Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jun 14

Singapore Marine Life for Kids!
from The Hantu Blog

Bats roosting in my porch: 1. Introduction
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Young White-bellied Sea-eagle strangled by fishing net
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Blue Pansy
from Butterflies of Singapore

“Valuing Plastic: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry”
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Read more!

Johor reclamation project 'to create oil storage hub'

Reme Ahmad The Straits Times AsiaOne 27 Jun 14;

One of the two massive reclamation projects coming up in the Johor Strait will be turned into an oil storage hub to capture spill-over oil and gas business from Singapore, an official with the company involved in the works said yesterday.

The project involving Benalec Holdings will raise a 1,410ha man-made island near Jurong Island, the firm's chief operating officer Bernard Boey told The Straits Times.

The reclamation is expected to begin before the end of the year.

The project, located off Johor's Tanjung Piai coast, is roughly twice the size of Ang Mo Kio.

The massive size of the other planned reclamation in the Johor Strait near the Second Link bridge has also sparked controversy, given the lack of details from the developer, China's Country Garden Holdings and its partner Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The Forest City reclamation, as it is called, is reportedly 2,000ha in total area - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio.

The man-made island near Jurong Island that Benalec is involved in is called the Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park, according to the firm's website. Once completed, oil storage facilities would be built, Mr Boey said.

"Our intention is to capture the spillover from Jurong," he said, referring to Jurong Island's position as a global energy and chemicals hub with some $42 billion worth of investments.

The Malaysian government's plan to capture some of the global energy business from Singapore includes backing the construction of a US$16 billion (S$20 billion) project on the other side of Johor, in Pengerang, called the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (Rapid) development, media reports say.

Benalec is also involved in the reclamation works to extend the shoreline of the Rapid project in Pengerang, Mr Boey said. "The route of oil from the Middle East that is heading to China, Japan and (South) Korea - if you have these facilities, you can cater to the demand," Mr Boey said.

He said that apart from the plans by Malaysia, there are international companies setting up oil storing hubs in Indonesia's Batam and Karimun islands.

The Benalec and Forest City plans have raised concerns among environmentalists because fishing grounds, water flows and mangrove forests would be affected.

Mr Boey said the reclamation works for the oil storing hub would start only after the authorities are satisfied with the way the project promoters plan to mitigate its impact on the surrounding environment. Benalec is expected to pay compensation to fishermen in nearby villages who would be affected, he said.

Work near Second Link 'has stopped'

Johor's Cabinet minister for the environment Ayub Rahmat said the Chinese developer of a controversial reclamation project in the Johor Strait voluntarily stopped work about a week ago, pending studies on its environmental impact.

Singapore has expressed its concern over the Forest City project in diplomatic notes to Putrajaya, asking it for more details so it could study the possible impact on the Republic and the strait.

"The developers voluntarily stopped the project about a week ago," he told The Straits Times yesterday, saying the works could restart only when the authorities are satisfied that its environmental impact would be mitigated.

The 2,000ha project near the Second Link, on the Malaysian side of the border, is being developed by China's Country Garden Holdings and a Johor state company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The project, which is to be carried out over 30 years, has raised concerns over its environmental impact, including its effect on nearby mangrove swamps, marine animals and the flow of water in the narrow Johor Strait.

Work on a 49ha plot of reclaimed land as part of Forest City started in March, with plans for a tourist hub, an 80-room hotel and recreational facilities, the New Straits Times newspaper reported yesterday.

Datuk Ayub, Johor's State Health and Environment Committee chairman, said that while the reclamation is less than 50ha, the developers have to submit environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies because they planned to build the 80-room hotel on the man-made island, thus increasing its density.

A report in The Edge Review online magazine last month said the Forest City project promoters had planned to divide the 2,000ha project - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio estate - into smaller plots of 50ha to avoid having to submit EIA reports. Malaysian environmentalists have expressed concerns over the consequences of the project, pointing out that the area is home to mangroves, sea-horses and dugongs.

Mr Ayub said all development projects will impact the surrounding environment, and the developers thus have to provide details about how they would mitigate the effect while the project is being carried out, and also how the area would be rehabilitated after the project is completed.

The Johor state government would monitor further discussions between the project developers and the Department of Environment, he said.

Johor Straits project: KL affirms commitment to international law

This photo, taken yesterday from Tuas, shows reclamation work off the Strait of Johor for Malaysia’s Forest City project. Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman has said it remains committed to international law, after reports that reclamation had been halted.
Today Online 26 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR — Amid concerns over a massive land reclamation project to create a housing development in the Strait of Johor near Singapore’s Second Link, Malaysia has assured the Republic it remains committed to international law, following reports that the reclamation work had been halted.

“The Government of Malaysia remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the general principles of international law and in particular, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman was quoted as saying in Malaysian media reports yesterday. He said Malaysia also took cognisance of the provisions of the 2005 Settlement Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore — which concerned disagreements over land reclamation by Singapore in and around the Strait of Johor — for the exchange of information and discussions on matters affecting their respective environments in the Strait.

The Republic recently expressed concerns about the possible transboundary impact from the reclamation work in the Strait and requested more information from Malaysia, so it could undertake a study on the impact of the reclamation works.

“There are also international obligations for both Malaysia and Singapore authorities to work closely on such matters,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said on Saturday.

Malaysia media reports said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also wrote to his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the issue, after two diplomatic notes were sent to Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry last month, while a third note was handed to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr Wahid Omar, when he visited Singapore recently.

Yesterday, the New Straits Times (NST) reported Mr Anifah as saying Malaysia has been engaging Singapore on the issue through the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE).

“The Federal Government, led by the Department of Environment (DOE), has close consultation with the Johor government and the project developers. The ministry and other relevant agencies are also engaged in the consultation,” the minister was quoted as saying in a statement in response to Singapore’s concerns.

The joint committee is co-chaired by the DOE director-general and the chief executive of the National Environment Agency of Singapore.

On Monday, local media reports quoted Johor State Health and Environment Committee chairman Ayub Rahman as saying Malaysia’s DOE had issued a stop-work order on the reclamation. The Forest City project involves creating a 1,817ha island almost three times the size of Ang Mo Kio and the construction of luxury homes. The project, which includes a 49ha tourist hub and recreational facilities, is expected to be completed in 30 years’ time.

The NST had reported that reclamation work for the tourist hub began in early March and was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Based on Malaysian regulations, projects that are larger than 50ha require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report before they can be approved.

However, The Malaysian Insider reported that, as of June 15, publicly available information on the DOE’s web portal showed no EIA report had been submitted for the Forest City project or another, 1,410ha reclamation project off Tanjung Piai, in another part of the Strait of Johor off Tuas, undertaken by Benalec Holdings for the purpose of building an industrial oil and gas hub. AGENCIES

KL assures Singapore it will observe rule of law
AsiaOne 26 Jun 14;

Malaysia assured Singapore that it would observe international law, amid concerns over two massive reclamation projects on the Malaysian side of the Johor Strait.

"The Government of Malaysia remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the general principles of international law and in particular, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a statement on Tuesday in response to Singapore's concerns.

The minister added that Malaysia has engaged Singapore on the issue through a Joint Committee on the Environment, which was co-chaired by the heads of Malaysia's Department of Environment and Singapore's National Environment Agency.

He also said that Malaysia's federal government has been in close consultation with the Johor state government and the property developers involved, reported the New Straits Times.

One of the two reclamation projects, a 1,410ha man-made island near Jurong Island, is intended to be furnished with oil storage facilities to capture the spillover energy business from Singapore, marine construction firm Benalec told The Straits Times.

The other project, the 2,000ha Forest City near the Second Link, is being developed by China's Country Garden Holdings and a Johor state company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

This island is intended to be turned into a tourist hot spot, complete with hotel, luxurious apartments and recreational facilities.

Singapore had last Saturday voiced concern over possible transboundary impact from the massive projects, given its proximity to Johor
Back in 2002, Malaysia had similarly objected to Singapore's land reclamation works in Tuas and Pulau Tekong, arguing that the projects could potentially impinge on Malaysia's territorial waters, causing pollution and destroying the marine environment in the Strait of Johor.

The dispute was resolved after the two countries appeared before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and signed an agreement in 2005.

Read more!

Dead crocs will undergo autopsies: PUB

Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 27 Jun 14;

The authorities have come up with fresh procedures to deal with dead crocodiles, after questions were raised over the handling of the carcass of a crocodile nicknamed Barney.

National water agency PUB and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) have reviewed the procedures, PUB told The Straits Times yesterday.

"In the event that any dead crocodiles are found, PUB will send the carcass to AVA for an autopsy to determine the cause of death," a spokesman added.

Observers had voiced doubts about how the authorities had not done an autopsy to find out the cause of death of Barney, a 400kg saltwater crocodile found dead at Kranji Reservoir on April 18.

The 3.6m-long reptile was found dead with a metal rod in its eye and a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth. PUB said yesterday that it was investigating it as a case of poaching but has yet to find the culprits.

The carcass of Barney, believed to be one of the largest wild specimens here, had been disposed of at a nearby farm.

Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm, the only one here, had said it did not receive the carcass.

Yesterday, observers like Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai welcomed the revised procedure, calling it a step in the right direction.

But Mr Subaraj, 51, who has more than 30 years' experience in wildlife work, said the change should be extended: Autopsies should be carried out on all animals without an immediate known cause of death.

"The crocodile was a native, endangered species - it is important to know what caused its death." he said. "In a nature area such as Kranji Reservoir, which is also a drinking water supply area, it is also important to find out what killed the reptile, as the safety of the public is at stake."

Dr Edmund Lam, 54, chief executive of a copyright association, also applauded the news, saying he was "happy to hear" it.

He had written in to The Sunday Times Letters page on May 11 after the death of Barney was reported, to ask for clarification on the authorities' usual procedure when faced with a carcass "of an animal belonging to a significant wildlife species".

"It's the right thing to do - a saltwater crocodile is rare," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

Separately, PUB said yesterday that it is carrying out work on the Kranji Reservoir to remove an excessive number of water hyacinth plants on its surface.

This is to help "maintain a balanced eco-system and a relatively clear water surface", it said.

"Excessive growth reduces the water surface area for oxygen exchange and this can limit the levels of dissolved oxygen levels in the reservoir."

It was responding to queries from The Straits Times, after a reader sent the paper photographs of machinery clearing flotsam at the reservoir. It said the growth was due to the quick reproduction of the plants within the reservoir, as well as at the rivers upstream.

Recent storms had washed the plants downstream into it, it said.

During the dry spell in February, it had not been able to "deploy aquatic plant removal machineries into the... upstream areas in Sungei Kangkar and Sungei Tengah as the water depth was too shallow", said PUB. Works to reduce the aquatic plant population at the reservoir are expected to be completed by mid-July.

Read more!

Island music and memories for HeritageFest 2014

Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 26 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: Many who are tired of the hustle and bustle of city life here may turn to Singapore's outlying islands for a getaway, but not all are aware of the rich culture and history behind them.

This year's Singapore HeritageFest aims to change that: Singapore's numerous outlying islands are the subject of this year's festival. The event, which takes place from July 18 to 27, will introduce visitors to the idea of Singapore as a nation of islands, and not just an island-nation.

Singapore was once made up of over 70 islands, but today has just 40, with several merged and others transformed into landfills and tourist attractions. Organisers hope the festival will help people discover lesser-known tales of Singapore's trading past as well. The event will highlight the role Singapore's migrant forefathers played in the country's development, as well as the traditions brought with them.

Participants can expect a variety of activities, including boat excursions to lighthouses and outlying islands.

Visitors to Kusu Island will be treated to a performance from the Siong Leng Musical Association. It will perform a rendition of nanyin, one of the oldest existing musical styles of China that is usually only performed during the ninth lunar month at the island's Tua Pek Kong temple.

The Association has been performing nanyin, or songs from the South, at the temple for the past 40 years, and it hopes to introduce this traditional art form to more people with special performances during this year's HeritageFest.

"When you talk about nanyin, people will actually think that it's a slow and boring kind of music," said Siong Leng member Chelsea Tan. "We wanted to change the conception that nanyin is more for senior citizens. We wanted to show them that young people do play nanyin as well, and it can also be interesting for us when we learn nanyin."

Participants can also hop on boat rides to other islands, such as St John's, where they will learn about its history as a former quarantine site. Other activities include tours to Raffles Lighthouse, which are rare as visits are restricted.

Away from these islands, activities and exhibitions will take place across 11 festival hubs, including malls and the National Museum of Singapore, featuring topics such as traditional healing practices and motor racing.

The HeritageFest is now into its eleventh year, and the National Heritage Board says it has seen more partners coming on board. Over 40 community groups, individuals and partners have contributed to the line-up.

"If people come on board, they do more. With more programmes, more people can get involved," said festival director Angelita Teo. "Last year we had more than 40 programmes, this year we have more than 60. So that growth is something that we are working hard on, to encourage more people to come on board."

Activities are free and the public can sign up for them from next month. The National Heritage Board hopes to attract 1.3 million visitors to the festival. More information can be found at the HeritageFest website.

- CNA/ly

Island delights at S’pore Heritage Fest 2014
Laetitia Wong Today Online 27 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — Those who fancy a boat trip to the Republic’s surrounding islands will be able to do so at this year’s Singapore Heritage Fest, which kicks off on July 18.

Excursions to St John’s, Lazarus and Seringat islands are among the highlights of this year’s edition, themed Our Islands, Our Home. There will also be trips to Kusu Island as well as one dedicated to Singapore’s early lighthouses, which date back to the 19th century.

Organised by the National Heritage Board, the festival will be spread across more than 11 festival hubs in malls, including nex, Changi City Point and Century Square, and will feature 60 programmes.

While it is open to those of all ages, organisers have observed notable growth in participation among youth. Said this year’s festival director Angelita Teo, director of the National Museum of Singapore: “I used to think the younger generation weren’t interested in our heritage, but you’ll be surprised! Many of these initiatives are from young people.”

She added: “I think we’re going through a point in the nation where we are trying to find out who we are as Singaporeans ... with the world being so globalised, the youth will ask themselves, ‘So what makes me special?’”

Other highlights include a performance of Nanyin music by the Siong Leng Musical Association on Kusu Island.

Singapore Heritage Fest 2014 runs till July 27. Registration for events starts on July 1. For more information, visit

Heritage Fest to focus on our isles
Gurveen Kaur My Paper AsiaOne 27 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE - Sail back in time to explore Singapore's lesser-known islands and lighthouses to better understand the country's trading past.

That is the aim of this year's Singapore HeritageFest, which will feature boat excursions to three southern islands and even take visitors to Raffles Lighthouse, which has stood tall on Pulau Satumu since 1885.

The lighthouse tour, the festival's first, will be conducted for two days during the 10-day festival, where participants will tour the lighthouse and climb some 90 steps to the top of the tower.

On the way to Raffles Lighthouse, participants will sail by the Sultan Shoal Lighthouse, located near Jurong Island.

This year's festival, to be held from July 18 to 27, will focus on Singapore's island heritage, with the theme Our Islands, Our Home.

Once home to over 70 islands, "Singapore is not just an island nation, but also a nation of islands", said Marcus Ng, one of the curators behind the exhibition Balik Pulau: Stories From Singapore's Islands at the National Museum of Singapore.

Today, about 40 islands remain, thanks to land reclamation.

Beyond popular islands like Pulau Ubin, the festival will cover lesser-known ones, like former quarantine centre St John's Island, as well as Lazarus and Seringat Islands, which house a coastal landscape and a "secret" swimming cove.

Those who do not want to wet their feet can visit the 11 Festival Hubs located at malls islandwide that touch on the heritage brought to the islands by our forefathers, such as Singapore's iconic shophouses and the story behind their architecture.

There will also be over 60 programmes during the festival, including food and heritage trails in Balestier and a performance of Nanyin, an ancient Chinese musical art form also known as "music of the south", on Kusu Island.

Administrative officer Low Qiu Ying, 25, said: "I have always wanted to visit St John's Island and find out more about its significance to Singapore's history, so the tour will be an ideal way to not only explore the island, but two others as well."

Go island-hopping at this year's HeritageFest
Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Jun 14;

Visitors to next month's Singapore HeritageFest will get to sail back in time for a glimpse of the Republic's island history, and explore a lighthouse that is usually out of bounds.

They will get to see the former Fullerton Lighthouse from the bus, sail past the one on Sultan Shoal, near Jurong Island, and explore Raffles Lighthouse which dates back to 1885 and is on Pulau Satumu, Singapore's southern-most land possession.

Yesterday, the National Heritage Board, the body behind the event, gave details of the festival, which aims to intrigue visitors with "lesser- known tales of our trading past".

Besides conducting a lighthouse trail for the first time, this 11th edition of the yearly festival is focusing on Singapore's island heritage - another first.

A lesser-known fact about Singapore is that it was actually made up of not just one island, but more than 70 of them.

Some have been lost due to land reclamation, but visitors can still visit the tranquil St John's, Lazarus and Seringat islands, the religious Kusu Island, or Tanjong Rimau - a lesser known part of Sentosa - on three island-hopping excursions during the festival.

Themed Our Islands, Our Home, the festival, to be held from July 18 to 27, also hopes to help Singaporeans get in touch with their roots by showcasing the cultures and traditions of the migrants who settled here.

For instance, visitors can enjoy traditional performances, which include the lion dance or nanyin ("music of the south" in Chinese).

Originally from China's Fujian province, nanyin performances were popular with devotees visiting the temples on Kusu Island, south of Singapore, during the pilgrimage season in the 1970s.

The popularity of nanyin may have faded, but festival-goers will get to hear the music enjoyed by their forefathers.

"Usually, the nanyin performances are held only during the ninth lunar month at the Tua Pek Kong temple (on Kusu)," said Ms Celestina Wang, vice-chairman of Siong Leng Musical Association, which is putting up a nanyin performance on Kusu for the festival.

"But we feel that Singapore HeritageFest will be a good platform to showcase this traditional art form to the public," she added.

There will be more than 60 different programmes on the mainland and on the surrounding islands during next month's event.

Eleven festival hubs will also be set up at locations such as Century Square, Changi City Point and the National Museum of Singapore.

Visitors can learn more about Singapore's myths and legends and Peranakan culture through activities such as exhibitions, storytelling sessions and face and body art painting.

Festival director Angelita Teo was heartened by the growing number of past festival contributors coming back this year. "Their contributions will allow more people to understand our heritage," she said.

National University of Singapore business undergraduate Jason Ng, 24, said he was keen to attend this year's festival.

He said it is good to explore the islands during HeritageFest since there will be activities then. "It's a good opportunity for couples and families to bond," he said

Sign up from July 1 to join in the fun


When: July 19 and 20
Time: 7.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30pm to 6.30pm
Where: Meet at National Museum of Singapore (NMS) bus bay, Level 2. Register at from July 1. Each session is limited to 30 participants.


A Night of Nanyin at Kusu
When: July 26
Time: 4pm to 9pm
Where: Meet at NMS bus bay, Level 2; Register at from July 1. Each session is limited to 100 participants.

Tanjong Rimau Walk, Sentosa
When: July 16
Time: 7am to 10.30am
Where: Meet at NMS bus bay, Level 2; Register at from July 1. Each session is limited to 30 participants.

Homes, Hills and Habitats: A Morning at St John's, Lazarus and Seringat
When: July 19 and 27
Time: 7am to 1pm
Where: Meet at NMS bus bay, Level 2; Register at from July 1. Each session is limited to 30 participants.


Pulau Ubin on Film: A Screening of Moving Gods
When: July 20
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Where: NMS Gallery Theatre, Basement; Register at from July 1. First come, first served for up to 245 people.

The City in Bukit Brown Walk
When: July 20 and 27
Time: 8.30am to noon
Where: Meet at NMS bus bay, Level 2; Register at from July 1. First come, first served for up to 25 people per session.

Admission is free for all events, but age and other restrictions might apply.

For more information, go to the website.

Three Singapore lighthouses soon to be opened to the public
Tung Shi Yun The Straits Times AsiaOne 28 Jun 14;

Lighthouses have been faithfully serving as beacons of light since the 1900s, guiding ships and mariners eager to anchor at Singapore's harbours.

Starting next month, visitors will get the opportunity to explore and learn about some of Singapore's historic lighthouses in the Lighthouse Trail, organised by the National Heritage Board (NHB) as part of this year's Singapore HeritageFest. For the first time, the lighthouses will be open to the public for viewing.

We look back at the three lighthouses featured in the upcoming trail.

1) Raffles Lighthouse

The Raffles Lighthouse was named after, and dedicated to the memory of, Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore in 1819. It is located on Pulau Satumu, formerly known as Coney Island, and is the southernmost islet of SIngapore. Standing 23km southwest of Singapore, it is on the South Channel Sea passage and marks the western entrance to the Singapore Strait.

On May 24, 1854, the Raffles Lighthouse Foundation Stone and the Raffles Lighthouse Memorial Tablet were laid by William J. Butterworth, governor of the Straits Settlements. After a masonic ceremony and a celebration with much military fanfare, building started with the help of Indian convicts and other labourers, who served as stone-cutters, blasters and labourers. The lighthouse began operations on Dec 1, 1855 and is still in operation today.

Designed by John Bennet, a civil and mechanical engineer, the structure is a round granite tower with a lantern and gallery attached to a two-storey keeper's house. The entire structure is painted in white and stands a mere 9.1m above sea level. Mr. Syed Hassan, who currently resides in the tower and helps to maintain it, is the oldest lighthouse keeper in Singapore.

The lighthouse is accessible only by boat, and visitors are only allowed to view it from a distance due to an exclusion zone that surrounds the tower. It will, however, soon be open to the public as part of NHB's Lighthouse Trail.

2) Sultan Shoal Lighthouse

The Sultan Shoal Lighthouse was built in 1895, and is located on the island of Selat Jurong, in the Western Anchorage of Singapore. The tower is painted white and the roof of the keeper's house is painted red. It has a mix of Oriental and Victorian design, oddly resembling a two-storey bungalow growing out of the sea.

The lighthouse was one of the key beacons that guided ships approaching Singapore from the West at a time when pirate attacks were rife. There were two loaded rifles with fixed bayonets as well as three swords in the keeper's office for resisting pirate attacks in its early days. The tower was rebuilt in 1931 to accommodate the installation of more modern lighting equipment.

The lighthouse was automated in 1984 and is currently unmanned.

3) Fullerton Lighthouse

The now-decommissioned Fullerton Lighthouse is situated atop a small white concrete structure on the roof of the Fullerton building. Standing 47.9m above sea level, it is visible to ships 48.3km away.

In 1958, the S$33,000 structure took over the defunct 103-year-old Fort Canning Lighthouse in guiding ships and mariners into the harbour. But its function was hampered in 1980 by the construction of towering buildings at Marina Centre on reclaimed land and the strong lighting background at the waterfront. Its function was taken over by the Bedok Lighthouse, located on top of a block of flats in Marine Parade (now atop Lagoon View condominium in Bedok) and which started operations in 1978.

The Fullerton Lighthouse was acquired by the then Sentosa Martime Museum as a working exhibit. It has since moved to a new location as an artifact near Harbourfront Towers opposite Sentosa.

Heritage Fest to focus on our isles
Gurveen Kaur My Paper AsiaOne 27 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE - Sail back in time to explore Singapore's lesser-known islands and lighthouses to better understand the country's trading past.

That is the aim of this year's Singapore HeritageFest, which will feature boat excursions to three southern islands and even take visitors to Raffles Lighthouse, which has stood tall on Pulau Satumu since 1885.

The lighthouse tour, the festival's first, will be conducted for two days during the 10-day festival, where participants will tour the lighthouse and climb some 90 steps to the top of the tower.

On the way to Raffles Lighthouse, participants will sail by the Sultan Shoal Lighthouse, located near Jurong Island.

This year's festival, to be held from July 18 to 27, will focus on Singapore's island heritage, with the theme Our Islands, Our Home.

Once home to over 70 islands, "Singapore is not just an island nation, but also a nation of islands", said Marcus Ng, one of the curators behind the exhibition Balik Pulau: Stories From Singapore's Islands at the National Museum of Singapore.

Today, about 40 islands remain, thanks to land reclamation.

Beyond popular islands like Pulau Ubin, the festival will cover lesser-known ones, like former quarantine centre St John's Island, as well as Lazarus and Seringat Islands, which house a coastal landscape and a "secret" swimming cove.

Those who do not want to wet their feet can visit the 11 Festival Hubs located at malls islandwide that touch on the heritage brought to the islands by our forefathers, such as Singapore's iconic shophouses and the story behind their architecture.

There will also be over 60 programmes during the festival, including food and heritage trails in Balestier and a performance of Nanyin, an ancient Chinese musical art form also known as "music of the south", on Kusu Island.

Administrative officer Low Qiu Ying, 25, said: "I have always wanted to visit St John's Island and find out more about its significance to Singapore's history, so the tour will be an ideal way to not only explore the island, but two others as well."

Read more!

Community hospitals gear up for haze season

Li Zheng Yi Channel NewsAsia 26 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: At least two community hospitals in Singapore are gearing up for the hot and hazy weather ahead, and top on their minds is their patients' health and comfort.

Kwong Wai Shiu hospital installed a customised ventilation system late last year. Since the hot weather season started, the system has lowered temperatures in this ward.

Another community hospital, Bright Vision, has started using half of the 60 portable air-conditioners it bought last year.

Hardware aside, hospital directors say if severe haze conditions hit, they may have to tweak patients' treatment too. Many of their patients require occupational and physiotherapy, which can be demanding for the elderly.

"If the air quality drops, we will have to scale back the intensity of the treatment,” said Professor Lee Kheng Hock, Medical Director of Bright Vision Hospital. “Unfortunately, this would mean that we have to prolong their stay in hospital so they can have more time to recuperate and reach the level of function that we aim for. This, in turn, would lead to a delay in discharge which would be very unfortunate because we are trying our best to bring them back safely to their home as soon as possible."

- CNA/xy

In case of haze: CapitaLand unveils measures to protect staff and tenants
Channel NewsAsia 26 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: CapitaLand on Thursday (June 26) unveiled a number of haze-related measures for its employees and other stakeholders, including ensuring workplace conditions comply with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the National Environment Agency (NEA).

In a statement, Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer at CapitaLand, said the health and safety of its stakeholders is of "utmost importance". As such, he said main contractors and sub-contractors at all CapitaLand project sites are required to comply with guidelines issued by MOM and NEA to protect employees from the effects of haze.

Indonesia's disaster agency on Wednesday warned that haze could return to Singapore and Malaysia after a jump in forest fires in the Riau province on western Sumatra. A total of 366 hotspots were detected in the province, up from 97 on Tuesday, the agency said.

Experts had earlier said the haze expected to hit Singapore during the dry season between June and October could be prolonged if a strong El Nino effect sets in to compound the effects of illegal land clearing in Indonesia.


The real estate group will conduct risk assessment to determine whether outdoor lifting operations involving tower and mobile cranes should cease due to the foreseeable risk of poor visibility, Mr Tan said.

The company is already monitoring PSI readings at its office buildings, shopping malls, serviced residences and work sites, but procedures are in place for staff at its properties to update tenants, shoppers and guests on the readings and advise them on precautionary measures, he added.

In addition, external features will be closed and outdoor events postponed should the PSI reading cross 150, Mr Tan said.

Internally, the organisation has prepared a sufficient supply of masks to be available to more than 2,000 Singapore-based CapitaLand staff in the event of haze. Managers are also empowered to assess and allow staff to work from home should there be a need to, he said.

Mr Tan said the Group has changed its paper supply for its Singapore office to Forest Stewardship Council-certified mixed paper, to ensure the paper is not sourced from illegal logging or other destructive forestry practices.

- CNA/kk

Jump in sales of N95 masks ahead of haze season
Cheryl Faith Wee The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Jun 14;

The haze may not have descended on Singapore yet, but some people are not taking chances.

Two major pharmacy chains have seen a jump in sales of N95 masks in the last one or two months, though checks by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) show that these are still "readily available".

At Unity pharmacies, sales of masks have gone up by about 20 per cent this month and in May, compared with April. Last year, the company sold one million N95 face masks.

Mr Andy Wan, director of wholesale and housebrand at NTUC Unity Healthcare, said the company expects "a significant increase" in face mask sales when the haze returns and is ready to "quickly replenish the masks at our 54 outlets whenever stocks run low".

"We are also stocking up on other haze-related items such as eye drops, inhalers and medication to relieve throat irritation," he added.

Watsons has also seen "a surge in demand after recent haze reports in the news", said Mr Benedict Leong, marketing director of Watsons Singapore. It has sold 50 per cent more N95 masks for this month and May, over April.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the haze, Case checked with 57 authorised retailers of N95 masks from June 13 to 15 and found them "readily available", it said in a press statement yesterday.

It carried out the price and availability checks, given that the price of these masks rose to $8 each last year.

N95 masks of good quality are those certified by a national work health body in the US to be at least 95 per cent effective in filtering fine particles.

Case's checks found that a N95 mask costs between $1.38 and $3.90, depending on the model and manufacturer. It warned consumers against buying masks from unreliable sources and noted that N95 masks in Singapore are not designed to fit children.

Besides checking on face masks, Case also tested 10 randomly selected brands of air purifiers.

In haze conditions, all of them efficiently removed respirable suspended particles (RSP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).

The former refers to atmospheric particles with diameters of 10 micrometres or less, while the latter refers to organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure at ordinary room temperature. High levels of them are harmful.

On average, the 10 purifiers had an elimination rate of 98.37 per cent for RSP and 99.78 per cent for VOC.

At least one major store has seen brisk air purifier sales. Courts has seen demand for these go up by three times on average this year over last year, said Mr Tim Luce, country chief executive of Courts Singapore.

Finance manager Andrew Tan, 62, has already bought an air purifier and N95 face masks for his family. "I was caught by surprise last year when I went to several stores and N95 masks were out of stock at all of them. This time around... I am better prepared."

Read more!

Harsher penalties suggested for causing transboundary haze

Alfred Chua Today Online 27 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — After a month of collecting feedback about the proposed Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill in a public consultation exercise, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) has released its key findings today (June 27).

Among the feedback received were calls that the proposed penalty sums were too low.

Currently, the bill proposes that errant companies can be fined up to S$300,000 if their activities outside Singapore result in the island being blanketed by unhealthy levels of haze.

Other feedback received also raised the issue of diffiulties in obtaining evidence from overseas entities. This could affect the effectiveness of the bill’s enforcement.

MEWR conducted its public consultation from February to March this year. A total of 52 pieces of feedback were received, the majority of which came from members of the public.

Some feedback gathered will be used to amend parts of the Bill, and the proposed Bill is likely to be tabled in Parliament next month.

Penalties for haze offences 'too low'
The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources yesterday said the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill will take in feedback regarding penalties, among other things.
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Jun 14;

The criminal penalties in a draft Bill to tackle transboundary haze are too low, say those who gave their feedback on the proposed law earlier this year.

For example, the draft Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill suggested a fine of up to $300,000 for causing or contributing to haze that affects Singapore, or up to $450,000 if a company failed to comply with Singapore's request to prevent, reduce or control haze pollution.

Yesterday, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said feedback had indicated the sums were too low, and there should be penalties for continuous offences. Others said some terms ought to be more clearly defined, and called for a provision for whistleblowers. Some also noted that gathering evidence overseas would be challenging.

The ministry said it would refine the Bill, to be tabled in Parliament on July 7, to incorporate the feedback. For instance, the penalty formula might take into account how long the haze lingered.

The Bill aims to hold companies that cause haze in Singapore liable, and provides for both civil and criminal liability.

The ministry received 52 feedback suggestions on the proposed law between Feb 19 and March. About 10 were from the general public and the rest from non-governmental organisations, civil society and corporations. It held a question-and-answer session yesterday for those who gave comments during the public consultation exercise.

"It's very clear there is overwhelming support for this Bill," said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. "The feedback that was provided has been... so substantive that we have to amend the Bill," he told reporters.

If passed, the Bill could take effect by October or November. "This new Act on transboundary haze is not going to solve the problem, but it is one more step forward," he said, adding that legislation is not the main or only means of progress. Rather, Singapore continues to work with Indonesia to offer help during haze episodes, and to push for official concession maps necessary for an agreed-on ASEAN haze monitoring system.

"The greater long-term tragedy is not the episodic haze, but the huge amount of carbon that you're releasing by burning peat land. That is the elephant in the room," he added.

Read more!

HDB ramps up solar leasing with latest tender

Move a shot in arm for energy development, proves concept is economically viable: Experts
Siau Ming En Today Online 27 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has called for the largest solar-leasing tender to date, under which solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be installed on the rooftops of about 500 HDB blocks managed by the Marine Parade, Jurong, Tampines and Sembawang town councils.

The 20 megawatts-peak (MWp) of electricity generated — enough to power more than 4,000 four-room HDB flats — could be used in common areas, to power lifts, corridor and staircase lights, for example, in these blocks as well as the Toa Payoh HDB Hub, the Woodlands Civic Centre and a factory building in Bedok North.

The tender, which was published on May 23 on the Government Electronic Business (GeBIZ) portal and closes on July 11, eclipses an earlier one put up by the HDB in August last year for a company to own and operate 5MWp for 125 blocks — which was then touted as the single largest project — in Ang Mo Kio, Sengkang, Serangoon North and Buangkok.

The pace at which HDB is ramping up solar leasing is a shot in the arm for the development of solar energy here and proves that the concept is economically viable, experts told TODAY.

When contacted, an HDB spokesperson confirmed that the tender is the largest to date. More details will be announced later, she said.

In the August tender, the HDB would offset up to 30 per cent of the start-up costs and buy the electricity from the successful bidder for 20 years at a lower price than the prevailing market rate.

The HDB has not announced the award of this tender.

Dr Thomas Reindl, deputy chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, said after Singapore achieved grid parity in 2012 — where the cost of installing and maintaining solar PV panels is on a par with using conventional electricity — solar leasing has established itself as a viable business model in the country.

He added: “As soon as it makes economic sense, the private sector will take care of the market uptake and fast adoption (of the technology).”

Other prominent solar-leasing projects under way include that at the newly opened Sports Hub, to which solar company Phoenix Solar Singapore leases 707kWp.

The firm’s commercial director Chee Yeen Yee said that while the solar-leasing model is still relatively new here, its introduction has opened up a new market that is largely driven by government tenders. Increasingly, commercial building owners are also showing interest, she added.

Sunseap Leasing, a solar-system developer, expressed interest in bidding for the latest HDB tender.

The company was awarded a tender in January last year to lease 3MWp to 80 blocks of flats in Punggol Eco-Town, among other solar-leasing projects on its books.

Its business development manager Shawn Tan noted that the latest tender documents did not provide an option for bidders to state an amount they require the HDB to subsidise as part of start-up costs.

He felt this could possibly indicate the authorities’ confidence in the viability of the solar-leasing model for housing blocks.

Instead, bidders are assessed on the efficiency of their systems and the amount of discounts they can offer on the tariffs, he noted.

Town councils involved in the latest tender told TODAY the use of solar energy is not only good for the environment, but will also reduce their electricity bills, which have ballooned in recent years due to higher tariffs.

With economic viability no longer a challenge, professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, said the intermittency of solar energy — it could be affected by cloud cover, for example — could become a constraint if Singapore ramps up its use of such renewable energy.

One of the solutions include looking at storing energy that is generated, he added.

Read more!

Malaysia: Concern over jumbos on the loose

ruben sario The Star 27 Jun 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife officials are harnessing their translocation skills again to move nine Bornean elephants that have been causing anxiety among villagers along Sungai Kinabatangan in the state’s interior.

For the past two months, the elephant herd has been boxed into an isolated patch of forest located close to Kampung Sukau, some 120km from Sandakan.

“Though we have been living with elephants all our lives and respect them, the current situation is quite alarming as the elephants are trapped in this small patch of forest and have nowhere to go,” said Azrie, a villager from Kampung Sukau.

“During the day, the elephants hide in the jungle. At night, they venture out of the forest patch and enter our kampung in search of food.

“They are destroying our property and crops,” he added.

There is also a high risk of vehicles colliding with the pachyderms at night when they cross the nearby trunk road to enter the village area.

“Even our children are afraid to go to school in the early morning or late afternoon because the elephants also go there. We really need help here,” added Azrie.

Nurzhafarina Othman, a PhD student who has been studying elephant ecology and movement in Kinabatangan for the past five years, said the situation came about because of destruction of elephant habitat.

Compounding it were bottlenecks in elephant movement pathways due to erection of electric fences and drains by plantation owners and villagers to protect their crops.

The number of elephants in Lower Kinabatangan has been stable over the past 10 years or so. However, the size of habitat available to the animals has shrunk during this period, she said.

Nurzhafarina noted that while the Kinabatangan region had become a renowned eco-tourism destination, forest conversion for agriculture purposes had proceeded unabated.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the elephant herd would be relocated to the nearby Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Translocation is technically possible and our wildlife rescue unit, which is funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, has been actively doing this throughout Sabah for the past few years.

“However, we must realise that elephant translocation is only a fast fix and not a long-term solution,” he said.

He described translocation as a complicated endeavour, costing money and creating stress for the animals.

“This exercise alone to translocate nine elephants could easily cost between RM100,000 and RM200,000,” Dr Laurentius added.

He said the department was anticipating more cases of human-elephant conflict not only in Kinabatangan but also other habitats in Sabah.

“The reason why we have conflict is because more elephant habitats are being converted to agriculture land,” Dr Laurentius said, adding that the department would also be urging plantations around Kampung Sukau to develop a spatial master plan that would respect elephant corridors.

Read more!

WWF-Malaysia is saddened by sawfish caught off Pulau Bruit

WWF 26 Jun 14;

25 June 2014, Kuching: World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) is saddened by the 300kg-sawfish caught off Pulau Bruit, stating that the sawfish is a critically endangered species in the world.

In June 2007, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has approved trade restrictions for sawfish because trade along with fishing pressure and habitat destruction were pushing them towards extinction.

The IUCN approved all seven sawfish species in Appendix I banning all international commercial trade except for one species found in Australia, which was included in Appendix II (but only to allow trade in live animals to public aquaria for conservation purposes only).

Also known as carpenter sharks, sawfish are large rays related to sharks, with distinctive toothed snouts. They are often traded for their fins, meat, unique toothed rostra (snouts), and as live animals for exhibition.

Their distinctive saw-like snouts are sold as souvenirs, curios, and ceremonial weapons, while other body parts such as skin, liver oil and bile are used in traditional medicines.

Little is still known about sawfish, with population facts and figures being scarce, and there are very few sightings. [Source:]

Global populations of every species of sawfish are estimated to have fallen to less than 10% of their historic levels.

Just earlier this month, IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group (SSG) has released a global strategy to prevent extinction and promote recovery of sawfishes.

To compliment the existing ban on commercial international sawfish trade, the strategy calls for national and regional actions to prohibit intentional killing of sawfish, minimize mortality of accidental catches, protect sawfish habitats, and ensure effective enforcement of such safeguards.

The document also lays out actions associated with effective communications, capacity building, strategic research, and responsible husbandry, as well as fundraising to ensure implementation.

The incident in Pulau Bruit, which WWF-Malaysia believes was unintentional, could have been avoided if fishermen are aware that the species is listed in the IUCN Red List, said conservation director Dr Sundari Ramakrishna.

However, she said, fishermen cannot continue to plea innocent all the time.

“They need to play their part in conservation by making it their business to fish sustainably, to know which species are common and rare, and make responsible choices by releasing live catch back into the sea.”

“WWF-Malaysia hoped that the incident in Pulau Bruit would serve as a lesson to all and moved the people from all walks of life to be more discerning when making their purchases for seafood,” she said.

When public are better informed and understand the impacts of our seafood choices, they will help shift our fisheries towards a more sustainable direction, added Dr Sundari.

The public can check out the status of fish species through WWF’s SOS Guide (Save Our Seafood) which aims at helping consumers make ocean-friendly decisions when it comes to their seafood.

The guide informs them which seafood is recommended, which to think twice about and which ones to avoid.

The guide is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and can be downloaded from

Green Heart, issue 04.2013

Read more!

Malaysia: 3 million in Klang Valley hit by water cuts

ZAFIRA ANWAR New Straits Times 27 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: ABOUT three million consumers from more than 700,000 households in Selangor and here are experiencing unscheduled water cuts because of an insufficient supply of treated water.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) general manager Priscilla Alfred said those affected were in Gombak, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam and Hulu Langat.

Priscilla said several areas here and in Hulu Langat had been facing water disruptions since June 17 as the Sungai Semenyih and Sungai Langat treatment plants were unable to meet the high demand for treated water.

Other areas in Klang and Shah Alam had been experiencing disruptions and low water pressure because of the temporary closure of the Sungai Selangor Phase 1 (SSP1) treatment plant managed by Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash).

“This had also resulted in electricity cut from 4am to 6am
in some areas on Tuesday,” she said.

She added that water supply to the areas had yet to be restored
even though the plant was reopened.

Priscilla said Splash’s move to reduce the production of treated water at the Sungai Selangor water treatment plant following a drop in raw water level had caused
similar problems in some areas in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur and Petaling.

She said some 758,975 households in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur would continue to experience disruptions as the water reserve was less than one per cent, adding that Syabas would deploy tankers and static tanks to help the affected residents.

Priority, however, would be given to hospitals, dialysis centres and other critical installations.

More areas are also expected to face water disruptions due to the prolonged dry spell.

Selangor Youth and Sports, Infrastructure and Public Utilities committee chairman Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi had, on June 17, said the state had enough water to last for at least four to five months, based on water levels in retention ponds and dams.

“At this point, we guarantee that water rationing will not take place,” he had said.

He also said there was enough water supply in the coming months without the cloud-seeding or alternative sources of water, particularly from former mining or retention ponds.

But Water and Energy Research Malaysia Association president S. Piarapakaran said consumers would continue to face water problems as long as the Langat 2 project was not completed.

He said if there was unscheduled maintenance of water treatment plants or a prolonged dry spell, Klang Valley residents would face severe water shortage.

Piarapakaran said no one could give a blanket assurance that there would be enough water.

Households not within Syabas schedule caught without water supply
vincent tan The Star 27 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: While Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) stated that several areas in the Klang Valley would face unscheduled disruptions and low water pressure, residents at unaffected areas were upset they were caught without water as well.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras resident V. Mano said her area had been affected by unscheduled water cuts since Sunday.

“This water cuts have been happening very randomly.

“I come back to find water supply available in the afternoon followed by no water during the night followed by a total water cut for almost the entire day.

“Sometimes, when the water supply resumes for a short while, it is very dirty,” she said yesterday.

The school teacher lamented that while the state government promised that there would be no water cuts in the area, the residents were facing days without water.

“For now, we are able to conserve water but this cannot continue,” she added.

Another resident from Taman Sri Watan, Ampang, S. Selvanathan said water supply had been disrupted since Wednesday and yesterday.

“This (yesterday) morning the water taps were dry.

“We had water in the evening. We have no idea when it will stop again,” he said.

Syabas warned that a large number of Klang Valley households could face water supply disruptions and low water pressure in the near future, as water intake at the Sungai Selangor Phase 3 (SSP3) water treatment plant had been lowered.

Its Corporate Communications and Public Affairs general manager Priscilla Alfred said Sungai Selangor water levels were at 42.76% as of 8am yesterday.

“SSP3 is managed by Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) and the engineers at the plant have lowered the amount extracted as the river levels themselves have dropped,” said Priscilla.

More than 700,000 households are affected by water disruptions caused by low water levels at treatment plants in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Syabas said Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang/Shah Alam and Hulu Langat districts will face water cuts and low water pressure for an indefinite period of time.

“The water cut is inevitable as there is no alternative water sources that could be channelled to the affected areas,” the statement said.

Read more!

Indonesia Seeks $5b to Cut Carbon From Shrinking Forests

Fitri Wulandari Jakarta Globe 27 Jun 14;

Indonesia needs about $5 billion in aid to hit its target for reducing emissions, according to the agency set up to protect rainforests and peatlands.

Norway’s commitment of $1 billion in 2010 is just the beginning of what is needed in Indonesia, ranked as the world’s third-largest emitter because of its shrinking forests, said Heru Prasetyo, head of the agency for Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known as REDD+.

“To assure successful REDD+ programs, we can’t limit ourselves to the sole support from the Norwegian government,” Prasetyo said in a June 25 interview. “We need to be open for new investors.”

Indonesia’s target is to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 percent using its own funds or as much as 41 percent with international aid. That compares with projected emissions of 2.95 giga tons by 2020 if the nation takes no action. The nation started dozens of demonstration projects for REDD, a program sponsored by the United Nations to measure the climate benefits of slowing deforestation and awarding credits based on each ton of emissions prevented by saving forests or peatlands.

More foreign investment is expected to support REDD projects if Indonesia can better enforce its laws, Prasetyo said. Investors purchased about 23 million REDD credits worldwide last year, more than double the number in 2012, as prices fell to about $4.20 per ton of emission reduction, according to Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, a Washington- based organization tracking voluntary carbon markets.

The unrelenting burning of Indonesia’s peatlands, mainly to clear land for agriculture, as well as illegal logging, corruption and weak law enforcement may prevent Indonesia from meeting this target. Indonesia has imposed a moratorium on new permits to develop peatlands and primary forests until 2015 as part of the agreement with Norway.

Kalimantan credits

Rimba Raya, an REDD project in Central Kalimantan set up to protect 64,977 hectares of forests, is quantifying emission reductions under the Verified Carbon Standard, according to data from the project posted on its website. The project has generated 11 million credits to date, it said.

Degradation of forest and peat lands account for 60 percent of the country’s emissions, while the rest comes from energy and transportation, industry and agriculture, according to data from the agency. Better land management could achieve a 63 percent reduction in emissions to 1.89 gigatons, according to Prasetyo’s agency.

Presidential candidates Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, who will contest a July 9 election to run Southeast Asia’s largest economy, have made no campaign pledges on greenhouse gas targets or the country’s forest moratorium.

Funding risk

Indonesia needs to have a system in place by 2016 for measuring its greenhouse gases or risk losing its funding from Norway, Prasetyo said. Norway has disbursed $170 million so far.

“Norway’s support is a performance-based investment, and we want to make sure we provide proof to channel funds to our country,” he said.

The agency is working with 11 provinces to agree on a methodology for measuring emissions, Prasetyo said. The country’s estimated emissions were 1.7 billion tons in 2000 and 2.12 billion in 2005, according to agency data.


Read more!

Indonesia: Hundreds deployed to fight fires

The Jakarta Post 27 Jun 14;

Riau Deputy Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman said he had deployed teams to extinguish forest fires in the worst-hit areas of eastern coastal Riau, in an effort to control haze clouds that may drift to neighboring countries.

“Hundreds of police personnel have been deployed in Rokan Hilir regency. The Air Force’s Special Forces [PASKAS] officers were deployed in Dumai, Army officers in Bengkalis and Public Order Agency [Satpol PP] officers in Siak. They are still fighting to extinguish the fires,” Arsyadjuliandi said.

Arsyadjuliandi, who was recently appointed to head the Haze Emergency Task Force, said the teams were equipped for water bombing with three helicopters, and also had a Hercules plane to create artificial rain through weather modification.

He said the administration had instructed regents and mayors across the province to set up organized teams to handle the haze and forest fire emergency in their respective regions.

Separately, Riau Police spokesman Adj. Snr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tejo revealed that the police had detained 59 suspects since April for their alleged involvement in forest burning and land clearing.

Guntur said the suspects were being detained in seven regencies and cities, while evidence including illegal logs, lighters and remainders of fuel were also being held. “Four dossiers of those among the 59 suspects have been declared complete and [the cases] will soon be brought to court,” he added.

Read more!

Malaysia: Fewer hotspots give peninsula a brief respite from haze

patrick lee The Star 27 Jun 14;

PETALING JAYA: The skies over the peninsula are clearer with fewer hotspots in nearby Sumatra, allowing parts of Malaysia’s west coast a respite from the haze.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palani­vel said that the number of hotspots in Sumatra dropped from 143 on Tuesday to 86 the next day.

“Satellite images show moderate smoke haze from hotspots in Riau province, central Sumatra, and wind from the south-west bringing haze to the central and southern regions of the peninsula’s west coast,” he said in a statement.

He added that 38 hotspots were also detected locally, with half of them in Pahang.

Based on air pollutant index (API) readings yesterday, the unhealthy air around Selangor and Negri Sembilan a few days ago now had lower levels of pollution.

Most parts of the peninsula also saw moderate doses of bad air, with only Sungai Petani in Kedah seeing its reading slightly above the 100 API mark.

According to US-based environmental organisation World Resour­ces Institute, the Sumatran fires seemed to be concentrated in Indonesia’s Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir and Pelalawan districts. Many of the fires there occurred in pulpwood, oil palm and logging concessions.

Investigations by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry revealed that 3,947 cases of open burning were detected in Malaysia as of Wednesday. These included 1,260 on agricultural land, 914 in brush fields and 838 in forested areas.

During this time, 276 cases saw perpetrators slapped with compounds and 87 received warning notices. On top of that, 43 investigation papers for burning offences were opened for prosecution.

Malaysian Meteorological Dep­artment corporate and commercial director Maznorizan Mohamad told The Star south-west monsoon winds were expected to continue blowing here, though wind strength was expected to dip slightly soon.

“If big forest fires occur in Sumatra, smoke haze will be carried to Malaysia but its movement here will be slow,” she said.

Maznorizan also expected maximum average daily temperatures to be between 31.2°C and 33.2°C in the peninsula and between 31.1°C and 32.6°C in Sabah and Sarawak.

With the El Nino phenomenon, she said maximum temperatures might rise to between 34°C and 36°C – a condition that would last until September.

Read more!

China’s business community leads the way in stopping the gifting of threatened species products

TRAFFIC 26 Jun 14;

TRAFFIC Beijing, China, June 2014—Over 30 top level business executives from Beijing joined TRAFFIC for the launch of a new guide that addresses the practice of corporate gifting using wildlife products in China and recommends actions that the private sector can take to reduce this demand.

Carrying the tagline “Good for business, great for wildlife worldwide”, the guide takes a user through the brief history of gifting wildlife products to its impacts, current awareness and changing attitudes towards such gifts, the Chinese government’s commitment to stopping illegal wildlife trade and steps companies can put in place to stop such gifting and make a difference.

The guide was launched at Gu Cang, a 600-year-old barn converted into a trendy business lounge, and was well received by the business leaders, owners, marketing and public relations companies, designers and educators that attended.

Several expressed support for the approach and a willingness to change their own practices or set new trends in gifting for others to follow.

“The environment and wildlife are very important to us, but we didn’t treat them well in the past. We can address this serious issue together in this ancient place tonight because it was well protected. The same thing should happen to the wildlife too,” said Ni Dayong, co-host and Executive Director of Gu Cang.

“As a businessman, I would like to make a commitment not to consume wildlife products and call for all within my circles to cherish wildlife,” added the famous investor.

TRAFFIC’s effort also received support from China’s e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba.

“Alibaba considers corporate social responsibility very important. We have pursued the fight against illegal wildlife trade ever since we were established through our work with organizations like TRAFFIC and WWF. We have seen the good outputs and would like to continue our engagement in the future,” said Mr Ni Liang, Senior Director in Alibaba’s Security Department.

“We will call on our peers in other e-commerce companies, our users and colleagues to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products. We will set an example. Be a good model,” Ni added.

Meanwhile Mr James Compton, the Senior Programme Director of TRAFFIC in Asia detailed the organisation’s work over the past 30 years and cited this engagement with China’s business community as an innovative way to address the issue. He also cited Alibaba’s support in fighting illegal wildlife trade online as a good example of business leadership in addressing the problem.

The guide and engagement with the business community are among efforts being undertaken by TRAFFIC and WWF calling for governments around the world to strengthen legislation and enforcement against illegal wildlife trade, and for consumers to play their part in reducing demand for illegal wildlife products.

At the event, Gayle Burgess, TRAFFIC's Demand Reduction Co-ordinator introduced the guide and outlined some of the steps businesses might take to reduce the gifting of endangered wildlife products.

Read more!

U.S. fishermen throw away $1 billion annually in catch: report

Barbara Liston Reuters Yahoo News 27 Jun 14;

(Reuters) - U.S. commercial fishermen are throwing away about $1 billion worth of edible fish each year, according to a conservation group which is advocating for incentives to stop the waste.

The quantity of so-called bycatch – that is, fish that wasn't targeted but caught inadvertently – is estimated by the U.S. government at two billion pounds (907,185 tonnes) a year.

The surprise was the quality of the bycatch that often is tossed back into the ocean dead or dying, said marine scientist Amanda Keledjian, author of the report from Oceana, a nonprofit international conservation group.

"We're not just throwing away trash fish. We're throwing away meals," Keledjian said.

Keledjian said fishermen throw away the unintended catch for several reasons, including lack of a permit to fish the species, quotas, size limit laws and the complication of processing an odd fish back at the dock.

The study put a price on the bycatch reported by U.S. fisheries in 2010 and recently compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

T. J. Tate, who until recently headed an organization of 110 red snapper commercial fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico, said most commercial fishermen are conservationists at heart and support measures to keep fisheries sustainable.

"What they don't want is to be regulated to death where they can't do what they do," said Tate.

Her group, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Shareholders Alliance, which banded together in 2008 to protect the marine environment, already encourages the landing of red porgy, their typical bycatch, which they promote and sell under their own brand.

The Oceana report said the discarded bycatch included $45 million worth of sea trout from the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, $20 million in sea scallops from the Mid-Atlantic and New England, and $53 million in Pacific halibut from Alaska, which was 25 percent of the landed halibut, according to the report.

Oceana is calling for economic incentives, including the possibility of a bycatch tax, to both bring the bycatch to market to retrieve some value and to encourage the adoption of improved gear to avoid bycatch.

The bycatch of unwanted fish or ocean wildlife was "one of the biggest threats to the health of ocean ecosystems, contributing to overfishing and the decline of fish populations around the world," Oceana said.

(Editing by David Adams and Sandra Maler)

Read more!