Best of our wild blogs: 7 Oct 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [30 Sep - 6 Oct 2013]
from Green Business Times

A photo guide to the ID of Malaysian & Hodgson's hawk-cuckoos
from Con Foley Photography

Butterflies Galore! : Short Banded Sailor
from Butterflies of Singapore

Old scout reveals scandalous secrets
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Publication update 15: The bear and the pangolin
from Rimba

P27 activity patterns
from sundapangolin

Dreams in the Making
from Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre

from Monday Morgue

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Tap water at Raffles City safe for drinking: PUB

National water agency PUB has said that the tap water at Raffles City is safe for consumption.
Khoo Fang Xuan, Channel NewsAsia, 7 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB has said that the tap water at Raffles City is safe for consumption.

In a statement on Monday, PUB said it took water samples from the distribution pipe, the water mains and the water storage tank of the building on Sunday for tests -- and the lab results have showed that the water is safe for drinking.

This follows reports that in at least five restaurants at Raffles City last Friday, the water was cloudy and had a foul smell.

The water is now clear.

PUB said renovation works at the mall could have caused temporary discolouration of the water. It also noted that the issue was confined to Level 1 and Basement 1 of Raffles City.

PUB said that as an added precaution, the management of the building has carried out thorough flushing of the main distributing water pipe.

PUB will also continue to monitor the water quality.

- CNA/ac

Raffles City tap water safe, says PUB
Grace Chua, Straits Times, 7 Oct 13;

The tap water at Raffles City eateries is safe to drink, said water agency PUB on Monday, after outlets on Sunday noticed their tap water was yellowish and smelled odd.

The shopping mall flushed its water system and installed extra filters on Sunday, and water supply was restored by Sunday evening, its management said.

Eateries on the first and basement levels there had refrained from serving customers tap water as a precaution.

The PUB said water samples from the mall's distribution pipe, water mains and water storage tank were collected on Sunday evening and Monday morning for analysis, and lab tests showed the water was safe.

Raffles City eateries hit by 'weird-tasting' tap water
Grace Chua, Straits Times, 7 Oct 13;

TAP water was off the menu yesterday at Raffles City, with restaurants and food outlets complaining of an odd-smelling liquid that looked yellowish and cloudy.

All the outlets The Straits Times spoke to said they had to serve bottled water to guests.

On the ground floor, restaurants Brotzeit, Marche and Salt Tapas & Bar were all affected.

"We opened for breakfast this morning, and the water was slightly cloudy and it tasted off," said Ms Haida Hanim, a manager at German restaurant Brotzeit.

The afternoon heat had guests asking for iced water, so staff had to apologise and offer to sell them bottled water instead, she added.

"People were asking if the tap water was safe to drink... The taste was weird so we didn't want to take chances."

At Marche, staff were even using bottled water to mix drinks.

Basement outlets, including Mos Burger and Korean restaurant Bibigo, were affected as well.

Customers did not seem put off, however, and late in the afternoon, outlets began to fill up.

Australian tourist Trevor Prebble, 60, nursing a beer at Marche, suggested: "They must've been doing some work with the plumbing and disturbed it somehow."

Mr Jacke Chye, Raffles City Singapore's marketing communications head, said the mall was investigating the cause and "will continue to monitor the situation closely and put steps in place to prevent a recurrence".

He said four restaurant tenants had notified the mall's management yesterday morning that their water supply was yellowish.

"We immediately proceeded to flush their water system and install additional filters, and clear water supply has been restored," he noted.

The water tanks at the mall are cleaned regularly, and the tank in question had been cleaned two weeks ago and its water certified safe by the authorities.

Water authority PUB said it had not been informed of water quality issues, but was working with Raffles City's building management to investigate the issue.

Read more!

EAP: Threatened Marine Ecosystems Get Boost from US$4.5 Million Grant from the Global Environment Facility

World Bank media release, 30 Sep 13;

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a project to support the Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services Project, with US$4.5 million in grant funding provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This regional project will design innovative models for valuing mangrove, sea grass and coral reef ecosystems services to inform policy and decision making for improved environmental stewardship of these critical resources.

The project focuses on Indonesia and the Philippines, where coral reefs and related ecosystem services are critical to livelihoods, food security and climate resilience, and includes activities to: quantify the value and market potential of coral reef and mangrove ecosystem services; forge community-led innovation in capturing and sustaining benefits from marine eco-system services and enhancing resilience in the face of climate change; and promote behavior change through outreach and widely disseminate scientific information to inform policy- and decision-making.

Coastal and marine resources and their associated ecosystem services in the region are linked to globally important marine biodiversity and underpin an enormous part of the regional economy.

“Capturing the economic and cultural values of marine natural capital through the valuation of ecosystem services, and quantifying the cost of lost services due to environmental degradation, has enormous potential. We can transform the development and stewardship of coastal areas by translating ecological value into financial terms for local stakeholders and policy makers,” said Marea Hatziolos, Senior Environmental Specialist and the World Bank’s team leader for the project.

“This wealth of natural capital has the potential to be a major driver of inclusive green growth in the region, if we overcome some huge challenges. We especially need better resource governance regimes, measures to adequately value the environment for current and future generations when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision making and tradeoffs,” she added.

The world’s biodiversity epicenter lies within the Coral Triangle – an area that extends from the northern Philippines to Malaysia in the west, East Timor to the South, Eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the East and trailing off to the Solomon Islands toward the Southeast. Here, coral reefs are most abundant and diverse and support large populations of people who are highly dependent on coral reef fisheries for the livelihoods and food security. In the Western and Central Pacific, healthy coral reefs and mangroves form the first critical line of defense against storm surge and sea-level rise for low lying islands and atolls.

The GEF grant will be administered by the Global Change Institute of the University of Queensland.

The University is contributing US$2 million in additional financing and research partners will provide another $3.9 million in contributions. An additional $21.9 million in parallel co-financing is provided by World Bank-financed projects: the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program-Coral Triangle Initiative (COREMAP-CTI) in Indonesia and the Rural Development Project in the Philippines.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

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Calls to save Mandai site that's rich in biodiversity

Researchers highlight its 'full ecosystem' where mangroves, horseshoe crabs thrive
Grace Chua, Straits Times, 7 Oct 13;

Researchers N. Sivasothi (left) and Dan Friess at the Mandai mangrove site, which has been zoned as a reserve site - which means it could be subject to future development. Some feel the area needs formal management to conserve it. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

THE strip of mangroves and mudflats at the edge of the Sungei Mandai Besar river may not be as well-known here as the ones at Sungei Buloh or Pasir Ris Park. But it is home to the largest horseshoe-crab concentration in the world, and two-thirds of Singapore's mangrove species.

Migratory birds also use it as a feeding ground to supplement the food they find from the shores of Sungei Buloh. As birdwatcher Alan Owyong noted: "Without Mandai, there's no Sungei Buloh."

These were among the findings presented by researchers, students and amateur naturalists at a recent conference, the first to focus on the Mandai mangrove, leading to calls to protect the area.

This habitat contains a full ecosystem in a sliver of land, said National University of Singapore (NUS) biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, one of the conference organisers.

At 15.4ha, it may be larger than mangrove strips in Pasir Ris or Labrador, but much smaller than the 100ha of Sungei Buloh, said Mr Sivasothi, who has been studying the site since 1987 and teaching students there.

The mangroves consist of a strip of coast beyond what used to be the Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway, which was cleared in 2011 after a landmark deal with Malaysia.

The studies presented at the conference in August and held at NUS ranged from how wildlife there live to the way mangroves act as sponges for chemical pollution.

Nature Society outreach officer Kerry Pereira described how mangrove horseshoe crabs breed year-round at the mudflat near Kranji, while a National Parks Board staff member listed the snails, crabs and other creatures found only in Mandai during the five-year, ongoing Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey of marine life here.

Mr Owyong pointed out that whimbrels, plovers and other shorebirds move between Sungei Buloh's mudflats and Mandai's, near Kranji.

The site, however, lacks legal protection. The Government has zoned it as a reserve site, which means it could be subject to future development. But there are those who believe that the area needs formal management to conserve it.

Mandai faces several threats, said NUS geographer Dan Friess, including pollution from upstream and offshore and erosion by currents and ship wakes.

And the damming of Kranji reservoir nearby means less sediment is being deposited at the site.

There are gaps in tree cover there, and spots where mangrove trees have toppled as their roots lack support.

So is it worth protecting?

"In Singapore, we have very few places that are left over from wild forests," Mr Sivasothi said. "In Mandai, we have something unique - this remnant of nature which is a fragment to be enhanced."

See also: Mandai Mangrove & Mudflat Workshop on Storify

All's not lost, mangroves are getting help
Grace Chua, Straits Times, 7 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE'S mangrove area may have dwindled to less than 1 per cent of its total land area due to development and the damming of natural rivers - a practice which lasted till the early 2000s.

But not all of the mangrove patches here have been lost.

Three decades ago, when Pasir Ris Park was reclaimed from a patch of natural swamp, Sungei Api Api had to be deepened and the mangroves on its banks removed. But the authorities later replanted Avicennia mangroves along Sungei Api Api to stabilise the embankment.

And last year, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced it would carry out a two-year biodiversity study of the 6ha Pasir Ris mangroves.

Earlier this year, the Housing Board announced that the Punggol Waterway, where a pilot 160 sq m patch of freshwater-tolerant mangroves was tested, will get 0.6ha more of such plantings.

The HDB's Building Research Institute and Ngee Ann Polytechnic are studying how effective the mangroves and floating wetlands there are at cleaning the water and attracting more wildlife to the waterway.

Even the mangroves along a 3km stretch of coast in Pulau Tekong, which were at risk from erosion, got help. In 2010, NParks embarked on a project to stabilise the coastline by shoring it up with rocks and mud-filled sacks, and putting in mangrove seedlings and bakau wood poles to soften the impact of waves.

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Dengue cases on the rise again

The number of dengue cases reported last week went up compared to the week before. Latest figures from the Health Ministry show that there were 444 cases reported between September 29 and October 5 -- an increase over the week before, when 406 cases were reported.
Channel NewsAsia, 7 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: The number of dengue cases reported last week went up compared to the week before.

Latest figures from the Health Ministry show that there were 444 cases reported between September 29 and October 5 -- an increase over the week before, when 406 cases were reported.

Last week, a 35-year-old woman became the sixth local dengue death case this year.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been close to 17,400 dengue cases reported.

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Find biodegradable alternatives, but we still need disposable bags

Goh Kian Huat, Today Online Voices, 7 Oct 13;

I agree with Ms Caslin Lee’s position that “Free plastic bags from supermarkets do not go to waste” (Oct 5), although these bags are not free but are factored into the total purchase cost as part of customer service.

In Singapore, most households reuse plastic bags to bag refuse, which helps to avoid spillage, odour and pest infestation. The waste, including used plastic bags, is disposed of safely at incineration plants and does not pose an environmental problem.

Thus, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) should enlighten us on the extent of the environmental issues caused by the use of plastic bags here. (“An idea to charge for plastic bags on weekends”; Oct 1)

It was suggested that second-hand reusable bags be placed near cashier counters for shoppers who forget to bring their own bags. I would be uncomfortable to use such bags without knowing how they were used before.

While a carrier bag may look clean, there is always the risk that germs may spread to ready-to-eat food.

I am also disturbed by the SEC’s idea of letting supermarkets profit by charging for plastic bags on weekends. Surely there are better ways to manage plastic bag usage.

For example, retailers and supermarkets should be encouraged to use biodegradable plastic bags and, if possible or suitable, recycled or recyclable paper or cloth bags.

In this way, plastic bags that do not land up in incineration plants are at least decomposable. Such bags are being used in megastores such as Tesco and Aeon in Malaysia.

Plastic bags serve a purpose in daily life. We should not discourage their usage in the name of the environment while causing inconvenience to ourselves.

Free plastic bags from supermarkets do not go to waste
Caslin Lee Hui Ling, Today Online Voices, 5 Oct 13;

I refer to the report “An idea to charge for plastic bags on weekends” (Oct 1).

I would like to share my views on the Singapore Environment Council’s idea of charging for plastic bags provided by supermarkets on weekends.

As someone who is working, I typically plan my grocery shopping at supermarkets on weekends. This is also the time I get my supply of plastic bags, which I reuse daily for disposal of refuse produced from chores like food preparation.

If supermarkets start to charge for the bags, it is likely that people like me may have to resort to buying our own plastic bags to store our rubbish.

To me, this does not promote the National Environment Agency’s message to reduce, reuse and recycle. Using a brand-new plastic bag to contain waste does not make sense to me when I can reuse those from grocery shopping.

In Singapore, plastic bags are a necessity for us to manage our refuse in a hygienic and orderly way. This helps to contribute to the safety and ease of clearing rubbish.

If people started to throw things directly into rubbish chutes in Housing and Development Board blocks due to a lack of plastic bags (as they did not get any from supermarkets or buy their own), would that pose a threat to environmental cleanliness as well as the safety of cleaners?

We should look at the root cause of the issue and continue to educate people about reusing and recycling plastic bags, so as to do our part in contributing to the long-term good of our environment.

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Have recycling bins at every HDB block

V. Subramaniam (Dr), Straits Times Forum, 7 Oct 13;

WHILE condominiums are required to provide recycling bins for its residents ("Condo recycling receptacles a must" by the National Environment Agency; last Wednesday), there seems to be no such requirement for HDB estates.

Currently, recycling bins in HDB estates are confined to one set of bins for several blocks in a cluster.

Consequently, residents living in blocks farther from the bins have to walk some distance to discard recyclables. There is, therefore, no incentive for them to recycle.

Plastic bags for recyclables are also given to residents, but these are collected only fortnightly. Not all residents see the need to cooperate and have their recyclables ready for collection.

Surely the NEA and HDB are aware of the advantages of recycling. Providing bins at every block is the best way to raise awareness among the public of the need to recycle.

Singapore has achieved so much in so short a time, yet we still lag behind other countries in providing recycling bins to the masses.

I hope the NEA and HDB will consider providing more bins in HDB estates.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

Condo recycling receptacles a must
NEA, Straits Times Forum, 2 Oct 13;

WE THANK Mr Jairam Amrith for his letter ("Make condo recycling bins a must"; last Thursday).

Since Nov 1, 2008, all condominiums have been required by the Environmental Public Health Act to provide sufficient recycling receptacles within their premises for residents to deposit household recyclables such as paper, cans, and plastic and glass containers.

The condo management has discretion on the type of receptacles (for example, bags or bins) and their placement locations based on the needs of residents.

Mr Amrith may contact us on 1800-2255-632 or for more information.

Ong Soo San

Director, Waste and Resource Management Department

National Environment Agency

Make condo recycling bins a must
Jairam Amrith, Straits Times Forum, 26 Sep 13;

ALTHOUGH Singapore has a well-deserved reputation of being a clean and green city, its residents are far from proactive when it comes to good ecological behaviour, including the disposal of waste.

The authorities can do more to prod the populace into being more responsible.

Most landed property residences now have two disposal bins, one for normal waste and the other for items that can be recycled.

However, few condominiums provide bins that are clearly marked for different types of waste.

Why not make it mandatory for each block to have at least one or two purpose-built bins, placed in lobbies and other common areas, for the disposal of recyclable items?

Obviously, this must be accompanied by a rigorous awareness programme to ensure that these bins are properly used by residents, and regularly emptied and cleaned by the condominium management.

Without mandated regulations, the management corporations of condominiums are unlikely to take action.

Jairam Amrith

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Malaysia: No dengue epidemic in Johor

Mahaizura Abd Malek, New Straits Times, 7 Oct 13;

PASIR GUDANG: The dengue fever outbreak in Johor is under control even though the number of cases reported have increased by nearly 100 per cent from January to September, compared with the same period last year.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said health inspectors were conducting inspections regularly.

He said the department would only declare that there was an outbreak of dengue fever when there were three reported cases in any one area.

"If there is only one reported case of dengue in an area, then that is not an epidemic," he said.

"A team of health officials will be immediately tasked to monitor and identify Aedes breeding grounds when a case is reported, to prevent the spread of the disease.

"So far, we have identified several dengue hot spots in Kampung Cempaka and Kampung Kurnia in Johor Baru, Taman Kampung Cempaka in Kluang and Bukit Siput in Segamat," he said at the launch of a health campaign in conjunction with World Heart Day 2013.

A total of 1,707 cases of dengue fever was reported in Johor from January to September.

This is an increase of 846 cases or 96 per cent compared with the same period last year.

"Of these, there were seven cases of dengue fever deaths in Johor Baru involving the elderly," said Ayub.

"All the victims who died had chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease and diabetes."

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ASEAN leaders to discuss high-level task force, monitoring haze at summit

A high-level task force to support the ASEAN Secretariat to monitor and implement its community integration programme beyond 2015 is one key issue on the agenda for the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Brunei, beginning Wednesday.
S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia, 7 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: A high-level task force to support the ASEAN Secretariat to monitor and implement its community integration programme beyond 2015 is one key issue on the agenda for the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Brunei, beginning Wednesday.

Another housekeeping issue is monitoring the haze.

When the leaders meet, they will take stock of what has been achieved so far, and direct their officials to press ahead.

Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said: "It doesn't end there, 2015 integration must lead on to something else. Basically, when you talk about integration, you are talking about closer connectivity, closer cultural cooperation, closer economic cooperation, substantial reduction of tariffs, so in that context, what then happens post-2015.

“The leaders will also be looking at after 2015, and will give some directions. We have negotiated a reduction of a substantial number of the tariffs but not all, and there are issues remaining on exactly what sort of services are cross-border which can be done. These are technical issues which the respective experts will discuss with the respective ministries."

ASEAN's leaders are also expected to receive a report on the grouping's haze monitoring system. This issue of the haze has been discussed at two levels - both at the foreign ministers' and the environment ministers' levels.

It is understood that the leaders of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia would be shown a demonstration of the ASEAN haze monitoring system.

Mr Shanmugam said: "The foreign ministers agreed that the leaders of the three countries will meet on the sidelines of the summit to consider this haze issue, and eventually, it will by agreement also be taken up by the summit leaders themselves.

“The issue of concession maps has not been resolved yet. This is a matter within Indonesian sovereignty. We believe it is good for concession maps to be made available, so that there can be monitoring internationally, and that is a matter that we will continue to discuss."

On the South China Sea dispute, Mr Shanmugam said ASEAN has seen good progress, with discussions already on with China on a Code of Conduct (COC).

During his recent visit to Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China seeks a peaceful resolution of the disputes and has called for equal-footed talks to solve the territorial issues.

Mr Shanmugam said: "If we make good progress on the COC, that will help reduce tensions. But as to what might happen, what might not happen, whether there can be some incidents leading to increased tensions, who knows? This is what we hope, and we hope that through the process of the COC, we can achieve a reduction in tension."

Senior officials also said Brunei has done much to restore ASEAN's credibility and unity, which slipped somewhat under Cambodia's term.

Myanmar will take over the ASEAN chair for 2014 when the summit closes on Thursday.

- CNA/xq

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Indonesia: The Coral Triangle - a new geography for a new age

Nazir Foead, Jakarta Post, 7 Oct 2013;

The APEC Summit in Bali has gathered together an impressive selection of world leaders coming together to enhance economic collaboration around sustainable and equitable development.

This is to meet the needs of those increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity and dwindling natural resources. The location for these critical deliberations illustrates the beauty and challenges that surround these intentions, as Bali sits at the base of the Coral Triangle region.

The Coral Triangle spans the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste -- known collectively as the CT6.

Home to 75 percent of all known coral species and more than 3,000 species of reef fish and commercially valuable species such as tuna and sharks, the Coral Triangle is the world's center of marine life. The confluence of the Pacific and Indian oceans and the South China Sea channels an exchange of nutrients that are vital to the Coral Triangle's economic wealth -- its abundant fisheries.

In 2007, the combined value of fisheries and aquaculture in the CT6 was estimated at US$11.7 billion and contributed 1.2 to the 6.8 percent of the six countries' gross domestic product (GDP).

The live reef fish trade alone has an estimated value of more than $1 billion annually. The Coral Triangle also hosts four highly valued tuna species: blue fin, yellow fin, big-eye and skipjack, with waters producing approximately 40 percent of the world's tuna market.

The region's spectacular coral reefs and sandy beaches provide an ideal habitat for sea turtle nesting as well as tourism -- an asset worth over $12 billion annually. Meanwhile, research indicates that the region's marine organisms could provide cures for some serious diseases.

A recent Asia Development Bank (ADB) report estimates that some 4.9 million people work as fishermen across the CT6 countries. Between 2007 and 2009, seafood constituted approximately 20 percent of the animal protein consumed in Coral Triangle countries.

As fish comprise a higher percentage of protein for poorer people and with the population of the Pacific islands expected to increase by 50 percent by 2030, more fish will be needed.

Aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role and now accounts for some 13 percent of food fish production in the Coral Triangle. In Indonesia, production from aquaculture has increased 14-fold in just seven years. Aquaculture is also creating jobs across the region, and in Malaysia, women make up approximately 10 percent of the aquaculture workforce.

Unfortunately, the Coral Triangle's coastal ecosystems are among the most threatened in the world. Overfishing, destructive fishing, pollution and impacts from ill-planned development, unsustainable tourism and climate change are taking a heavy toll.

Currently, only 2 to 5 percent of Coral Triangle waters are protected and even where marine protected areas exist, rules are often not enforced. Left unchecked, reefs will become rubble that will no longer sustain fish or coastal communities, attract tourists, or protect coastlines and coastal infrastructure. Cures for diseases may be destroyed before they are even discovered.

Addressing these threats across such a large area requires a high level of leadership with new approaches for sustainability, equitable economic development, job and food security.

In 2007, CT6 leaders boldly began creating a common platform for the sustainable management of marine resources, and in 2009, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) was launched.

The CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action together with the National Plans of Action provide an effective platform for regional collaboration and national delivery of marine commitments made through various multilateral agreements including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

The "Blue Economy" recognizes the ocean-related links between the private sector and sustainability. Responsible public private partnerships are needed in the seafood sector to redirect investments toward sustainability.

Through the CTI-CFF, governments have developed commonalities to derive more sustainable fisheries both for their populations and for exports. Recognizing that government policy changes alone are not enough to sustain fisheries and associated livelihoods, the CTI-CFF began organizing an annual Coral Triangle Regional Business Forum.

Over the last three years, these events have helped pave the way for multi-sector partnerships that cultivate sustainable growth across the region. Fishing companies, seafood retailers, financial institutions and tourism operators have publicly announced concrete steps to reduce their impact on the marine environment by adopting responsible business practices at this forum.

Climate change -- rising sea levels, increased sea temperatures, acidification and storm frequency -- is the greatest threat facing Coral Triangle countries.

To help communities across the region prepare and adapt to climate change, CTI-CFF experts have developed the Regional Early Action Plan (REAP) and the Local Early Action Plan (LEAP), two resources that set forth urgent and immediate actions that need to be taken across the Coral Triangle to address climate change impacts.

Addressing issues of poverty, biodiversity and climate change requires the adoption of innovative approaches based on ecosystem goods and services, an understanding of the links between poverty, environmental degradation, economic incentives and conservation behavior and conditions that will improve collaboration for resource management.

While incentives such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification may resonate in US and European markets, they are not as successful in the Coral Triangle where the majority of production is destined for domestic markets and consumer choice is largely influenced by price and availability.

There are currently too few incentives for industries and communities to sustainably source seafood. The CT6 are adopting policies and working with industry to develop and instill tools and practices that will ensure sustainability and ideally, eventually leading to certification.

In the tourist sector, certification programs are becoming valuable business assets, rewarding operations exhibiting better practices, differentiating them from those that are less environmentally sound, and providing consumers with a means to identify businesses they wish to support. A program in Bali is working to reduce energy use in large hotels with simple and affordable technology.

There are already a wealth of technical solutions and knowledge across the Coral Triangle that address unsustainable use and move toward a "green/blue economy" that will allow us to live within the limits of our planet.

We need strong leadership, initiative and vision to secure a sustainable future for future generations. The CTI-CFF provides a significant platform for getting us there. Ratification of the CTI-CFF by its member governments is key to illustrating to the people of the CT region and international community that these countries are serious about ensuring economic development stays within the limits of what already degraded oceans can provide, and that that they are also serious about restoring and protecting the health of our ocean ecosystems.

APEC leaders are expected to take a long-term view of international collaboration for economic development.

The writer is conservation director of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia.

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Indonesia: North Kalimantan Villagers Forced Out By China Hydroplant

Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Jakarta Globe, 7 Oct 13;

Bulungan. North Kalimantan’s Bulungan district plans to relocate two villages to make room for a $17 billion hydropower project with a capacity to generate up to seven gigawatts of electricity.

The two villages, Long Peleban and Long Leju, are home to approximately 700 residents who will be displaced.

But so far no alternative arrangements have been offered to the villagers, and the construction plans are fast approaching.

The project, which is a joint investment by two Chinese companies, China Power Investment Corporation and Anhui Conch Cement, will be the archipelago’s largest-ever power plant, the government has announced recently.

Bulungan district chief Budiman Arifin said the Peso subdistrict project would begin early next year after the environmental impact analysis, known as Amdal, was conducted and approved by the government.

“Residents are aware of our plans. However, we are still trying to find a location for the families,” Budiman said.

He added that local residents should support the project as it would create jobs and provide better electricity.

“The electricity produced from the plant will be enough for several subdistricts and even other provinces,” he said.

However East Kalimantan’s Environmental Forum (Walhi) criticized the project for its expected environmental impact and displacement .

“They need to rethink the project. Over the past two decades, big projects like this have always destroyed the surrounding environment,” a Walhi spokesperson said.

In May, China Power and Anhui announced more than $17 billion of investments in the hydropower plan project, quickly drawing praise proving the attractiveness and allure of the Southeast Asian nation to foreign investors, and an investment that will help the country’s power scarcity.

China Power, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, has been granted permission by the Indonesian government to build the plant, the government announced after a meeting between Xia Zhong, a vice president of China Power and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik.

The project will be dependent on the Tayan River in the newly created North Kalimantan province, with the construction, divided into five phases, is projected to take seven years to be completed.

China Power has concluded the preliminary study of the project and will proceed with its feasibility and environmental assessment impact study, Jero said.

“We expect to see the ground breaking next year,” the minister added.

“Construction for the first phase will be completed in about a year and a half. By 2015, the power plant will generate 700 megawatts of electricity,” Jero said.

The minister said the government would not provide additional incentives.

The government has set the price level for renewable energy, such as hydropower, considerably higher to entice more investors. In comparison, the price for coal-fired power plants is around 4 to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“They did not request incentives. They think the 24 cents per kilowatt-hour power purchase price for hydropower plant is good.”

In Indonesia, independent power producers must sell their electricity to state utility firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), based on the government’s approved pricing schedule.

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Indonesia: Megawati asks Jokowi to regreen city

Jakarta Post, 7 Oct 13;

Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri asked Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to create a green city, like founding president Sukarno once dreamed of.

During a field trip to the Pluit Dam in Muara Baru, North Jakarta, on Saturday, Megawati told Jokowi how her father envisioned the city.

"At that time, most Jakartans were facing economic hardships, but they were able to take care of the trees and plants," she said while passing Bung Karno Stadium (GBK) in Central Jakarta.

Megawati suggested Jokowi planted trees, which could provide habitat for wild birds. "Besides functioning as water catchment area, Banyan tree provide fruits for birds. It's leaves can also absorb carbon dioxide [CO2]," she said.

Megawati also called on Jakartans to plant trees in the yards of their homes and to cease from recklessly leaving trash in their local environments in support for Jokowi's regreening program.

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Indonesia: Jakarta Plans 4,000 New Buses to Anticipate Flood of Cheap Cars

Lenny Tristia Tambun, Jakarta Globe, 7 Oct 13;

In anticipation of the wave of new vehicles that are expected to hit the capital following the government’s low-cost green car (LCGC) policy, the Jakarta administration is aiming to beef up its public transportation fleet with 4,000 additional buses, a city official said on Monday.

Udar Pristono, head of the Jakarta city transportation agency, said that his office will adopt two strategies to prepare for the possible flood of new vehicles.

“We have to do two things to face the LCGC policy… the plan is to strengthen public transportation and enforce the law by weeding out unworthy public [transport] vehicles,” he said.

Udar said that the city will aim to include the 4,000 buses on the 2014 city budget.

“The government will expand the TransJakarta fleet by 1,000 buses and boost the number of mid-size buses by 3,000 units,” he said. The 3,000 midsize buses would strengthen the MetroMini and Kopaja fleets.

He said that it was hoped that the purchase of the 4,000 new buses would not have to go through a tender process but instead through an e-catalog, which is being prepared by the Policy Institute for the Provision of Goods and Services (LKPP). Whereas tender processes are subject to negotiation and can take some time, the LKPP would set the prices for the buses transparently and make sure that the buses would be purchased in roughly three months.

“It [the e-catalog] is being processed by the LKPP. We will not go through a tender but will buy [the buses] based on a price list. It will go much faster with this system…” Udar said.

Udar aired hopes that the e-catalog would be able to be completed before the new budget year.

City authorities, he added, will also take pains to limit the use of private vehicles and crack down on illegal parking, but he added that more preparation was needed to implement such measures.

Since June 25, the city has ordered 315 buses off the road and fined 3,464 others.

“We are not trying to kill public transportation. We are guiding MetroMinis and Kopajas, as well as other public transportation vehicles, and pushing the owners to repair or improve their vehicles,” he said.

There are already some 2.5 million cars in the capital, with some 1.1 million vehicles sold last year. This year’s numbers are expected to remain flat.

The Industry Ministry said that under the LCGC policy, some 30,000 low-emission cars would roll off the assembly lines this year, accounting for some 3 percent of all vehicles sold in the country. The government plans to increase production by 10 percent next year.

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Thailand: Sea turtles beach in Phuket with propeller, fishnet injuries

Kritsada Mueanhawong, Phuket Gazette, 7 Oct 13;

PHUKET: Two injured Olive Ridley sea turtles washed up on Phuket’s west coast yesterday.

One of the two turtles, a male between 15 and 20 years old, was found on Patong Beach with leg and head injuries inflicted by a boat propeller.

The other turtle, a female between five and 20 years old, was found earlier that day at Nai Harn Beach.

“The turtle found at Nai Harn Beach had several cuts on her fins from a net,” said Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, head of the Marine Endangered Species Unit at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC).

Both turtles were transferred to the PMBC to be treated and are being kept under observation.

The discovery of the injured turtles yesterday follows an injured Olive Ridley sea turtle being rescued at Koh Racha Yai late last week.

The creature – rated as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of nature – was rescued by the staff of Phuket’s Scuba Cat Diving company while they were on a diving trip last Thursday and saw the turtle struggling in the water off Koh Racha Yai.

PMBC veterinarian Patcharaporn Kaewmong said the turtle was suffering from an internal infection and was still in critical condition.

“The turtle is about five to 10 years old. We still cannot determine its sex. On its front flippers it has old scars from fishing nets. Its shell was fractured and the animal was malnourished and in weak condition,” Dr Patcharaporn explained.

“We gave it an injection of antibiotics and vitamins. It is slightly better now, but it is still having difficulty swimming,” she added.

Additional reporting by Orawin Narabal

Experts believe the injuries were caused by a boat propeller. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

Experts believe the injuries were caused by a boat propeller. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

Experts believe the injuries were caused by a boat propeller. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

A rescue worker joins local residents in recovering the injured turtle at Patong Beach. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

A rescue worker joins local residents in recovering the injured turtle at Patong Beach. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket: Two injured turtles rescued, dolphin dies
Phuket News, 7 Oct 13;

PHUKET: The Phuket Marine Biological Center had a busy weekend, after staff rescued two injured turtles and discovered a dead dolphin in different parts of the island.

An injured male Olive Ridley sea turtle, aged between 15 and 20 years old, was washed up on Patong Beach on Saturday (October 5) around 10pm, after its front left flipper was cut off by a boat propeller.

The following day on Sunday (October 6), another injured turtle was found washed up on Nai Harn beach, with both her front flippers cut off after being tangled in a seine fishing net.

Both were taken to the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC)

Chief of the Marine Endangered Species Unit at the PMBC, Dr Kongkiat Kittiwatthanawong, told The Phuket News the turtle found at Nai Harn was washed ashore in strong waves.

“She washed up on the shore because her two front flippers were cut off, and she could not swim well.

“Both turtles are not out of danger yet, and we have to take special care of them.”

Then this morning at around 10am, staff were called to the Sirinart Marine National Park, on the island’s northwest coast, following a report of a dead dolphin.

The striped male dolphin was aged around 20 years old. The dolphin’s body was taken to the PMBC, where staff will perform an autopsy to find out the cause of death.

Injured turtle washes up on Phuket beach
Phuket News, 7 Oct 13;

PHUKET: An injured Olive Ridley sea turtle was washed up on Patong Beach on Saturday (October 5) around 10pm, with cuts to its flipper.

The turtle, weighing around 30kg, was believed to have been injured after being hit by a boat propeller off Patong Beach.

Tossapol Keunha, 28, contacted Kathu Police after he saw the turtle washed up on the shore in front of the Baan Thai hotel.

The turtle was taken to the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

The Olive Ridley turtle is endangered, and nests in several locations around Thailand.

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Thailand: A lesson in sustainability

Piyaporn Wongruang, Bangkok Post, 6 Oct 13;

The long-term Chiew Larn reservoir study can serve as a template for other threatened forest ecosystems in the Kingdom, said Petch Manopawitr, conservation programme manager at WWF Thailand.

Mr Petch, whose office has been conducting a study on the redistribution of tigers in protected areas adjacent to the World Heritage Site of the Thungyai Naresuan and Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries, said forest fragmentation caused by development projects - including the building of dams - has been studied by ecologists worldwide.

But because the study at Chiew Larn has been published in Science it has garnered much-needed publicity.

The study has been designed to cover a long enough time period to demonstrate changes in the ecosystem both systematically and scientifically.

Led by Luke Gibson of the National University of Singapore, a group of scientists paid several visits to the fragmented forest islands of Chiew Larn shortly after the dam was built more than 20 years ago. On each visit, they collected data on species' survival in the area. The scientists found that none of the native species left on the islands - which in total cover almost 100 hectares - were sustainable. Worse, an invasive species - the Malayan field rat - became prevalent.

The study shows a correlation between forest fragmentation and species extinction, but what surprised Mr Petch most was the alarming rate at which species became extinct.

Because the study has been conducted here, much weight has been given to the implications for other forested areas in the country, said Mr Petch.

"Locally, we don't have much research on the long-term impact of forest fragmentation caused by development projects, but this study has proved to us all that ecological devastation can happen when a forest is fragmented," said Mr Petch.

"The implications of this study are very clear. If we want to preserve a good ecosystem, we need to protect large or connected forest areas."

Mr Petch added such results could easily occur elsewhere. At Mae Wong National Park, where the Mae Wong dam is planned, Mr Petch hypothesised that the consequences would be similar to those at Chiew Larn. Both are mountainous and prone to forest fragmentation by building dams, he said.

The study has also confirmed that the disappearance of native species means that for ecologists such as Mr Petch, efforts to rescue and rehabilitate such species after the dam is built would be futile.

Prevention, which allows for rehabilitation - not mitigation - is the best measure to preserve the ecosystem, he concluded.

Mr Petch urged the government to take heed of the study's findings. He said the government's claim that only 1% of the forest in Mae Wong would be damaged by the building of the dam is unacceptable.

The dam will eventually affect its ability to sustain species, he said.

He added that the government should scrap all development projects in pristine forests. Thailand, he said, has been heavily devastated by deforestation and the country cannot afford to lose more.

Mr Petch said these areas should be connected by eco-corridors, but the implementation and development of these must allow for the survival of wild species.

"Future conservation work is really about how we can preserve the protected areas," said Mr Petch.

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Thailand: Police want old cars off Bangkok roads

Bangkok Post, 7 Oct 13;

The deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police revealed Monday that he is planning to ask the government to limit the age of vehicles permitted to drive on Bangkok's streets as part of efforts to solve traffic problems in the capital.

Pol Maj Gen Adul Narongsak said, for example, that cars between seven and 10 years old and above could be banned from travelling in Bangkok, while owners would have to pay higher taxes on older cars.

Pol Maj Gen Adul said the idea was adopted from the Japanese government but did not elaborate on further details of the scheme.

He said he would also propose 16 urgent projects to tackle traffic jams in the city.

One of them would involve increasing penalties for motorists who park illegally. At the moment, illegally parked vehicles are clamped and drivers given a 500 baht fine.

Under Pol Maj Gen Adul's plan, vehicles would be towed to police stations and offenders would have to pay an additional 500 baht fine for reclaiming their vehicle, on top of the regular 500 baht fine. Police would also charge motorists 200 baht a day for maintenance if they failed to take the vehicles home.

The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday meanwhile suggested various ways of improving Bangkok's traffic, including heavy fines for motorists that leave broken-down cars on the streets.

Ombudsman Sriracha Charoenpanich said car owners could be fined 100 baht for each minute it takes them to move broken-down vehicles off the road.

Pol Maj Gen Adul said the ombudsman's proposal could be developed for future use, but there is currently too little support to implement such a penalty for motorists.

Fine plan 'would ease' Bangkok traffic
Bangkok Post, 7 Oct 13;

The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday suggested various ways of revamping Bangkok’s traffic system, including heavy fines for causing road accidents and leaving broken-down cars on the streets.

Ombudsman Sriracha Charoenpanich said motorists could be fined 100 baht for each minute it takes them to move broken-down vehicles off the road.

The punishment would improve traffic and also prompt drivers to regularly perform maintenance on their cars, he said.

Tree branches that block street signs should also be cut down, while more roads should be made one-way, and expressways and highways should carry more speed limit signs, he said.

The Ombudsman also addressed the issue of parked vehicles on busy roads.

He recommended that prospective car owners be required to show evidence that they have somewhere to park their new car before being allowed to purchase a vehicle, to prevent them parkiing on the roadside.

The agency is also urging the Departments of Public Works and Town and Country Planning to improve the Building Control Act, he said, suggesting the department should check the sufficiency of proposed parking areas before buildings are permitted to be constructed.

He added that public trains, buses, and boat services need to be better connected, to increase their popularity among commuters.

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Vietnam fails to stop slaughter of bears

Bangkok Post, 7 Oct 13;

Vietnam authorities have been powerless to stop bear farmers from slaughtering the animals illegally to sell for meat amid plunging prices for their bile, officials acknowledged on Monday.

Since 2005, when selling bile was made illegal, farmers have to care for the remaining captive bears until they die naturally, or hand them over to the forestry department for release, without compensation.

But officials say they are not able to enforce the law and prevent the illicit slaughter.

"We know about this situation but it is the responsibility of the local authority, not us," said Do Quang Tung, director of the government agency managing Vietnam's implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

After the ban, lax supervision allowed an illegal trade in bile to continue and support the farms.

But the price of bile has dropped from 16 United States dollars per millilitre to less than one dollar, prompting many to kill off their bears to save the 120 dollars a month it costs to keep them, according to one farmer.

The paws are then sold for traditional medicine, and the meat to wildlife restaurants.

Tung said his office cannot ensure that every bear death is logged as natural and the body officially incinerated.

"We have only a few staff, so we can not go to check and monitor the process of destroying a bear when it dies. We have to depend on local forestry protection forces."

But the Forest Protection Department, which is meant to coordinate the disposal of dead bears, also cannot do much, according to one senior official who asked not to be named.

"The price of bile has fallen so much. The longer they keep the bears, the more losses they suffer," he said. "Farmers are not stupid to hand over their bears to us [without] compensation."

On occasion a blind eye is turned to the slaughter, he said.

"To be honest, sometimes we know, but we have to ignore it because the government’s final purpose is to eliminate bear farms."

Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director of conservation group Animals Asia, said that knowingly allowing any bear parts onto the market encourages demand.

"It’s almost like the tigers, if you allow people to farm tiger parts, you are fuelling the market. You create a bad precedent," he said.

The government should commit the necessary resources to enforce the law, Bendixsen said.

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Japan dolphin-killing town to open marine park

AFP, 7 Oct 13;

Tokyo — The Japanese town made infamous by the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" will open a marine park where visitors can swim with dolphins, but officials said Monday its annual slaughter of the creatures will continue in a nearby bay.

And unrepentant organisers say they want tourists to be able to eat dolphin and whale meat as they watch the captive animals frolic.

The town of Taiji has begun researching a plan to section off part of a cove and turn it into a place where people can swim in the water and kayak alongside small whales and dolphins, Masaki Wada told AFP.

But, the local government official insisted, far from having caved in to pressure from conservationists who want an end to a yearly hunt that turns waters red with blood, the project was aimed at helping to sustain the practice.

"We already use dolphins and small whales as a source of tourism in the cove where dolphin-hunting takes place," he said.

"In summer swimmers can enjoy watching the mammals that are released from a partitioned-off space.

"But we plan to do it on a larger scale. This is part of Taiji's long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat," he said.

The park will be separate from Hatakejiri Bay, the place into which the fishermen of Taiji corral dolphins, select a few dozen for sale to aquariums and marine parks, and stab the rest to death for meat.

The plan calls for the creation of a whale safari park stretching roughly 28 hectares (69 acres) by putting up a net at the entrance to Moriura Bay in northwestern Taiji, the official said.

The 2009 film "The Cove" brought Taiji to worldwide attention, winning an Oscar the following year, after graphically showing the killing of dozens of trapped animals, including by using underwater cameras. Activists continue to visit the town to protest the hunt.

Taiji, in western Wakayama prefecture, is looking to open part of the park within five years, Wada said.

Black whales and bottlenose dolphins caught in waters near the town would be released into the area, which would be developed as a nature park that also includes beaches and mudflats, he said.

Wakayama prefecture said the town caught 1,277 dolphins in 2012 and has licence to capture 2,026 this season, which began in September and runs until August next year.

Tokyo-based conservationist group Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network (IKAN) said the plan was "unfortunate" for the town.

"The whole plan is based on the concept that they can exploit dolphins and whales freely as their resource, but the mammals don't belong to Taiji," said Nanami Kurasawa, the IKAN secretary general.

"Marine mammals migrate across oceans, and international public opinion is that wildlife should be allowed to live as they are. The plan will only ignite more protests over dolphin-hunting," she said.

People in Taiji argue that dolphin-hunting is part of a 400-year-old whaling and culinary tradition. They charge that campaigns against it are cultural imperialism that neglects the parallels between killing dolphins and killing cattle.

But Kurasawa said demand for dolphin meat is dwindling and only 100 people of the 3,400 population are engaged in dolphin hunting-related businesses.

"If they want to get more tourists, they can for example exhibit the beautiful whale-hunting ships used in ancient days, that would show their tradition without stirring more controversy," she said.

Japan regularly draws international ire for its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic, with Australia bringing the issue to the International Court of Justice this year.

Tokyo defends the practice as internationally legal "scientific research", a byproduct of which is the meat that ends up on dinner tables back home. However, critics say the research is a pretext for a hunt that is underwritten by taxpayers' money.

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Hong Kong: Urban oasis

South China Morning Post, 7 Oct 13;

Hong Kong's open spaces and natural habitat provide a vital escape from the stresses of city life and are host to a wide variety of wildlife. As the possibility has been raised of enroaching on country parks to build flats, the Post points to potential sites that could be used

(Click to enlarge)

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Hong Kong: Parks not just for nature-loving bullies

Balakrishnan Narayanan, South China Morning Post, 7 Oct 13;

While following the debate about whether Hong Kong should build homes in country parks, I am reminded of one of the most touching films I have ever seen, The Tree of the Wooden Clogs, by Italian director Ermanno Olmi, which tells the story of a peasant family in 19th-century Lombardy.

The peasants lead a precarious existence on the fringe of a huge country estate and, one severe winter, the father dares to cut down a tree to make clogs for his barefoot son. For this crime, the family is thrown out of the estate while the lord of the manor continues to enjoy all his trappings.

Hong Kong owes its country park policy to rule by the British, whose "feudal lords" at home made sure large sections of land were cordoned off for their hunting activities. In fact, many were originally known as "deer parks" and were surrounded by hedges to keep the deer in and people out. England remains an overcrowded island where the aristocracy still makes a living as renters of real estate. Walking and picnicking in the park make sense in temperate climates but I am not sure about parks in hot, humid climates.

Not all British policies are bad but Hong Kong has to follow its own priorities. The worship of nature has become the new superstition among the chattering classes of the world, who use their "natural, organic" beliefs as a tool for distinguishing themselves from the "great unwashed". I dare say that Hong Kong's country parks are used mostly by the well-heeled, while the poor people of Sham Shui Po drown their sorrows in the mahjong parlours or the "new country parks" - shopping malls.

If some of the space in the country parks were used for housing, poor people would be vastly better off and Hong Kong need not become any uglier, provided planning is carried out well and the homes are designed to please. Sticking a tree in a podium of glass and chrome does not make it "sustainable" or beautiful. Those who have seen the beauty of St Mark's Square in Venice know that you can build beautiful public squares without a blade of grass.

Nature worship is not morally superior per se. It was practised by German Romantics and a section of Japanese Shinto people, who in turn passed it on to the fascists of Japan and Germany. Hitler liked to holiday amid "nature" in his Eagle's Nest and was a vegetarian. It did not prevent him from sending people to death camps.

Hong Kong's policymakers should take a clear look at how they are going to use the limited land supply for the benefit of the poor, instead of being bullied into a position that if they do not reserve a large section of country parks and golf clubs for the pleasure of the elite, then somehow they are committing an environmental crime.

Balakrishnan Narayanan is a company director who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years

See also: Plenty of land outside country parks could be used for development

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