Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jul 14

Our first Marine Park on Sisters' Island
from wonderful creation

Prepping at the Sisters' Island Marine Park
from wild shores of singapore

Outing to Chek Jawa Boardwalk - of tent web spiders and rambutans
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Short Walk At Venus Drive (26 Jul 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Glossy Swiftlet collects lichen as nesting material
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Common Snakehead @ Sungei Buloh
from Monday Morgue

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Humans always at fault in conflicts with macaque population: ACRES


SINGAPORE — The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has partnered researchers to conduct a study on Singapore’s macaque population — which has long been in conflict with residents living near their habitats — with the findings to be released in due course.

Areas covered in the research included looking at the ranging patterns of the macaques and gaining a better understanding of why the monkeys have been increasingly venturing into urban areas.

“What we’ve found is that it is all human-related. It is not the macaques coming into our property; it is really us who have ventured into their property,” said Mr Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES. The research findings will also be used to back up some of the policy recommendations the society has long called for, such as putting an end to the culling of wildlife, he added.

Mr Ng was speaking at ACRES’ fundraising carnival yesterday, which also aimed to raise awareness on the search for alternative solutions to culling and fighting animal cruelty. He declined to share more details about the research project, saying the report would be published soon.

With more developments encroaching into wildlife habitats, human-animal conflict has inevitably been on the rise. The biggest human-animal conflict in Singapore has been dealing with macaques, with residents living near wildlife reserves being plagued by monkeys intruding into their homes.

Instead of resorting to culling, ACRES has been pushing for greater tolerance between humans and animals, such as by educating people on how to avoid attracting animals to their properties. For example, they could make food sources in residential areas less readily available to wildlife.

“(Culling) is the easiest solution that doesn’t involve our lifestyle changes. We keep trying to change the animals when the truth of the matter is … it’s always human-related with every single issue,” said Mr Ng.

Adding that people have a moral responsibility to look after animals, he said: “We live on this tiny little island. Animals have nowhere to go and we need to learn to co-exist now.”

There have been encouraging signs that Singaporeans are gaining greater awareness of these issues, with hotline calls to ACRES doubling from last year as more people are actively calling to rescue animals. Mr Ng said this is a very big change in attitude from viewing these animals as pests to seeing them as part of the ecosystem.

About 500 people were present at the fundraising carnival yesterday, one of the many roadshow events ACRES organises as part of its public outreach and education efforts, as well as to raise funds for its wildlife rescue efforts.

ACRES has set a fundraising goal of its S$1.5 million this year, compared to the S$1.2 million it received in donations last year. The money will go towards funding its Macaque Rescue Team and Wildlife Rescue Team.

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Plan for technology road map to tackle rubbish till 2050

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 28 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE is embarking on an ambitious project to develop a technology road map that can help it deal with its rubbish, all the way till 2050.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) recently called for proposals to review how the country collects, sorts, separates, recycles and treats its waste.

The consultancy firm that is selected must also look to other countries to see how those processes can be improved.

The study is expected to produce "a clear and realistic 2030 vision and an ambitious 2050 vision of a sustainable waste management system, given Singapore's constraints and challenges", said the NEA in tender documents.

The NEA received submissions from eight firms by its July 18 deadline and is reviewing them.

The project is expected to start by September and last eight months.

A comprehensive plan will be critical in dealing with Singapore's ballooning waste matter. With the population and economy growing, the country is expected to produce 12.3 million tonnes of rubbish in 2030, up 57 per cent from last year.

The agency noted several areas which can be improved, including in the sorting of waste.

"Most of the local materials recovery facilities are small-scale operations where sorting processes are performed manually," it said in the document, adding that this is both expensive and time-consuming.

It wants the consultant to look for and assess state-of-the-art technologies, including auto-sorting machines, that can dramatically boost the plants' manpower productivity.

There should also be recommendations to help people separate their dry and wet waste more easily, to meet the 2030 target that 70 per cent of all rubbish should be recycled.

The NEA noted that most of the current waste collection equipment and facilities, such as the single steam chute system in most high-rise flats, do not allow different types of waste to be stored and collected separately.

Ms Melissa Tan, chairman of the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore, said its members had been consulted on the targets.

She added that the targets can be met if the Government is prepared to help by investing in technology.

"There are very mature waste sorting and separating technologies in Europe," she said.

"It would be easy to transfer the technology and knowledge to Singapore, but the machines are very costly. Firms here may not have the deep pockets to get them."

One way to solve this, she suggested, would be for the Government to invest in an advanced, centralised sorting facility and charge firms to use it.

"Singapore's waste management has already improved a lot since the 1970s and 1980s and, with technology, it can improve further," she added.

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Haze: Air quality unhealty in Tanjung Malim, Sibu, Kuala Selangor and Port Klang

New Straits Times 28 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The quality of air was at an unhealthy level in Tanjung Malim, Perak; Sibu, Sarawak; and Kuala Selangor and Port Klang in Selangor as at 7 am today, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) exceeding 100.

According to the portal of the Department of Environment (DoE), the API reading at Tanjung Malim was 102; Sibu, 196; Kuala Selangor, 120; and Port Klang, 137.

The API for other areas in the country was either moderate or good.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous.

Members of the public can refer to the DOE portal at to find out the API reading for their areas. - BERNAMA

Haze: Air quality unhealthy in Port Klang, Seri Manjung and Sibu as at 9am
New Straits Times 27 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The quality of air was at an unhealthy level in Port Klang (Selangor), Seri Manjung (Perak) and Sibu (Sarawak) as at 9 am today, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) exceeding 100.

The portal of the Department of Environment (DoE) reported that the API for Port Klang was 117; Seri Manjung, 102; and Sibu, 149.

The API for Shah Alam was 93, at the moderate level but close to the unhealthy level, according to the portal.

The API for other areas in the country were either moderate or good.

An API reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; between 51 and 100, moderate; between 101 and 200, unhealthy; between 201 and 300, very unhealthy and over 301, hazardous.

Members of the public can refer to the DOE portal at to find out the API reading for their areas. - BERNAMA

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Leaked World Bank lending policies 'environmentally disastrous'

New 'light touch' rules on bank's $50bn annual lending have been gutted to remove protections, watchdogs claim
John Vidal 25 Jul 14;

Radical plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn (£29bn) a year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially disastrous for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor.

A leaked draft of the bank's proposed new "safeguard policies", seen by the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will be gutted to allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy.

Under the proposed new "light touch" rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur, according to World Bank watchdog groups including the Bank Information Centre (BIC), the Ulu Foundation and the International Trade Union Confederation.

Stephanie Fried, director of the Ulu Foundation, said the leaked draft undermines World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who has stated several times that existing safeguards would not be diluted as a result of the review.

"Despite Kim's promise .... this plan reveals a shocking attempt to eviscerate protections for the poor while giving a green light for the destruction of forests and the natural environment," she said.

According to the groups, the bank is proposing to gut most of the usual requirements to assess impacts on people and the environment when a project is being developed, leaving it up to governments and staff to use their own discretion, in a clear attempt to avoid responsibility and accountability.

"The leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of existing standards. They are not only at odds with the bank's stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but lowers the bar for the international community," said Nezir Sinani, climate change coordinator at the BIC.

The draft uses stronger language on indigenous peoples' rights but Sinani said it was undermined by a proposed loophole for governments to opt out of applying the bank's policy on indigenous peoples, jeopardising the rights of hunter-gatherer communities such as the pygmies of the Congo rainforest.

"Most shockingly, the draft framework provides an opt-out option for governments who do not wish to provide essential land and natural resource rights protections to indigenous peoples within their states. If this were adopted, it would represent a wink and a nod by the World Bank to governments that they should not feel compelled to respect international human rights law," said BIC.

"[If these proposals are passed] workers in World Bank-funded projects will be devoid of even the most basic protections. The bank risks creating a chaotic mishmash of varying labour standards requirements, with the World Bank's far weaker than others," said Peter Bakvis, director of ITUC in Washington.

A spokesman for the World Bank said the new policies would support sustainable development. "The World Bank’s safeguard policies are at the center of our efforts to protect people and the environment and to achieve our goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable manner in our partner countries.

"We are currently in the process of reviewing and updating our safeguard policies to deliver efficiently on the twin goals and to support more sustainable use of resources, promote social inclusion, discourage discrimination, help address new development challenges and be mindful of the economic burdens development can place on future generations," he said.

The World Bank group, which includes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International finance corporation (IFC) is the world's largest development institution, with Britain its largest donor.

Strong safeguards and conditions on its loans and guarantees were put in place after a series of environmentally destructive projects in the 1980s and 1990s such as the Narmada dam in India and the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people to make way for palm plantations in Indonesia.

The leaked copy of the new policies will be discussed by the bank's board next week. It is understood that a vote will be taken on whether to send the draft for public comment.

Earlier this month, leaked comments on the draft by 12 of the bank's most senior employees, revealed disquiet that the proposed new safeguards would lead to an increase in "problem projects".

Ana Revenga, the bank's vice-president for poverty reduction, warned in those comments: "It might appear [from the draft policies] that the bank is interested in lending more, hence lowering standards ... [It] would likely entail an increase in the number of problem projects and cancellations."

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