Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jun 14

5 unique ways to document our micro nature
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Zebra (Peaceful) Dove – unusual nest construction
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Common Three Ring
from Butterflies of Singapore

Despite green pledge, Wilmar partner continues to destroy forest for palm oil
from news by Rhett Butler

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Protect mudflats, mangroves for migratory birds, say experts

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 13 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — Parts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, an important stopover for migratory birds, are sinking and this could be due to the Causeway and the Kranji reservoir limiting the amount of sediments deposited at the reserve. However, some of the nature reserve’s mudflats have increased in size, preliminary findings collected since 2011 by a National University of Singapore geography don showed.

While more data is needed over a longer period of time, changes in surface elevation at Sungei Buloh could bring about a change in the mangrove composition and perhaps a loss in mangroves, said Assistant Professor Dan Friess at the Symposium on Intertidal Conservation in Southeast Asia yesterday.

The National Parks Board, which oversees the reserve, declined to provide specific measurements found so far. However, the reserve’s deputy director, Ms Sharon Chan, said it already takes into consideration the rise in sea levels — parts of the reserve consist of ponds where water levels can be managed — to expose mud areas for the birds to feed.

Singapore is one of 22 countries including Russia, China and Australia that lie along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, an annual migration path for 50 million birds from more than 200 species that spans 10,000km.

Experts at the symposium noted numerous threats such as land reclamation to flyway habitats, and the collapse in populations of some migrant shorebirds. The red knot’s numbers in Moreton Bay in Australia, for instance, have declined by 9 per cent annually for 20 years — a “collapse of colossal proportions”, said Dr Richard Fuller of the University of Queensland.

However, the efforts of one country to conserve birds are not sufficient. “You have to make sure the birds are conserved all the way throughout the flyway and at the critical bottlenecks,” said Mr Spike Millington, chief executive of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

Dr Fuller’s research found that migratory bird species more reliant on the Yellow Sea region in East Asia, which has undergone extensive coastal development, were the ones declining more quickly. To conserve shorebird species, authorities and scientists could identify and protect the most important sites, and identify which areas would cause the least loss in biodiversity if developed, he said.

Associate Professor Lye Lin Heng of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law at the National University of Singapore said the Republic lacks laws to protect its shores and marine ecosystems. Effective management of wetlands requires the countries collaborate as migratory species do not respect geographic or political boundaries, she added.

Some have called for the preservation of intertidal areas to protect against storm surges and the impact of climate change, but Assistant Professor Adam Switzer of Nanyang Technological University’s Division of Earth Sciences cautioned against the idea that mangroves protect coastal communities from big storm surges, as they provide little or no defence against storm surges and tsunamis more than 3m high.

Ups and downs at Sungei Buloh
Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Jun 14;

Parts of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve could be sinking or rising, according to the preliminary findings of a study started in 2011.

Eight monitoring stations had been set up on the reserve's mangroves and mudflats, and land at all eight points had both sunk and risen over the last 21/2 years, said Dr Dan Friess from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Geography.

He noted that the situation is dynamic, and more data is needed over a longer period of time to discern trends, but land sinking could affect the composition of mangroves in South-east Asia and possibly lead to their loss in the long run.

Dr Friess explained that land elevation changes are due to a complex array of factors, including tides and depositing and eroding sediment.

"We don't know enough now to be able to say anything conclusively, but Sungei Buloh is leading the region in even having such a study in the first place to figure out how to manage such changes," he said.

Dr Friess, who studies mangroves and coastal management, was speaking at the Symposium on Intertidal Conservation in South-east Asia on Thursday.

The two-day event held at the reserve in north-east Singapore ended yesterday.

One key issue was the loss of tidal wetlands and how that has harmed migratory birds which rely on them as stopovers.

The National Parks Board (NParks), which oversees the reserve, declined to give specific measurements of the study so far, but the reserve's deputy director Sharon Chan said it maintains mud ponds where birds can feed.

Singapore is among the 22 countries along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, which some 50 million birds use each year.

The 10,000km flyway extends from Arctic Russia and North America to the southern limits of Australia and New Zealand. It encompasses all of South-east Asia and Sungei Buloh is an important stopover.

Dr Richard Fuller from the University of Queensland, Australia, was among several experts who said protecting the birds would require international cooperation. "We need to identify and protect the really important sites, work out where best to allow coastal development, manage catchments and create new tidal flats," he said.

The symposium was organised by NParks, NUS, the Nature Society, Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and conservation group BirdLife International.

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Singapore casino stops serving shark fin

AFP Yahoo News 12 Jun 14;

The US-owned Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore has announced it will stop serving shark fin at its restaurants, the latest boycott of the contentious delicacy welcomed Thursday by animal rights activists.

The casino, part of Las Vegas gaming magnate Sheldon Adelson's portfolio, said the removal of shark fin dishes from its menus is a "bold testament to our commitment to reducing our environmental impact".

Its huge expo and convention centre, which held over 70 trade shows last year, will also cease serving the dish.

The casino is the latest among a string of Singapore-based companies to boycott shark fin consumption following years of lobbying by animal rights activists.

Singapore is the world's second largest shark fin trading territory after Hong Kong, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Shark fin is seen by many east Asians as a delicacy and is often served as soup at expensive Chinese banquets.

More than 70 million sharks are killed worldwide every year, with a majority of fins consumed in Chinese markets, according to environmental group WWF.

Jennifer Lee, founder of Project Fin, a local group campaigning against shark fin consumption, said the casino's decision is another milestone for animal rights activists.

"Hopefully this will put pressure on other companies to jump on the bandwagon as well to do their part to save our marine ecosystem," she told AFP.

Elaine Tan, chief executive of WWF Singapore, commended the casino for its "foresight and leadership in corporate sustainability".

"Sharks are a crucial part of marine ecosystems and their populations have a direct impact on fish stocks, which in turn affects many things, including our food security in the future," she said.

Singapore's largest supermarket chains stopped sales of shark fin products in 2012, while major hotels, including Shangri-La and Swissotel the Stamford, have also stopped serving them.

Singapore's other casino operated by Malaysia's Genting Group does not serve shark fin, according to its website.

Hong Kong's government last year said it would stop serving shark fin at official functions to set a "good example".

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New butterfly species fluttering in for a Singapore visit

Carolyn Khew MyPaper AsiaOne 12 Jun 14;

The Red Spot Sawtooth is one of the new species spotted here this year.

It is not just the huge swallowtail moth Lyssa zampa that has been appearing in surprisingly large numbers here. A bumper crop of butterfly species has also been spotted this year.

Some species which have never been previously recorded here have made an appearance as well, and are believed to have flown in from across the Causeway.

Experts told My Paper that they have spotted at least five new butterfly species so far this year, compared with the usual two or three spotted yearly. The new species include the Lesser Albatross and the Red Spot Sawtooth.

They have been seen in Sime Forest near Venus Drive, Lower Kent Ridge Road and MacRitchie Reservoir. Most of them flew in over the last few months, starting from April.

Last month, many Singaporeans were reported to have seen the dark-coloured Lyssa zampa moth, which is nearly the size of a person's hand.

National University of Singapore (NUS) ecologist Anuj Jain said erratic weather conditions this year might have led to the rise in butterfly populations in Malaysia, causing more of these migratory species to fly here.

These butterfly species are usually found in the forest and can be found throughout peninsular Malaysia, including the Panti Forest in nearby Johor, he said.

"It's not a conscious migration," he said. "The unusual weather may have triggered a lot of plants to flower in Malaysia. Strong winds could have brought the butterflies here, too."

Butterfly expert Khew Sin Khoon said: "After months of bad drought followed by rain, the sudden growth of new leaves could have prompted butterflies to lay more eggs, contributing to the higher numbers of butterflies in Malaysia and Singapore."

The peak in numbers could also be due to the drop in the number of birds that prey on butterflies and caterpillars, because the avian migratory season has ended, said Mr Khew, who is an honorary research affiliate at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS.

Likewise, local butterflies such as the Lemon Emigrant and Tailed Jay have been observed in greater numbers this year, due to the mass flowering, said Mr Anuj, who also heads the butterfly interest group at the Nature Society of Singapore.

Surveys are still ongoing to tabulate the number of local species observed this year, and the findings should be out by the end of the year, he added.

Butterfly enthusiast Gan Cheong Weei said that the naturalisation of new butterfly species here is an area that "warrants more studies".

The 51-year-old manager, who has been a butterfly watcher since he was a boy, said: "It's nice to have more of them here, but we don't know the impact that they will have on our local species."

Medical technologist Clayton Low spotted a Red Helen butterfly in Lower Kent Ridge Road a month ago. It is believed to have been spotted here for the first time and is almost as big as the Lyssa zampa, said the 30-year-old.

He added: "Hopefully, in time to come, many people will be aware that the number of species of butterflies we have is a good indicator of the biodiversity of plants we have here."

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Singapore's 'lost' and redeveloped islands

Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Jun 14;

Before Sentosa became Singapore's premier getaway spot, locals looking for a nearby break headed to Pulau Damar Laut, an island off the western tip of the mainland that is now no more.

The island paradise of 1950s and 1960s Singapore boasted water-skiing facilities and holiday bungalows with names such as Passion Pit and Wine House.

But recreation gave way to redevelopment in the 1970s, when port and industrial developments in Jurong expanded and took over nearby islands, including Damar Laut.

However, its story is not lost forever. An exhibition called Balik Pulau: Stories From Singapore's Islands was launched by the National Heritage Board yesterday.

Pulau Damar Laut was one of more than 70 islands that once made up Singapore's archipelago, though redevelopment and land reclamation mean there are now about 40.

Ms Angelita Teo, director of the National Museum of Singapore, where the exhibition is held, said: "Although the islands are small in size, their stories are anything but that. They are big in heart and soul, and speak volumes of island life back in those days."

The free exhibition runs until August. Each of its nine sections represents a different island - such as Pulau Ubin and Kusu Island - or island cluster, such as the Islands of Coral, which include Pulau Hantu and Pulau Satumu.

Featuring sand and artificial turf, each section displays old photographs, video interviews with ex-islanders and bits and pieces of island life, such as musical instruments, old textbooks and even marine specimens.

There is even a kolek sauh, a narrow boat used as transportation between the islands.

Individual narratives feature prominently. Mr Teo Yan Teck, 82, recounts in a video interview his sense of loss when he moved from Pulau Seking, his home of almost 40 years, to the mainland in 1994 as residents were resettled to make way for a landfill. Almost breaking down, he says: "It was expensive to live in Singapore... and islanders were unskilled and uneducated."

Madam Lee Poh Yoke, 55, who visited the exhibition, said the Kusu Island section reminded her of when she was a little girl and her parents took her to the island to visit the Chinese temple.

"The exhibition is a good way to rekindle the memories," said the housewife. "I might take my nieces back to the island, since my children have all grown up."

Singapore islands you may not have heard of
Cheow Sue Ann And Fabian Koh Straits Times 11 Jun 14;

Did you know that Singapore was actually made up of more than 70 islands?

A new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore will be the first to tell the tales of the isles of long-ago. Launched on Tuesday, the "Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands" exhibition will run until Aug 10, from 10am to 6pm daily. Admission is free for the exhibition which is located at the museum's Stamford Gallery, level 1.

We check out some of lesser-known islands:

1. Pulau Seking

Less than a kilometre long, Pulau Sakeng (also spelt “Seking” or “Siking”) was among the smallest of Singapore’s southern islands.

The island was named after Keng or Yang Meleking, a woman of legend who was said to have battled pirates, healed the sick and founded the island community. A keramat (holy grave) at the foot of the island’s hill was believed to have been her tomb.

The first record of its inhabitants was in 1848 by a doctor, Robert Little. These early inhabitants were from the Johore-Riau Archipelago, and were namely Suku Bintan, Orang Selat and Orang Laut.

The community thrived until 1994, when residents were moved to the mainland so that the island could be turned into a landfill.

2. Pulau Semakau

Once known as Mangrove Island, probably for abundance of mangroves that grew on its eastern fringes, Pulau Semakau is, today, a vibrant marine habitat, surrounded by mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

The formerly flame-shaped island was known to have been occupied as early as 1844. This was known when about a dozen Chinese smallholders who grew vegetables, raised poultry and made charcoal on “Pulo Simakow” reported being attacked by robbers. By 1955, Pulau Semakau had a population of about 780, most of whom fished for a living and grew coconuts and fruit trees.

Pulau Semakau remained unoccupied between 1976 till 1995, when it was linked to Pulau Sakeng to form Semakau Landfill.The landfill is Singapore’s only remaining landfill, costing $610 million, and receiving shipments of over 2,000 tonnes of ash daily, the charred remnants of 93 per cent of Singapore's rubbish, burnt at its four incinerators.

3. Pulau Damar Laut

Located off Jurong, the island now exists as part of Jurong Port. There are currently four container terminals and a cement terminal on it.

Pulau Damar Laut was an idyllic spot once: its palm-fringed coastlines, sleepy Malay kampungs and coral reefs with clear water were recalled vividly by author Julian Davison who came here on countryside excursions with his family in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

It was once the property of Ong Tiang Wee, the son of tycoon Ong Boon Tat, who co-owned New World Amusement Park. New World was one of the first amusement parks in Malaya.

City Square Mall currently stands in its place, with the New World Amusement Park gate refurbished and placed at the entrance.

4. Pulau Serangoon

Located off Punggol Point, the island was owned by the Aw brothers of Haw Par Villa fame.

It changed hands in the 1950s among various entrepreneurs who wanted to develop it into Singapore’s version of Coney Island; despite their efforts, only the name has stuck.

The 45ha island located off the Punggol Area. Pulau Serangoon is also a popular place for jet skiing and camping.

Pulau Serangoon, will open to the public next year as part of a “Waterfront Town”. There are also plans to build three bridges, linking the island to the mainland.

5. Pulau Hantu

"Hantu" is the Malay word for ghost and Pulau Hantu is aptly named as "island of ghosts". It was here that ancient Malay warriors once dueled to their death and their ghosts are said to remain on the island.

Pulau Hantu is actually made up of two islets: Hantu Besar (Big Ghost) and Hantu Kecil (Little Ghost).

Despite the horror stories, Pulau Hantu is, today, a popular haunt among fishing and snorkeling enthusiasts due to its waters which are rich in colourful corals and varied aquatic organisms.

6. Pulau Satumu

Pulau Satumu, which loosely translates to One Tree Island, houses the Raffles Lighthouse which was built in 1855, making it the second oldest of Singapore’s five lighthouses.

The island, about 23km south-west of Singapore, marks the south channel for the sea passage into Singapore. It is out-of-bounds except for the Raffles Lighthouse staff and visitors with special permission.

Raffles Lighthouse is the site of some ongoing scientific research on aspects such as coral spawning and giant clams. It is also a popular spot among diving enthusiasts.

7. Pulau Senang, Pulau Pawai and Pulau Sudong

Pulau Senang is located 24km south of Singapore, in shark-infested waters. In 1960, the island was used in a penal reform experiment. Riots resulted in the death of the Prison Officer Daniel Stanley Dutton (nicknamed "The Laughing Tiger") and three of his assistants.

A typical day for Pulau Pawai begins with a dozen men setting up targets, checking that the area is free of people who may have inadvertently trespassed into the range, and informing airbases that the island is ready for the exercise. The island is pounded almost daily by bombs from screaming aircraft. The place is reserved for the venom of Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter planes.

Pulau Sudong was originally filled with mangrove trees and swamp. It made the headlines in 1960 when geologists raised the alarm that the island was sinking.

The three islands form a part of the Singapore Armed Forces' military training area and live-firing zone. Like other military bases, these three islands are strictly off limits to all civilians.

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More Sumatra squalls expected for Singapore

Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: The strong winds that toppled trees and smashed flowerpots across Singapore on early Thursday morning (June 12) were the result of a Sumatra squall, says the National Environment Agency (NEA).

A spokesman from NEA's Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said the squall affected Singapore between 2.15am and 3.30am, bringing rain and gusty winds to many parts of the island.

Those in the southwestern part of Singapore near the West Coast Highway experienced the highest wind speed of 103.7 km per hour. Several viewers sent in photographs of damage caused by the strong gusts, including fallen trees and collapsed roofs. The tents for the Hari Raya Bazaar at Geylang East Avenue 3 were also brought down by the massive gusts.

The highest wind speed ever recorded in Singapore was 144.4 km per hour back in 25 April 1984.

"Sumatra squalls are common during the South West Monsoon season, which typically lasts from June to September or early October," said the MSS spokesman. "For the next fortnight, we can expect a few days of short-duration afternoon showers with one to two Sumatra squalls."

The public can refer to the latest weather reports at the NEA website, NEA’s Smartphone App (myEnv), NEA’s mobile weather service at Weather@SG, Twitter via @NEAsg and the weather forecast hotline at 6542 7788.

- CNA/xy

Sumatra squall brings rain and gusty winds to Singapore
Today Online 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE – Winds of speeds as high as 103.7km/h were recorded early this morning (June 12), leaving behind fallen trees and collapsed tents on parts of the island.

The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said a Sumatra squall – which are common during the Southwest Monsoon season that typically lasts from June to early October – affected Singapore between 2.15am to 3.30am. The squall brought rain and gusty winds to many parts of the island, with the south-western part of Singapore near West Coast highway recording the highest wind speed of 103.7km/h. In comparison, the highest wind speed recorded was 144.4km/h, on April 25 1984.

The intense storms resulted in 18 incidences of fallen trees, 30 fallen branches, and six snapped trunks, said Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, Director, Streetscape, National Parks Board (Nparks).

There were no reports of injury, and the obstructions were cleared upon notification, he said.

The MSS also said for the next fortnight, there could be a few days of short-duration afternoon showers with one to two Sumatra squalls.

Strong winds topple trees, tents
TAN SHI WEI Today Online 13 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — Strong winds at speeds of as high as 103.7kmh were recorded early yesterday morning, toppling trees and collapsing tents in different parts of the island.

The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said a Sumatra squall — which is common during the Southwest Monsoon season that typically lasts from June to early October — affected Singapore between 2.15am and 3.30am.

The squall brought rain and gusty winds to many parts of the island. Yesterday’s highest wind speed of 103.7kmh was recorded at the south-western part of Singapore near West Coast Highway. In comparison, the highest wind speed recorded in Singapore was 144.4kmh on April 25, 1984.

The intense gusts and rain resulted in 18 fallen trees, 30 fallen branches and six snapped trunks, said Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, director of Streetscape at NParks. There were no reports of injuries and the obstructions were cleared up.

Mr Ang See Chien was driving along Sims Ave and Geylang Road when he saw the collapsed tents at Geylang Serai. “I saw that almost three-quarters of the tents collapsed, probably due to the heavy storm. Many HDB blocks near the vicinity had fallen bamboo sticks at the void decks. It is very dangerous as it concerns the safety of the public,” said the 53-year-old property manager.

MSS said there could be a few days of short afternoon showers with one or two Sumatra squalls over the next fortnight.

The public can call the NParks helpline at 1800 471 7300 to inform them of fallen trees. TAN SHI WEI

100kmh gusts topple trees and damage cars
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE - Violent gusts of wind during an early-morning storm yesterday downed trees, knocked tiles off roofs and caused fish farms to drift from their moorings.

The effects were felt from Pasir Panjang to Pulau Ubin as branches fell on cars, trees fell and caused jams.

Commuting to work in Chinatown from her Pasir Panjang home yesterday morning, lawyer Anamika Bagchi, 30, found the way blocked by fallen trees not once but twice - on South Buona Vista Road and near Tanglin.

"It took me an hour to get to work instead of the usual 15 minutes," she said.

There were about 10 cases of obstruction on roads here due to yesterday's storm, the Land Transport Authority said.

Magazine writer Rachel Tan, 26, who lives off Tanglin Road, said: "I woke to a shocking view on my balcony, with overturned furniture and tall potted plants that were knocked over - like a typhoon had just stopped by."

The widespread destruction was caused by a Sumatra squall between 2.15am and 3.30am that brought rain and gusty winds to many parts of the island, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

The highest wind speed recorded during the storm was 103.7kmh, near West Coast Highway. The highest wind speed recorded here was 144.4kmh on April 25, 1984, the MSS said.

Sumatra squalls are common during the south-west monsoon season, typically lasting from June to September or early October. "For the next fortnight, we can expect a few days of short-duration afternoon showers with one to two Sumatra squalls," an MSS spokesman said.

Yesterday's storm is unlikely to be linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon, said National University of Singapore weather researcher Winston Chow.

Rather, such strong gusts are caused by extremely strong pressure changes along the leading edge of the storm.

"Air from the surface gets thrust upwards, then pushed down rapidly, due to density differences between air parcels in the storm. The damage occurs primarily from these very strong downdrafts which are seen as short-lived but powerful gusts at the surface," he said.

It was a dark and stormy night
The New Paper AsiaOne 15 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE - Some residents were stirred by the angry rattling of windows at 3am.

Others, by the howling winds that raced through their housing estate.

And the winds tore branches off large trees, sending bits everywhere.

Retiree Peter Yu, 60, was out for his exercise at 9am when he realised a huge tree had fallen and covered much of the senior citizen fitness corner at Block 467A, Admiralty Drive.

"The first thing that went through my mind was to check if anyone was hurt," he said.

He estimates that the tree was at least seven storeys high and up to 3m wide.

Mr Yu learnt from the contractors clearing up the fallen wood that, fortunately, nobody had been injured.

"It was lucky that it happened before 5am because the place is usually busy, with people going to work and elderly people exercising there."

He said it took three to five hours for the contractors to clear the trees.

About five workers used chain saws to cut the fallen tree into smaller pieces, which were later loaded onto a lorry.


All across the island yesterday, residents woke up to the destruction caused by powerful winds.

Trees, a large tent and even part of a building's roof were damaged because of the strong gusts.

Some parts of Singapore were also hit by heavy rain.

Mr Muhammad Kamal, 53, was passing Geylang Serai with his wife when he noticed a large tent had fallen at the field along Geylang East Avenue 3.

"My wife suspected that it might be the strong winds that she experienced when she was going home at around 2am," said the logistics assistant.

"I was concerned for people's safety. I thought, 'What if this happened during the day when people are around?" he added.

Workers were seen rebuilding the tent yesterday afternoon.

The tent is meant for the Hari Raya Bazaar during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on June 29.

Other parts of Singapore also experienced the wind's wrath.

A section of the roof at a building in Penjuru Lane had collapsed.

Citizen journalism website Stomp reported that a large tree branch had fallen on a parked car and van.

A Meteorological Service Singapore spokesman said the rain and gusty winds were due to a passing Sumatra squall between 2.15am and 3.30am yesterday.

The spokesman added that one to two Sumatra squalls can be expected in the next fortnight, accompanied by a few days of short afternoon showers.

What is a Sumatra squall?

Sumatra squalls are lines of thunderstorms which usually occur between March and November each year.

They move from Sumatra towards Singapore, usually during the pre-dawn or early morning hours.

The thunderstorms are often characterised by sudden onset of strong. gusty winds and heavy rain.

Yesterday, south-western Singapore recorded the highest wind speed of the night with 103.7kmh. This happened at 2.50am.

But this was lower than the highest wind speed on record - 144.4kmh recorded on April 25, 1984.

The south-west monsoon season, from June to early October, sees favourable winds for these storms. They can last for up to two hours as they move across the island.

Information from Meteorological Service Singapore and National Environment Agency

Related link
Stormy shores: The Sumatras on the wild shores of singapore blog

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NEA to provide daily haze forecasts from Monday

Channel NewsAsia 13 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: With the onset of the traditional dry season, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will start providing daily haze forecasts and health advisories starting next Monday (June 16), the agency said on Friday.

The dry season raises the possibility of transboundary haze, the NEA said. “Over the past few days, drier weather conditions have affected parts of the region, and isolated hotspot activities were visible in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan. In the coming weeks, the prevailing Southwest Monsoon is expected to strengthen and persist with winds forecast to blow mostly from the southeast or southwest,” it said.

The Meteorological Service Singapore had also earlier forecast weak to moderate El Nino conditions to develop in the next few months, which could exacerbate the drier and warmer conditions and increasing the risk of transboundary smoke haze from land and forest fires in the region, the agency added.

Forecasts and advisories will be based on the new Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) system, which incorporates the measurement of PM2.5 pollutants, the NEA said. The advisories will also take into account the revised Ministry of Health’s health guidelines and the Ministry of Manpower’s workplace guidelines.

The public will be able to read the latest advisories at the Government’s haze microsite, or the NEA website.

- CNA/cy

Daily haze updates to start on Monday
Feng Zeng Kun The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE - Daily haze forecasts and health advisories will be issued from Monday as the start of the south-west monsoon season brings the possibility of smoke-filled skies.

The traditional dry season for the southern ASEAN region is likely to be worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon this year - leading to a higher fire and haze risk - so the National Environment Agency will provide updates through its Twitter and Facebook pages, website and microsite

The agency said yesterday that certain areas of the region have experienced drier weather over the past few days, with isolated hot spots visible in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia. Earlier this week, Indonesian national news agency Antara said satellites had detected 227 hot spots across Sumatra on Sunday, the highest number in three months.

The south-west monsoon is expected to strengthen and persist in the coming weeks, and the winds could bring with them smoke from Indonesia - caused when farmers burn land illegally to clear it for agricultural use.

The months of June to September are traditionally drier for countries across the southern ASEAN region, comprising Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern parts of the Philippines and Thailand.

But they could be drier than usual this year, with some scientists now warning that there is a 90 per cent chance of the El Nino weather phenomenon - linked to drier weather - occurring before the end of the year.

One silver lining is that the European Centre for Medium- range Weather Forecasts - considered one of the world's most reliable prediction centres - said this week that the effect of the El Nino is likely to be moderate. It added that the situation will be clearer "in the next month or two".

Meteorological Service Singapore has predicted a "weak to moderate" El Nino, with rainfall here from June to September expected to be 10 per cent to 40 per cent lower than the long-term averages.

Average daily temperatures for those months are expected to be 1 deg C higher than the long-term averages of 27.2 deg C to 27.7 deg C.

People in Singapore have already felt the heat, with the highest recorded temperatures from Monday to Wednesday ranging from 35 deg C to 36.2 deg C.

On Wednesday, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono called on Singapore's Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan. He stressed Indonesia's commitment to resolve the recurrent problem and welcomed Singapore's offers of assistance.

The Republic has offered to provide, among other things, high-resolution satellite images and hot spot coordinates, Singapore Civil Defence Force teams, and even an aircraft for cloud-seeding.

Dr Balakrishnan said on Facebook that it was "a very good meeting", adding: "We agreed both governments need to work closely to safeguard the health and welfare of citizens from both Indonesia and Singapore."

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Indonesia: VP Boediono warns of larger risk of forest fires

Antara 12 Jun 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian vice president Boediono has warned of a larger risk of forest fires in the country due to a possible intense and longer drought caused by the El Nino phenomena.

"We must reduce the risk of forest fires. I appeal to all levels of the government to agree on action plans for a more coordinated and effective effort to prevent them," he said when opening a meeting on the prevention and mitigation of forest fires at his office here on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan, defense forces commander General Moeldoko, Attorney General Basrief Arief, deputy National Police chief Badrodin Haiti, deputy minister of agriculture Rusman Heriawan, chief of the Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control (UKP4) Kuntoro Mangkusubroto and chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Syamsul Maarif.

Boediono said every year, especially at the peak of the dry season, Indonesia is busy overcoming forest fires. While they are costly, uncontrolled forest fires can also tarnish Indonesias image before its neighbors as the smoke from the fires affect those countries.

He said several factors had made him give special attention to the issue, including the possibility of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

He said although peak of the drought has not occurred, hot spots have already been detected in several locations.

According to the UKP4 data, a total of 8,400 hotspots were detected in licensed forest concession areas in Riau province in the period of January-June.

In view of that, he has emphasized the importance of taking law enforcement actions.

"Law enforcement in the field is important for a deterrent effect," he said, adding the government will not like to be burdened with extinguishing forest fires every year and waste trillions of rupiah in the budget.

The Riau provinces regional police command had received 70 reports of forest fire cases, out of which 55 was investigated for the judicial process with 116 suspects and seven suspects still at large.

"What is encouraging is that police officers have also tackled the intellectual actors," Kuntoro said.

Meanwhile, Zulkifli Hasan said Riau was the most vulnerable and therefore he will continue the assignment of the team that had so far been tasked with overcoming forest fires in the province, although the size of fires currently was smaller.

"They must go for patrol every day, with two helicopters standing by. Soon after a fire occurs, the team will immediately handle it and if violations are detected suspects will be arrested," he added.

(Reporting by Ahmad Wijaya/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/A014)
Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Green elements a must for more developments in Singapore: URA

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: In its push to introduce more greenery in the Republic's urban landscape, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday (June 12) unveiled enhancements to its Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High Rises (LUSH) programme.

In a statement, the URA said LUSH 2.0 will cover more geographical parts of Singapore, and include more development types from the original scheme. Come Sept 12 this year, new private buildings and redevelopments will be required to replace the greenery they have displaced in building their projects, it said.

For instance, the landscape replacement policy originally applied only to new developments in areas around Marina Bay, Kallang Riverside and Jurong Gateway.

With the enhancement, the policy will extend to all new developments and redevelopments in:
Marina South
Part of Orchard Planning Area
Two mixed-use parcels along Orchard Boulevard in Paterson Hill
Subzone Woodlands Regional Centre
Punggol Creative Cluster
Tampines Regional Centre
Paya Lebar Central

Commercial and mixed-use developments within 19 Town Centres, including Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi and Bishan

Qualifying developments will need to incorporate green landscaping on at least 40 percent of the land area they occupy.

Commercial and residential developments elsewhere in Singapore will also have to set aside at least 30 per cent of their land area for green spaces.

The URA will extend its Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) for Outdoor Refreshment Areas (ORAs) on landscaped rooftops beyond developments that converted their existing roof into a roof garden or green roof. This originally applied only to existing buildings in the Orchard and Downtown Core planning areas. Now, it will extend to new developments and redevelopment proposals, as well as commercial and mixed use developments in parts of the Singapore River.

"This encourages new building owners to incorporate rooftop ORAs and required landscaping as part of their overall designs of the development from the start. In this way, we will be able to realise more of such green rooftop features," said the URA statement.

URA CEO Ng Lang said the enhanced programme is an effort involving many partner agencies, developers and building owners. "Through LUSH 2.0, we hope to bring greenery literally to greater heights in Singapore," he said.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan had on Thursday lauded the impact LUSH had on the urban landscape, noting that the programme has added more than 40 hectares of green spaces within Singapore's urban environment.

- CNA/kk

URA's urban greening initiative taking root: Khaw
Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: The Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High Rises (LUSH) programme by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is helping spread the "green message" in Singapore, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

In a blogpost on Thursday (June 12), Mr Khaw said the LUSH initiative has supported the development of 40 hectare (ha) of new high-rise and urban greenery, equivalent to the size of 130 primary school fields.

More than one-third of shopping malls, offices and hotels have applied for LUSH incentives in the last two years, while more than half of eligible residential developments have done likewise, the minister revealed.

In fact, in areas such as Marina Bay and Jurong Gateway, URA mandates developers to replace greenery they have displaced with green communal spaces that are "at least equivalent to the land area of the development" - a 100 per cent replacement, he said.

One example of such a development is the Westgate shopping mall at Jurong Gateway, with its "lush vertical greenery, sky terraces and roof gardens", he added.

"We are pleased with what LUSH has accomplished and have decided to do more, through additional incentives and regulations. Our aim is to make Singapore a great garden, and a great home," Mr Khaw said, adding URA will announce details of the incentives and regulations "shortly".

- CNA/kk

Lush spreads its green cover further
Janice Heng and Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Jun 14;

TO ENCOURAGE skyrise greenery such as roof gardens in private developments, more areas will be subject to regulations and developers given more incentives under an enhanced government scheme.

Since the Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme started in 2009, it has supported the addition of 40ha of new urban greenery - the size of 130 primary school fields - in new developments.

In a blog post yesterday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "We are pleased with what Lush has accomplished and have decided to do more, through additional incentives and regulations."

Under the original programme, all new projects in Marina Bay, Kallang Riverside and Jurong Gateway had to replace greenery lost with landscaped spaces at least equal to the site's land area.

Under the enhanced scheme, dubbed Lush 2.0, the policy will apply to all new projects and redevelopments in Marina South and the Orchard area.

It will also cover the Woodlands Regional Centre, Punggol Creative Cluster, Tampines Regional Centre and Paya Lebar Central, as well as commercial and commercial/residential projects in 19 town centres.

New replacement requirements have also been introduced for other areas. All non-landed residential, commercial, mixed-use and hotel developments must provide a minimum level of pure greenery (varying by land use intensity).

The changes kick in on Sept 12. But bigger sweeteners for developers kicked in yesterday.

If existing buildings in the Orchard and Downtown Core areas convert rooftops into gardens, developers can get bonus gross floor area (GFA) for an outdoor dining area. Lush 2.0 extends this to new developments and redevelopment proposals, as well as commercial and mixed-use developments in parts of the Singapore River area.

Lush 2.0 also has more flexibility for GFA exemptions. Previously, these were granted for planter boxes of up to a metre's width. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will now consider exemptions for wider planter boxes if they are part of an overall design for more greenery.

There was also a limit on GFA exemptions for covered gardens on the ground. URA will consider going beyond it for good designs.

CapitaLand group chief corporate officer Tan Seng Chai noted that skyrise greenery not only brings people closer to nature but also reduces urban heat gain and could thus save energy needed for cooling buildings.

In the last two years, 62 per cent of residential projects approved by the URA and 34 per cent of commercial, hotel or mixed projects took up Lush incentives.

Mr Veera Sekaran, managing director of landscape firm Greenology, said his industry needs professionals who understand aspects of urban greening, such as choosing plant species which can survive in an urban environment.

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Indonesia: Fishery ministry warns against breeding of foreign fish species

Antara 11 Jun 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The marine and fishery ministry has warned of extinction of Indonesian endemic fish species with the breeding of foreign fish species in Indonesian waters.

Extinction of certain endemic fish species in a number of Indonesian waters pose a serious threat to the efforts to preserve the variety of the countrys fish resources, Marine and Fisheries Minister Sharif C. Sutardjo said here on Wednesday.

This should serve as a lesson for the country to take a concrete step immediately to minimize and prevent the negative effects of breeding foreign fish species in the countrys waters, Sharif said.

He said the ministry already took a number of preventive measure such as with the issuance of regulation based on the United Nations Convention animal diversity .

The ministry has also provided reference for steps to be taken by related institutions in controlling invasive species , he said in a seminar on strategy to control invasive fish species here on Monday.

For that purpose it is necessary to identify invasive fish species that control and supervision could be directed properly and effectively, he added.

He said in order to prevent and control invasive species all related agencies need to be involved through strong coordination in addressing the problem caused .

The government needs to support research development related to negative impact of the breeding of invasive foreign fish species in the Indonesian waters, he said.

He cited the agriculture ministry, the forestry ministry and the ministry of environment should take part in the efforts to preserve Indonesian endemic fish species.

The efforts should be under the coordination of the ministry of the environment as the focal point of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), he said.

A complete information system is needed on the breeding and spreading of invasive species and to detect the threat to the existence of endemic fish species in the country.

Head of the Fish Quarantine Agency (BKIPM)Narmoko Prasmadji said on the sideline of the seminar that control must be tight in all ports to prevent entry of potential invasive fish species.

Narmoko said the introduction of foreign fish species already had negative impact in Indonesia and many other countries.

He cited the explosion of the population of gold snail and mujair, a fresh water fish species, creating imbalance even causing extinction of other fish species .

A number of local endemic fish species have fallen victim to the explosion of the invasive foreign fish species, he said.

The population of Mujair in the Cirata dam has declined but ironically Louhan fish grew fast and in the Sempor dam where originally Betik fish was found in abundance is now near extinction giving ground for Louhan and Oscar fish species , he noted.

Similar trend was also found in a number of Indonesian sea waters.

Narmoko said the foreign fishes have also brought fish diseases to the country.

He said there were 13 foreign fish diseases have been identified in the country such as Lerneae cyprinacea attcking fresh water gold fish, Viral Nervous Necrosis Virus (VNNV) attacking the groupers, Koi herpes virus (KHV) attacking Koi and Gold fish and White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and taura Syndrome Virus (TSV) attacking shrimp.(*)
Editor: Heru

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John Kerry launches global effort to save world's oceans 'under siege'

US secretary of state hoping to build momentum for protection effort at two-day State Department summit on 16-17 June
Suzanne Goldenberg 11 Jun 14;

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, launched a new global effort on Wednesday to save oceans “under siege” from over-fishing, plastic pollution and climate change.

Kerry said he hoped to build momentum for the protection effort at a two-day summit at the State Department next week.

The 16-17 June gathering will for the first time bring together world leaders, business executives, scientists, and environmental activists in an attempt to deal with major threats to oceans.

“Increasingly, the ocean is threatened,” Kerry told a small group of reporters at the State Department. “The world's oceans, as vast as they are, as much as they elicit a sense of awe for size and power, they are under siege.”

Next week's summit offers Kerry a chance to elevate those concerns in the public arena.

State Department officials said the conference is an important start to a much broader effort to mobilise the international community around ocean protection.

For Kerry the issue is personal. He said he been passionate about the oceans since he was a small child growing up in Massachusetts and as a young man serving in the navy.

In the Senate, Kerry was known as a champion on both oceans and climate change. He told reporters he had worked for years to end drift net fishing – which he likened to strip mining.

Next week's summit is an attempt to get the international community to focus on three major threats: over-fishing, pollution, and acidification, which is caused by climate change.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the threat to food security from over-fishing. Global fisheries stocks are severely depleted – from illegal and unsustainable fishing, and because of changing migration patterns under climate change.

“Most of the world's fisheries are being overfished,” Kerry said. New technologies made it easier to monitor shipping vessels on the high seas and even track catches from ship to port.

But Kerry acknowledged there remained a big gap between regulations and enforcement. “The problem is there is a great debate over the science. There is a great battle over who is right and how do you base a regulatory rule on something if you don't really know,” he said.

Officials and some environmental groups said they hoped the summit would spur efforts to get the public to commit to only buy sustainable seafood, as a way of safeguarding severely depleted fishing stocks.

There was growing anticipation that American and British officials would commit to new marine protection areas, which would allow some stocks to recover.

There could also be moves by some companies to sign on to efforts to collect their plastic products, before they end up as ocean debris.

The State Department said it also hoped to set specific targets for reducing plastic that goes into the sea, as well as fertiliser run-off which is polluting water ways and adding to ocean dead zones.

But Kerry faces only limited scope for concrete results.

State Department officials said they expected perhaps a handful of prime ministers and presidents at the summit, mostly from small island states.

There is virtually no chance of getting any action from Congress, so long as it remains dominated by Republicans.

But Kerry and officials said they hoped the mix of guests at the summit could help unlock efforts to deal with ocean threats. The conference would be part of a longstanding initiative to elevate oceans as part of foreign policy. “We want to come out of it with an action agenda,” he said.

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More than 90% of lemurs face extinction, IUCN warns

Updated 'red list' describes the primates as one of the most threatened groups of animals on Earth
Jessica Aldred The Guardian 12 Jun 14;

More than 90% of lemurs are facing extinction, according to the latest global assessment of the world’s most threatened species.

The update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “red list”, which contains more than 73,000 species around the world, also warned that temperate slipper orchids and the Japanese eel have joined the list of the 22,103 species now classed by experts as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

With 90 species of lemur now classed as being at risk of extinction (91%), the primates are one of the most threatened groups of animals on Earth. Of the 99 known species – which live only on the island of Madagascar off the coast of east Africa – 22 are critically endangered, including the largest living lemur, the large-bodied Indri (Indri indri). Almost half (48 species) are endangered, including the world’s smallest primate, Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae). Twenty lemurs were listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Lemurs are threatened by the destruction of their tropical forest habitat in Madagascar, where political instability and rising levels of poverty in the past 20 years have accelerated illegal logging. As much as 90% of the original natural vegetation on the island has been destroyed and what remains is severely fragmented. Lemurs – members of the primate family – are also being hunted for food.

Dr Thomas Lacher, of Texas A&M University, said: “The high level of threat among lemurs is particularly troubling and calls for significant conservation action. These distinctive primates serve a critical role in the threatened ecosystems of Madagascar. They also represent an important source of tourism revenue for the country, and as a result are a clear case where conservation can provide local economic benefits.”

The red list also flagged up the threat to slipper orchids, finding that 79% of the popular ornamental plants found in North America, Europe and temperate parts of Asia are threatened with extinction.

The plants, which have slipper-shaped flowers that trap insects to ensure pollination, have suffered from habitat loss and over-collection of the wild species for trade, even though international trade is regulated.

“What was most surprising about this assessment was the degree of threat to these orchids,” said Hassan Rankou of the IUCN’s orchid specialist group, which is based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Slipper orchids are popular in the multimillion-dollar horticultural industry. Although the industry is sustained by cultivated stock, conservation of wild species is vital for its future.”

Other species of concern are the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica), a traditional delicacy and the country’s most expensive food fish, which has been listed as endangered due to loss of habitat, overfishing, barriers to migration, pollution and changes to oceanic currents. The freckled cypripedium (Cypripedium lentiginosum) plant, which has fewer than 100 individuals left in south-eastern Yunnan in China and the Ha Giang province of Vietnam, was also listed as endangered due to over-collection and deforestation.

The banana orchid (Myrmecophila thomsoniana), the national flower of the Cayman Islands, had been assessed for the first time and listed as endangered due to loss of habitat for housing and tourism developments.

A reassessment of the Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) – the mascot for this year’s football World Cup – found it remained vulnerable to extinction and has declined by more than one-third in the past 10-15 years due to loss of half its shrubland habitat.

But there was good news for Israel’s Yarkon bream (Acanthobrama telavivensis), a fish species whose status went from extinct in the wild to vulnerable as a result of a captive breeding programme and release of 9,000 fish into restored habitat in the country’s rivers.

Some 73,686 species were assessed by conservationists for the red list, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year. The latest update listed 4,554 species as critically endangered, 6,807 species as endangered and 10,742 species as vulnerable to extinction.

IUCN Red List raises more red flags for threatened species
IUCN 12 Jun 14;

The IUCN Red List, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, now includes 73,686 assessed species, of which 22,103 are threatened with extinction.

“Over the last fifty years, The IUCN Red List has guided conservation work – very little positive action happens without the Red List as a starting point," says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “This is no small achievement but so much more needs to be done. We need to continue to expand our knowledge about the world’s species to better understand the challenges we face, set global conservation priorities and mobilise concrete action to halt the biodiversity crisis.”

The global assessment of temperate slipper orchids, occurring in North America, Europe and temperate Asia, reveals that 79% of these popular ornamental plants are threatened with extinction. This is mainly due to habitat destruction and over-collection of wild species for local and international trade, despite the fact that international trade in all species of slipper orchids is regulated. Temperate slipper orchids are among the best-known and most widely illustrated of all flowering plants, with characteristic slipper-shaped flowers which trap insects to ensure pollination.

“What was most surprising about this assessment was the degree of threat to these orchids,” says Hassan Rankou, the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Red List Authority for the Orchid Specialist Group, which is hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Slipper orchids are popular in the multimillion-dollar horticultural industry. Although the industry is sustained by cultivated stock, conservation of wild species is vital for its future.”

The Endangered Freckled Cypripedium (Cypripedium lentiginosum) has fewer than 100 individuals remaining in south-eastern Yunnan in China and Ha Giang province of Viet Nam. Its decline is due to over-collection and deforestation. Also Endangered, Dickinson's Cypripedium (C. dickinsonianum) is known only from a few scattered populations in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Its open forest habitat is being cleared for agriculture and the lopping of trees is changing the environmental conditions which allow orchids and other under-storey plants to thrive.

This IUCN Red List update confirms reports that 94% of lemurs are threatened with extinction. Of the 101 surviving lemur species, 22 are Critically Endangered, including the largest of the living lemurs the Large-bodied Indri (Indri indri). A total of 48 are Endangered, such as the world’s smallest primate, Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus berthae), and 20 are Vulnerable. This makes them one of the most threatened groups of vertebrates on Earth.

Lemurs are threatened by destruction of their tropical forest habitat in Madagascar, where political uncertainty and increasing poverty levels have accelerated illegal logging. Hunting of these animals for food has also emerged as a serious issue.

“Despite profound threats to lemurs, which have been exacerbated by the political crisis in Madagascar, we believe there is still hope,” says Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Vice-Chair for Madagascar of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and Director of Conservation at the Bristol Zoological Society. “Past successes demonstrate that collaboration between local communities, non-governmental organisations and researchers can protect imperiled primate species. We urgently invite all actors to join our efforts to ensure the continued existence of lemurs and the biological, cultural and economic richness they represent.”

The Japanese Eel (Anguilla japonica) – a traditional delicacy in Japan and the country’s most expensive food fish – has been listed as Endangered due to loss of habitat, overfishing, barriers to migration, pollution and changes to oceanic currents. East Asia is a hub for farming, trade and consumption of this species and its decline has meant that trade in other eel species, such as the Shortfin Eel (A. bicolor) has increased.

“While the status of this species is of great concern, the assessment of the Japanese Eel and other eels is a hugely positive step,” says Dr Matthew Gollock, Chair of the IUCN Anguillid Specialist Sub-Group. “This information will allow us to prioritise conservation efforts for eel species and the freshwater ecosystem more broadly.”

This IUCN Red List update also includes the re-assessment of the 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot, the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus). The species is believed to have declined by more than a third over the last 10 to15 years due to a 50% loss of its dry shrubland “Caatinga” habitat. Its status remains Vulnerable.

The National flower of the Cayman Islands, the Banana Orchid (Myrmecophila thomsoniana), has been assessed for the first time and is listed as Endangered. Banana Orchids occur throughout dry forest and shrubland on all three of the Cayman Islands but are threatened by accelerating habitat loss to accommodate housing and tourism development. Protection of suitable habitat on all three islands is the most pressing conservation action needed for this species.

Governor Laffan's Fern (Diplazium laffanianum), a relatively large fern which used to be found in caves and rocky crevices in Bermuda, is now Extinct in the Wild due to the destruction of its habitat by human activities and introduction of invasive alien species. It was last seen in 1905.

The update highlights the recovery of one fish species thanks to conservation work under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The Yarkon Bream (Acanthobrama telavivensis), found only in Israel, has significantly improved in status, moving from Extinct in the Wild to Vulnerable. Increasing frequency of droughts and water extraction for irrigation destroyed its only remaining habitat in the Yarkon River and Tut Stream. The species was saved by taking 120 of the last wild fish into a captive breeding programme at Tel Aviv University. In 2006, 9,000 laboratory-born Yarkon Bream were released into restored habitat in the Yarkon and other rivers in Israel. Eight years later, the population has increased significantly.

“Whilst with every IUCN Red List we celebrate some conservation successes, there is a long way to go between where we are now and 2020, the deadline set by nearly 200 governments to halt biodiversity loss and prevent species extinctions,” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “We simply cannot afford to miss that deadline.”

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UK chief scientist calls for urgent debate on climate change mitigation

It's time to move on from the basics of whether global warming is happening to how best to respond, says chief science adviser
Ian Sample The Guardian 12 Jun 14;

Britain's chief scientist has called for researchers to speak out about the risks and benefits of strategies for tackling climate change before national policies are set by the government.

Sir Mark Walport, the government's top science adviser, said the climate change debate had to move on from arguments over the reality of global warming to more pressing questions of what the country should do in response.

In an interview with the Guardian, Walport urged scientists and engineers to be vocal about the pros and cons of new energy sources and technologies designed to combat climate change to ensure that policy decisions came from a public debate based on solid evidence.

"Climate change is happening and humans are significant contributors, and that raises some really important policy questions," Walport said. "Scientists should be setting out the options and explaining what happens in each case. The debate has to move on to what are we going to do about climate change, and how are we going to do it."

The intervention comes after a speaking tour of Britain during which Walport said audiences wanted to hear more on how science could be used to forge good policies. He said that while policy decisions could be taken only by society as a whole, researchers must be more vociferous about the risks and uncertainties of different technologies and strategies proposed to curb climate change.

"We can only have a good conversation about this if we have good communication from the scientists. More scientists need to do it and they need to do it well. They must talk, write and communicate about the science, technology and engineering," Walport said.

The shift in focus would bring an endless range of questions to the fore, and feed into decisions on the best energy mix for Britain, ways to decarbonise agriculture and transport, and options for boosting energy efficiency.

On the issue of energy, Walport said that evidence from scientists and engineers showed that fracking was a safe technology when done properly, and that risks of methane leaks, tremors and contamination of groundwater could all be managed. But he added that science was only one aspect of a much larger debate around fracking.

"It's not up to scientists. It's a political decision and a societal decision. One thing we cannot do is turn off our power supply. Advanced societies depend on it," Walport said.

UN talks that aim to reach a legally binding agreement on curbing global emissions continue in Bonn this week. But the difficulties in thrashing out a global deal highlight the clash of priorities that governments face.

To give a clearer picture on the likely impacts of different policies, scientists and engineers need to explain what is known and what remains uncertain for the UK and abroad where disruption caused by climate change could have knock-on effects around the world.

Richard Tol, an economics professor who specialises in climate change and energy issues at Sussex University, agreed that the debate needed to move on. "Any discussion around climate policy is mostly about climate science, or rapidly degenerates into a debate around climate science," he said. "It's time the debate is shifted."

Part of the problem, Tol said, is that climate modellers and experts in the basic science of climate change are often the ones invited on to public discussion panels, rather than experts in solar panels, agriculture or insulation.

Beyond the major issue of what is the best mix of energy sources for Britain lie other major questions around agriculture, which causes 9% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. "If you are serious about cutting methane emissions, it means giving up cows' milk and giving up cow meat. What are the alternatives? Kangaroo is a good alternative, but the problem is these animals tend to jump," said Tol.

Benny Peiser, director of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is against many policies to tackle global warming, welcomed Walport's call to action. "It's not about the nitty-gritty details of the science. It's about finding the best way of dealing with a big issue that has a potential to cause a lot of problems in the future," he said.

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