Best of our wild blogs: 6 Jul 13

SAVE MACRITCHIE FOREST: 11. Birds and their Status
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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WWF says don't buy from Asia Pulp and Paper

WWF recommends against paper purchases from APP as doubts mount on deforestation pledge
WWF 2 Jul 13;

Jakarta: WWF is recommending against purchasing paper from or investing in APP, as concerns mount over the implementation of the company's February promise to halt deforestation .

WWF was cautiously optimistic that APP's new Forest Conservation Policy is a step in the right direction for the Sinar Mas Group company. Although it welcomed the recent APP announcement of “an absolute deadline of 31 August 2013 for all natural forest wood felled prior to 1 February 2013 to have reached its pulp mills", WWF believes potential loopholes for continued deforestation remain.

WWF is urging a strengthened commitment, excluding all Mixed Tropical Hardwoods (MTH) from the mills, shutting down potential loopholes allowing continuing deforestation as well as making the monitoring of violations simple.

. . . classifying forest as scrub . . .

NGO concerns generally were heightened after Sumatra NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest revealed continuing deforestation of tropical forest and tiger habitat on four metre deep peat by an APP supplier in Riau, Sumatra in May. APP has since described the clearing as "accidental" - an explanation at odds with its initial revelation of the existence of many, previously undisclosed non-moratorium areas where clearing could continue.

More problematic is how tropical forest and tiger habitat came to be classified as "scrub" prior to the clearing.

"The latest incident of forest clearance moratorium violation in Riau warrants our precautionary position questioning APP’s achievement of zero deforestation" noted the WWF Advisory to Buyers and Investors of the Sinar Mas Group/Asia Pulp and Paper issued on 1 July.

”APP’s “FCP implementation team” categorized a relatively intact forest as “young and old scrub” and allowed a supplier to clear it to supply MTH to APP’s pulp mill."

WWF also questioned "the inability of APP's monitoring system to identify moratorium violations before NGOs found them".

WWF also wrote that it “doubts that APP would have sufficient plantation fiber after 31 August 2013 for all its pulp and paper mills globally, especially with the to-be-built South Sumatra mega mill. Thus we assume that their mills would need to continue relying on MTH, potentially from deforestation".

Given the limited conservation benefits for Sumatra where most of the APP and supplier concessions were cleared prior to the moratorium, WWF has also highlighted the continuing lack of company commitment to forest restoration .

To help APP succeed in becoming a global leader as a deforestation-free company. WWF is seeking a commitment that as of 31 August 2013, "APP will rely exclusively on plantation fiber and not pulp any further mixed tropical hardwood, no matter of what origin, in any of its mills worldwide".

"This would simplify the wood sourcing system, prevent mistakes and streamline verification audits to ensure APP’s core commitment to achieve “no deforestation”, the advisory says. APP itself admits the challenges “when operating across a huge land area” but switching to full plantation fiber supply restricts the control points to just the pulp mills’ gates.

WWF and Eyes on the Forest (a coalition of WWF-Indonesia, Jikalhari and Wahli Riau) are also asking APP to commit to a process with Indonesian NGOs to identify, restore and protect priority ecosystems and areas of high conservation and community values..

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A burning issue that just won't go away

Even as Indonesian firefighters battle peat fires, new ones are being set
Zubaidah Nazeer Indonesia Correspondent In Riau Province (Sumatra)
Straits Times 6 Jul 13;

THE scene on this plantation is sombre - only charred tree stumps and blackened land are left. In the distance, smoke is rising.

This is land that got razed when fires jumped plantations, says its owner.

It seems no one has bothered to obey an old signboard nearby saying no land-clearing using fire is allowed, listing fines and jail terms.

Indeed, one week after the worst haze in the region in 16 years caused by forest and plantation fires in the Riau province of Sumatra island, firefighters last weekend were still battling peat fires that often continue to burn underground even as the fires above ground are put out.

By yesterday, police had named as a suspect its first company, Malaysian-listed Adei Plantation, in addition to 24 farmers and workers, for illegally clearing land by burning.

But, referring to the arrests of farmers and workers, environment non-governmental organisation (NGO) Greenpeace's Mr Zamzami, who goes by one name, says this does not get to the root of the problem. "If they are workers, we need to know who they are paid by, or are companies negligent in holding up no-burning policies?"

Companies claim they ensure suppliers do not clear land by burning, but people in the community do so anyway and this was evident from this reporter's journey through the region.

During a 13-hour ride from Jambi to Pekanbaru last week, The Straits Times came across several instances of land being burned in open defiance of the intense scrutiny after the haze gained international coverage in mid-June.

A patch of land near Merlung sub-district in Jambi was still smouldering after being torched overnight. In Kerinci, southern Riau, a man with a chainsaw jumped on his motorcycle and sped off when approached after he was seen surveying a charred piece of land.

Last Saturday, on a patrol with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to Rokanhilir regency bordering Dumai city, one of the worst-hit of Riau's regencies, this reporter saw oil palm landowner Nasution (who goes by one name) looking on helplessly as soldiers attempted to snuff out fires on his 40ha plot of land.

"The fire probably jumped from burning land next to my plantation. I called in the soldiers to help me put out the fires because I cannot deal with it," he said.

Culprits are proving elusive.

National Disaster Management Agency chief Syamsul Maarif tells of how, on a helicopter ride to inspect the area, he saw people setting new fires.

"I can see them running, trying to hide. I suspect those carrying out the burning have been instructed to do so," he told The Straits Times.

He has photos showing clearly burning on concession land and has told local authorities to gather the concession owners and get them to account for the fires.

Sawit Watch, an NGO that monitors the palm oil industry, notes that 925 of the 4,810 hot spots between May 13 and June 20, when the haze in the region was peaking, were found on oil palm plantations.

However, major concession owners named by the government and NGOs, including Singapore-based firms Asia Pacific Resources International and Wilmar International, have insisted that they have a zero-burning policy.

Pinning down those responsible is hard given the lack of clear evidence, but some officials say concession owners should be held responsible for any burning on their land.

Said Mr Agus Purnomo, special adviser to the President and head of the National Climate Change Council: "It has to go all the way to the top. If you make money out of it, you are responsible to put out the fire."

Meantime, out in the field, fighting the fires seems an impossible task given the vast area and limited resources. Last Saturday, groups of soldiers were seen fixing small portable pumps over canals to pump water through pipes and hoses to nearby fires. Each soldier goes on an hour-long shift hosing down peat fires.

Their platoon leader told The Straits Times: "We get no farther than 100m each day. Fires move rapidly underground and we often can't see them.

"It is easy to give up hope, but we are trying our best. The rest, we leave it to God."

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PM Lee hopes Indonesia will continue to minimise illegal land-clearing

S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 5 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he has no doubt there would be a spirit of cooperation in ASEAN in dealing with the haze issue, but he said it will take a long time to solve it with the best will in the world.

Replying to a question during the DBS Asian Insights Conference in Singapore on Friday, he explained that it was not easy for the Indonesian government to do it because what was involved was thousands of square kilometres of land being cleared illegally.

Some were by companies who could be caught and punished while some were being cleared by farmers, who were harder to catch.

Mr Lee said Indonesia is also a country where it is not so easy for an instruction from the central government to reach every corner of the land.

So the prime minister felt it is a problem which is going to continue though he has no doubt that if there are active efforts made, the haze can lessen.

Mr Lee explained: "As you can see from three weeks ago when we had a very serious haze to now, today the sky is mostly clear. Things can be done, and we do hope that the Indonesian authorities will make the effort and continue to minimise the burning and the illegal clearing of land."

- CNA/xq

It will take some time to solve haze issue: PM Lee
Ng Jing Yng Today Online 6 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE — Members of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) will cooperate to tackle the haze issue but it will take some time for the matter to be resolved, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Responding to questions from the audience at the inaugural DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue, he said: “I have no doubt that there will be a spirit of cooperation. But I think solving the haze issue will take a very long time.”

Two weeks ago, thick smog reaching hazardous levels blanketed Singapore and Malaysia due to slash-and-burn land clearing in Indonesia.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers convened last weekend to discuss the haze issue, but some had also questioned the effectiveness of the group in managing regional affairs.

While he noted that Indonesia would like the problem to be resolved — as “it would save (the authorities) a lot of international awkwardness”, Mr Lee pointed out that Indonesia is a huge country, with thousands of square kilometres of land being cleared illegally.

The authorities may be able to take guilty companies to task but it is not always easy to nab farmers committing these offences, he said.

Added Mr Lee: “It is a country where it is not easy for instructions from the centre to percolate down and reach every corner of the land, so I think that it is a problem which is going to continue.”

Nevertheless, he noted that the situation has improved and the skies have been mostly clear.

“So things can be done, (and) we do hope that the Indonesian authorities will make the effort and continue to minimise the burning and illegal clearing of land,” Mr Lee said.


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A wider net to catch e-waste

Kok Xing Hui Today Online 6 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE — Marine Parade and Mountbatten residents can now discard electronic waste without polluting the environment, thanks to a new programme launched by the South East District yesterday that will let them recycle unwanted appliances.

Singapore produces about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste — discarded electrical or electronic devices — a year, only 1 per cent of the total amount of waste generated. However, the heavy metals in electronic products could result in pollution of the environment if discarded in landfills.

The recycling initiative, called the Heartland E-Waste Recycling Programme pilot, will try to reduce the quantity of heavy metals that will go into the landfill, said Mr Koh Kim Hock, Director-General of the Environmental Protection Division at the National Environment Agency (NEA).

While other similar recycling efforts exist, this is the first scheme to include almost all types of e-waste and is not restricted to certain brands or types of electronics, he said.

Dr Maliki Osman, Mayor of South East District, said consumer e-waste is less frequently recycled due to the lack of convenient collection options available. The pilot will feature a wide range of collection points, including 10 Residents’ Committee (RC) centres, five schools and the Best Denki retail outlet at Parkway Parade. The RC centres will also collect general recyclables such as paper and plastic bottles.

The Marine Parade Town Council will be providing removal services for bulky items such as refrigerators to HDB residents in the district, while Best Denki will collect bulky e-waste islandwide for a fee upon the purchase and delivery of new appliances.

E-waste collected under the programme will be sent to recycler Cimelia to be segregated and for essential raw materials, such as plastics and precious metals, to be retrieved. The general recyclables are then sent to SembWaste for regular recycling.

The programme is part of a six-month trial initiated by Panasonic Asia-Pacific in partnership with South East Community Development Council, the NEA, Best Denki, Cimelia and SembWaste. The programme’s recycling and participation rates will be evaluated to determine the feasibility of extending it nationwide.

Apart from recycling e-waste, the programme boasts a community benefit. Each e-waste item recycled will translate to donations of energy-efficient light bulbs to low-income families. Panasonic will match each small household appliance with one light bulb, information and communications technology devices with two light bulbs and bulky e-waste with three light bulbs — up to a total donation of 5,000 light bulbs.

Part of the proceeds from Best Denki’s disposal service will go to another 1,000 light bulbs, as will monetary incentives under SembWaste’s Cash for Trash programme. The programme will involve youths through talks conducted in schools and students can visit Panasonic and Cimelia facilities. Students will also be roped in to distribute donated light bulbs.

The first e-waste collection drive is on July 14 in conjunction with Marine Parade Town Day.

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Indonesia, Australia urged to dicuss Timor Sea pollution from Montara spill

Antara 5 Jul 13;

Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - An observer has expressed hope that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will discuss the pollution issue in the Timor Sea which has not been solved so far.

"We hope that Yudhoyono and his Australian counterpart will discuss the Timor Sea pollution in their meeting in Bogor on Friday," Ferdi Tanoni, an observer of the Timor Sea pollution said here on Friday.

He said that besides discussing investment and trade issues in their Indonesia-Australia Annual Leaders Meeting at the Bogor Palace, the two leaders should also discuss the Timor Sea pollution which took place following the explosion of the Montara oil well in the West Atlas Oil Block, Timor Sea on August 21, 2009.

"This is an environment problem which is universal in nature and has an impact on humanity, particularly the people of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) who live in the coastal areas. They become the victims of the pollution. This is a disaster which should not be underestimated," Ferdi, who is a former immigration agent at the Australian Embassy, said.

The Montara oil well which exploded in Timor Sea belonged to PTTEP Australasia from Thailand. So far, the company seemed to be `abdicating` its responsibility for the disaster that took place in the Timor Sea.

"We hope that the governments of the two countries and the local government of NTT together with the West East Care Foundation (YPTB) will discuss efforts to settle the Montara disaster in the Timor Sea," said Ferdi Tanoni.

Executive Director of the Indonesia Maritime Institute Y Paonganan, who is also a sea ecology expert said that the Indonesian government was rather slow in solving the problem which tarnished the dignity of the Indonesian people.

"The Timor Sea pollution is not a minor problem viewed from the ecology aspect, but it is a big problem which poses a threat to the future of the NTT young generation. On this reason, we call on President Yudhoyono to pay attention to this matter," said Paonganan.

Earlier, PTTEP Australasia has offered a compensation of US$5,000,000 for local fishermen and seaweed farmers in the surrounding waters.

But this offered was firmly rejected by the YPTB chairman, Ferdi Tanoni, because the compensation was not comparable to the hardship of local fishermen and seaweed farmers where the pollution covered an area of 85,000 sq km.

Based on the facts submitted by the YPTB in December 2010, Ferdi called on President Yudhoyono to take speed and firm actions to resolve the Montara sea pollution.

"I highly expect that the two governments will discuss the pollution problem in Timor Sea during the Indonesia-Australia Annual Leaders Meeting at the Bogor Palace," he said.

He said that it would be meaningless if the leaders of the two countries did not discuss crucial problems such as the Timor Sea pollution issue which affects the life of many people.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Why Indonesia Must Look to India to Save the Sumatran Tiger

Adelia Anjani Putri, Angela Buensuceso & Janice Winata Jakarta Globe 5 Jul 13;

Indonesia has the dubious distinction of having seen two of its tiger species fall into extinction and, as a leading environmental group says the Sumatran tiger will soon follow suit if urgent action is not taken, the government should look to India if it wants to be seen as a country serious about protecting its endangered species.

In the 1970s, there were around 1,000 Sumatran tigers, but estimates today indicate there are fewer than 400 living in the wild. By contrast, no more than 300 wild Bengal tigers were recorded in 1973, but the latest data show the species has been revived to around 1,500.

The process was initiated by Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi after a colorful campaign by environmentalists warned of the Bengal tiger’s imminent extinction.

Ghandi responded with a succession of measures, including bans on poaching and trading in tiger skins, while creating a regulatory framework to foster the protection of the Bengal tiger, which, at the time, was in even greater danger of extinction than its Sumatran counterpart.

Success at preventing the Bengal tiger’s demise, and increasing their number, resulted from a clearly defined political commitment to protect the animal’s habitat and punish poachers, underpinned by public-awareness campaigns.

Indonesia’s conservation efforts fall short

Indonesia’s efforts to protect the Sumatran tiger began in 1973 with the ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an agreement that required signatories to create a special authority that dealt specifically with issues concerning endangered animals and plants.

The number of Sumatran tigers has, however, continued to weaken — a consequence of unchecked deforestation and patchy enforcement against poachers.

Indonesia has already lost two species of tigers to poachers — the last Javan and Bali tigers were seen in the 1970s and 1940s respectively.

“Generally, tigers reproduce easily and can give birth to two or three cubs each year,” said Aditya Bayunanda, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia’s Global Forest and Trade Network National Coordinator.

“Hence, the problem does not lie in the reproductive cycle, but ensuring a safe environment for them to live in. The highest fatality rate for tigers is from poaching and getting snared. Not to mention deforestation, which destroys their habitat.”

From 1985 to 1997, an estimated 67,000 square kilometers of forest were lost in Sumatra. Forest conversion has cut into protected areas. National parks have become islands, effectively marooning the tigers.

The isolation of parklands makes it harder for tigers to survive as their prey is depleted more quickly.

This contrasts sharply with the case of the Bengal tigers, where the governments of Nepal and India successfully reconnected 11 areas through wildlife corridors in 2000.

Sumatran tigers can still be found in several provinces on Indonesia’s largest island, with most thought to be in Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat national parks.

But cutting down trees to make way for agriculture, plantations and settlements has encroached on the tigers’ habitat and forced them to enter villages in search of food, consequently increasing the occurrences of human-tiger conflicts.

People are, understandably, slow to hesitate to kill tigers when contact does occur, but anecdotal evidence indicates that maulings have caused communities to begin hunting tigers as a preemptive measure.

“The situation in India is different because of cultural and religious beliefs toward animal treatment,” Sunarto, the Tiger Conservation Coordinator at World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe. “To them, animals are not just animals, they hold spiritual importance.”

Raising awareness is a fundamental precursor to any concerted conservation effort, the WWF says.

“People need to be more aware and critical of their consumer choices as the problem lies deeper than others can even imagine,” Sunarto said. “For example, choosing where one’s palm oil comes from can influence the situation as companies often clear forests and destroy the tigers’ habitat to make way for palm-oil plantations.”

The Indonesian government has taken steps to address the regulatory deficit.

“They’ve set up conservation areas with rules and regulations to prevent illegal poaching,” Sunarto said. “Measures have also been taken to safeguard the tigers’ habitat by stationing rangers to protect these creatures from poachers.

However, efforts to conserve the Bengal tiger have been more successful than those for the Sumatran tiger because India and its partners in conservation are more committed to the cause,” Sunarto said. “Indonesia’s government needs to update its laws and regulations, as well as effectively enforce these rules.”

The Ministry of Forestry has formed partnerships with palm and paper companies responsible for eroding tiger habitats. A recent report by Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of environmental NGOs in Riau, said such partnerships amounted to little more than “greenwashing,” and that behavior had not changed.

“The current laws and regulations in place deal with illegal conversion of forests harshly. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement,” Aditya said. “If the government enforced these laws more effectively, the tiger population would benefit greatly from it.”

Enforcement lacks teeth

A December, 2012, case involving a tiger-skin broker in Pekanbaru came to light when a man was found with nine tiger skins in his possession, some of which, he admitted, belonged to the National Resource Conservation Center (BKSDA).

The media had limited access to the details of the trial, but the penalty handed down was short of severe: the man was sentenced to three months in prison.

WWF lobbied for a sentence more commensurate with the seriousness of the matter, but people familiar with the case said the defendant benefited from his connections.

The experience of the Bengal tiger is instructive, but if Indonesia is to earn its stripes as a country serious about protecting its endangered species, it does not have long to act — and the warning of what will happen if no action is taken is unambiguous.

“If the situation doesn’t improve and effective measures are not taken by the government,” Sunarto said, “it’s possible that these tigers will be extinct within 10 years.”

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Malaysia: Marine Protected Area Proposed Along Lawas Coastline

Bernama 5 Jul 13;

KUCHING, July 5 (Bernama) -- Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd, a state-owned company engaged in forestry and wildlife protection and conservation, is preparing a proposal to gazette the Lawas coastline in the northern tip of the state as a marine protected area.

Its managing director and chief executive officer, Datuk Ali Yusop, said here today that the seagrass beds and mangroves along this coastline were found to be inhabited by endangered marine species.

"The findings from numerous studies in the past few years have confirmed that this ecosystem supports viable population of the endangered dugong, sea turtles, dolphins and sea horses."

Ali said this in his speech before the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), here.

He said the Lawas marine protected area was among the three currently in the proposal stage as they also suggested the creation of similar areas in Similajau and Pulau Bruit in the Bintulu and Mukah Divisions respectively.

Sarawak already has two marine national parks at Pulau Satang-Talang-Talang, near Kuching, and Sibuti, near Miri.

Ali said the MoU which Sarawak Forestry Corporation sealed with UMT today would facilitate the acquiring of scientific information from the Lawas coastal area as well as to get the best method to protect and conserve the ecosystem there.

Speaking to reporters later, he said they were open to more collaborations particularly with Brunei in protecting the Lawas ecosystem, which is located within Sarawak's territory in the Brunei Bay.

Ali said in working towards establishing the marine protection area there, continuous researches were conducted to get as much insight as possible of the area.

Meanwhile, UMT vice-chancellor, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Komoo said the Brunei Bay was an important area for research on endangered marine species due to the existence of the suitable ecosystem.

"It (the bay) also has the potential for eco-tourism and maritime development, which definitely requires proper and environmental-friendly development planning," he added.


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Australia: Study shows seagrass is recovering in Gladstone harbour

Mara Pattison-Sowden Gladstone Observer 6 Jul 13;

DESPITE Gladstone harbour's major dredging project, a study has found that Gladstone's seagrass is thriving, with a better spread than other Queensland ports.

The James Cook University study found seagrass - a vital food source for dugongs - had been increasing in the Western Basin since November 2011.

Gladstone Port Corporation welcomed the study, saying it proved the additional safeguards it put in place for the current dredging project helped to decrease its impact on the marine environment.

JCU Aquatic Ecosystem researcher Dr Michael Rasheed said previous reductions in seagrass across the eastern coast, including in Gladstone, were attributed to regional drivers of change including heavy rainfall, severe flooding events and cyclones.

Gladstone and Townsville were the only locations where coastal seagrass had significantly recovered since then, according to the JCU study.

"The increase in seagrass for Gladstone is welcome news and has occurred despite the Western Basin dredging program being conducted during this period," Dr Rasheed said.

"This good news needs to be taken with some caution, as seagrass, particularly in the inner harbour, remains in a vulnerable state."

GPC CEO Leo Zussino said he was "thrilled" the study had shown minimal impact, despite more than 14 million cubic metres of dredging that took place in the Gladstone Port between November 2011 and November 2012.

"One of the most interesting things about the recovery in Gladstone was that the slowest recovery was in Rodds Bay where there is no (dredging) activity taking place," he said.

"These are obvious issues we need to have further information to understand, but the intense monitoring adds a lot of value to understanding the seagrass, which was the significant requirement we were asked to protect during this massive dredging project."

Mr Zussino said it was important the ports corporation continued to review the Curtis Coast Coastal and Marine Resource report on a five-yearly basis to ensure it was minimising, mitigating and compensating for the impacts that dredging had on the marine environment in Gladstone's harbour.

Part of the study was funded by GPC under requirements to protect and manage seagrasses.

Key findings:

Seagrass significantly increased in five of the 15 monitoring areas from 2011 to 2012.
Dugong and their feeding trails were seen for the first time in the South Trees Region, providing positive signs of recovery.
It may take some time for seagrass areas to reach pre-flood (2009) levels.

Huge seagrass regrowth at Queensland port
Cleo Fraser AAP 5 Jul 13;

SEAGRASS is making an unlikely comeback at a large Queensland port that's been criticised by green groups for damaging the environment.

But the new findings, released by James Cook University's seagrass monitoring program on Friday, paint a grim picture for the flora in other areas of the state.

During 2010 and 2011 huge areas of seagrass were wiped out by heavy rainfall, flooding and cyclones.

"We've had three years in a row of poor conditions," lead researcher Dr Michael Rasheed told AAP.

"The seagrass really hasn't had a chance to bounce back in most areas."

Of the populated areas monitored by researchers, only Gladstone Harbour, Townsville and off-shore areas of Abbott Point near Bowen saw significant regrowth in 2012.

At Gladstone Harbour, where the highest growth was recorded, researchers found meadows had expanded by 700 hectares.

The amount of seagrass in the area is now what it was in 2010.

The findings come as an independent review panel assesses the health of the harbour and the impacts of port developments on the Great Barrier Reef.

The United Nation's environment arm was highly critical of Australia's management of the reef in a report last year and requested a review of the harbour.

Environmentalist Bob Irwin has described the harbour as a war zone.

Dr Rasheed says activities at Gladstone Harbour are likely affecting seagrass, but the port's water quality management scheme is encouraging growth.

Researchers found there has been far less growth in coastal areas at Abbott Point near Bowen, Weipa, Cairns, Innisfail, Karumba and Mackay.

Dr Rasheed says it has been difficult for seagrass to bounce back in these areas as such large chunks were destroyed during storms such as Cyclone Oswald.

Seagrass is an important part of the marine eco-system, is a nursing habitat for many species and is also a food source for turtles and dugongs.

The seagrass monitoring program is partly funded by the Gladstone Ports Corporation.

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