have contributed to the problem as well, it said.

According to Meteorological Service Singapore, the number of forest fires spiked last Thursday, reaching 85. But the figure dipped to 46 yesterday, although the full extent could not be determined because of cloudy conditions.

Many Singaporeans yesterday complained about the hazy skies and the acrid burning smell in the air.

Undergraduate Willy Beh, 25, who lives in an apartment on the 40th floor at Teban Gardens, said: "On a normal day, I can see Pulau Bukom and the offshore islands, but today, it is just a blanket of grey."

The public can access PSI updates in various ways:

By visiting the NEA Weather page at
Through the Twitter account @ NEAsg
By calling 1800-225-5632
By using the myEnv mobile application on smartphones

Haze returns to Singapore, rise in hotspot activities in Central Sumatra
New Straits Times 15 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE: Hazy conditions returned to Singapore with the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading standing at 85 at 6 pm today, which is at a moderate range.
According to Singapore's National Environment Agency’s (NEA’s), since 1 pm today, conditions had been hazy and members of the public had given feedback on a burning smell across many parts of Singapore.

In recent days, it said weather conditions in the region had become drier and an increase in hotspot activities had been observed mainly over central Sumatra. -- BERNAMA

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UN climate talks marred by decision-making spat

Karl Ritter Associated Press Yahoo News 15 Jun 13;

BONN, Germany (AP) — U.N. climate talks have hit a stumbling block that some delegates say poses a serious challenge to their already slow-moving attempt to craft a global response to climate change.

As the latest negotiation session ended Friday in the German city of Bonn, one track of the talks was paralyzed by a request by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to review the decision-making procedure in the two-decade-long U.N. process.

Decisions in the U.N. climate discussions are supposed to be taken by consensus — but it's not totally clear what that means in practice. While many agree the decision-making procedure needs to be clarified, they worry that the issue could block the talks at a time when urgent action is needed to tackle climate change.

"If we're not careful, it could collapse the whole system," said Ronald Jumeau, a delegate from the Seychelles.

At several climate conferences, after overnight debates with endless interventions, decisions have been gaveled through despite protests from individual countries.

That happened in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010, when Bolivia was overruled. Last year in Qatar, it happened to Russia, when its objections to a package of decisions including an extension of the 1997 emissions treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol were ignored.

Russia was outraged by that snub, and backed by Ukraine and Belarus it used the session in Bonn to call for a discussion on the rules of procedure. It did so in a subsidiary body that was supposed to work on a "loss and damage" mechanism for aid to developing countries hit by climate-related disasters. That work never got started due to disputes over how to address the decision-making issue, which many countries agree needs to be ironed out.

"Our process is very sick. We have constant problems with procedural matters and we are constantly forced to resolve problems in circumstances of haste and apprehension and anxiety," Russian climate envoy Oleg Shamanov told delegates earlier this week.

U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said Friday that she found it ironic that even though all governments agreed that the decision-making procedure needs to be discussed, they "couldn't figure out, how do they get to what they want to do?"

That's a familiar story in the climate talks, where procedural disputes have often overshadowed the goal of saving the world from rising seas, more extreme weather events and other potentially catastrophic effects of climate change.

Science shows they're falling short of that aim: emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are growing. That's mainly because China and other developing countries expand their economies, but rich countries are also criticized at these talks for not cutting their emissions enough.

Negotiators said some progress was made in Bonn on the shape of a global climate deal that is supposed to be adopted in 2015. But many said Russia's concerns over decision-making must be addressed before the next climate conference in Warsaw at the end of the year.

"Time is very short. We can't have this kind of procedural difficulties that are wasting what is a limited and pressurized timeframe to get us to a deal," European Union delegate David Walsh said.

Russia didn't address the closing session, but Belarus said the stalemate in Bonn just highlighted the problems in the process.

A negotiator from Tuvalu, an island nation that fears it's going to be wiped out by rising seas, said it was ironic that the three countries expressing concerns about the procedure were using that procedure "to make it even worse."

"It's like somebody deliberately crashing a car to show that the seat belts don't work," Ian Fry said.

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World Population May Reach 11 Billion By 2100

Tia Ghose, LiveScience Yahoo News 15 Jun 13;

The world's population could reach 11 billion by the year 2100, according to a new statistical analysis.

That represents 800 million more people than was forecast in 2011. Most of that increase comes because birth rates in Africa haven't dropped as fast as projected.

"The fertility decline in Africa has slowed down or stalled to a larger extent than we previously predicted, and as a result the African population will go up," said study co-author Adrian Raftery, a statistician at the University of Washington, in a statement.

Ever increasing

The United Nations reported that the population hit 7 billion in October 2011. That's an amazing increase from the mere 5 million people who lived on the planet in 8000 B.C. or the 1 billion who were alive in 1805.

The huge surge in population is expected to cause mega-city populations to swell, which could worsen environmental problems and overcrowding.

Right now, Africa's population stands at 1.1 billion, but that is expected to increase four-fold, to 4.2 billion, by 2100.

Rest unchanged

The rest of the world is unlikely to see big changes from the past estimate. Europe may see a slight dip in population, because it continues to have a below-replacement birth rate, meaning more people are dying than being born.

The new analysis used a more sophisticated method for estimating life expectancy, updated fertility forecasting methods and new population data.

The model predicts that the population will likely reach between 9 billion and 13 billion by 2100. By contrast, the U.N.'s population estimates assume the average birth rate may vary by up to 0.5 children per woman, which results in a large range for the world's population at the end of the century, between 7 billion and 17 billion.

The findings suggest that experts should redouble their efforts to curb population growth in Africa, Raftery said.

"These new findings show that we need to renew policies, such as increasing access to family planning and expanding education for girls, to address rapid population growth in Africa," Raftery said in a statement.

World population to hit 10.9 billion by 2100: UN
AFP 13 Jun 13;

AFP - The world's population will hit 7.2 billion next month and 10.9 billion by 2100, with most of the growth a result of high birthrates in the developing world, the United Nations said Thursday.

The UN's latest "World Population Prospects" report said the number of people inhabiting the planet at the start of the next century could top 16.6 billion, or depending on the statistical model, could be as low as 6.8 billion.

In either case, the population in the world's poorest regions is anticipated to rise dramatically, the UN said.

The number of inhabitants in the world's least developed countries is projected to double, from 898 million inhabitants this year to 1.8 billion in 2050. The number will soar to 2.9 billion by 2100, the UN report said.

"Although population growth has slowed for the world as a whole, this report reminds us that some developing countries, especially in Africa, are still growing rapidly," Wu Hongbo, United Nations Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, said in a statement.

By contrast, population in the world's developed nations is expected to remain largely unchanged, inching upward from 1.25 billion this year to around 1.28 billion in 2100.

The report said the number of people living in the developed world would decline if not for immigration from poorer countries, which is projected to average about 2.4 million people a year from 2013 to 2050.

Much of the increase in world population between 2013 and 2050 -- when the number is expected to hit 9.6 billion -- is projected to take place in Africa.

The report said that half of all population growth between 2013 and 2100 is expected to be concentrated in just eight countries: Nigeria, India, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Uganda, Ethiopia and the United States.

The study also highlighted the fast-growing number of seniors -- and not just in rich regions.

In more developed parts of the world, 23 percent of the population is already 60 or older. Their percentage is projected to climb to 32 percent in 2050, and 34 percent in 2100.

Globally, the number of people 60 or older is expected to more than triple by 2100 to hover near 3 billion. The proportion of older citizens in developing countries is forecast to more than double by 2050 and triple to 27 percent by 2100.

Longevity also is on the rise, the United Nations said.

The number of people aged at least 80 is projected to spike almost seven-fold to 830 million by the start of next century, up from 120 million this year and 392 million in 2050.

Sixty-eight percent of those 80 and over are forecast to live in developing countries by 2050.

Even as the population is rising, the UN report said fertility is expected to fall globally, with a major drop projected for least developed countries -- from 4.53 to 2.87 children per woman in 2045-2050 and to 2.11 in 2095-2100.

The rest of the developing world is expected to see a dip to 2.09 from 2.40 in 2045-2050, and 1.93 in 2095-2100.

Most developing countries have had below-replacement fertility -- below 2.1 children per woman -- for several decades. That includes all of Europe except Iceland.

The largest so-called low-fertility countries are China, the United States, Brazil, Russia, Japan and Vietnam.

In other findings, the UN study said that India would surpass China's as the world's most populous country around 2028, when both nations will have about 1.45 billion people.

India will continue to grow for several decades after that to about 1.6 billion and then slowly slip to 1.5 billion in 2100.

China's population is expected to start decreasing after 2030 and could reach 1.1 billion in 2100.

The study also found that Nigerians are expected to outnumber Americans before 2050.

Europe's population, meanwhile, is projected to decline by 14 percent between 2013 and 2100.

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