Best of our wild blogs: 5 Jul 14

The first NUS DBS Insect-Spider Annual Symposium @ U Town, Fri 11 Jul 2014
from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

The Clouded Monitor and the Banded Bullfrog
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Night Walk At Wallace Trail (01 Jul 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Cross Island Line begins

Channel NewsAsia 4 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the upcoming Cross Island MRT Line on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will start immediately, following the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) appointment of the company Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to carry out the study.

The LTA announced in a news release on Friday (July 4) that ERM has a good understanding of Singapore's environment, as its team includes biodiversity experts. They have conducted similar EIA studies for transport projects in places such as the UK.

In Phase 1 of the study, the company will map habitats in the existing ecosystem of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and assess the impact of proposed soil investigation works.

In Phase 2, it will focus on assessing the potential impact from construction and train operations on the area. The EIA report is due to be completed in 2016, and its findings will help the Government decide on the final alignment of the Cross Island Line.

LTA's Chief Executive Chew Hock Yong says nature and resident groups have come forth with valuable input since the project began, and that the authority will continue to engage them.

"The Government will take into account these views, the findings from the EIA, as well as other factors such as connectivity, travel times, costs and land use compatibility, when deciding on the Cross Island Line alignment that will best serve the community," he said.

Writing on Facebook, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo also promised that the Government would continue to engage stakeholders, and said a "robust" environmental impact assessment is critical.

The Cross Island Line she said, is a "vital part" of Singapore's rail network expansion plans as it will be connected to most existing and new rail lines by 2030.

"It is important we remain on track for the work required for the (Cross Island Line) while giving due care to nature," she wrote.

- CNA/ly

Environmental Impact Assessment of Cross Island Line to kick off
Today Online 5 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded the tender to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the portion of the Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The tender was awarded to global consulting firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and the study will start immediately. The LTA said ERM has put together a team that has conducted similar studies for transport projects in places such as the United Kingdom and has a biodiversity arm that has a good understanding of Singapore’s environment.

The 50km Cross Island Line will connect Jurong to Changi when it is completed in 2030. The announcement of the line last year drew much consternation from nature groups, which were concerned about the environmental impact of the line if it cuts through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The LTA will take into consideration the EIA findings in making a decision on the alignment.

In the first phase of EIA, a baseline study of the existing ecosystem and the physical conditions along the various alignment options will be conducted. ERM will also be required to provide a mapping of habitats, assess the impact of proposed soil investigation work and recommend guidelines and appropriate mitigating measures before carrying out any activities in the nature reserve.

In the second phase, ERM will focus on assessing the potential impact to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve during the construction and train operations and propose mitigation measures during these stages.

The EIA report is targeted for completion in 2016.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Senior Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo said a robust EIA is critical, given that the Cross Island Line will either skirt around or cut through the nature reserve.

She added that the Government will continue to engage stakeholders.

“The (line) is a vital part of our rail network expansion plans. Given that it will be connected to most of our existing and new rail lines by 2030, (it) will provide more travel options and alternative routes for commuters. It is important we remain on track for the work required for the CRL while giving due care to nature,” she said.

Study begins on green impact of future MRT line
Team will assess Cross Island Line’s possible impact on nature reserve
Christopher Tan Straits Times 5 Jul 14;

A global environmental consultancy has clinched a $2 million job to find out the impact that a future MRT line might have on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which has offices in 40 countries, will start immediately on an environmental impact assessment of the Cross Island Line, slated to serve several areas including Bukit Timah and Ang Mo Kio.

Going by the proposed alignment, the 50km line that stretches from Changi to Jurong will cut through a southern tip of the nature reserve.

ERM, a global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services, has put together a team of specialists for the study. The team has conducted similar studies for transport projects in Britain and includes a biodiversity arm. The study will be completed in 2016.

Last Friday, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said planning work for the new line - slated to be Singapore’s most ambitious MRT project - has started.

The line was announced last year and is targeted to be ready in 2030. It may be the first MRT line here to have express trains.

Ms Olivia Choong, president of environment group Green Drinks Singapore, said: “I think it’s necessary to conduct an environmental impact assessment before the Government proceeds with any work near areas with rich biodiversity.”

Land Transport Authority chief executive Chew Hock Yong said: “Stakeholders and interested parties such as the nature and residents’ groups have provided us with valuable inputs.

“We will continue to engage them as the project progresses.”

The Government will consider these views, the assessment’s results, as well as factors such as connectivity, travel times, costs and the compatibility of land use when deciding the alignment of the rail line “that will best serve the community”, he added.

The Straits Times understands that if the line were to skirt around the nature reserve, it may have to go through the Thomson-Sin Ming area - which might then entail land acquisition.

In the first part of the study, ERM will conduct a baseline study of the existing ecosystem and the physical conditions along various alignment options.

It will also map the habitats, assess the effects of proposed soil investigation works and suggest mitigating measures.

In the second part, the consultant will focus on assessing the potential impact to the nature reserve during the construction of the line as well as when trains start to run. It will also propose mitigations during these stages.

Environmental Resources Management to Assess Environmental Impact of Cross Island Line
LTA News Releases 4 Jul 2014

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has appointed Environmental Resources Management (S) Pte Ltd (ERM) to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the portion of the Cross Island Line (CRL) around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).

2 ERM, a global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services, has put together a team of highly qualified specialists to undertake the EIA study. The team, who have conducted similar EIA studies for transport projects in places such as United Kingdom, includes a biodiversity arm that has a good understanding of Singapore’s environment.

3 The EIA study of the CCNR and its surrounding areas will start immediately. In Phase 1 of the study, the Consultant will conduct a baseline study of the existing ecosystem and the physical conditions along the various alignment options. The Consultant will also be required to provide a mapping of habitats, assess the impact of proposed soil investigation works and recommend guidelines and appropriate mitigating measures prior to carrying out any activities in the CCNR. In Phase 2, the consultant will focus on assessing the potential impact to the CCNR during the construction and train operations. It will also propose mitigation measures during these stages. The EIA report is targeted for completion in 2016 and will assist the Government in making a considered decision on the eventual CRL alignment.

4 Mr Chew Hock Yong, LTA’s Chief Executive, said, “Since the commencement of this project, stakeholders and interested parties such as the nature and residents groups have provided us with valuable inputs. We will continue to engage them as the project progresses. The government will take into account these views, the findings from the EIA, as well as other factors such as connectivity, travel times, costs and land use compatibility, when deciding on the CRL alignment that will best serve the community.”

About the Cross Island Line (CRL)

5 The CRL was announced in January 2013 as part of the Government’s rail infrastructure expansion plan to double the rail network in Singapore by 2030. With a more extensive rail network, commuters will have more choices when travelling by public transport. Targeted for completion by 2030, the 50-km CRL will enhance connectivity between the east/north-east and the west of Singapore and provide commuters with an alternative to the current East-West Line. In addition, it will connect to major radial lines to serve as a key transfer line, complementing the role currently fulfilled by the orbital Circle Line. This will relieve the load on several of our existing lines, bringing greater comfort to all commuters and shortening journey times. The CRL is also a critical component of our plans to enable eight in 10 households to be within a 10-minute walk of a train station by year 2030.

Related links
Love our MacRitchie Forest: walks, talks and petition. Also on facebook.

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A smart city needs a dose of chaos

Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel The Straits Times AsiaOne 4 Jul 14;

SMARTPHONE, smart kitchen, smart city… as the label "smart" is applied across an increasingly broad swath of contemporary life, Singapore is about to pioneer something entirely new: the "smart nation".

What lies ahead as the island becomes networked and intelligent?

The Smart Nation project (SNP) launched last month is part of the Government's Infocomm Media Masterplan. The first phase will focus on the deployment of hard infrastructure, related especially to connectivity and sensors.

Next will be initiatives that address various dimensions of the island's life and operations. You could think of these operations as making up a "city operating system" - a system that makes an urban city run, in the same way operating systems already run most of today's smart technologies, from laptops and iPads to increasingly networked domestic appliances.

While the masterplan spans the whole island, the new Jurong Lake District development will become the heart of research and application, serving as a site where innovative solutions can be nurtured, deployed and subsequently transplanted elsewhere in the city (or across the planet).

It will become an applied research test-bed commonly known as "urban living lab" in smart city jargon.

The goals of the SNP are ambitious. First and foremost is a concerted push for urban efficiency.

Second, the plan seeks to promote an ecosystem of entrepreneurial innovation. Are these two objectives - efficiency and innovation - attainable? And, most importantly, are they desirable?

The first goal is quantifiable, and strategies for optimising the city's function have the potential to have a radical impact on daily life. Who would not want to live in a city that consumes less energy, or where traffic jams are reduced to a minimum?

Singapore is probably one of the world's best test cases for cutting edge urban developments.

The nation is small, dense, techsavvy and, most importantly, can now draw on an overt commitment from the Government.

This attitude has transformed Singapore repeatedly since it became independent.

Transportation is a key example: Singapore pioneered one of the world's first Electronic Road Pricing schemes, later copied by cities elsewhere. The system dramatically reduced vehicle traffic on roads, alleviating congestion - primarily in the central business district during peak hours. The public transit system is no less a model of efficient operation.

Since its inauguration, it has been rated the best Asia-Pacific metro system and most technologically innovative. It is also among the most resource-efficient transit networks in the world, as evaluated by the international Metro Rail Awards.

Today, car autonomy - think driverless cars - is on the brink of entering the consumer marketplace, bringing significant benefits to society, drivers and pedestrians. Singapore, once again, could become a world leader in testing future mobility. This is particularly promising in small controlled sites - such as the Jurong Lake District or Sentosa, where autonomous driving projects have already been proposed.

But how will all this spark innovation? Unlike efficiency, innovation cannot be institutionally purchased or mandated from the top down. It demands a complex and delicate ecosystem based on the bottom-up, concerted effort of many individuals. Here, Singapore's forward path will be more challenging.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew famously urged Singaporeans to take more risks, a vital component of his three attributes of global competitiveness: entrepreneurship, innovation and management. "The American economy has taken off because of the enterprise culture and willingness to try," said Mr Lee in an interview with the New York Times in 2001. "I think it's going to be a very arduous business changing the mindsets (of Singaporeans)".

In the course of our work on the island, we have personally noticed a pattern - Government and business eagerly seek novel and innovative ideas at first, but soon furtively ask: "How many times has this been implemented before?" (By definition, if a technology has been implemented before, it is no longer novel!)

Contrast that with the prevailing attitude in California's Silicon Valley - one of the world's most productive innovation ecologies - where risk-taking is rewarded, while failure is tolerated.

Singapore needs this bold entrepreneurial spirit to exploit the cutting edge tools that will be deployed in the course of the media masterplan.

Fostering an innovation culture will not be easy in a country where the educational system has historically been shaped by the stigma of failure. Innovation demands an environment where top-down ideas are challenged, so that new and better ones can advance.

In some cases it will also need a good dose of chaos - the opposite of optimal efficiency. The most creative solutions often emerge and thrive in less regulated and "messy" environments.

In other words, at times "less smartness" might be needed if "smart" is to be more than an empty label.

Carlo Ratti directs the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is a principal investigator at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. Matthew Claudel is a research fellow at the MIT Senseable City Laboratory.

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Sustainable energy and water use in industrial sector discussed

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 4 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: The cost of harnessing solar energy for power was one of several concerns raised by industry leaders on Friday at the third focus group discussion reviewing the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint.

At the event, 65 participants discussed the difficulties in adopting greener industrial use of energy and water in Singapore.

Several industry leaders felt that internal production of solar energy gave poor returns on the heavy investment needed as payback can stretch for periods as long as nine years.

And despite avenues to sell surplus energy, meeting the pre-determined quota can prove onerous.

Companies may produce more electricity from their solar panels than they can use -- this can be sold to the national power grid, under licensing agreements.

However, supply may drop below agreed levels during maintenance, disruption, or spikes in energy use, leaving it to other parties like Singapore Power to pick up the slack.

During such periods, companies can be heavily penalised for the shortfall, disincentivising use of the technology.

George Lam, director of operations excellence and sustainability at GlaxoSmithKline, said: "We looked at whether we wanted to put more solar panels and supply energy to the grid and also supply within GSK.

"But for the reasons I talked about earlier, it prevented us from doing that. If the authorities could bridge with the companies to see how we can do that, I think that would be a great step forward."

Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who chaired the discussion, said the feedback will be taken into account in order to increase the proportion of renewable energy and at the same time, ensure reliability of the system.

Other suggestions were made for the government to take the lead, like encouraging the establishment of standards and best practices, and building networks to share ideas.

Dr Balakrishnan added: "The more people get to know each other and understand each other's industries, as well as the vertical stack -- you know, there are upstream and downstream, suppliers and purchasers -- the more we can elevate standards across the board. You will see sustainable improvements in energy and water efficiency."

Many of the participants at the focus group on Friday come from industries which are large water and energy users. In fact, more than half of Singapore's water and energy consumption is from the non-domestic sector.

The Environment Ministry said that if current trends continue, water consumption for this sector could reach 70 per cent by 2060.

- CNA/cy/ac

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HeritageFest tour shines a beacon on Singapore's lighthouses

Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 4 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: The Raffles Lighthouse has been guiding ships safely to shore for more than 150 years, but it has been out of bounds for the public during most of its long history. This year, however, many will get the rare chance to visit it - it is one of the stops on the Singapore HeritageFest's first lighthouse tour.

The festival, now in its 11th year, will run from July 18 to 27, with the lighthouse tour taking place on July 19 and 20. Visitors on the tour will get to see the decommissioned Fullerton Lighthouse from the bus en route to Marina South Pier, and sail past Sultan Shoal Lighthouse off the west coast of Singapore, before alighting at Pulau Satumu (or One Tree Island) some 23 km southwest of Singapore, to visit Raffles Lighthouse.

Said Ms Tan Teng Teng, a researcher for the festival: "Visitors can see the original construction, they'll get to understand the amount of effort that went to constructing these lighthouses and the engineering involved." Raffles Lighthouse, for example, is the second oldest lighthouse in Singapore, and has used various equipment ranging from kerosene burners to Fresnel lenses.

Apart from the Raffles and Sultan Shoal lighthouses, three others are still in operation: Horsburgh on Pedra Branca, the Bedok lighthouse at Marina Parade Road, and Pulau Pisang, which sits on Malaysian territory but is operated by Singapore.

The public can find out more about these lighthouses at the Lighthouses of Singapore Festival Hub at NEX mall in Serangoon. With 11 festival hubs and over 60 programmes, organisers say response has been good, particularly for the island tours. They are working with partners to create additional tours beyond the festival period, and balloting will be conducted for these additional tours.

- CNA/xy

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Malaysia: New species found in Sabah

ruben sario The Star 4 Jul 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Giant mudskippers and unidentified crabs are among the new animal species discovered in a mangrove forest along Sabah’s east coast.

Researchers in a scientific expedition to the Tundon Bohangin region believe they have stumbled across species of crabs that have yet to be recorded by science.

They spotted the giant mudskippers which were about 20cm long during the expedition to the area which is part of the 80,000ha Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands (LKSW), the largest of the six Ramsar sites in Malaysia.

(A Ramsar site is an internationally recognised wetland for its significance on conservation and wise use of its resources).

Datuk Sam Mannan, director of the Sabah Forestry Department which manages the LKSW, said Tundon Bohangin at the confluence of the Kretam and Kulamba rivers which flowed into the Dewhurst Bay of the Sulu Sea could also become Sabah’s next tourism hot spot.

He noted that the researchers had sighted diverse wildlife such as proboscis monkeys, tembadau (wild buffaloes), silver leaf monkeys and Bornean gibbons apart from estuarine crocodiles during the expedition from June 16-26.

Diverse bird species such as the collared kingfisher, white-bellied sea eagle, Brahminy kite, Storm’s stork, rhinoceros hornbill and oriental darter were also sighted in the area.

The mangrove tree nymph butterfly and the bee-like dragonfly were among the interesting insects found in Tundon Bohangin and villagers there said fireflies could be seen at night.

“Tundon Bohangin is not only significant in terms of biodiversity. The area has great ecotourism potential with the Lower Kinabatangan area fast reaching its capacity in terms of the number of visitors,” Mannan said.

About two hours by speedboat from Sandakan, the area was declared a Ramsar site about five years ago.

Since then, the department had constructed a field centre adjacent to the village there.

A management plan was jointly formulated by the Sabah Biodi­versity Centre, Natural Resources Office and the department in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to manage this site.

The 60-member expedition funded by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry was organised because not much was scientifically known about Tundon Bohan­gin.

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Malaysia: Kuala Penyu to restore turtle harvesting

New Straits Times 4 Jul 14;

KUALA PENYU was named for the obvious reason - the penyu or turtles.

Illegal turtle egg collection on the coastal district over the years however has led to the decline in landings.

In a bid to revive the district reputation that comes with its name, policy makers led by its District Officer Edmund Teoh launched a special hatchery programme in April.

Assisted and managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department, the District Action Committee Turtle Hatchery Programme successfully released 92 Hawksbill hatchlings at the Kampung Menumpang beach on June 18.

The hatchlings were from a batch of 102 turtle eggs found by a participant of the community based programme, Guachin Jusoh, who subsequently transferred it to the hatchery.

Sabah Wildlife director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu cited the project as a noble effort which the Sabah Wildlife Department fully supports.

“We hope that this concerted effort will be able to bring back the ‘penyu’ to Kuala Penyu,” said Laurentius.

"A second batch of 105 eggs have been discovered and transferred to the hatchery and we hope to see more hatchlings to be released before the end of the year.

“No doubt, this programme will take a while to gain momentum but we are now on the right track,” Laurentius added.

The programme follows the Turtle Islands Park conservation centre in Sandakan.

The park consists of a network of three islands within the Turtle Islands, namely Selingan, Bakkungan Kechil and Gulisan islands. The park comes under the Sabah Parks.

The first turtle conservation site in Sabah and Malaysia was established on Selingan Island, Sandakan back in 1966.

Selingan Island is also the only turtle conservation site to offer chalets for overnight visitors who wish to witness the turtle egg-laying.

Marine turtles are one of the oldest-living species on earth, having been around for at least 230 million years.

Sabah has oldest turtle conservation program in the world that also has the most detailed statistics and research.

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Malaysia: 4,007 cases of open burning reported so far this year

The Star 5 Jul 14;

PETALING JAYA: A total of 4,007 cases of open burning have been reported so far this year.

Natural Resources and Envi­ronment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel urged the people not to carry out open burning or allow others to do so on their land or compound.

Of the cases reported, he said 1,282 were on farm lands, 845 in forested areas and 929 were bush fires, while the rest were random open burning (734), construction sites (117), dump sites (69) and industrial areas (31).

During that period, 294 cases were fined and 94 cases were given warning notices.


Other than that, 43 investigation papers on open burning offences were issued for prosecution.

Palanivel said recent satellite images showed six hotspots – three in Sarawak and one each in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang.

“Due to a layer of thick clouds, the satellites are unable to show the actual number of hotspots,” he said in a statement.

Palanivel said the hot and dry south-west monsoon season was expected to continue until Sep­tember.

“We should work together and put out small fires or report any open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or the Malaysian Department of Environment at 1-800-88-2727,” he said.

According to Section 29(A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, those found guilty of conducting open burning can be fined not more than RM500,000 and jailed up to five years or both.

There were no areas with unhealthy air pollution index readings yesterday.

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Malaysia: Permanent facilities for conservation researchers at the Imbak Canyon

The Star 5 Jul 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Researchers studying one of Sabah’s last pristine conservation areas – the Imbak Canyon – will soon have permanent facilities to carry out their work.

Yayasan Sabah, which oversees the area, has teamed up with Petronas to build the Imbak Canyon Studies Centre (ICSC) located at Ulu Kinabatangan.

Petronas has contributed some RM77mil under the second phase of the Yayasan Sabah Petronas Imbak Canyon Conservation Partnership.

The 27ha ICSC is scheduled for completion in 2016 and will become the central hub for research and studies on environment and biodiversity in the area.


Petronas president and group chief executive Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas said the facility represented the oil firm and Yayasan Sabah’s commitment towards the 30,000ha Imbak Canyon.

“This partnership is our commitment towards preserving the pristine ecology,” he said at the launch of the ICSC by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday.

Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad said the ICSC would strengthen Imbak Canyon’s position as a research centre for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, for gene bank conservation and exploration for pharmaceutical and biotechnology potential.

Imbak Canyon gets RM77m donation
ROY GOH AND KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 5 Jul 14;

KOTA KINABALU: IMBAK Canyon, one of the few bastions of primary forests in Sabah, received a pledge of RM77 million that will go towards its preservation.

National oil and gas company Petronas made the commitment here yesterday to fund efforts by Yayasan Sabah, guardians of the 30,000ha site in Ulu Kinabatangan about 300km from here.

The sum will go towards the development of the Imbak Canyon Studies Centre on a 27ha site near the conservation area under the second phase of the effort between Yayasan Sabah and Petronas.

This was the second injection of funds towards the preservation of the natural gem in the heart of Sabah. In 2010, Petronas had pledged RM6 million to support conservation activities.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman launched the second phase project in a ceremony here yesterday, that was also attended by Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad and Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas.

The studies centre, scheduled for completion in 2016, is poised to become the central hub for research and studies on the environment and biodiversity in the area. It will house an office complex, laboratories, research stations, education complex and related facilities.

“The partnership between Yayasan Sabah and Petronas represents both organisations’ solemn commitment towards preserving the ecology for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Shamsul Azhar.

Sapawi said the centre would strengthen the position of Imbak Canyon as a centre of learning in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as for gene bank conservation and exploration for pharmaceutical and biotechnology potential.

There are around 70 species of medicinal plants found in the area and the local communities living in the surrounding areas are known to have strong ethno-botanical links to Imbak Canyon, underlining it as a potential site for biotechnological research.

In the first phase, activities were targeted towards environmental education, community outreach, public awareness, research, ethno-forestry studies and documentation, capacity building, formulation of a management plan and initial work toward the construction of the studies centre.

The initial funds were also used for the construction of the Imbak Canyon Information Centre and a jetty, located in Kampung Imbak, as well as the establishment of a Porters and Guides Association.

With the latest injection of funding, Petronas has committed a total of RM83 million towards the conservation of Imbak Canyon.

The 30,000ha conservation area is a lowland dipterocarp forest located deep in the heart of Sabah and is one of four conservation areas managed by Yayasan Sabah. The others are Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Silam Coast.

In 2003, Yayasan Sabah voluntarily designated Imbak Canyon as a conservation area for research, education, training and recreation.

In 2009, the state government moved to gazette the area as a totally protected forest.

It is home to several endangered species, including the Bornean Pygmy Elephant and Proboscis Monkey. Evidence of Sumatran rhinoceros have also been discovered via sightings of several footprints and wallows.

At least 200 bird species have been recorded, including five bird species endemic to Borneo, including the blue-headed pitta, white-browed shama, black-throated wren-babbler, Borneon blue flycatcher, Borneon bristlehead and helmeted hornbill.

To watch the video, go to the video link:

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Great Barrier Reef's coral faces ravaging by expected El Niño

Queensland scientists say research has shown rises in sea temperature for past 150 years has been linked to mass coral death
Oliver Milman 4 Jul 14;

The Great Barrier Reef is set to be ravaged by the expected El Niño weather phenomenon and scientists warn that similar warming events have significantly impacted upon the reef’s coral.

Research by the University of Queensland studied large Porites coral colonies, a type of coral considered more resistant than others to changes in the environment.

By analysing and dating coral samples, researchers found there was a significant correlation between mass coral mortality events and spikes in sea surface temperature over the past 150 years.

This finding raises “serious concern” for the wellbeing of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists said, because of the long-term threat of climate change and, more immediately, the arrival of El Niño.

El Niño is a climate phenomenon, occurring every few years, when water in the western part of the Pacific Ocean becomes exceptionally warm. It has different impacts in different parts of the world but in Australia it is associated with warmer temperatures and increased risk of droughts.

The chances of El Niño hitting this year has been measured at 90%; scientists are concerned it could cause widespread damage to the reef, which is already weakened because of pollution, cyclones and a plague of coral-eating starfish.

It has suffered a number of coral bleaches, notably in 1997 and 1998, after an El Niño. Bleaching is where the coral loses life and colour and turns white and brittle.

Professor Jian-xin Zhao, who led the University of Queensland project, said there has been a rise in Porites coral deaths in recent decades.

“The 1997-98 bleaching followed a strong El Niño event on top of a decline in water quality and a long-term global warming trend, which seems to have pushed the most robust corals past their tolerance limit,” he said.

“Considering that a similar El Niño event is predicted to occur this coming summer, we have grave concerns for the reef.”

Dr Tara Clark, lead researcher, said the loss of delicate hard corals was a concern because they provided habitat for many fish species.

“These Porites corals are meant to be robust, so for them to show a response to warming is significant,” she said. “We may have another bleaching event if there’s another El Niño, which would have dire consequences.

“If we start losing types of hard coral we’ll see these environments completely change, which will have implications down the track for a range of fish species.

“A stronger than normal El Niño event has been predicted, which is worthy of concern. But we should be focusing on things like pollution and overfishing, things we can control. If we can improve the water quality, it will buy us some time.”

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