Best of our wild blogs: 15 Nov 14

Bats in my porch: 21. Hanging CDs
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Public engagement on ways to reduce carbon emission to take place in 2015

Sara Grosse Channel NewsAsia 14 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE: The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) plans to engage key stakeholders and members of the public in early 2015 to solicit feedback on existing and possible measures by Singapore to reduce its carbon emissions.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, announced this at the opening of a new climate change exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore on Friday (Nov 14).

Mr Teo said: "Ahead of the new international agreement in 2015, countries will be expected to put forth new commitments to reduce emissions from year 2020 and beyond. Singapore has started preparations on our contributions for the post-2020 agreement.

"Even though we are a small island state with limited access to renewable energy sources, Singapore will do our part as a responsible member of the international community to manage our carbon emissions."

Yuen Sai Kuan, Director, 3P Network, National Climate Change Secretariat, added that the public engagement will include consultations on ways to improve energy efficiency in areas such transport and housing.

Singapore has pledged to cut emissions by 7 per cent to 11 per cent below 2020 business-as-usual (BAU) levels, and in case of a binding international agreement, by 16 per cent below BAU.


Mr Teo on Friday launched the Climate Change Climate Challenge Exhibition, built at a cost of S$3 million. The interactive exhibition replaces the previous display built in 2008.
The centrepiece of the new exhibition is the Climate Machine, which allows visitors to understand how their daily actions, such as choosing to drive a car instead of using public transport, contribute to the release of greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere and cause climate change. The giant balls represent carbon dioxide entering and leaving the Earth's atmosphere.

Visitors can also learn more about Singapore's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday.

- CNA/kk

Public to share its ideas on creating greener Singapore: Teo

SINGAPORE — As the Government prepares to commit to a global pact on climate change next year, it will be asking for public feedback on how the nation can reduce its carbon emissions and promote green growth, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the launch of a new climate change exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore yesterday.

The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) will lead the feedback exercise, which will start next year.

International efforts to reach a global agreement on reducing emissions beyond 2020 are scheduled to take place at a United Nations meeting in Paris next year. Ahead of that, Mr Teo, who also chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said countries will be expected to put forth new commitments to reduce emissions from year 2020.

“Even though we are a small island state with limited access to renewable energy sources, Singapore will do our part as a responsible member of the international community to manage our carbon emissions,” he said.

Since this could entail changes in industry practices and individual lifestyle habits, Mr Yuen Sai Kuan, director of the 3P Network Division in NCCS, said the public consultation aims to seek views from stakeholders who might be affected by emission reduction measures early on.

Noting that Singapore has already pledged to cut emissions by 7 per cent to 11 per cent below 2020 business-as-usual (BAU) levels — and, in the case of a binding international agreement, by 16 per cent — Mr Yuen said Singapore would still have to review its post-2020 targets.

“A key thrust of our emission-reduction efforts will be energy efficiency, so we’ll be looking at existing measures to improve our energy efficiency, as well as new measures,” he said.

In addition to getting more people to use less energy or use energy wisely, the public consultation will also seek feedback on possible new measures, such as lowering the threshold of the existing Energy Conservation Act, to encourage more companies to improve their energy management practices.

The Government may also look into sectors such as households and transport, he added.

Even while countries struggle to meet their 2020 targets set in the Kyoto Protocol, negotiations for the new 2015 international agreement are already under way.

“The US-China agreement announced a few days ago is certainly a positive step because (they are) the largest carbon emitters in the world. So, if both of them agree to commit and do their part to reduce carbon emissions, I think it sets the pace or open the doors for more agreement,” said Mr Yuen.


Amid growing concerns over climate change and its impacts, Mr Teo officially launched the new S$3 million Climate Change Climate Challenge Exhibition at the Science Centre yesterday.

The exhibition, a revamp of a previous exhibit that opened in 2008, will be a permanent feature and is a collaboration between the Science Centre, NCCS and Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

“One of the things we tried to do in this exhibit is, as far as possible, we wanted to base the facts (people get) on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report,” said Dr Chris Gordon, director of the Centre for Climate Research Singapore under the MSS.

“So we’ve tried to make that part of it up-to-date, but (we’ve) also tried to make it very engaging for people.”

Visitors will be able to explore eight different zones with interactive exhibits that will take them through the causes of climate change, its impact on Singapore and the region, and how individuals have a role to play in reducing Singapore’s carbon footprint by adopting climate-friendly habits.

They will also have a chance to role-play as meteorologists and experience first-hand how the MSS uses technology to understand complex weather systems.

“Not forgetting the (nurturing of) future generations of scientists who can help tackle climate change, we hope this exhibition can pique our students’ interest and set them on course to become experts in the area,” added Mr Yuen.

Public study on cutting S'pore's carbon output
Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 15 Nov 14;

Singapore will begin public consultations early next year to work on plans and targets to reduce carbon emissions after 2020, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

This will include a review of ongoing efforts and a study of possible measures to, say, improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from power consumption.

The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), which co-ordinates the country's domestic and international policies on climate change, will seek the public's views on the measures and how they can contribute.

"Even though we are a small island state with limited access to renewable energy sources, Singapore will do its part as a responsible member of the international community to manage its carbon emissions," said Mr Teo at an annual competition to raise awareness about climate change.

If nothing was done to reduce emissions after 2005, Singapore would reach some 77 million tonnes of emissions in 2020.

The Government has pledged to reduce emissions by 7 to 11 per cent below this projection, and to boost its commitment to 16 per cent if there is a global, legally binding deal to reduce emissions.

DPM Teo added that Singapore is playing "an active part" in ongoing talks for a new international agreement on climate change.

Such an accord is widely expected at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting next year, especially after China and the United States announced a historic climate change agreement between them on Wednesday.

China and the US are the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters. Their accord included China's first commitment to stop emissions from growing by 2030.

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Extra spark for electric car project

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Nov 14;

SOMEDAY in the near future, you might be able to find an electric car in your neighbourhood car park, drive it to your destination and then park it for someone else to use.

Last weekend, the authorities said in a new sustainable Singapore blueprint that they are planning to lead an electric car project to make car-sharing more convenient and environmentally-friendly.

When asked, the Economic Development Board and Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a joint reply that they are still at the planning stage and could not provide more details.

But The Straits Times understands that the Government had, as recently as about two years ago, considered introducing 900 to 1,000 electric cars under such a scheme.

Industry players and transportation experts said that a project of this nature was long overdue, and that implementing it would help Singapore meet its goal of being a "car-lite" nation, as set out in the blueprint. The LTA has said "car sharing can help those who need to use a car for a few hours or over a weekend, and allow convenient access to it without having to own or maintain one".

Unlike conventional cars fuelled by petrol, electric cars do not have tailpipes that emit pollution.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said: "By having an electric car-sharing scheme we can kill two birds with one stone.

"People do not need to buy cars and they can use an even more environmentally-friendly way of sharing cars."

Mr Tom Lokenvitz, founder of hybrid car-sharing outfit Smove, said the Republic's relatively short driving distances and stable power supply make electric cars a good option.

But experts noted that Singapore still does not have enough charging stations for the cars, or parking spaces set aside for them. As of early July, there were just 68 charging stations and three quick charge stations for the whole island.
Most are on semi-public premises, which means access may be restricted.

When asked, the Housing Board (HDB) said it has about 300 car-sharing parking spaces at 105 HDB car parks.

It said the car parks are primarily for HDB residents, so their needs have to be met first before car-sharing spaces can be set aside. "(But) we will set aside car-sharing spaces in every town, so that residents in all towns can have this option," it said.

It is working with LTA and car-sharing operators to identify suitable locations.

Last year, the LTA and Energy Market Authority concluded the first phase of the Government's electric car test-bed, which started in 2011, and involved 89 cars.

Only cars registered by companies, institutes of higher learning and government agencies took part in the test-bed, but the new car-sharing scheme will be more widely available to the public, according to the blueprint.

Smove's Mr Lokenvitz said the authorities could encourage the use and sharing of electric cars through other means, such as by excluding electric vehicles' batteries - which are costly - from tax computations.

"That would make electric cars more cost-competitive, and the market would adapt. People who are early adopters can buy the cars, and companies can also get more of them to roll out their own electric car-sharing plans," he said.

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Chinese Developers' Projects in Malaysia Run into Series of Snags

The MH370 episode, changes in government polices and environmental concerns have clouded the plans of property companies like Country Garden
Chen Lixiong and Li Huiling Caixin Online 13 Nov 14;

(Johor Bahru, Malaysia) – Chinese property developers had big plans for their projects in the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru, which lies across a thin strip of water from Singapore.

Developers like Country Garden Holdings Co. Ltd., Shanghai Greenland Group and Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. Ltd. have planned projects worth US$ 6 billion in a large development area Malaysia started planning in 2006.

The government of the Southeast Asian country has predicted the development would transform Johor Bahru into an world-class metropolis by 2025. Some of these hopes were underpinned by the city's proximity to Singapore, which lies to the south across the Straits of Johor.

The high hopes have boosted Johor Bahru's property market in recent years, sending the average price for an apartment up 45 percent since 2009.

But lately the optimism has turned to frustration for the Chinese developers working in the area. Plans for home sales to Chinese buyers were complicated following the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight, then complicated again another as the Malaysian government changed home buying and tax policies that cooled the market.

One developer has also run into public opposition involving a project to build islands for residential buildings in the Straits of Johor, prompting the government to suspend work.

Disaster Strikes

Country Garden, which is based in the southern province of Guangdong, spent 1.56 billion yuan on a 22 hectare waterfront plot in Johor Bahru in 2012. Then in August last year homes in the project, called Danga Bay, went on sale.

Some 6,000 homes were sold the first day they hit the market, netting Country Garden some 9 billion yuan. The Danga Bay homes sold for 14,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan per square meter.

Country Garden's success did not go unnoticed back home. In February, Shanghai Greenland bought two parcels of land in Johor Bahru and by the middle of the next month it had unveiled its development plans.

But just before Shanghai Greenland announced those plans, disaster struck. On March 8, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared with 239 people on board – about two-thirds of them from mainland China. Many in China criticized Malaysian authorities for their handling of the incident and remain angry the plane has not been found.

The MH370 episode hurt the prospects of the developers in Johor Bahru, especially because foreigners were being counted on to be the biggest buyers. Country Garden planned to sell 30 percent of the Danga Bay homes to buyers from China, but a company salesman says the figure stands at only about 20 percent.

Greenland said the disappearance of MH370 had little impact on its projects in Malaysia, but it has postponed projects in the country several times in recent months.

Even before the Malaysian Airlines flight was lost, the Malaysian government had put in place home purchase and tax policies that alarmed developers. In a bid to slow increases in home prices, at the end of last year it put restrictions on foreign buyers.

The government said foreigners could only buy homes costing more than 1.85 million yuan, and if the properties were sold within five years, a 30 percent tax would be levied. The tax rate from the sixth year onward was 5 percent.

Banks also made it harder to get mortgages. The Country Garden salesman said prospective buyers in the Danga Bay project dropped their plans because they could not get loans.

Country Garden saw tough times coming and announced a planned to return land it had bought to the government, but Johor Bahru officials rejected the idea, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

An Island Appears

Some of the Chinese developers' projects involve reclaiming land from the sea. Area residents complained this caused a slew of problems, including flooding.

"Such flooding has never happened before at this time of year," said Cheo Yee How, a state legislator, after a road near the Danga Bay project went under water during a rainstorm on September 11.

He said residents worried that the city's sewer system would have problems and more flooding would occur.

In January, Cheo got a phone call from a fisherman who told him about an island that had appeared in the sea. The islet turned out to be one of four that Country Garden was building for a development called Forest City.

The developer neither told residents about the project, nor submitted an environmental impact assessment report to the government. Country Garden said the government only requires the reports when the reclamation area exceeds 50 hectares, but the Forest City project is smaller than that.

The project will harm the livelihoods of about 200 fishermen, said Cheo, who has also questioned whether the project is outside an approved building area.

He called on the government to halt the project and for the developer to tell the public about it plans. Malaysia's environmental ministry suspended work in June.

Country Garden held a meeting with area residents to discuss the issues on September 21, but the locals were unimpressed. When Country Garden produced survey results that showed residents approved of the project, they got angry.

The residents demanded to know how the Forest City project would affect the environment and how they would benefit. The project's director, Dato Zamani Bin Kasim, had to promise them his company would submit an environmental report to authorities in September.

The development has also gotten the attention of Singapore. On September 20, its prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, expressed concern over Forest City's impact on the Straits of Johor, which is as narrow as 1.2 kilometers in some areas. Lee demanded an environmental appraisal and said Singapore wanted to be assured the development would not cause problems for it.
(Rewritten by Guo Kai)

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Sustainable tourism in protected areas can be critical for their survival, says new IUCN report

IUCN 14 Nov 14;

Sydney, Australia, 14 November 2014 (IUCN) – Increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development, provided well-functioning management systems are in place, according to a new report unveiled today at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia.

Highlighting a global collection of case studies from Machu Picchu in Peru to the Damaraland Camp in Namibia, the IUCN report, Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Sustainability, includes contributions from more than 50 experts from 23 countries and territories, and examples from over 45 countries around the world.

“Unlike other industries and human-driven activities, tourism in protected areas can be a strong positive force – increasing a sense of stewardship and revenues that are vital for the long-term protection of these important conservation areas,” said Dr Yu-Fai Leung, the chief editor of the report and member of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group. “By contrast, reduced visitor numbers to protected areas can signal a lack of political interest or public support. The guidelines provided in this report are intended to strengthen current visitor management systems, including measures on how best to protect these key natural and cultural assets.”

International tourism is a trillion-dollar business, accounting for up to 9% of global GDP. The World Tourism Organization estimates that tourism is expected to continue to grow by 3.3% annually through 2030, generating one in twelve jobs globally. Protected areas, including National Parks and World Heritage Sites, are consistently the primary attraction for tourists interested in exploring natural areas and its wildlife across the world.

Governments, protected area agencies, tour operators, retailers and members of the local community can all benefit from tourism revenues and in some cases tourism enterprises directly support the protection or rehabilitation of key habitat areas.

For example, payments made by Wilderness Safaris – a private sector ecotourism company – for annual concession fees for ecotourism camps in Africa in 2014 totalled over USD 4.4 million, a substantial contribution to financing protected areas through tourism.

In contrast, the report finds that where visits to protected areas have dropped, such as in Canada, Japan and the United States, the parks have suffered from reduced political support and funding. For example, between 1994 and 2012, there was a 28.7% decrease in the number of visitors to national parks in Canada, which may have contributed to the government’s 2012 decision to cut budget and staff to national parks.

The report recognizes that protected area managers are grappling with a number of challenges, including climate change, illegal wildlife trade, inadequate infrastructure and competing interests for natural resources. However, with proper management systems in place, an increase in visitors can generate much needed revenues from entrance fees, guided tours, accommodation and concessions, which in turn can be invested in conservation activities.

The report highlights the need to identify and evaluate the true costs and impacts of tourism in protected areas, in order to have a clear understanding of the opportunities and challenges related to the development of tourism in these areas.

“With international travel expected to rise, protected areas managers need to mitigate any negative impacts as a result of increased visits, but also identify new opportunities stemming from this potential demand that can provide revenue for conservation and the local economies. Innovative approaches and partnerships with the local communities, private enterprises and government are needed to help strike the balance in securing long-term support for these critical areas,” concluded Anna Spenceley, co-editor of the report and Chair of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group.

About the report

Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Sustainability was coordinated by Yu-Fai Leung, Anna Spenceley, Glen Hvenegaard and Ralf Buckley of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group. The report includes contributions from 54 experts from 23 countries and territories, and examples from 44 countries around the world. The report builds on existing literature, incorporating new research, theoretical frameworks, planning management strategies, case studies and recommendations. Project site:

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