Best of our wild blogs: 6 Oct 14

dog-faced watersnake & halfbeak @ SBWR - Sep2014
from sgbeachbum

Straits of Singapore Pelagic Survey 5th Oct 2014
from Singapore Bird Group

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) @ Pasir Ris
from Monday Morgue

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PA launches Water-Venture Committee in Pasir Ris

Channel NewsAsia 4 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: Pasir Ris residents keen to pursue water sports and want to get involved in creating an environmentally-conscious community can do so by joining a new movement. A Water-Venture Committee was launched by the People's Association in the constituency on Saturday (Oct 4).

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean kicked off Project Blue WaVe on Saturday. Project Blue WaVe is the first of a three-part signature event organised by the Water-Venture Committee. During the event, 300 residents picked up litter from the Sungei Api-Api river while others cleaned up the banks on foot.

The newly-formed committee comprises of grassroots leaders and volunteer trainers. They will support the residents' involvement in keeping the environment clean and healthy.

A total of eight Water-Venture committees will eventually be launched in other constituencies.

Mr Teo said such projects are a good way of bringing the community together to create awareness about the environment. "Sungei Api-Api is a natural river with mangrove sites so it's not easy to clean it from the shore side. Every couple of years, we go in from the seaside with kayaks and help to clean up. And I think it achieves two things - first, we help to clean up the river. Second, it teaches everyone a little bit more about the environment," added Mr Teo.

- CNA/ac

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Global biodiversity targets won't be met by 2020, scientists say

World leaders failing in their pledge to stop wildlife decline, save habitats and create marine reserves
Adam Vaughan The Guardian 3 Oct 14;

World leaders are failing in their pledge to cut the rate at which wildlife lose their homes, according to the the first ever progress report on targets to slow biodiversity loss by the end of the decade. Conservationist called the lack of action a “troubling sign” and a “reality check”.

Governments agreed on a set of targets in 2010 to stem the destruction of species’ habitats, increase the number of nature reserves and stop overfishing, but an international team of more than 30 scientists say in a report that, almost halfway towards the 2020 deadline, the Aichi targets are unlikely to be met.

Writing in the journal Science, in the same week that a major report by WWF suggested the world had lost half its animals over the past four decades, the scientists say that the state of biodiversity and the pressures on it are getting worse, not better.

A pledge to halve the loss of natural habitats by 2020 will be missed, as will an attempt to reduce fishing to sustainable levels, and a target of having 10% of the world’s seas made into protected areas.

Dr Richard Gregory, one of the paper’s authors and head of species monitoring and research at the RSPB, said: “World leaders are currently grappling with many crises affecting our future. But this study shows there is a collective failure to address the loss of biodiversity, which is arguably one of the greatest crises facing humanity.

“The natural environment provides us with food, clean water and other natural resources we need for survival, and much more besides to feed our souls and inspire us.”

He called the lack of progress a “a troubling sign for us all.”

If the 2020 targets are missed, it will not be the first time targets to halt the decline in the richness and abundance of wildlife and the natural world have been overshot. An assessment of goals set in 2002 to cut the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 showed governments had failed to deliver on the commitments they made.

Mike Hoffmann, a senior scientist on species survival commission at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, told the Guardian that “this is a reality check halfway to 2020.”

“We’re in serious danger of being in the same position as we were back in 2010 of not having made the progress we need to make to lead to a better society and a better world.

“It’s not to say we’re not having successes. We don’t do enough to champion the conservation successes, without which we’d be in a much worse situation.”

But, he said: “The bottom line is we’re not doing enough and we’re going to have to do much much more to change things in the next five things.”

The new analysis of progress on the 2020 targets did say that society’s awareness of the problem had improved and efforts to raise funds to tackle the problem were accelerating but not significantly enough. The team looked at 55 indicators to measure the health of biodiversity worldwide, to measure progress on 16 of the 20 Aichi targets agreed in 2010.

“The benefits of maintaining biodiversity are well known,” the report concludes, “... efforts need to be redoubled to positively affect trajectories of change and enable global biodiversity goals to be met by the end of the current decade.”

Officials from nearly a nearly 200 countries are to meet in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over the next fortnight, to discuss how to tackle the problem.

World falling behind 2020 plan for nature protection: UN
Alister Doyle PlanetArk 7 Oct 14;

Many rare species face a mounting risk of extinction, forests are being cleared by farmers at an alarming rate, and pollution and over-fishing are continuing despite the U.N. push agreed in 2010 to reverse harmful trends for nature.

"There has been an increase in effort (by governments) ... but this will not be enough to reach the targets," Braulio de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), told Reuters, citing a progress report.

Overall, the Global Biodiversity Outlook issued at the start of a biodiversity meeting in South Korea on Monday showed that only five of 53 goals set for preserving nature were on target or ahead of schedule. The other 48 were lagging.

Governments were on track, for instance, towards a goal of setting set aside 17 percent of the world's land area by 2020 in protected areas for wildlife, such as parks or reserves.

But they were lagging targets such as halving the rate of loss of natural habitats, or preventing extinctions of known threatened species.

"Despite individual success stories, the average risk of extinction for birds, mammals and amphibians is still increasing," the report said, adding that biodiversity meant more than high profile campaigns to save orangutans, polar bears or rare frogs.

Urging governments to redouble efforts, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that success in preserving life on the planet would help goals of "eliminating poverty, improving human health and providing energy, food and clean water for all".

Other U.N. reports have estimated, for instance, that free insect pollination -- largely by bees -- is worth about $190 billion a year worldwide by securing food production.

Monday's report estimated that the world would need to spend between $150 billion and $440 billion a year to achieve the 2020 goals to ensure the biodiversity of animal and plant life.

Dias said in a telephone interview from South Korea that current spending was probably around $50 billion a year, much of it focused on setting up and policing protected wildlife areas.

And businesses should also do more, he said: "Many big companies still refuse to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their supply chain."

The report urged far more focus on farming, for instance by limiting over-use of fertilisers that can pollute rivers, or by reducing incentives for felling tropical forests from Indonesia to the Congo basin.

It also urged governments to take firmer action on climate change in order to limit stresses on nature such as damage to coral reefs that are vulnerable to rising ocean temperatures.

(Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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