Best of our wild blogs: 25 Sep 14



30 Sep: Earth’s Survival Documentary Screening & Networking Session
from Green Drinks Singapore

Sun 28 Sep’14: The Sunday Morning Walk
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Striped Albatross mating
from Bird Ecology Study Group

For all the Nature Lovers out there who missed out our Nature Calls Event!
from Stir-fried Science

Article Alert! – Two newly described giant clam species: Tridacna noae and T. ningaloo n. sp.
from Neo Mei Lin


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MOU to mine sand in Cambodia for Singapore

Vanguard Mining Corporation to Increase Sand Supply by 200 Million Cubic Meters
Marketwired Yahoo News 24 Sep 14;
Press Release: Vanguard Mining Corporation

NEW YORK, NY and SINGAPORE--(Marketwired - Sep 24, 2014) - Vanguard Mining Corporation (PINKSHEETS: VNMC) announced today that the Company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Golden Card Memong Co., Ltd., a Cambodia-based company, to increase its sand supply for both local and export markets.

According to the Memorandum, VNMC will sign a definitive agreement with Golden Card Memong to set up a joint venture enterprise to excavate and sell the sand from a mine with estimated 200 million cubic meters of sand deposits in Stung Hau District, Kam Pong Saum Province, Cambodia. At the average price of S$ 21.23/m3, this mine could amount up to S$ 4.2 billion in total sale, or equivalent to US$ 3.3 billion. At US$ 2.50/m3 net profit, this mine could potentially produce US$ 500 million in net profits over its lifetime.

VNMC will be responsible for securing long-term overseas buyers for the sand produced from the mine, especially Singapore.

Historically, Singapore's land area has increased from 581.5 square kilometers (224.5 square miles) in the 1960s to more than 700 square kilometers today. The government also plans to grow the country by another 100 square kilometers by 2030. Almost all of this land reclamation has been undertaken using sand imported from nearby countries.

The country also needs vast volumes of sand for its massive construction industry, the result of an ongoing property boom in which any building over 10 years of age is potentially at risk of being demolished and replaced by an even larger one.

Sand traders estimate that Singapore is currently importing sand at a rate of 200,000 tonnes per day. Tenders have been put out for another 21 million tonnes of sand, but this is only a drop in the ocean when taking into account the overall land-reclamation projects planned up until 2030. The upcoming Tuas Finger 1 project alone is expected to require one billion tonnes of the product.

Cambodia has exported sand to Singapore before but has encountered problems involving environmental protection and quality control. VNMC intends to overcome these hurdles by strictly adhering to international environmental protection requirements and implementing a tight quality control system.

Mr. Chhay Veth, Director of Golden Card Memong Co., stated, "We are pleased to cooperate with Vanguard Mining Corporation to produce and market sand product from our mine to meet the growing demand of construction and reclamation in the region and believe that this cooperation will bring substantial economic benefits to shareholders of both company."

Mr. Hoang Dinh Vo, (Jack Vo), a Director of the Company, said, "We are delighted to work with Golden Card Memong Co. on this project, which will enable us to substantially increase our sand supply capacity in the foreseeable future."

About Vanguard Mining Corporation
Vanguard Mining Corporation, a Nevada corporation established in 1987, is currently building and developing a portfolio of mineral assets in Southeast Asia, including gold, copper, limestone, manganese and iron sand in Indonesia. The company has also investigated mineral asset opportunities in other geographical areas. http://www.vnmcglobal.com

Safe Harbor: This news release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected on the basis of such forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are made based upon management's beliefs, as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management pursuant to the "safe-harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.


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Free tours of forgotten Keppel Hill Reservoir to be conducted

Melody Zaccheus The Straits Times AsiaOne 25 Sep 14;

"Ghost hunter" Charles Goh was trying to find the tomb of a Japanese naval officer at Mount Faber in 2005 when he stumbled on a century-old body of water that had vanished from the maps of modern Singapore.

Not that he knew it then.

"I was seeking out rarely explored, historical and haunted places to take tour groups to," said Mr Goh, 46, a specialised tour guide and co-founder of Asia Paranormal Investigators.

He thought it was a swimming pool, going by the remains of a diving board, and left it to continue his hunt for the 1943 tomb.

Separately, a team of National Heritage Board (NHB) researchers doing a topographical study of Singapore earlier this year spotted the reservoir in a 1905 Tanjong Pagar Dock Arbitration map.

Consulting other maps, they noticed how cartographers and planners later labelled it as a swimming pool in 1938. By 1958, just the contours of the water body were demarcated. In 2000, it was not even on the map.

This intrigued NHB assistant researcher John Kwok, 36. After ploughing through more than 50 maps and old newspaper articles, he headed to densely forested Mount Faber, past 350 Telok Blangah Road, to try to find it.

"I felt a rush after finding the reservoir which had long been forgotten by most people here and was not part of the public domain of information," he said.

The team then put together a documentary on the forgotten Keppel Hill Reservoir, which is about one-third the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool and about 2m deep.

Since its launch on the board's site last Thursday, the documentary has been viewed more than 45,000 times. NHB's other YouTube videos usually get a thousand or so views on average.

The team's findings will be provided to Mr Goh, whom NHB has engaged to conduct free one- hour tours of the reservoir.

Members of the public can follow NHB's Facebook page to receive updates on tour dates. NHB said it has started sharing its findings with other government agencies, including the Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Parks Board and Singapore Land Authority. The land the reservoir sits on is zoned as park land.

Shopkeepers near the abandoned Keppel Hill Reservoir said dozens of people have visited the area since news of the discovery broke last week. The Straits Times saw signs of increased traffic when it visited the place yesterday. Litter was strewn around the site, and some tree branches had been hacked away.

Said Mr Kwok: "It's a beautiful, wonderful and peaceful pocket of space in Singapore... We urge the public to stay safe if they choose to explore the area and not to upset nature's balance."


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Singapore ratifies global agreement on climate change

Channel NewsAsia 24 Sep 14;

NEW YORK: Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (Sep 24) announced Singapore’s ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change action.

The Doha Amendment, rolled out in 2012, extends to 2020 the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that establishes binding obligations on countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In his address to the UN Climate Summit, Dr Balakrishnan said the ratification is a “further sign of Singapore's continued commitment to the multilateral system”.

The Republic has shown its commitment to climate change with various domestic initiatives, taken in the belief that “every small nation can help with a meaningful contribution towards combatting climate change”, he said.

Efforts include encouraging building owners and companies to adopt energy efficient building designs, equipment and processes by offering incentives and grants. Energy use is priced at market cost without any subsidy, so that households and businesses use energy judiciously, he added.

Singapore has also invested heavily in public transport infrastructure, and restrained vehicular growth and usage, Dr Balakrishnan said, adding that the Republic is targeting a 70-30 per cent modal split for public-private transport by 2020.

Singapore also plans to increase its solar deployment from around 15 megawatt-peak (MWp) today to 350MWp by 2020, which will meet 5 per cent of its projected peak electricity demand, he said.

“Through these efforts, Singapore generates relatively low levels of carbon emissions per GDP dollar in the world, ranking 96th out of 142 countries,” Dr Balakrishnan said.

In the last decade, Singapore’s emissions grew at an average annual rate of 2 per cent in the last decade, compared to 2.2 per cent globally. Similarly, the Republic’s GDP grew by 76 per cent over the same period, compared with a 22 per cent increase in emissions and a 34 per cent increase in energy use, he noted.

- CNA/cy

S’pore ratifies pact committing countries to lower emissions
Republic examining how to respond to, capitalise on low-carbon future, says Balakrishnan at UN summit
Neo Chai Chin Today Online 25 Sep 14;

At the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit in New York yesterday, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, also outlined the action Singapore would take to limit carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

He said Singapore is studying how to stabilise its emissions over the long term and is looking at how its economic strategies and industrial structure can best respond to and take advantage of a low-carbon future.

Singapore is rolling out measures to cut its emissions by 7-11 per cent from 2020 business-as-usual levels, which are estimated to be 77.2 million tonnes.

“Given our constraints in alternative energy and the fact that our actions are all domestically funded, this is a substantial commitment that entails economic and social opportunity costs,” he said.

Plans are afoot to ramp up solar deployment by installing solar panels on rooftops of flats and other areas to meet 5 per cent of Singapore’s projected peak electricity demand by 2020.

With energy efficiency as a key strategy, the Government aims to have 80 per cent of “green” buildings by 2030, in addition to other measures such as energy-efficiency standards for household appliances.

Singapore’s emissions grew at an average annual rate of 2 per cent in the past decade, marginally lower than the 2.2 per cent globally.

Over the same period, the country’s carbon intensity — emissions per dollar of gross domestic product — decreased by about 3.6 per cent per annum, compared with the 0.01 per cent global average decrease.

Earlier this week and in the lead-up to the UN Climate Summit, a group of non-governmental organisations called for a stronger response by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to weather calamities made worse by climate change.

In a policy brief, the group, called ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal, which includes Oxfam and Greenpeace South-east Asia, urged the regional bloc to ensure the ASEAN Economic Community is low-carbon.

It also urged ASEAN to consider policy support for renewable energy and phase out subsidies for coal and oil.


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Malaysia: Sarawak to arm senior Forestry officers to curb illegal logging

yu ji The Star 25 Sep 14;

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has had enough of illegal logging devastating the state’s forests, famous for its diverse wildlife.

From next month, 50 of the most senior enforcement officers in the state’s Forestry Department are expected to be issued with firearms.

“We will be issuing arms to Forestry (Department) officers. This is the first time that we are doing it.

“I’ve seen it from the air. I’ve received reports on timber smuggling, illegal felling of trees and non-payment of royalties.

“Some of these have been done in broad daylight. We want to put a stop to all that,” Adenan told reporters after opening the “Integrity Week for Sarawak’s Enforcers” here yesterday.

Asked about the reason enforcement officers will need to be given firearms, Adenan said: “So that enforcers will be more confident.

“Sometimes if they go empty-handed, the other side might be armed, you see.”

Other measures to step up enforcement would be to supply more four-wheel drive vehicles and equipment to the officers, he added.

“We have to make our enforcement more efficient. I expect to see results in the next six months.

“If figures are still not improved, then we will need to do something more drastic,” said Adenan.

Admitting that enforcement was still lacking, he cited the existence of illegal sawmills, theft in the oil palm sector, encroachment of foreign vessels into Malaysian borders and “night clubs operating after permitted hours”.

“There is too much of these activities going on,” Adenan said.

With the arming of Sarawak’s forestry officers, it will join Sabah as the other state which has issued guns to its enforcement team against poachers and illegal loggers.

On the Integrity Week, which was attended by 500 personnel from the Forestry Department, Adenan said more would be held soon, calling it the “first step of his administration to combat corruption”.

State department director Sapuan Ahmad said the first officers to be armed with guns should be on patrol in a month’s time.

“Standard operating procedures will be drawn from the police and joint training will begin immediately,” he said.

“This proposal came from our department. Our men have been threatened before by gangsters.

“There have been reports of rural folk shooting (in self-defence) at loggers. When there are situations like these and my men are not equipped, how can they not feel scared?”

Officers with firearms to guard forests from illegal timber fellers
ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 24 Sep 14;

KUCHING: The state government is coming down hard on illegal timber fellers by authorising enforcement officers from the forestry department with firearms.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the state government have made procurement of the weapon and it would be issued to forestry enforcement officers in phases.

In the initial stage, Adenan said, a total of 50 key officers from the forestry department’s enforcement division would be armed with guns to make them less vulnerable to threat when executing their duties.

“The move will help the enforcement officers to be more confident (when performing their duties).

“Sometimes they go to the scene empty handed and the other side might be armed.

“And of course, the officers will adhere to the standard operating procedures (when using their weapons). They will be properly trained,” he told reporters after launching a two-day long seminar on integrity for enforcement officers within the government department at the Borneo Convention Centre here today.

Also present at the seminar, which was attended by 500 participants, was Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Adenan said the forestry department would also be provided with more four-wheel vehicles to step up enforcement at forests in the state.

Adenan, however, did not elaborate the number of vehicles that would be supplied to the forestry department.

“We want our forest officers and forest warden to be on the ground all the time.

“Since assuming the chief minister post, I have received reports on timber smuggling and non payment of royalties which in some occasion was committed in broad daylight.

“I have seen from the air our forest being devastated by illegal loggers. I want to put a stop on all that.”

The state government, he said, also plans to extend the usage of firearms to enforcement officers attached with other state government’s departments and agencies in the future.

Adenan also urged state enforcement officers to be firmed and efficient when performing their duties, which he described as important for the state government to put a stop on timber smuggling and illegal felling activities.

“We want to put a stop to timber smuggling, illegal felling, sale of stolen palm oil, encroachment by fishing trawlers and other unauthorised activities.

“This can be done by getting the enforcement officers to be more strict and efficient.


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Indonesia: VP Boediono calls for preventive measures against forest fires

Antara 24 Sep 14;

Palembang, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Vice President Boediono has called on the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to intensify preventive measures against forest fires.

"I ask the National Disaster Mitigation Agency to prioritize prevention. It should take action before fires flare up. This is the most effective measure," the vice president said during a coordinating meeting on forest fire mitigation efforts, here on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed the current forest fires that produced smog in a number of provinces across Indonesia, including in South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.

The wild fires and subsequent smog threatened the publics health and transportation safety, he added.

BNPB Head Syamsul Maarif shared the vice presidents concern, saying that dealing with forest fire problem was urgent.

This year, forest fires had occurred since February, when the country still experienced rainy season. In the past, forest fires happened only during June-October period, in dry season, according to him.

The number of hotspots of forest and plantation fires detected on Tuesday was 40 in South Sumatra, 41 in West Kalimantan, and 41 in Central Kalimantan.

The visibility in Pekanbaru (Riau) was five kilometers, in Palembang (South Sumatra) four kilometers, in Pontianak (West Kalimantan) five kilometers, Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan) four kilometers, Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan) three kilometers, and Samarinda (East Kalimantan) five kilometers.
(Uu.M033/F001/H-YH)

Indonesia government should map fire prone areas: Walhi
Antara 24 Sep 14;

Sungailiat, Bangka Belitung (ANTARA News) - The environmental non-governmental organization Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) of Bangka Belitung province urged the provincial and district administrations to map fire-prone forest areas, Walhi Executive Director of Bangka Belitung Ratno Budi stated here on Wednesday.

He remarked that mapping can assist the authorities and people in supervising and taking pertinent actions during incidents of forest fires in the areas.

"As of now, the administrations have not mapped the fire prone areas. Any fire prevention and extinguishment are done according to the peoples reports," Ratno noted.

He pointed out that there have been several instances of fire sparks in peatland areas such as in Baturusa and Selindung, which are prone to forest fires.

"We have to take action to prevent forest fires," Ratno affirmed.

The administration should also strongly monitor forest areas that have been converted to plantations by large-scale business sectors.

"I can see that the administrations are more likely to wait until the people report about the fires rather than proactively take preventive actions," Ratno stated, adding that appropriate actions should be taken to prevent the fires.
(T.KR-LWA/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

Satellite detects 187 hotspots in C. Kalimantan
Antara 24 Sep 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - NOAA-18 Satellite has detected 187 hotspots of forest and plantation fires across Central Kalimantan Province on September 24.

"187 hotspots have been detected in all the districts in Central Kalimantan Province, and the highest number (34) of hotspots was detected in East Kotawaringin," Ananto Setiawan, spokesperson for the Central Kalimantan Emergency Response Post, reported on Wednesday.

Hotspots have also been found in Katingan, West Kotawaringin (25), East Kotawaringin (34), Kapuas (30), Palangka Raya (19), Gunung Emas (5), East Barito (7) and North Barito (5). During September 1-23, 2014, a total of 1,632 hotspots had been detected in the province, Ananto noted.

Ananto remarked that the Mangala Agni Team monitored the hotspots and tried to extinguish the fires.

"The team has been working hard to extinguish the fires. But, if the local farmers continue to burn forest areas for farming or plantation purposes, it will create smog in Central Kalimantan," he affirmed.

He called on the local communities to be aware of the fires and asked them to report any forest or land fires.

Forests and dry land in Central Kalimantan are easy to catch fire due to the extreme heat of the sun.

"Let us keep vigil and anticipate forest or land fires in Central Kalimantan," he said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) is streamlining its efforts to handle the forest fires in South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan and Riau in Indonesia, the agencys Acting Secretary Dody Ruswandi stated here on Tuesday.

"Right now, our focus is on handling the forest fires in those three provinces, which have the highest number of hotspots," Dody emphasized.

According to him, the officials from the BNPB and related agencies had tried to extinguish the forest fires through land and air operations.

Moreover, the BNPBs spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, reported that nine helicopters and a Hercules airplane belonging to the Air Force have been deployed to extinguish the forest fires.

The Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) will also carry out the cloud seeding operations till October to extinguish the fires.

"We are optimizing our efforts to extinguish the fires and prevent them from spreading," Sutopo stated.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that thick haze had engulfed most of Riau provinces capital city, Pekanbaru, since Tuesday morning.

"The haze is very disturbing," Ardiawan, a 34-year-old local resident, said on Tuesday.

Ardiawan, who works at a courier company, expressed concern that the haze could harm his health.

The Antara reporter on Tuesday morning observed a thick haze blanketing Pekanbaru. The haze continued to engulf the city even at noon, thereby reducing visibility for road users.

The Riau government has allocated a budget of Rp10 billion to fight the effects of haze in the area.

Riaus Deputy Governor Kasiarudin noted that the local government was taking every measure to stop the forest fires from spreading.

"We have established a local disaster mitigation agency, which reports to the governor and related authorities on a daily basis," Kasiarudin remarked.
(Uu.A063/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)


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Indonesia: Greenpeace Skeptical of Firm’s Deforestation Claim

Jakarta Globe 24 Sep 14;

In this photograph taken on July 28, 2013, a worker load harvested palm oil fruits on a palm oil plantation in Blang Tualang village in Aceh province, Sumatra. (AFP Photo/Sutanta Aditya)

Jakarta. Greenpeace Indonesia has welcomed an announcement by the Royal Golden Eagle Group’s oil palm plantation company Asian Agri and palm oil trading arm Apical that their new sustainability policies aim to tackle their impact on Indonesia’s forests, but the environmental group notes that other companies in the group are still destroying the country’s forests.

Monday’s announcement of new environmental commitments by Asian Agri and Apical, palm oil businesses owned by Sukanto Tanoto, come as his family’s pulp companies, APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari, continue to destroy Indonesia’s rainforests, Greenpeace said in a press release on Tuesday.

On Padang Island in Sumatra, bulldozers are continuing to clear forests on deep peatland, it said.

Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesian forests campaign, said that while he welcomed the announcement, he saw it as a missed opportunity by the RGE Group to address its real impact on the rainforests of Indonesia.

“We note the announcement of new commitments by Asian Agri and Apical, but why are RGE’s pulp companies, including APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari, allowed to continue with deforestation? Questions also remain about how these new palm oil policies will apply to minority shareholdings, third-party suppliers and new acquisitions,” Bustar said in Jakarta.

Greenpeace has called on RGE to immediately implement no-deforestation commitments that apply to all pulp and palm oil businesses that are owned or controlled by the Tanoto family.

Separately on Tuesday, Asia Pulp and Paper announced in a press release that it had signed the New York Declaration on Forests at the UN Climate Summit to help tackle climate change.

Teguh Ganda Wijaya, the APP chairman, joined a number of officials from other companies, governments and NGOs to sign the New York Declaration on Forests at an event at the UN Climate Summit 2014.

The declaration is an unprecedented international, multi-sector commitment to safeguard the world’s forests and to help tackle climate change, the group said.

The signatories said they had committed to a vision of slowing, halting, and reversing global forest loss while simultaneously contributing to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law preservation, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.

Teguh said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had done the planet and some of its most critical ecosystems a great service in convening the ground-breaking meeting of governments, global business leaders and NGOs.

“Business can take the lead in delivering these commitments, but we must work closely with all stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, to truly tackle deforestation and climate change. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conserving forests, planting trees,” he said.

The declaration highlights that reducing emissions from deforestation and increasing forest restoration are key to tackling climate change, the signatories said.

All participants must strive to at least halve the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and end natural forest loss by 2030.

At the same time they plan to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020. They also aim to significantly increase the rate of global forest restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.


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Indonesia: Government implementing Ciliwung River restoration project

Antara 24 Sep 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The central and regional governments are cooperating to restore the water quality of Ciliwung River to solve the various problems such as annual flooding that impacts the capital city during the rainy season.

"The Ciliwung River is dirty and often causes floods. We want to show that it can also remain clean. The Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of Environment, the Jakarta Government, and South Korea are cooperating to restore the function of an 8.5-kilometer section of the river," Deputy Minister for Public Works Hermanto Dardak stated in a written statement here on Tuesday.

Currently, waste water processing installation (IPAL), waterscape and environment training center facilities are being built in certain locations of the river, he remarked.

"We want to showcase a model by restoring the rivers ecological function to improve the quality of its water," Hermanto explained.

The government wants to demonstrate to the people that the Ciliwung River can be restored. It also intends to provide education to the public on ways to imbibe a clean river culture and to improve the quality of water and restore the river.

The deputy minister for public works pointed out that the restoration project covers an 8.5-kilometer section from the Manggarai Sluice in South Jakarta to the Istiqlal Mosque Bridge in Central Jakarta. The work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Earlier, the Ministry of Public Works had implemented a similar project on the Eastern Flood Canal that is 23.5 kilometers long and 70-100 meters wide. It has served as a green canal model.

With regard to the efforts to handle garbage, excavators have been deployed at several points in the Ciliwung River to clean the refuse.

In the meantime, the administration of Bekasi, a buffer city of Jakarta, expressed optimism that the repair work of the Bekasi River dykes will be completed before the onset of the rainy season.

The repair of the dykes, which will cost around Rp10 billion, is expected to reduce the impact of flooding in the West Java city, Tri Adhianto, the head of the city highway construction and water system, noted.

"We decided to carry out repairs during the dry season. Work would be hampered if we do it in the rainy days," Tri pointed out.

The dykes are built in several places that are prone to flooding in the rainy season.

The river banks in the city are crowded with residential areas such as Pondok Mitra Lestari, Pondok Gede Permai, and Telukpucung complexes.

"Altogether, there are around seven dykes to be repaired and reinforced before the next rainy seasons," he affirmed.

He believes that the rapid process of urbanization in the upstream areas in Sentul is partially responsible for the flooding in Bekasi.

He pointed out that unless urbanization is curbed in the upstream areas of Bekasi, including Cileungsi and Cikeas, Bogor, it will continue to face the yearly threat of flooding

The hilly areas in Sentul, which were formerly covered by forests, are now lined with villa houses and other commercial buildings, thereby leaving hardly any empty spaces for holding the rain water, he added.(*)


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Indonesia: Environmentalists blast Jokowi’s maritime plans

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 24 Sep 14;

A coalition of green groups has urged president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to incorporate sustainable development into his maritime development programs, including the so-called “ocean toll road”, which aims to turn the country into the world’s maritime axis.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said on Tuesday that Jokowi had not yet provided enough detail as to how his maritime program would differ from that of his predecessors in terms of sustainability.

Ode Rakhman of Walhi told The Jakarta Post that after his organization had analyzed Jokowi’s statements, they found that his maritime programs lacked a vision of sustainability.

Greenpeace Indonesia, meanwhile, said that Jokowi still had time to alter certain parts of his development programs so that they would not be harmful to the environment.

“If you look closely at the concept of a maritime axis, you see it only concerns the economic aspect,” Greenpeace Indonesia chief Longgena Ginting said.

Longgena said that the ocean toll road would cause more harm than good if Jokowi failed to take into account environmental protection.

“Jokowi should have taken the condition of our ocean into consideration before he designed the program. He should have recognized that our ocean is in crisis,” he said, explaining that the plan would increase the burden on the ocean, which has been heavily exploited for economic purposes.

“Our natural-resources economy is in fact an economy of exploitation. The ocean toll road will speed up the exploitation and destruction of our natural resources,” he said.

Longgena also warned the government that the ocean toll road risked being abused by foreign companies to exploit the country’s natural resources.

The planned ocean toll road is a massive, rapid sea-transportation system designed to continually transport goods from the westernmost area of the country to the less-developed eastern region.

The emphasis on transporting goods has raised concerns about the potential impact to the environment on the back of data showing the country’s marine biodiversity was in peril.

Data from the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) shows that more than 30 percent of Indonesian marine life has been severely damaged.

High-value fish such as tuna, shark, humphead wrasse and grouper are depleted and some species are almost extinct due to overfishing, among other causes.

In order to prevent Jokowi’s maritime programs from damaging the environment, the coalition has submitted a list of recommendations, one of which is a strict limitation on the extraction and export of resources.

“If we fail to improve our monitoring efforts, our resources will be exploited,” Longgena said.

A further recommendation is that the ocean toll road be restricted to environmentally friendly transportation and fuel.

Responding to the criticism, Jokowi transition team deputy Akbar Faizal said that Jokowi had no desire to damage the environment with his maritime axis project.

“These NGOs have failed to understand our plan. The plan is environmentally friendly,” he insisted. (idb)


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World risks spending $250 billion just to monitor U.N. development goals

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 25 Sep 14;

World risks spending $250 billion just to monitor U.N. development goals Photo: Drazen Jorgic
Children displaced by recent fighting walk through flood water inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State May 1, 2014.
Photo: Drazen Jorgic

The world risks having to spend about $250 billion just to monitor U.N. development targets for 2030, diverting cash from goals such as ending poverty or protecting the environment, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The report said governments should sharply cut a current draft list of targets for 2030 from a current 169 to avoid over-spending on compiling statistics. A World Bank official contested the study, calling the cost estimates too high.

World leaders are due to set new sustainable development objectives, such as improving health and ensuring access to energy, when current U.N. Millennium goals for reducing hunger and poverty expire in 2015.

The report by Morten Jerven, a development expert at Simon Fraser University in Canada, estimated that each new target would cost $1.5 billion if it were tracked via censuses and surveys of households, living standards and health.

That would mean a total $254 billion for all 169, or about twice the amount of annual aid donations by developed nations worldwide, he wrote. Many developing nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, need aid to help improve data collection.

"If you are serious about monitoring development ... you need to narrow the list" of targets, Jerven told Reuters of his study for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which seeks to put a price on challenges from fighting malaria to climate change.

The study said that data collection costs are high, even with the help of the Internet and modern technology. The United States spent $13 billion on its latest census in 2010, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

NIGERIAN BOOM

Reliable data is vital to gauge development needs, he said. In April, for instance, Nigeria abruptly overtook South Africa as Africa's largest economy after a revision of statistics almost doubled its gross domestic product.

Gabriel Demombynes, a senior World Bank official, said Jerven's estimate of $1.5 billion per target over-estimated future needs, noting that the United Nations in 2013 urged a "data revolution" to harness new technologies.

And he said national statistics agencies of many middle income nations were more advanced than Jerven estimated.

"The cost to international aid donors of filling remaining survey gaps is manageable - on the order of $300 million per year," he and a colleague wrote in a commentary for the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Suggested U.N. goals for 2030 include eradicating poverty, with targets to end the worst poverty of below $1.25 a day, and to reduce by at least half the proportion of people living in any form of poverty.

Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, said the United Nations should limit targets or risk diverting money from spending on health or fresh water supplies.

"This is a wake-up call to avoid costly demands on the global system," he told Reuters of Jerven's estimates.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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U.N. climate summit falls short for marchers, world's poorest

Megan Rowling PlanetArk 25 Sep 14;

U.N. climate summit falls short for marchers, world's poorest Photo: Adrees Latif
Activists hold a banner as they lead a march of tens of thousands down 6th Avenue during the People's Climate March through Midtown, New York September 21, 2014.
Photo: Adrees Latif

Leaders at the U.N. climate summit in New York made too few commitments on curbing climate change to meet the demands of the hundreds of thousands of people who flooded streets worldwide on Sunday calling for bold action, civil society groups said.

But they took some heart from the limited pledges made by governments on Tuesday, together with signals that countries are serious about agreeing a new global climate deal next year in Paris, aiming to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

For example, several states - including Mexico and South Korea - promised to put money into the fledgling U.N. Green Climate Fund, which is intended to help vulnerable countries adapt to extreme weather and rising seas, and develop cleanly.

According to a tally by aid agency Oxfam, fresh pledges in New York totaled $1.325 billion, with France making the largest contribution of $1 billion over the next four years.

"The cash is starting to land in the Green Climate Fund, albeit at little more than a trickle," said Tim Gore, Oxfam's head of climate policy. "All eyes are now on those yet to stump up, including the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, and on the devil in the detail of those pledges made (on Tuesday)."

Developing countries have called for an initial capitalization of the fund of $15 billion, and the U.N.'s top climate official, Christiana Figueres, said it should be at least $10 billion.

The total promised so far to the fund - which will hold its first pledging conference in November ahead of annual U.N. climate talks in Peru - is just over $2.3 billion.

Separately, Norway said it would spend up to $300 million to support a program in Peru to reduce emissions from the destruction of the world's fourth largest tropical forest, and up to $150 million to tackle deforestation caused by logging, agriculture and charcoal production in Liberia.

Meanwhile, the European Union said it aims to allocate more than 3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) in grants to support sustainable energy in developing states over the next seven years.

ADAPTATION GETS 'SHORT SHRIFT'

Robert Glasser, CARE International's secretary general, said his organization was "disappointed that climate change adaptation has been given short shrift at this summit".

"Though various initiatives have been announced here and there, with such vague information from governments, it's not clear whether they will be of any benefit to the world's poorest at all," he emphasized.

A number of collaborative efforts were launched to help at-risk people become more resilient to climate change. The Red Cross said it would work with governments and others to strengthen the use of climate information in at least 40 countries by the end of 2015, and quadruple the number of cities where it implements urban risk reduction programs.

African states announced the African Risk Capacity Extreme Climate Facility, a multi-year funding mechanism that will issue climate change catastrophe bonds to help countries boost adaptation investments if extreme weather shocks increase.

Leaders from 19 countries, plus 32 investors and other partners, backed the creation of an 8,000 km-long clean energy corridor across east and southern Africa.

U.S. President Barack Obama said federal agencies would be required to factor climate resilience into the design of their international development programs and investments. The U.S. government will release new data and tools enabling developing countries to better understand extreme weather risks and prepare for climate impacts.

WHO'S LISTENING?

But some aid agencies were critical of another major initiative, to help 500 million farmers adapt to more stressful growing conditions through "climate smart" agriculture, and of a declaration setting a goal to cut the loss of tropical forests in half by 2020 and end it in 2030.

ActionAid said there was no definition of what types of agriculture could be called "climate smart", warning it could be used as an unfair way of getting poor countries to take on a large portion of emissions cuts and open the way for agri-business firms at the expense of small-scale farmers.

FERN, a European forest policy NGO, said the forest declaration did not take a strong enough stance on ensuring forest people's rights, and on the need to curb consumption in the developed world. Others were critical because the statement was not endorsed by forest-rich Brazil, which was reported to have said it had been left out of negotiations.

While both Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told leaders at the climate summit they must hear the voices of the hundreds of thousands of people who joined climate demonstrations at the weekend, some questioned how far the message was getting through.

"We marched for the banning of new fossil fuel projects, and for the promotion and funding for community, decentralized, renewable energy systems," said Lidy Nacpil of the Philippines, director of Jubilee South, the Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development. "Neither of these were advanced by the summit - it seems they were listening to the corporate sponsors rather than the people."

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Leaders under fire for failure to attend post-UN climate summit meetings
Fiona Harvey theguardian.com 24 Sep 14;

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during the climate summit at the UN headquarters on September 23, 2014 in New York City. British prime minister David Cameron speaks during the climate summit at the UN headquarters in New York City on Tuesday. Photograph: UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media/UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media

David Cameron’s former top climate change aide has lambasted world leaders for failing to show up to the crucial informal dialogue session following Tuesday’s climate summit at the UN in New York.

After a day of set-piece speeches by leaders including Barack Obama that yielded little in the way of new commitments, world leaders were supposed to meet over dinner to discuss climate change, and engage in “soft diplomacy” to iron out differences ahead of crunch negotiations on a new global climate agreement.

But many prominent heads of state and government stayed away from the summit altogether, or failed to show at the dinner.

Greg Barker, former climate minister and the adviser who played a key role in Cameron interest in green issues, including orchestrating his famous trip to the Arctic, told an audience in New York: “President Obama is a few blocks away [from the dinner] at a party in the Waldorf-Astoria. China’s [premier Xi Jinping] is thousands of miles away. The prime minister of India [Narendra Modi] could not make time for it. The chancellor of Germany [Angela Merkel], the biggest economy in Europe, is in Berlin. We will never get a deal on climate change if leaders don’t turn up.”

Russia’s Vladimir Putin also stayed put in Moscow, and the count of world leaders reached just above 120 out of a possible of more than 190.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, called the summit in an effort to make much-needed progress before crunch talks next December in Paris, at which world governments are supposed to forge a new global agreement on the climate, including national commitments on emissions curbs beyond 2020, when current targets run out. The last time that leaders met in such fashion was at Copenhagen in 2009.

The decision by the Chinese, Indian and Russian premiers to snub Tuesday’s UN summit, held the day before the annual general assembly, was viewed with dismay by many.

“This was supposed to be pivotal: Obama and Jinping in a room, eyeball to eyeball,” said a senior participant in the talks. “Everyone knows that the US and China [the world’s biggest emitters and economies] are the pivot. But it didn’t happen.”

China’s vice premier Zhang Gaoli told the summit: “We will announce post-2020 actions on climate change as soon as we can, which will bring about marked progress in reducing carbon intensity, increasing the share of non-fossil fuels and raising the forest stock, as well as the peaking of total CO2 emissions as early as possible.

“China will advance a revolution in energy production and consumption, cap total energy consumption, raise energy efficiency and vigorously develop non-fossil fuels. We will step up efforts against air pollution, promote ecological progress, establish a carbon trading market at a faster pace, intensify technological innovation and raise public awareness of green and low-carbon development.

“By so doing, China will blaze a path of sustainable development that leads to both economic growth and effective tackling of climate change.”

Foreign ministeri Xie Zhinhua made it clear in a press conference that engagement would be on China’s terms. “China is a developing country,” he said. “We have 18m people living in poverty. China has paid equal attention to growth, mitigation [of carbon dioxide emissions] and adaptation [to climate change]. We are similar to developing countries and the least developed countries, we are on the same page as these countries.”

He emphasised China’s insistence on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, intended under the Kyoto protocol of 1997, when China’s economy was much smaller, to ensure that developing countries could continue to increase their emissions while developed countries had to reduce theirs.

However, one new factor in the negotiations leading up to Paris is that China has just surpassed the European Union in annual greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Previously, along with other developing countries, China has argued that as its emissions per person were much lower than in the developed world, it should take on less responsibility for emissions cuts.

Cameron attended Tuesday night’s dinner at UN headquarters in Manhattan, seated between South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil. He was also one of many world leaders present, including Fran├žois Hollande of France and Hassan Rouhani of Iran, who had one-to-one meetings with Ban during the day, though the edited versions released publicly afterwards revealed little of note.

Cameron did not attend the climate march on Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of people in New York, London and cities around the world urged leaders to take stronger action on global warming, but Barker took to the streets of New York with model Lily Cole.


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