Best of our wild blogs: 3 Aug 13

Purple Heron’ Catch
from Bird Ecology Study Group

A Lacy Affair – Woody Woodpecker #3
from My Itchy Fingers

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SLA on the right track in protecting Rail Corridor

Nick McHugh Today Online 2 Aug 13;

I wrote regarding the condition of the old Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway track, in “Take action before we lose our Rail Corridor” (July 9).

I am pleased to say that the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) must have taken immediate action, as the track was noticeably clear the next weekend.

In the weeks following, the felled trees have been moved to the side, a portable site office that was in the middle of the track has been shifted, grass has been cut and even some gravel has been laid in areas that were damaged by heavy vehicles.

The track is now in great shape, and I have passed hundreds of people walking and cycling on the southern half. I cannot speak for the northern end, but I am impressed with the speed at which the SLA dealt with the minor issues.

I was the first to complain, so I will be the first to thank the SLA.

I hope it will continue to protect the Rail Corridor.

The track need not be perfect. I think that many people enjoy it because it is not groomed; it feels as if one is no longer in the city.

My point in my first letter was less about the condition of the track, more about blockages. It only has to be usable.

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Malaysia: NGOs form coalition for bigger say in palm oil debate

The Star 2 Aug 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Several non-governmental organisations have grouped together to form the Malaysian Palm Oil NGO coalition (MPONGOC) to engage more effectively with the major players in the palm oil industry.

MPONGOC – made up of WWF Malaysia, Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), and Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) among others – aims to influence land use policy and decision-making.

It said it would also be working towards advocating consumer responsibility.

“We intend to engage with all parties, bring our collective voice, leadership, skills and experience to the table to deepen and expand dialogue between civil society, industry and government in the vital conversation of sustainability for all,” said Cynthia Ong, executive director of Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), one of the NGO members.

WWF-Malaysia’s executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said that while it recognised that the oil palm industry generates valuable foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities, it was concerned at the prospect of the industry continuing to expand and operate in an unsustainable manner.

“We hope that through MPONGOC, the industry, regulators, financiers, buyers and other stakeholders could work collectively to develop and promote the adoption of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable practices,” he said.

Anne Lasimbang, executive director of Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust, another NGO member, said indigenous people were often at the losing end in oil palm development.

“Many have lost native customary rights land to large estates. This is a serious issue, and one that is largely swept under the carpet. We see MPONGOC as being able to offer solutions by involving all stakeholders,” she said.

The coalition is made up of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS), Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Sabah branch, Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust and WWF Malaysia.

The Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) is acting as an observer.

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