Best of our wild blogs: 28 Mar 14

‘Earth Hour Day’ talk by Joseph Lai
from Love our MacRitchie Forest

The Freshwater Crab Conservation Roundtable and the urgent need for forest recovery from Otterman speaks

Grey Herons - Panting and Preening
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Anderson's Grass Yellow
from Butterflies of Singapore

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Cashin House set to be visitor gateway to Sungei Buloh reserve

Lip Kwok Wai Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE: Areas around the Cashin House, near the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, have the potentials for further development, according to an analyst.

The house is uniquely built on a pier, hence nicknamed "The Pier", located at the coast of Lim Chu Kang.

It is visible from the Lim Chu Kang Jetty, and has a panoramic view of the Johor Strait in the southern state of Malaysia.

Cashin House is set to be a new visitor gateway to the western part of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Likely to be built before the 1940s, it was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 during the Second World War.

After the war, the Cashin family regained possession of the house.

Under a 2013 draft master plan, it was previously revealed that Cashin House will be restored and converted into a recreational spot.

Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of SLP International Property Consultants, said: "The authorities can actually consider gradually developing some of the areas around this old Cashin House without actually destroying the natural environment.

"For example, they could open up the grounds for camping or for picnics for families. And hence, bring more attention to this Cashin House and increase its visitorship."

- CNA/de

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Daily water usage back to normal since end of dry spell

Today Online 28 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE — Since the skies opened up on March 16, ending a dry spell on the island, Singapore’s water consumption has fallen back to 400 million gallons a day (mgd), the normal daily average.

During those hot and dry days, the usage from both domestic and non-domestic sectors rose to 420mgd, national water agency PUB said earlier this month.

The 5 per cent rise in water consumption led Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan to say in Parliament on March 7 that he was seriously considering a suggestion to conduct water-rationing exercises as a means of public education, even though they were not an operational necessity.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the PUB yesterday said “since the end of the dry spell, daily water usage has normalised to about 400mgd”. Home consumption makes up 45 per cent of daily usage, with the non-domestic sector taking up the rest.

As part of the PUB’s continuing efforts to encourage homes to use more water-efficient household water appliances, the least water-efficient washing machines will no longer be sold in stores from April 1. Instead, only those washing machines with one or more ticks will be allowed for sale.

The more ticks a product has, the more water efficient it is and the PUB yesterday said it plans to raise the minimum requirement for washing machines from one tick to two in 2015.

A one-tick washing machine can save 81 litres of water per wash for a 7kg laundry load. Those with two and three ticks can save 102 litres and 112 litres of water, respectively.

“Laundry is the third most water-consuming activity at home and accounts for 19 per cent of an average family’s monthly water consumption. The PUB has been working with suppliers and retailers to provide clear labelling to indicate the water efficiency of every washing machine. This will help consumers to make an informed choice when buying one,” said Mr Chong Hou Chun, PUB Director of Water Supply Network.

The other top two water-consuming activities at home are showers (29 per cent) and washing in the kitchen sink (22 per cent).

The PUB said sales of washing machines with three ticks had increased by 17 per cent, from 55,174 units sold in 2011 to 79,309 units last year.

Since earlier this month, the PUB has been working with NTUC FairPrice to bring water conservation messages to consumers at its six hypermarkets, such as at Jem, NEX and Changi Business Park.

The exercise includes displaying “Go with more ticks to save water” wobblers at the hypermarket’s washing machine area and “Use a Tumbler” wobblers at its dental products area.

Slight haze forecast for morning, showers in afternoon
Today Online 28 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE — Slightly hazy conditions are expected under light wind conditions in the early morning today (March 28), but prevailing winds from the north-east should keep the haze in Sumatra away from Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) forecast yesterday evening.

The NEA also expects the overall air quality to stay in the moderate range (PSI 51-100) until this evening. Thundery showers in the afternoon have also been forecast.

The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra yesterday increased sharply to 203 from 118 on Wednesday. Smoke plumes and haze were visible in Riau province.

In Peninsular Malaysia, 89 hotspots were detected yesterday.

With the expected onset of the Inter-Monsoon period in the next few days, the prevailing north-easterly winds are expected to gradually weaken and become variable in direction. The NEA says it will be monitoring the winds situation closely and will issue updates when necessary.

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Only water-efficient washing machines to be sold from Apr 1

Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE: From April 1, washing machines that are not water efficient will no longer be sold in stores.

Singapore's national water agency PUB said only those with one or more ticks are allowed for sale.

The more ticks a product has, the more water efficient it is.

Moving forward, PUB said it intends to raise the minimum requirement for washing machines from one tick to two ticks in 2015.

A one-tick washing machine can save 81 litres of water per wash for a 7kg laundry load.

Those with two and three ticks can save 102 litres and 112 litres of water, respectively.

PUB said sales of washing machines with three ticks have increased by 17 per cent from 55,174 units sold in 2011 to 79,309 units in 2013.

"Laundry is the third most water-consuming activity at home and accounts for 19 per cent of an average family's monthly water consumption.

"PUB has been working with suppliers and retailers to provide clear labelling to indicate the water efficiency of every washing machine. This will help consumers to make an informed choice when buying one," said Chong Hou Chun, director of Water Supply Network at PUB.

Showers and washing in the kitchen sink top the chart as the two most water-consuming activities at home at 29 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.

- CNA/nd

Only water efficient washing machines to be sold from next month
Today Online 27 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE — From next month, consumers can only buy water-efficient washing machines from stores.

The island’s most water-inefficient washing machines — those with zero ticks under the Government’s Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (MWELS) — will be pulled off the shelves in a move to conserve water.

The scheme assigns a number of ticks according to how water a machine saves. A one-tick washing machine can save 81 litres with every 7kg wash, a two-tick and three-tick washing machine can conserve up to 102 and 112 litres of water respectively.

Moving ahead, PUB intends to raise the minimum requirement for washing machines to two ticks by next year.

PUB said domestic water demand is as high as 180 gallons daily, with laundry washing considered the third most water-consuming activity. This latest move is part of its efforts to encourage the use of more water-efficient household water appliances.

Sales of three-tick washing machines have picked up by 17 per cent, from 55,174 in 2011 to 79,309 last year. Market penetration rose from 37 per cent to 54 per cent between October 2011 and September 2013.

“It helps us to save water and save money,” said Ms Elsa, an owner of a three-tick washing machine. “In addition, we also reuse the rinse water to flush toilet.”

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Malaysia: Water rationing called off in five districts in Johor and Negri following rains

The Star 28 Mar 14;

PETALING JAYA: Water rationing has been called off in five districts in Johor and Negri Sembilan following recent rains in Peninsular Malaysia. However, rationing will continue in parts of Selangor.

The National Water Services Commission, SPAN, said water would flow normally in Kluang, Kulai Jaya and Kota Tinggi in Johor as well as Jempol and Tampin districts in Negri Sembilan.

“Rains that fell last week in these three states have increased river levels supplying raw water to water treatment plants there,” a spokesman said.

SPAN, however, warned that rationing might be re-introduced if water levels in these places declined again to critical levels.

The spokesman said water levels in Negri Sembilan’s Muar River had increased although the Gem­encheh Dam was only 1.22m above the critical level of 98m.

Rationing would continue in Johor’s Mersing district as the Congok Dam level dropped to 4.27m, below the critical level of 4.5m. In Selangor, rationing ret­urned to certain Hulu Langat areas when the Batu 11 (Cheras) water treatment plant was shut down on March 25 despite resuming operations on March 17.

This, according to SPAN, was due to ammonia content in the plant’s treated water breaching the safe level of 1.5 parts per million (ppm).

The Bukit Tampoi plant might suffer the same fate if ammonia content in the Langat River reached such a level.

Selangor’s seven dams, according to the Selangor Water Mana­gement Authority, all saw lower water levels than last week: 90.26% (Batu), 50.46% (Klang Gates), 51.18% (Langat), 73.20% (Semenyih), 37.09% (Sungai Selangor), 63.80% (Sungai Tinggi) and 88.68% (Tasik Subang).

SPAN said that rationing in Selangor, affecting some 3.6 million people in Gombak, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor and Kuala Lumpur would continue.

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Malaysia: 'No' to degazettement of Selangor forest reserves

New Straits Times 28 Mar 14;

SHAH ALAM: Environmental groups yesterday protested against a proposal to degazette 106.65ha of Selangor's forest reserves for the construction of the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR) project.

The proposed degazettement involves land from four forest reserves , namely Ampang, Bukit Seputeh, Ulu Gombak and Ulu Langat.

Malaysian Nature Society executive director Shah Redza Hussein said the land involved for the project had a sensitive ecology and was an important water catchment area for the people of Klang Valley.

"It is ironic that we complain about haze and water shortages but are not concerned (about degazetting the forest reserves).

"The ratio of forests in Klang Valley is already so small, we cannot prioritise a highway concessionaire's interests and disregard destruction of the biodiversity and long-term costs to the people," he said after handing over a petition with 7,292 signatures and 209 individual letters protesting the project to Selangor Menteri Besar's chief private secretary Mohd Yasid Bidin and Selangor Forestry Department director Yusoff Muda at Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, here, yesterday.

Treat Every Environment Special (Trees) director Leela Panikkar said they had been protesting the KLORR project for about 15 years, with renewed vigour in 2009.

"It escalated because not only does the concessionaire want to cut right through the middle of the forest reserve but now they want to degazette the area.

"The highway will traverse through rivers classified as Environmentally Sensitive Area Rank 1. How can the state give the management of such an area to a private company?"

She urged the Selangor state assemblymen to raise the issue in the next state assembly.

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Malaysia: Restocking mangroves on Kukup Island

Peggy Loh New Straits Times 28 Mar 14;

CONSERVATION OF NATURE: Students and teachers join members of the Rotary Club of Johor Baru to undertake reforestation of mangroves on the island

OHOR BARU: FORTY-FIVE students and their teachers from five secondary schools here joined 20 members of the Rotary Club of Johor Baru (RCJB) in their second Mangrove Reforestation Project at Kukup Island recently.

While the inaugural exercise in 2012 was held at Tanjung Piai Johor National Park, this biennial reforestation event under the RCJB's "Preserve Planet Earth" initiative was at Kukup Island Johor National Park.

A five-minute boat ride from the Kukup jetty brought the participants to Kukup Island which is located just one kilometre off the shores of Kukup fishing village.

Before leaving for the island, participants met at the Kukup Visitors Centre for a briefing by Johor National Parks, Ramsar manager Siti Nur Azimah Abd Wahab.

They learnt that Kukup Island, covering 6.472sq km and surrounded by eight square kilometres of mudflats, is the second largest uninhabited mangrove island in the world.

In 2003, the island was granted a Ramsar Site status or designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Geneva-based Ramsar Convention Bureau.

Covered by luscious mangrove, Kukup Island is home to a myriad of wetland wildlife including mammals like wild boar and long-tail macaques, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

As a Ramsar Site, the island is an internationally important site where the ecological character of the site cannot be changed by human activity either within or in the vicinity of the island.

Participants learned about the benefits of mangrove forests not only for its ecological and economic functions but also as a valuable protection against the impact of natural disasters like the deadly tsunami.

Malaysia's mangroves are more diverse than those in tropical Australia, Africa and the Americas.

Mangroves are a unique ecosystem along our sheltered coasts and they have an important function as wave breaks and serve as natural barriers against heavy storms.

"Teenagers aged between 13 and 17 from the schools' Interact Clubs are encouraged to join RCJB in the Mangrove Reforestation Project to expose them to more active roles in a community activity," said club president Tan Chee Seng.

Concerned about how our mangrove forests must be preserved for future generations, Tan hoped that this replanting exercise will make the students think about how each one of them can make a difference.

"Don't ever say that this is not my job or not my responsibility, but (instead) do something to preserve what God has given us," he added.

On arrival at the site, the participants exchanged their footwear for rubber boots before climbing down from the boardwalk to the mangrove forest where they were assisted by the park staff who demonstrated how the saplings should be planted in the mudflats.

RCJB members and their families were joined by members of other Rotary Clubs in Johor, as well as members from the Johor Baru Senior Citizens Association.

The Singapore consul-general, Ian Mak, its vice-consul Nicholas Lee Shi Wei and some Singaporean families who live here, were also among the participants.

Tan Jie Yi, Tessa Tan Su En, Nicole Yong and Stefanie Lim were among the students from Convent Infant Jesus Johor Baru, who did not mind the mud knowing they were doing their respective parts in contributing to the Mangrove Reforestation Project.

"It's good for the students to come out to see our environment and do something useful," said Jeanne Conceicao, a Singaporean who has lived here for the last five years.

An urbanite who used to live in a flat, she feels very privileged to be able to enjoy the beauty and charm of a vibrant ecosystem in Johor.

Bordered by the Strait of Malacca, Tanjung Piai and Kukup Island are exposed to the changing tides and pollution from ships that ply the busy sea lane.

As mangroves are being destroyed, they have to be replanted and through the project, the RCJB is educating the younger generation and promoting public awareness of the importance of our mangrove ecosystem.

Kukup Island Johor National Park is located about 69km from Johor Baru.

For group events and enquiries, call Johor National Park Corporation at 07-223 7471 or 07-224 2525, fax 07-223 7472 or visit

Read more: Restocking mangroves on Kukup Island - Johor - New Straits Times

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