Best of our wild blogs: 12 Jun 14

Long-tailed Macaque Feeding On Batoko Plum And Mating
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Green Corridor- Rail Mall to Bukit Timah train station
from My Nature Experiences

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Indonesia reaffirms commitment to resolving haze problem

Channel NewsAsia 11 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan met with Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono on Wednesday (June 11) and discussed concerns about the impact of El Nino leading to more haze from forest fires later this year.

"We agreed that strong enforcement and rapid response measures on the ground are necessary," Dr Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post. "In particular, we have to deter companies from starting fires."

He said that Mr Agung has "reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to resolve this recurrent problem" and also welcomed Singapore's offers to help. "We agreed that both governments need to work closely in order to safeguard the health and welfare of citizens from both Indonesia and Singapore," Dr Balakakrishnan added.

- CNA/xy

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Government mulling over prospect of combined recycling facility

XUE JIANYUE Today Online 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — Faced with the land crunch and a need for a sustainable recycling system able to handle the increasing waste generated in the city state, the Government is considering the construction of a facility that can house various recycling activities under one roof.

In its invitation for tenders to determine the feasibility of such a facility last week, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the Multi-Storey Recycling Facility (MSRF) will be the first of its kind here and will host different tenants processing different types of waste, while sharing common facilities such as weighbridges, meeting rooms and a vehicle parking depot.

The tender also called for a rethink on how the waste management industry is optimising the use of land in Singapore. Economic and population growth here have increased the output of solid waste from 1,260 tonnes a day in 1970 to a high of 8,289 tonnes a day last year. A whopping 7.85 million tonnes in total waste was generated in 2013.

By 2030, the total waste generated is projected to rise by 57 per cent and hit 12.3 million tonnes a year. “Singapore will require space to cater to additional waste management capacity and sustain the high environmental standards that we have come to enjoy today,” the NEA said. “The MSRF is deemed to be a solution to reduce land-take, while creating more space for essential activities undertaken by the waste management industry.”

Food, plastics, metals, slag and electronic waste are some common items processed by recycling facilities in Singapore, which are owned by private operators, most of which are located in the west. An inter-agency task force, comprising the NEA, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and JTC Corporation, is looking to bring various recycling firms together at the proposed 5ha MSRF. Housing them in one facility will also lead to land savings from the shared use of space.

So far, the URA has identified a site within the Sarimbun Recycling Park (SRP), which is already host to some recycling facilities, and another site in Lim Chu Kang as possible locations for the facility. The feasibility study should be completed about nine months after the tender is awarded, said the NEA.

Recycling firms TODAY spoke to had mixed feelings about the prospect of locating several recycling operations in one facility. Mr Timothy de Souza, senior executive for marketing at Cimelia Resource Recovery, said his firm recycles about half the electronic waste they receive, before storing and transporting the other half to other firms for further processing.

If the companies were co-located at the MSRF, it will help his firm save on logistics and transport, which make up about 20 per cent of his costs.

However, Mr de Souza had concerns over the lack of privacy in such a set-up. The sharing of facilities, such as the unloading bay and weighbridges, would reveal details of his business, such as type of materials received, to competitors, he said, before suggesting that access cards and security cameras be installed at the facility to protect firms.

Furthermore, Ms Sally Yap, a corporate secretary at LHT Holdings, whose facilities at Sungei Kadut span an area of 4.3 football fields, said existing recycling facilities here take up a huge amount of land space, which means having them in one facility would be a challenge. Firms would also want the recycling facilities located close to their waste management facilities to reduce the need for transporting materials between them, she added.

Last year, about 61 per cent of all waste in Singapore was recycled. However, the recycling rates for households were much lower at 20 per cent. And only 13 and 11 per cent of food and plastic waste, respectively, was recycled.

New kind of 'integrated' recycling facility planned
Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 17 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE plans to build a first-of-its-kind recycling facility to deal with the rising amount of waste amid growing land scarcity.

Earlier this month, the authorities called for applications to study the project's feasibility, saying Singapore is expected to produce 12.3 million tonnes of rubbish in 2030, up 57 per cent from last year.

The projections were based on population and economic growth estimates, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

It is partnering the Urban Redevelopment Authority and JTC Corporation in the project.

The amount of waste Singapore generated grew by 69 per cent between 2000 and last year.

"There is a need to rethink how the waste management industry's space usage can be optimised given that land resources are expected to become scarcer," said NEA.

The new plant will stack various recycling activities in a multi-storey building, and may even delve underground, to save land space and prevent noise and smell pollution.

Companies could also share facilities and services such as weighbridges and a vehicle parking depot integrated with cleaning, maintenance and refuelling services for heavy vehicles.

While private firms have set up recycling facilities to process items such as food, plastics and metals, NEA said the new plant is not meant to consolidate all firms at a single location.

The project is slated to come up in a 5ha plot of land in Lim Chu Kang or within the Sarimbun Recycling Park in the area.

In its call for proposals, NEA said the facility should recycle at least 12 tonnes of waste per square metre of land area per year, or meet other targets.

It said the plant's design should also be generic and adaptable enough to be used at other sites, and flexible enough for future expansion.

Mr Juergen Militz of Recycling Partners, whose associated companies sell various technologies and services, said some firms could benefit from economies of scale by being at one location.

"The packaging waste recycling rate for example is very low, so various waste management companies may not be able to build efficient plants if their quantity is insufficient. This kind of aggregation could help in that," he said.

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World's largest vertical garden in Singapore

Chung Lyn-Yi Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: A "Tree House" in Singapore has entered the record books as the world's largest vertical garden.

The Tree House condominium in Upper Bukit Timah and on Chestnut Avenue features a 2,289-square-metre vertical garden on its facade. City Developments Limited announced on Wednesday that it was officially recognised by the Guinness World Records.

Its green features make it a soaring success as well, and are expected to help save over S$500,000 in energy and water savings annually.

CDL said the vertical garden reduces the estate's carbon footprint by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air. It also reduces the building's heat absorption such that residents whose homes are insulated by the green wall could see air-conditioning energy savings of between 15 and 30 per cent.

Mr Kwek Leng Joo, CDL deputy chairman, said: "We have continuously pushed the boundaries with breakthrough sustainable designs and features as well as state-of-the-art technologies.

“With the eco-inspired Tree House, CDL has not only created a place where residents are proud to call home but more importantly, a green icon which placed Singapore in the world map."

- CNA/ec

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Malaysia: Selangor would not resort to water rationing again - Menteri Besar

NURADILLA NOORAZAM New Straits Times 11 Jun 14;

SHAH ALAM: Even though the rising temperature expected from El Nino weather phenomenon would affect the water levels at dams across Selangor, the state government is adamant that it would not resort to water rationing again.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the state has set in place a contingency plan to ensure that the residents will continue to receive normal treated water supply despite the dry spell.

"We have put in place 20 pumps to pump overflowing water from the river into the nine pools located in Bestari Jaya and Bukit Tinggi as well as pumping water from the pools into the river when the water level at the state's rivers are low.

"Based on our calculation, this initiative would be able to supply 800 million litres of water per day to the state," he said after chairing Selangor executive councillor meeting at the state secretariat building, this afternoon.

The use of water pumps is said to pacify the effect of the dry weather on the state's two most important dams in Sungai Selangor and Bukit Tinggi.

He added that the conclusion was made based on the meeting between state government, the state economic planning unit and the Selangor Water Management Board (Luas)

It was reported previously that the pumps were bought from China using the RM1 million allocation by the state government.

As part of a safety procedure, Khalid said that the state, through LUAS, has been conducting weekly sampling on water quality of the pools to ensure that it comply with the standards issued by the Health Ministry.

"Our latest lab result was in May 20th and the result showed that the water quality complied with the standards regulated by the Health Ministry.

"We will continue to take sampling as the use of water from the pools will be inevitable as the dry weather continues," he said, adding that the effect of El Nino will be felt for the next four months.

Khalid said that the state has also considered meeting with Thailand's Royal Rainmaking Bureau to seek their expertise in cloud seeding as the government plans to continue the effort despite producing minimal impact for the dam's water level so far.

"We will continue with our cloud seeding activities and even intend to increase the efficiency and rotation of cloud seeding activities. Even though the impact of such activity on the water level is minimal, we are convinced that the rainfall near water catchment areas and river will catch up soon," he said.

On the decision by Puncak Niaga Holdings Berhad (PNHB)'s to accept the takeover offer by the state government, Khalid said that the concessionaire had finally agree knowing that it is lacking in options.

PNHB on Tuesday announced its decision to accept the state government's offer of RM9.65 billion and joined the ranks of Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd (Abbas) which had accepted it in March.

This only leaves Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash) who has yet to announce its decision on the takeover before the government is forced to invoke Section 114 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006, which allows for the forced takeover of assests of the concessionaires for RM7.6 billion.

"I am meeting the Energy, Green Technology and Water minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss on Splash as well as to fine tune the final stage of the takeover as the minister has the final say on this matter," he said.

Khalid: No water rationing exercise
The Star 12 Jun 14;

SHAH ALAM: Residents in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya need not fear of any water rationing exercise with another impen­ding dry spell.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim assured the Selangor government would not order a second phase of water rationing exercise so soon.

This was because the state government had taken necessary steps to ensure that raw water supply at all main dams would be sufficient.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the weekly exco meeting here yesterday, Khalid said 20 water pumps had been placed in nine ponds to channel water into the Sungai Se­lan­gor Dam.

“This will reduce the amount of raw water taken from Sungai Selangor and ensure the water treatment plants there get normal supply,” Khalid said.

He added that former mi­­ning ponds could provide up to 800 million litres of water daily.

He also assured the public that water channelled from ponds would be tested regularly for safety purposes.

The Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) is also inspecting pumps to ensure they are in good working condition.

“We are also working towards increasing our water supply (by tapping into) underground water as an additional effort,” he added.

He said 37 cloud seeding exercises had also been conducted with the help of Thailand’s Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agriculture Aviation.

On Selangor’s water restructuring exercise, Khalid said Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB) had agreed in principle to it subject to approval at its coming AGM.

He said it would take about one month be­­fore the takeover of PNSB was completed.

No factories moved or closed due to recent water crisis
The Star 12 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: There are no reports of factories being shut down or moving to another location due to the recent water crisis, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Mustapa said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the Government had taken various initiatives to reduce the impact of the water crisis.

Mustapa said despite the unfavourable weather, the Malaysian Investment Development Autho­rity had approved 37 factory projects across Johor with an estimated investment of RM1.3bil.

“Due to the early notice on the water crisis, factories and companies have taken the necessary precautionary measures to store additional water for their operations,” he said.

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Wildlife smugglers sing the blues after songbird seizure

KATHLEEN ANN KILI The Star 12 Jun 14;

KLUANG: The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) successfully tracked down and seized 241 protected White-Rumped Shama (or commonly called burung murai batu) at an oil palm estate in Kampung Sepakat here.

State Perhilitan director Hasnan Yusop said enforcement officers detained two suspects after they found the songbirds kept in 58 cages.

The cages were found at a premises believed to have been built specifically as a collection centre for the birds.

“After two weeks of collecting intelligence, we raided the premises located in an oil palm plantation near the village on Tuesday.

“We seized not only the birds but also nabbed two Indonesian suspects,” Hasnan said in a statement yesterday.

He said the case was being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) and both suspects had been remanded to assist in investigations.

If found guilty, they can be slapped with a fine of up to RM50,000 or sentenced to not more than two years imprisonment or both.

“We believe we have successfully clamped down the illegal smuggling of White-Rumped Shama in the state.

“In April, we managed to confiscate some 40 birds of the same species kept illegally in Larkin.

“One suspect was fined RM40,000 for the offence,” he added.

Hasnan believed that the White-Rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), a protected species under the first schedule of the Wildlife Conservation Act, were being smuggled into neighbouring countries.

“We are also tightening security at all entry points in the state to prevent wildlife smuggling,” he said.

Hasnan urged the public to report to the department on any suspicious activity that poses a threat to wildlife conservation.

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Malaysia swarmed by giant moths

Heather Chen BBC News 11 Jun 14;

Swarms of giant moths have descended on Malaysia, invading homes and even disrupting a national football match.

Thousands of the furry insects, with a wing span of up to 16cm (6in), interrupted a semi-finals match at the Darul Makmur Stadium last week.

Over 800 sightings were also reported in neighbouring Singapore last month, sparking intense online debate.

The Lyssa Zampa tropical moth, which is also known as the Laos brown butterfly, is native to South East Asia.

"The moths are actually present during other times of the year but in very small numbers, so they are usually not noticed by people," Mr Sivasothi said, adding that the creatures typically emerge between April and August every year.

Ecologist Anuj Jain said moths' use of light for navigation often causes them to head to built-up areas.

"Their tendency to emigrate in search of new uneaten host plants attracts these moths to light in urban city areas," he said.

Experts said that while people suffering from asthma may be sensitive to hairs on their wings, the nocturnal creatures do not pose any threat.

"The moths are harmless and the public has nothing to be afraid of," said Lena Chan, Director of the National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board in Singapore.

"There is no need for people to protect themselves against these moths as they do not cause any allergies or diseases. In fact, they are important pollinators and are beautiful to watch."

Many Malaysians and Singaporeans however, took to the internet to share their moth encounters and to upload photographs of the winged creatures.

Although many seemed to welcome the arrival of the furry insects, others remained cautious.

"In China, moths are viewed as symbols of death as they represent the souls of deceased loved ones," said Chinese astrologer Cindy Wu.

"It is therefore considered a serious taboo to kill moths or disturb them."

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