Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jul 13

Sea fan garden with signs of dugong
from wild shores of singapore

Chek Jawa coral rubble survey after 4 years
from wonderful creation

Life History of the Malay Lacewing v2.0
from Butterflies of Singapore

Little Heron Nest
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Read more!

Storm-vulnerable Albizia trees to get the chop

Walter Sim Straits Times 27 Jul 13;

THE Albizia, bad boy of trees and scourge of local roads, is getting the axe.

Vulnerable to storms and more prone to falling due to its brittle wood structure and shallow root system, it is being targeted by the authorities in the interest of public safety. The tree is also susceptible to pests and root rot.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Housing Board have been working with the National Parks Board (NParks) to cull the tree and replace it with other species like the sea gutta, tembusu and jelutong, which are more weather-resilient and less likely to break. SLA has already culled some 3,000 storm-vulnerable trees, including the Albizia.

"Priority was given to areas assessed to be more critical," an SLA spokesman said in response to queries from The Straits Times. He added that this was especially so near roads and public places.

"Pruning will not be effective in preventing Albizia trees from falling, especially during adverse weather conditions. Removing them remains the best solution."

On Sunday, an Albizia tree growing on state land toppled onto a Bukit Timah property belonging to 94-year-old Pamela Hickley, the former private secretary to Singapore's last British governor. The tree, which fell despite a lack of wind, flattened a portion of a fence and garden.

The SLA said it receives about 70 reports of trees falling a year, mainly on forested state land. But it could not give the total number of Albizia trees on the 14,000ha of state land it oversees. This is because the species spreads naturally and tracking is "not practicable".

If left unchecked, the Albizia, one of the fastest growing species of trees in the world, can reach more than 40m - about 11 storeys. It was first introduced to Singapore in the 1870s.

NParks, which is also replacing older trees in parks and along roads which are at risk of falling, has advised agencies to "take a more vigilant and proactive approach to replace storm-vulnerable species, in particular, self- sown Albizia trees".

Over the past 10 years, four people have died and 62 injured by falling trees and branches. There were 122 cases of trees being uprooted from January to April this year.

HDB did not provide figures of the number of trees it has cut down in its public estates, but said that its officers regularly conduct inspections to identify those which may pose a danger.

It also explains the danger to residents who may prefer to see the trees stay. In January, a 30m Albizia in a forested area bound by Elias Road and Pasir Ris Drive 3 was cut despite protests from residents, who said that it was home to 900 parakeets.

Read more!

First trilateral meeting on transboundary haze in Jakarta

Teo Chia Leen Channel NewsAsia 27 Jul 13;

JAKARTA: The first trilateral meeting on transboundary haze among senior officials of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore has taken place in Jakarta.

Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry said its Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong led an inter-agency delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency and Attorney General's Chambers to the meeting.

During the meeting, Mr Chee noted that the meeting was a follow-up to the agreement by the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on the sidelines of the 46th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Brunei last month.

The meeting was what Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam had earlier referred to as the Trilateral Cooperative Process. This process is not meant to duplicate existing platforms for environmental cooperation such as the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

It will act as an additional channel for the three countries to complement and enhance their collaboration and work.

At the meeting, the officials received an update on Indonesia's efforts to address the fires that caused the haze, and considered future areas for cooperation.

Singapore and Malaysia acknowledged Indonesia's ongoing efforts to combat the haze, including the mobilisation of national resources to tackle the issue.

The senior officials agreed to provide an update on their discussions to their foreign ministers on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Hua Hin from 13-14 August 2013, before the ministers report to the countries' leaders at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in October 2013.

- CNA/al

Read more!

Indonesia: Another Elephant Found Dead in Aceh

Nurdin Hasan Jakarta Globe 26 Jul 13;

Banda Aceh. Another elephant has been found dead in Aceh, the second this month, with reports from local people indicating that the elephant’s tusks have been removed.

“Conflicts between elephants and humans often happen in Blang Tualang and the neighboring village of Pante Labu,” Rabono Wiranata, the head of non-governmental organization Fakta said on Friday. “Some villagers or hunters may have placed poison on the track often used by elephants.”

The adult male elephant was found on Thursday inside an oil palm plantation run by state-owned PTPN I in Blang Tualang village, East Aceh.

Rabono said the elephant was understood to have died four days ago.

He added that local residents had repeatedly complained about a pack of elephants “trespassing” on their plantations and destroying plants, but there had been no serious response from the local authorities.

The head of Aceh’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Amon Zamora, said he received a report of the death on Thursday night. A team was dispatched to the area on Friday morning.

“But [the team] haven’t returned, so I don’t know yet as to what caused the elephant’s death,” Amon told the Jakarta Globe. “I’ve told the team to report the case to police if the tusks were gone. If they were gone, we would strongly suspect that it’s been murdered.”

The finding came just two weeks after a 30-year-old male elephant was found dead in Ranto Sabon village in the Aceh Jaya district, Its tusks had been severed.

Aceh Jaya Forest Ranger commander Armidi said the elephant died after it was caught in a sharp metal trap placed on a big tree log.

Police and BKSDA Aceh have not been able to find the perpetrators.

The latest finding brought the number of elephant deaths in Aceh to four over the past three months.

On May 9, a 10-year-old male elephant was found dead due to electrocution in Bangkeh village in the Pidie district.

On June 23, a two-year-old elephant died after having been looked after for two months by residents of Blang Pante village in the North Aceh district. The villagers took care of the elephant cub after it was left behind by its pack in a local plantation.

Demand for ivory has soared in recent years, primarily due to increased demand from China, where it is highly valued for its use in crafting ornaments. Elephant tusks sell for several hundred dollars per kilogram.

Read more!