Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jan 14

The value of Singapore's only marine station
from wild shores of singapore

How do Marine Flatworms swim?
from Pulau Hantu

Save MacRitchie Forest: 20. “Love MacRitchie Forest” song debut and radio interview from Bird Ecology Study Group

Black-shouldered Kite caught a Garden Supple Skink
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Striped Keelback
from Monday Morgue

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South West District launches S$100,000 fund for environmental campaigns

Sara Grosse Channel NewsAsia 19 Jan 14

SINGAPORE: Youths in the South West District can now get funding for their efforts to tackle environmental issues affecting their community.

The S$100,000 "South West Youth ECo Challenge Fund" will see people between 17 and 35 years old develop environmental campaigns.

These include projects aimed at encouraging recycling and reducing littering.

Environment agencies such as NEA and NParks will identify the environmental issues for the youths to champion.

The fund was launched Sunday morning at South West District's annual environmental event "ECo Day Out", where residents can receive groceries such as rice and packet noodles for their recycling efforts.

This year, the district saw a 6 per cent increase in recyclables collected, as compared to the previous year.

Under the ECo Challenge Fund, youths will be mentored by environmental experts over a period of six months to one year and be given a grant of up to S$10,000 per project.

Dr Amy Khor, mayor of South West District, said: "I think the youth have lots of energy, they are very passionate about environmental issues, and we thought that this fund would be useful in providing them with the resources to initiate useful, impactful and creative projects in the community."

Corporate and community organisations that have contributed and promoted environmental sustainability in the district were also recognised for their efforts and dedication by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

This year, winners of the South West ECo Awards were Dairy Farm Singapore in the corporate category and ITE College West in the community category.

- CNA/xq

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Indonesians Left to Count the Cost of Widespread Flooding in Jakarta

Markus Junianto Sihaloho Jakarta Globe 20 Jan 14;

The climate agency has rejected statements by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo saying that the flooding in Jakarta had been caused by natural factors such as high volumes of rainfall.

“Rainfall in the capital in 2014 has been lower compared to 2013 when a bigger flood happened,” said Achmad Zukri, head of extreme early warning division at the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

He added that this year’s rain had mostly inundated the areas of West Jakarta, East Jakarta and South Jakarta.

“Rains that have been falling since the beginning of this year are not as heavy as in 2013,” Achmad said. “Rainfall has been patchy since New Year’s Eve, unlike last year, when the heavy rain fell non-stop for several consecutive days.”

Among areas that have seen a drop in rain levels are Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta, Kemayoran in Central Jakarta, Halim Perdanakusuma in East Jakarta, Cengkareng and Kedoya in West Jakarta as well as areas in South Jakarta such as Pakubuwono, Pasar Minggu and Lebak Bulus.

During a visit to Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta, Joko said torrential rain had been a main cause of flooding in the area.

“There has been a lot of heavy rain around Pulogadung [East Jakarta], and the tide has been high. That is where the problem lies,” he said.

Members of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) also condemned the governor’s statements, saying that the flooding and landslides were mainly caused by the clearing of forests for industrial use.

“The water’s volume can’t be changed. What has changed is the land’s ability to absorb that water,” said Mukri Friatra, a disaster management specialist at the nongovernmental organization. “They’re saying the flood is from God, when in fact, rain should be a blessing.”

On Saturday, chief of BMKG’s meteorology center Mulyono Prabowo said in Jakarta that the agency has yet to pinpoint the highest level of rainfall this year, adding that the highest ever recorded was at 350 millimeters per day in 2007 at Pondok Betung, South Tangerang.

“The past few days have seen about 200 millimeters fall per day. In general, rain has been quite high in the Greater Jakarta area, with at least 70 to 80 millimeters recorded on a daily basis, although several areas have seen 150 millimeters,” he said.

Despite the criticism launched against Joko, a resident living near the Ciliwung River said he did not want to blame the governor and that his living near the river could be part of the problem.

“Joko has done his best, but who can resist nature? We have built our homes on the river, but what can we do? This is our home,” said 43-year-old Agus, who lives by the river in Kampung Pulo, as quoted by

Agus said he has lived just 10 meters from the Ciliwung since 1986 and that he did not have enough money to move to a safer location.

Chief of the National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) Fasli Jalal attributed the flooding to the capital’s population and urbanization.

“The growing population has resulted in the establishment of residential areas that subsequently limit the soil’s ability to absorb the water,” he said.

“If the population continues to increase, and land remains limited, then houses will be built closer to one another and will sometimes have to be built on the riverside,” said Wendy Hartanto, also from BKKBN. Too many buildings built on the land means that the water isn’t being absorbed, he said.

Wendy called on the government not to only continue promoting its family planning program but also to be stricter with urban planning regulations, especially regarding the establishment of residential areas near the rivers.

“In addition, there should be a proper solution to the flow of urbanization, which has seen many people flock to Jakarta, many of whom are lower income earners unable to afford their own properties so they move to cheaper areas like riversides and other areas that are not supposed to be residential areas,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Joko on Sunday said he will soon be holding a meeting with the Public Works Minister’s directorate general and West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan next week to discuss plans to establish a spillway from the Ciliwung to the Cisadane River, close to their source in the mountains near Bogor, West Java.

Joko explained that the 1.9-kilometer spillway connecting the two rivers would be of great help in minimizing flooding in the city though residents in Tangerang, to the west of Jakarta, are concerned the proposal will just move the flooding from the capital to their city.

Floods force thousands to evacuate in Indonesian capital
Kanupriya Kapoor PlanetArk 21 Jan 14;

Monsoon rains have inundated parts of the Indonesian capital, forcing more than 30,000 people to evacuate and posing a challenge for its wildly popular governor, Joko Widodo, a possible presidential candidate.

Soldiers were deployed to help nearly 50,000 residents in the sprawling city of 10 million people, as floodwaters reached three meters (9.8 ft) in some districts, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.

Last year's rainy season brought Jakarta to a standstill, causing a river in the city to breach its banks and swamp the central business district, leaving thousands stranded and causing $580 million in damage to property and companies.

Heavy rains are forecast this week, potentially worsening floods which have killed seven people, mostly from electrocution, and forced thousands to seek refuge at temporary shelters, including schools and mosques.

Jokowi, as the governor is known locally, came to office in late 2012 with promises to improve the city's creaky infrastructure, strained by chronic floods and traffic. The presidential favorite has since launched a number of initiatives to alleviate flooding, including clearing riverbanks of illegal housing and rubbish, and creating more green spaces and drainage to absorb rainwater.

But until those efforts show results, he could face criticism over flood management, especially if the waters rise and more districts are affected. The floods have already caused about $80 million in damage, said the Disaster Mitigation Agency.

"Last year we started clearing the riverbanks and dredging the canals to allow water to flow more smoothly, but it's a slow process and the results will only show in five or 10 years," said Eko Hariadi, spokesman for the city administration.

Immense popular support has put Jokowi far ahead of rivals such as former general Prabowo Subianto and tycoon Aburizal Bakrie in opinion polls. But Jokowi has not declared his candidacy, nor has the party he is affiliated with, the opposition PDI-P, said whether it will back him. That decision rests with former president and party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of the country's founding ruler.

Heavy rains also hit other parts of the archipelago, including North Sulawesi province where flash floods left 18 dead and more than 80,000 homeless last week.

(Editing by Jason Szep)

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Malaysia: Support proposed Piasau Camp nature reserve, public urged

Borneo Post 20 Jan 14;

MIRI: The people of Miri can help the government to make a success of the proposed nature reserve at Piasau Camp.

National president of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed said two societies – MNS Miri Chapter and the Piasau Camp Miri Nature Park Society (PCMNPS) – were rallying for the public to support the nature reserve as a community based project.

“We have lot of advocacies to save urban forests. A good example is Kota Damasara near Petaling Jaya where we have the society taking care of the forest with Selangor Forestry.”
Chairman of MNS Miri and PCMNPS is Datuk Sebastian Ting.

“We have the society (PCMNPS) working with Sarawak Forestry to take care of the place and make this something all of us should be proud of,” Professor Maketab said before the start of the 8th Hornbill Walk held at Piasau Camp on Saturday.

He was among 100 strong advocates of the nature reserve who defied the weather to take
part in the walk. Others participants were the wife of PCMNPS’ president, and the society’s exco members including deputy chairman Musa who is also MNS Miri chairman and local community leaders Datuk Wan Morshidi Abdul Rahman and wife Datin Juriah Abdullah.

Professor Maketab said it was the tradition of MNS headquarters to support whatever the branches do and that they were proud MNS Miri had spearheaded the advocacy for the conservation of historical Piasau Camp.

“Basically, it is not for MNS or personal glory. Our target is to make sure something like this (Piasau Camp) can be preserved in perpetuity for the people of Miri.

“I think our great grand children will thank us for what we are doing today, so they don’t have to go far for a nature walk and for recreation,” he said.

Earlier, Ting assured the people that their cause was not in vain, although the government had delayed gazetting the nature reserve.

“We are going in the right direction and we urge Mirians in particular to continue supporting to make the nature reserve a reality,” he said.

Hornbill Jimmy, his soul mate Juliet and other offspring did not show up during the walk, but at the end of the walk the participants got to see the carcass of Jimmy’s ex-soulmate Faridah which had been preserved for public viewing once the nature reserve is ready.

Many were sad over her brutal killing on Sept 26, 2013, but were glad the taxidermy was done and the exhibit handed over by a representative of the company doing the taxidermy to Musa and others representing MNS and PCMNPS.

Besides having hornbills and other protected animals and plants, Piasau Camp is synonymous with Miri’s oil and gas industry, and the matured forests act as the green lungs for Miri City and a buffer zone against tidal waves.

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Extreme El Niños Could Hit Twice As Often

Becky Oskin Yahoo News 20 Jan 14;

The most intense El Niño events may soon hit every 10 years, instead of every 20 years, thanks to warming water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a new study predicts.

An El Niño is the warm phase of a long-standing natural climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean. When changing wind patterns start piling up warm water in the eastern part of the equatorial Pacific, the redistribution of hotter water triggers changes in atmospheric circulation that influences rainfall and storm patterns around the world — an El Niño.

During extreme El Niños, sea surface temperatures warmer than 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) develop in the normally cold and dry eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Because this part of the Pacific is typically colder than the western Pacific, even 0.8 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) of warming in these waters has an outsize effect, said lead study author Wenju Cai.

"Under global warming, the barrier to convection shifts," Cai told LiveScience. "Therefore, it is easier to generate this massive atmospheric circulation associated with an extreme El Niño event." (Convection is the process that fuels storms.)

During extreme El Niños, this warm-water zone stretches across the entire equatorial Pacific Ocean. Because the Pacific's sea surface temperatures are rising, climate researchers have tried to predict the impact of global warming on extreme El Niños, but their models have produced conflicting results, said Cai, a climate scientist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, a government research organization in Aspendale, Australia. [Infographic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]

"If we just look at sea surface temperatures, there has been no consensus," Cai said.

To better gauge the effect of future warming on the El Niño cycle, Cai and an international group of climate scientists redefined an extreme El Niño. Their study tested 20 climate models that simulated extreme El Niños, but instead of looking at sea surface temperatures, they defined each episode as an increase in rainfall by a factor of 10 over the eastern equatorial Pacific. The results show an increase from an extreme event every 20 years to an episode every 10 years from the present day through the next 100 years. The findings were published today (Jan. 19) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

While the increased frequency could be a boon for the drought-stricken western United States, which would receive extra rainfall, an extreme El Niño has devastating global effects.

During past extreme El Niño events, countries in the western Pacific, such as Australia and Indonesia, experienced devastating droughts and wildfires, while catastrophic floods occurred in the eastern equatorial region of Ecuador and northern Peru. The last extreme El Niño, in 1997-1998, caused $35 billion in damage in the United States and killed an estimated 23,000 people worldwide.

"Extreme El Niños cause a lot of loss of life and productivity," Cai said.

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