Best of our wild blogs: 26 Jun 14

Sat 28 Jun 2014: 2.00pm – Encore performance of “The Secret Lives of Mammals” @ Singapore Science Centre
from Otterman speaks

Conversations on Sustainable Singapore (Food Security)
from Green Future Solutions

Butterflies Galore! : Club Silverline
from Butterflies of Singapore

When the Durians Fall at Pulau Ubin
from Remember Singapore

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Indonesia fires spark Singapore, Malaysia haze warning

AFP Yahoo News 25 Jun 14;

Jakarta (AFP) - Indonesia's disaster agency warned Wednesday that neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia could be hit by more choking smog, after a huge jump in forest fires in a province at the centre of an air pollution crisis last year.

Fires in Riau province, on Indonesia's western Sumatra island, caused the worst haze in Southeast Asia for more than a decade in June last year, affecting daily life for millions and sparking a heated diplomatic row.

June is the start of the forest fire season -- when slash-and-burn techniques are used to clear land quickly and cheaply, often for palm oil plantations -- and disaster officials said the number of blazes in Riau was rising quickly.

A total of 366 "hotspots" -- either forest fires or areas likely to soon go up in flames -- had been detected in the province on Wednesday, up from 97 the previous day, according to disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

"We must be on alert as the wind is travelling east-northeast. The likelihood of the smog reaching Singapore and Malaysia is getting higher," Nugroho said.

Experts have said that an expected El Nino weather phenomenon later this year is likely to fan the forest fires as conditions become drier than usual.

El Nino drags precipitation across the Pacific Ocean, leaving countries including Indonesia drier and parts of the Americas wetter.

But the latest outbreak of forest fires was yet to have any serious impact on daily life in Sumatra, and the skies over Singapore were still free of haze.

Authorities said that most of the forest fires last year were deliberately lit to clear land. Slash-and-burn is a traditional farming technique, but environmental groups also accuse big companies of using the method.

According to the Washington-based World Resources Institute, a large number of the recent fires have been linked to paper and palm oil giants and their suppliers.

Using data from satellite mapping tools, it found 75 hotspots between Saturday and Monday in areas where Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the world's largest paper companies, has operations.

A further 43 hotspots were found in areas occupied by suppliers to paper company Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) in the same period.

Aida Greenbury, APP managing director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement, said 10 fires had occurred on forest land run by APP's suppliers in the past five days, all of which had been extinguished.

"We do not practise and highly condemn slash-and-burn activity," she said.

APRIL said it had agreed to support the fire-fighting effort, lending its water pumps and a company helicopter.

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Malaysia: Put out forest fires in Sumatra, KL tells Jakarta


KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA has urged Indonesia to immediately extinguish forest fires in Central Sumatra that are worsening the haze situation in the country.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said Indonesia needed to not only stop the forest fires from spreading but also prevent them.

He said the call was extended to Indonesia in a letter by Department of Environment director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan to her Indonesian counterpart.

“The letter expresses Malaysia’s concern with the increase of hot spots which cause haze in the peninsula since Sunday,” he said yesterday.

Palanivel said the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in Singapore had reported that the number of hot spots in Sumatra rose to 143 yesterday from 129 on Monday.

Twently-five hot spots have been identified in Pahang, Johor (four), Sarawak (three) and one each in Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Selangor, Perak and Penang.

“The hot spots will be investigated and the relevant authorities will take action.”

As of 4pm yesterday, the air pollution index (API) for all states nationwide recorded moderate or good levels.

The situation showed an improvement from the readings four hours earlier, when unhealthy API levels were recorded in Port Klang (102), Shah Alam (103), Cheras (102) and Putrajaya (107).

Palanivel said the southwest monsoon played a major role in bringing the haze to Malaysia and this was expected to continue until September.

“Since February, the ministry had taken various measures to overcome this issue, including banning open burning to offset the impact compounded by the southwest monsoon and El Nino.”

Meteorological Department is corporate and commercial director Maznorizan Mohamad said the increase in the API levels was because of the current dry and hot weather.

“The dry spell has triggered forest fires that contribute to the formation of smoke and haze.”

She said the situation was expected to improve in September during the inter-monsoon phase.

Meanwhile, clinics and hospitals have been advised to have sufficient medications and medical supplies as the number of patients was expected to increase.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam advised the public to limit their outdoor activities, drink plenty of water, maintain good hygiene and use masks when going outdoors.

He said according to the National Haze Action Plan 2014, schools could be shut down if the API indicated an unhealthy level of 200 for more than 48 hours.

Put out Sumatra fires, Indonesia told
rahimy rahim AND hemananthani sivanandam The Star 26 Jun 14;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has called upon Indonesia to immediately extinguish and prevent further land and forest fires in Central Sumatra that are responsible for the transboundary haze since Sunday, says Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

In a statement yesterday, he said the country expressed its concern over the increase in the number of hotspots in Indonesia, in a letter written by the Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan to her Indonesian counterpart.

“The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre reported that 143 hotspots were detected by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellites over Sumatra on Tuesday, compared with 129 hotspots a day earlier,” said Palanivel.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, via his official Twitter account, urged Malaysians to stay hydrated, remain indoors, as well as to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, 25 local hotspots have been identified in Pahang (12), Johor (four), Sarawak (three) and one each in Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Selangor and Penang.

Earlier yesterday, several areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index readings, with Banting, Kuala Selangor, Port Klang, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam reaching unhealthy levels in the morning.

Similar readings were recorded for Batu Muda and Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, as well as Nilai in Negri Sembilan.

As of 8am, Putrajaya, Banting and Port Klang had API readings of 113, 109 and 108 respectively, but the areas recorded good and moderate readings after 1pm.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said government clinics and hospitals were prepared to ensure patients got the best treatment.

He said the ministry, through the state health departments, were also monitoring haze-related illnesses such as upper respiratory tract infections and asthma at selected clinics nationwide.

Subramaniam said, based on the National Haze Action Plan, schools in areas with API readings above 200 for 48 hours can close, while schools were also advised to stop outdoor activities if the API went above 150.

An API reading between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and anything above that, hazardous.

In Jakarta, Indonesia’s disaster agency warned that haze could return to Singapore and Malaysia after a huge jump in forest fires in Riau at the centre of a smog crisis last year, AFP reported.

Fires in Riau on western Sumatra island caused the worst outbreak of haze in Southeast Asia for more than a decade in June last year, affecting daily life for millions and sparking a diplomatic row.

June is the start of the forest fire season ­­— when slash-and-burn techniques are used to clear land quickly and cheaply, often for palm oil plantations — and disaster officials said the number of blazes in Riau was rising quickly.

Haze: Malaysia calls for immediate action by Indonesia
The Star 25 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has called for immediate action by Indonesia to extinguish and prevent further land and forest fires in Central Sumatra, Indonesia, that were responsible for the cross border haze.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the call was expressed to Indonesia in a letter written by Environment director general Datuk Halimah Hassan to her counterpart at the Environment Ministry in Indonesia.

"The letter was to express Malaysia's concern about the increase in number of hotspots causing the haze in the peninsula since June 22," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) had reported that the hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia rose to 143 yesterday from 129 on Monday.

Aside from that, 25 local hotspots have been identified, in Pahang (12), Johor (4), Sarawak (3), Kedah (1), Kelantan (1), Melaka (1), Selangor (1), Perak (1) and Penang (1).

"The hotspots will be investigated, and appropriate action will be taken by the relevant authorities," he said.

As at 9 am today, unhealthy air pollution index (API) readings were recorded in Putrajaya (112), Banting (108), Port Klang (107), Shah Alam (106), Cheras (106), Nilai (104), Petaling Jaya (103) and Batu Muda (103).

Palanivel said the API deterioration was influenced by the cross border haze fanned by the southwest monsoon and is expected to persist until September.

According to him, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite images issued by the ASMC yesterday showed moderate haze drifting from burning areas in Riau, Central Sumatra towards the central region and southwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Palanivel said the ministry through the environment department had taken various measures including banning of open burning since February to offset the impact compounded by the southwest monsoon and El Nino. - Bernama

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New unit to study threats like volcanic ash, radioactive fallout

David Ee and Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 14;

A new unit within the Meteorological Service Singapore is studying the risk of not just known threats such as haze but also of lesser-known ones such as volcanic ash, radioactive fallout, tsunamis, storm surges and even particles from outer space.

The Hazard Risk and Impact Assessment Unit was set up last year partly to better understand emerging hazards that, though relatively rare, could affect Singapore.

For instance, sudden releases of energy from the sun called solar flares have been known to eject clouds of particles travelling at high speed that bombard the earth within a day or two.

These could disrupt satellites and power grids. They could also affect the transmission of radio waves, which commercial planes rely on for communication.

"Every threat that we have ever faced has started out as not very important," said unit deputy director Felicia Shaw.

For example, storm surges - rising seawater caused by tropical cyclones - have been more prevalent in the region than here. But Dr Shaw noted that Singapore is surrounded by the sea and has experienced minor surges before.

Ash from nearby volcanic eruptions could also reach the Republic. Sensors will be installed by year-end to determine more quickly if, and how, this would happen.

There is also the threat of radioactive fallout from accidents at nuclear plants. Neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have shown interest in nuclear energy.

"We need to study (all these hazards) and assure ourselves that we are prepared," said Dr Shaw.

The new unit is also developing tools to analyse the haze better. It plans to install aerosol and wind lidars by this year. These use lasers and radar to collect data on particles in the atmosphere and wind speeds and direction.

Meanwhile, researchers from the Meteorological Service's Centre for Climate Research Singapore have worked out why Singapore had a record dry spell this February - and are trying to pin down if it will happen again.

The dry spell, when rainfall was 45 per cent to 100 per cent below the month's long-term average, was due to cool dry air sinking over the Malaysian peninsula as warm damp air rose further east. At the time, Singapore was in the dry phase of the Madden- Julian oscillation, an eastward procession of varying wet and dry weather that cycles over the tropics every 30 to 60 days.

As the long dry spell was such a rarity, and that combination of conditions had not been seen since 1948, the centre's researchers are trying to simulate those conditions with computer models.

The centre is refining its climate and weather prediction models but it will be "a year or two" before these can be used for precise forecasts.

Said its director Chris Gordon: "We're trying to answer the question, what are the causes of extremes in the region, both wet and dry? If we in this region don't study this region, nobody's going to."

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Oil fears? El Nino 'a bigger worry' for Singapore

Alvin Foo The Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 14;

THE Iraq crisis will not, in all likelihood, have a major impact on Singapore's economy, say oil industry experts and economists.

They argue that the current conflict is unlikely to cause major disruptions to oil supplies even though oil prices have spiked since the crisis erupted.

In fact, some analysts caution that the greater threat to local inflation is the El Nino weather phenomenon, which could send food prices soaring amid crop failure.

"Currently, it's a domestic problem, not an international one - that makes it different from the (first) Gulf War which was between Iraq and Kuwait," oil industry consultant Ong Eng Tong told The Straits Times yesterday.

Crude oil prices have soared to their highest levels in nearly 10 months, as Brent - a key global barometer from Europe's North Sea - hit US$115 a barrel yesterday.

Economists here note that historically, a sweet spot for Singapore's economy, in terms of growth and inflation, occurs when oil prices are in the US$70 to US$110 range.

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun pointed out that it would require oil prices to cross US$140 in order for growth here to be adversely affected. "Our businesses are more energy-efficient these days. Their oil dependency has been reduced," he said.

Iraq accounts for about 3.6 per cent of the world's oil production. Most of its crude oil exports are transported by a pipeline in the north to the Turkish port of Ceyhan or the Basra oil shipping terminal in the south, which sits in the Persian Gulf. The majority of Iraq's crude oil exports to Asia are sent to China, India and South Korea, according to 2012 data from the United States Energy Information Administration.

"A disruption to southern flows is not probable, but it's certainly possible," noted Societe Generale oil analyst Michael Wittner last week. "As a rough estimate, we put the probability of an actual disruption, partial or full, at 20 per cent."

He said that if an actual supply disruption occurs, it would likely result in Brent crude reaching the US$120 to US$125 range.

Analysts said that if this happens, it would most likely result in swift intervention from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and a release of reserves to prevent further price rises.

"I expect that the problem won't blow up because Saudi Arabia and the other Opec members will step in," said OCBC Bank commodities analyst Barnabas Gan, adding that there is unlikely to be high inflationary pressure on Singapore arising from the crisis.

"What we should be worried about is El Nino, which could give rise to high food prices here."

This refers to a weather phenomenon caused by the warming of water in the Pacific Ocean near Peru and Ecuador, which results in heavy rain in dry areas and drought in usually wet places. It causes crop failure.

In the short term, however, Singapore could face higher costs in the form of mild rises in petrol and electricity bills, said Mr Song.

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Dengue cases on the rise as weather heats up

Jordan Skadiang Today Online 26 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — The number of dengue cases in Singapore each week has continued to climb as the weather heats up, speeding up mosquito breeding.

A total of 556 cases were reported in the week ending June 21, up from 506 the previous week and more than double the 261 cases reported in the first week of last month, latest figures on the National Environment Agency (NEA) website showed.

Parts of Hougang and Serangoon that had been flagged as areas of concern by the NEA last week — more than 600 dengue cases have been reported in 17 clusters in those areas to date — continue to be hot spots.

For example, one cluster bordered by Upper Serangoon Road and Lorong Ah Soo had 161 reported cases as of Tuesday. Homes accounted for 13 out of the 17 breeding habitats spotted by officials in a recent inspection of the area. One unused cement mixer was found to contain 200 mosquito larvae, while a concrete roof gutter in a public area was found with 999 larvae.

The Flora Drive cluster in Tampines had the second-highest number of cases at 147. Twelve breeding sites were found in homes and nine in construction sites.

While last week’s tally falls short of the 842 reported in the corresponding period last year, the NEA has warned that the warmer weather — from this month to October — generally marks the peak season for dengue.

Shortened breeding and maturation cycles for the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the disease, along with shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus, lead to a higher rate of transmission. Moreover, the predominant strain is the less common dengue serotype 1 (DEN-1) virus, which the community has lower immunity against.

The NEA said the number of cases is expected to rise through the next two or three months unless the mosquito population is brought under control.

More officers will be deployed in the problem areas of Serangoon and Hougang as well as Flora Drive to search and destroy breeding sites. Drains will also be cleaned more frequently. Jordan Skadiang

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"Moderate" air quality expected in Singapore despite Indonesia's haze warning

Channel NewsAsia 25 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: Despite a warning from Indonesia's disaster agency that haze could return to neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia, the National Environment Agency (NEA) says the air quality in the next 24 hours is likely to be in the "moderate" range.

Indonesia's disaster agency on Wednesday (June 25) reported a total of 366 hotspots in Riau province, up from 97 the day before, and 386 hotspots in Sumatra.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho was quoted in media reports as saying: "We must be on alert as the wind is travelling east-northeast. The likelihood of the smog reaching Singapore and Malaysia is getting higher."

However, Singapore's NEA says there were 86 hotspots detected in Sumatra on Wednesday, down from 143 yesterday. Meanwhile, 58 hotspots were picked up in Riau, a drop from 98 on Tuesday.

The agency says showers over central Sumatra last night have also helped to improve the haze situation, and air quality in Selangor and Nilai, Negri Sembilan improved slightly.

The 24-hour PSI was listed as "moderate" at 48-57 as of 6pm on Wednesday. NEA says prevailing winds and thundery showers in the morning are expected to keep the air quality in the same range tomorrow.

"Given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, everyone can continue with normal activities," said the NEA.

- CNA/xy

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Malaysia: We’ll seize land, MB warns open burning culprits

New Straits Times 26 Jun 14;

SHAH ALAM: The state government will seize land from owners who repeatedly carry out open burning.

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim yesterday reminded landowners that they were responsible for their own land.

“If we find rampant open burning repeatedly in the same location, the state will seize the land concerned.

“Landowners are responsible for taking care of their land,” he said after the weekly exco meeting here yesterday.

Khalid was commenting on the cases of open burning in the state that were contributing to the haze problem.

He said the state was monitoring the situation, adding that notices had already been issued to several landowners in the Klang and Kuala Langat districts.

He stressed that the Selangor government would not seize a piece of land after only one offence but would take action against repeat offenders.

8 areas record unhealthy air quality
New Straits Times 25 Jun 14;

PUTRAJAYA: Eight areas have recorded unhealthy air quality in the latest Department of Environment (DOE) air quality monitoring station report.

Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam said the eight areas were Nilai with an air pollutant index (API) of 104, Banting (108), Port Klang (107), Petaling Jaya (103), Shah Alam (106), Putrajaya (112), Batu Muda Kuala Lumpur (103) and Cheras (106).

“The Health Ministry has been monitoring the haze condition in the country via 52 monitoring stations starting from 7 am on Monday to 9 am this morning,” he said in a statement here today.

He said 32 other areas showed moderate air quality, 10 areas had good air quality and there were no record on two areas.

As such, all health clinics and hospitals have been told to be prepared to face an increase in the number of haze related patients and ensure adequate supply of medicine and equipment such as face masks.

Subramaniam said the ministry through the state health departments were monitoring haze-related diseases (upper respiratory tract infections, asthma and sore eyes) at clinics in areas affected by haze.

He said based on the 2014 National Haze Action Plan, schools, kindergartens and nurseries could be closed without having to obtain ministry order if the API reading exceeded 200 for more than 48 hours.

“At a reading of between 101-150, high-risk students should stop outdoor activities and all school outdoor activities ceased at API reading of between 151-200,” he said.

In this regard, the ministry is advising the people to take precautionary measures such as reducing physical activities outdoor and drinking sufficient amount of water.

The ministry has also put up various preventive measures in its website at or


Penang to become hotter and hazier
The Star 26 Jun 14;

GEORGE TOWN: The hot and hazy situation in Penang is expected to get worse over the next five days, says a state Department of Environment spokesman.

Saying that no rain is expected over the next few days, he urged the public not to heighten the problem through open burning.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at Universiti Sains Malaysia yesterday was 57 at 7am, and 59 at 11am, 62 at 1pm, but went up to 78 at 4pm.

Seberang Jaya recorded a steady API increase from 63 at 7am to 72 by 4pm.

Similarly, the API for Prai went up from 59 at 7am to 66 at 4pm.

Visibility in Bayan Lepas dropped from 7km (8am) to 5km at 1pm, while visibility in Butterworth dropped from 5km to 3km and at Prai from 7km to 6km during the same period.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Meteorological Department forecasts fair weather for Penang, with no rain until July 1.

Putajaya Lake targeted as water source when El Nino hits
The Star 26 Jun 14;

SEPANG: Putrajaya Lake may be turned into a water source for the Klang Valley if dams reach critical levels due to the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to hit the country at the end of this month.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said other lakes being considered for the same purpose included the Mines in Seri Kembangan, if the Health Ministry confirmed that water in the lakes were safe for consumption.

He said this alternative source of water was among the proposals to be tabled at the first meeting of the El Nino Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on June 30.

"We also plan to use underground sources to supplement the water supply needed, whether for domestic or industrial use, during the dry season.

"The El Nino Committee, however, would need to first obtain data on water levels in the dams throughout the country before making a decision," he told a news conference after officially opening the Tune Hotel KLIA2, here on Wednesday.

Asked if water rationing would return, Mahdzir said the Ministry would need clarification from the Meteorological Department on the change of the southwest monsoon in the second week of July.

He said the hot weather experienced since last week was not due to the El Nino phenomenon, but caused by the southwest monsoon from the Indian Ocean.

"In the second week of July, we will see whether the southwest monsoon turns its course from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and if this happens, the El Nino phenomenon has hit us.

"The El Nino phenomenon which causes prolonged drought, would have a big impact on our country involving five sectors, namely domestic, agriculture, industry, power generation and health," he said. - Bernama

Dams’ water level dropping
New Straits Times 26 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The water levels of dams in the Klang Valley remain below normal because of the hot and dry weather.

As of 8am yesterday, the Batu dam recorded a slight drop at 101.29m, below its normal level of 102m.

The Sungai Selangor dam also registered
a drop from its normal of level 220m to 194m.

The water levels of Klang Gates dams was 92.75m, Langat (215.33m), Semenyih (108.67m) and Sungai Tinggi (53.84m).

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Malaysia: 'Malacca to keep forest reserves'

New Straits Times 26 Jun 14;

MALACCA: The state government will not approve any applications to de-gazette its permanent forest reserves, so as to maintain a clean and green environment.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said permanent forest reserves must be protected from any form of development which was detrimental to the ecosystem.

“I have instructed operators to cut down excavation and mining in forests to reduce the effects of deforestation in the state. There are only 12 permanent forest reserves totalling 5,093ha.”

“If forest reserve de-gazettement were to take place, it could cause a climate imbalance,” he said, adding that Malacca did not have alternative land to be gazetted as permanent forest reserves in the future. He said this in a written reply to Md Rawi Mahmud (BN-Tanjung Bidara) on the state’s forest protection efforts.

Idris said nine islands would be gazetted under the Wild Animals and Birds Protection Ordinance 1955.

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U.N. rejects Australia's bid to strip rainforest of heritage status

Thuy Ong PlanetArk 25 Jun 14;

The United Nations has unanimously rejected an Australian proposal to revoke the heritage status of 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) of Tasmania's rainforest and enable them to be reopened to logging.

Added to the World Heritage List in 1982, the Tasmanian Wilderness 'constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world', says U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, and sprawls over more than one million hectares (2.47 million acres), or a fifth of the island.

At a meeting in Doha, Germany, Colombia and Portugal were among the members of the U.N. agency's World Heritage Committee to argue against the proposal to waive protection for some areas, Australian media said on Tuesday.

"The justifications presented for the reduction are, to say the least, feeble," Fairfax Media quoted the Portuguese delegation as saying.

"Accepting this de-listing today would be setting an unacceptable precedent impossible to deny in similar circumstances in the future."

The area is part of the 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres) added to the World Heritage Area in 2013 by Australia's previous federal and state Labor governments in a deal between environmentalists and the timber industry, which forms a key part of Tasmania's economy.

"This is a great win for the forests, for wildlife and for Tasmania," Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne said in a statement, adding that Prime Minister Tony Abbott should now commit to funding to look after the site.

In its 2013 election campaign, Australia's ruling Liberal National Party pledged to ask UNESCO to reduce the extension, arguing that the area had already been disturbed by prior logging and degradation.

The Australian government was disappointed by the U.N. decision and would study it before taking the next step, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

"We're disappointed with the decision, but the application that we made to remove from the boundaries of the World Heritage listing areas of degraded forest, areas of plantation timber - we thought was self-evidently sensible," Abbott said.

"We'll be carefully looking at the decision and deciding what's best now."

The delisting move had roused domestic opposition, Greens leader Milne added.

"We've seen thousands of Australians hit the streets in support of these forests and a Senate inquiry into the delisting proposal received thousands of submissions against it."

UNESCO annually inscribes sites on its World Heritage List in recognition of their outstanding universal value to humanity and to encourage citizens and states to preserve them for future generations.

A country may also receive advice and financial support from UNESCO to preserve a World Heritage site.

Last week, the agency deferred until next year a decision on whether to rate as endangered another world heritage site in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, over planned coastal developments, including the building of ports and natural gas facilities. [ID:nL4N0OZ37G]

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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