Best of our wild blogs; 29 Sep 14

Please speak up for Pulau Ubin!
from wild shores of singapore

Registration for Nov public walks at Sisters Island opens tomorrow
from Sisters' Island Marine Park

Special Night Walk At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (20 Sep 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Get your mudskippers identified!
from wild shores of singapore

Common Asian Toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) @ Sungei Tengah
from Monday Morgue

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Development along Johor coastline affecting bird migration: Malaysian Nature society

Mohd Farhaan Shah The Star/Asia News AsiaOne 28 Sep 14;

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia - The massive developments taking place along the Johor coastline may affect the annual migration of thousands of birds that flocked here from East Asia to Australia, says the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

MNS Johor branch chairman Vincent Chow said migratory birds usually choose Johor to escape the winter cold of China, South Korea and Japan.

"The birds usually begin their thousand-mile journey when winter is near in East Asia and they travel south by using the East Asia-Australia "flyway".

"Once it is spring, which is between February and March, they will then make their return journey up north as food such as insects would be plenty for them there," he said in an interview here yesterday.

Chow said that the number of migratory birds here have dwindled over the last few years, especially along Danga Bay and Pontian.

He pointed out that migratory birds, such as the storm storks, could usually be found along the riverbeds at Danga Bay or even near Sungai Masai as the birds feed on small crabs, fish and mudskippers.

Chow also said that the massive development along those areas have influenced the ecosystem where food becomes scarce for these birds.

"Efforts must be made not only by the Johor government, but also the developers involved in the projects to ensure that the ecosystem will be maintained.

"The migration of birds is a crown jewel to Malaysia as bird-watching has become a huge tourism magnet," he added.

Chow said about 5,000 bird watching enthusiasts from here and overseas would converge in the state during the migratory period.

"Such activities are a big draw to people from Australia, the United States, Europe and East Asian countries.

"Birds have been migrating from East Asia to Australia for thousands of years, and it is a shame if they dwindle because of human interference," he said.

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Malaysia: Forest City project developers to make DEIA report public

mohd farhaan shah The Star 29 Sep 14;

JOHOR BARU: Following concerns raised by affected residents and environmentalists over the massive Forest City project, the developers will make public the detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) of the 2,000ha man-made island, which is touted to be larger than Pangkor island.

Country Garden Pacific View (CGPV) said the final DEIA report is expected to be ready for submission to the relevant authorities early next month and the public could view it at the Department of Environment (DOE) in Putrajaya.

The China-based developer said it was aware of the concerns raised around the huge project in Gelang Patah, about 25km from here.

CGPV said that it received clearance from the state DOE to start reclamation works for the first phase of about 49.3ha, but ceased operation in June when concerns were raised about the project, which is being developed with state company Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

“We also submitted a preliminary report on our project to the authorities and tabled it to the government for zoning approval, which we received,” CGPV said in a statement here yesterday.

More than 250 villagers attended a public dialogue on the project on Sept 21, providing their feedback and concerns on the Forest City project that would be included in the final DEIA report.

Fishermen living near the project raised concerns that the Forest City would have an impact on their livelihood.

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Thailand: Rising sea 'could ruin east coast in 30 years'

Mitigation plans urgently needed; locals more aware now of dangers, experts say

CLIMATE CHANGE is putting people living in the eastern part of Thailand at risk, as a study shows a significant part of the eastern coast would not exist in 30 years without mitigation plans.

"Perhaps, locals will have to relocate," said Robert Mather, head of Southeast Asia Group and also project manager of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts-Coastal Southeast Asia (BCR).

Living on the coast of Trat's Klong Yai district, Papassorn Sunet said she had to elevate her house twice already in the face of soaring seawater level.

At a recent panel discussion, part of Trat's provincial-level conference on climate-change mitigation, environment experts at a seminar in Trat unveiled their research that showed the sea level in the area has risen above the global average level.

Mather pointed out that the sea level in Trat and Chanthaburi provinces had risen by 4-5 millimetres per year, against the mean global level change of 3mm.

Due to the higher sea level, the provinces would suffer dearly from coastal erosion, he said. In 30 years, he expected the coast in the three provinces to narrow by 15 metres, making the area the most fragile in the country.

The study by Jonathan Shott, project manager and disaster management consultant for Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF), showed that the sea-level rise in Trat, estimated at about 0.20mm per annum during 2030s, could escalate to above 0.25mm in 2040s and above 0.35mm in the 2050s. Likewise, the sea level in Chanthaburi is also expected to rise in the period: by 0.19mm per annum in 2030s, 0.27mm in the 2040s and above 0.35mm in the 2050s respectively

Trat would also suffer from higher temperatures. The number of days when the mercury is 35 degrees Celsius or higher is expected to increase from 53 days per annum during the 1980 to 2009 period, to 92 days in 2030s, 110 days in 2040s and 138 days in 2050s.

"These changes will directly affect fishermen in Trat province where most of them rely on natural resources to earn a living," Shott said. "So, it's important that the locals know how to adjust themselves with the weather impact."

Puchong Saritdeechaikul, director of Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's Marine and Coastal Resources Conservation Centre 1, noted that man-made action was mainly to blame for changes around coastal areas. Shrimp farming, for example, generates sediment. Once this sediment reaches the sea, it harms the sea environment and leads to a reduction in marine life.

To mitigate the negative impact, localities will need to help themselves first, before seeking government help. Some may need to change their profession, as marine lives gradually disappear from the area.

Chid Manapruk, a fisherman from Tambon Khong Ta Kien, Trat, said that in the past 4-5 years the beach in front of his home has been narrowed by about 20 metres. "Another 20 metres and the water would engulf my house," he said. "I may have to evacuate to other places, though I don't have any land elsewhere."

Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, SDF director, noted that though some communities can adjust themselves to climate change, a provincial master plan is necessary as that will involve all in the process.

She said that local participation is also necessary in completing the master plan to ensure the effectiveness of the plan. Locals know their areas the best, she noted.

"The provincial adaptation plan should be more effective with the cooperation between authorities and the locals. Through this, the locals will be more capable of addressing the real challenges," she said.

Setthapan Krajangwongs, head of the Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning's UNFCCC coordination section, also believed that local engagement in the master plan drafting will help better address the challenges, as each area has its own different problems.

"People in one area may face coastal erosion, those in other areas may suffer from shortage of marine lives. When these people help brainstorm, the plan can contain some details which specifically address particular problems," he said.

Prasit Yindee, the vice chair of the Trat-based Rak Talay Nom Klao Group, said residents of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat had now formed a network to share information and improve the monitoring of climate-change impacts."We are now on alert. During the past few years, locals have no longer seen climate change as something irrelevant to their lives," he said.

Trat hosted the seminar to seek opinions from experts, authorities and localities in drafting the provincial master plan. Next month, a follow-up session will be held with the governor.

Setthapan said Thailand was in the final stage of enforcing the Climate Change Master Plan, which will cover plans for the nation from 2014-2050. It will cover five areas, which will be affected the most by climate change - water, food security, tourism, resources and resettlements. He expects the master plan to win the government's approval some time next year.

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Floods, forest fires, expanding deserts: the future has arrived

Evidence from around the world supports scientists' assertion that global warming is already happening
Robin McKie The Observer 28 Sep 14;

Climate change is no longer viewed by mainstream scientists as a future threat to our planet and our species. It is a palpable phenomenon that already affects the world, they insist. And a brief look round the globe certainly provides no lack of evidence to support this gloomy assertion.

In Bangladesh, increasingly severe floods – triggered, in part, by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels – are wiping out crops and destroying homes on a regular basis. In Sudan, the heat is causing the Sahara to expand and to eat into farmland, while in Siberia, the planet's warming is causing the permafrost to melt and houses to subside.

Or consider the Marshall Islands, the Pacific archipelago that is now struggling to cope with rising seas that are lapping over its streets and gardens. Even the home of the country's president Christopher Loeak is feeling the effects. "He has had to build a wall around his house to prevent the salt water from inundating," Tony de Brum, the islands' foreign minister, revealed recently.

"Our airport retaining wall that keeps the saltwater out of the landing strip has also been breached. Even our graveyards are also being undermined – coffins and bodies are being dug out from the seashore."

Across the planet, it is getting harder and harder to find shelter from the storm. And things are only likely to get worse, say researchers.

As Europe continues to heat up, energy demands are expected to drop in northern countries, but equally they are destined to soar around the Mediterranean and in the south where there will be a desperate need for cooling and air-conditioning that will drive up power costs.

By the middle of the century, forest fires and severe heatwaves will be increasingly common while crops will be devastated and vineyards will be scorched.

Similarly, in the Alps, lack of snow and melting ice will make skiing, walking and climbing far less enticing for tourists. So if you are planning to cash in that little nest egg you have been nurturing to buy a retreat on the continent, think very carefully which part of Europe you pick. By this reckoning, Norway looks a good bet, as does Scotland.

Other parts of the world face different problems created by the billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that we now pump into the atmosphere from factories, power plants and cars. In Asia the main issue concerns the presence and absence of water. In the south-east of the region, continued sea-level rises threaten to further erode farmlands and coastal towns and cities, while inland it will be water scarcity that will affect most people's lives. In this latter case, higher temperatures will combine with lack of water to trigger major reductions in rice yields.

In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that up to 139 million people could face food shortages at least once a decade by 2070.

Perhaps most alarming of all the forecasts that concern the future warming of our planet is the work of Camilo Mora at the University of Hawaii. His research – which involved using a range of climate models to predict temperatures on a grid that covered the globe – suggests that by 2047 the planet's climate systems will have changed to such an extent that the coldest years then will be warmer than even the hottest years that were experienced at any time in the 20th century.

"Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced," Mora said in an interview with the New York Times recently. "What we are saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm."

In other words, our species – which is already assailed by the impact of mild global warming – is now plunging headlong into an overheated future for which there are no recorded precedents.

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China embraces carbon pricing and UN takes a shine to plan

Valerie Volcovici PlanetArk 29 Sep 14;

At the UN's Climate Summit this week a diverse group of global leaders, from World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to California Governor Jerry Brown, spoke of the need for polluters to pay for each ton of carbon they emit. More than 1,000 companies pledged their support for the effort.

Carbon pricing, largely rejected by the United States and struggling in Europe, is suddenly all the rage, with China leading the charge. The world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter plans to establish a national market for carbon permit trading in 2016 and has already launched seven regional pilot markets.

Boosters of carbon pricing policies say that once China sets a national price on carbon, others will follow.

"Once China goes live, that will establish a major price (signal) that will affect all the other markets and all other (carbon) prices," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

China's top economic planning agency has said its planned carbon trading scheme will cover 40 percent of its economy and be worth up to $65 billion.

"You will see a shift in the fulcrum toward China and that will attract other countries," Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group special envoy for climate change, told Reuters.

Governments like Chile and Mexico and U.S. states like California will be keen to link their emerging carbon markets to the Chinese model, Kyte said.

South Korean Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu said his country, which in 2015 will be the first in Asia to launch a national carbon market, wants to eventually link its scheme to China's.

Kyte said emerging economies have shown a strong interest in using measures like markets and taxes to rein in pollution, and have joined the Bank's Partnership for Market Readiness for help to shape their carbon pricing policies.

The initiative is helping countries like Vietnam design and pilot carbon pricing instruments in its steel, solid waste and power sectors, Colombia explore the launch of a carbon tax and Kazakhstan fix problems with the pilot emissions trading scheme it launched in 2013.

The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) has been lobbying since 1999 for an international framework for carbon trading. It also has supported schemes in emerging economies and in U.S. states like California and the U.S. Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a power sector trading scheme that launched in 2009.

The group suffered a blow when a national cap-and-trade bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009 but died in the Senate a year later.

Since then, "We've spent a lot more of our time talking to businesses in China to build capacity to make emission trading work," said Dirk Forrister, president of IETA.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and David Gregorio)

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