Best of our wild blogs: 3 Dec 14

Mentorship programme for young people who care about Singapore's environment!
from wild shores of singapore

Oriental Pied Hornbills visit Sterling Condominium
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Concerns over impact of coastal barriers will be looked into

Project off Kranji and Poyan reservoirs was reviewed for environmental concerns: URA
NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 3 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE — With 40 per cent of Singapore’s 197km coastline to be barricaded in the coming years to beef up security, the authorities have reiterated that further studies will be conducted if there is a need to better understand the barriers’ impact on the surroundings — especially if they are near sensitive areas such as nature reserves or marine and coastal areas.

Questions on the impact of barriers being built off the Kranji and Poyan reservoirs were raised recently on the Wild Shores of Singapore blog, run by nature enthusiast Ria Tan.

The Kranji and Poyan barriers are not part of the additional 80km announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in October. Work on the barriers near the reservoirs started in August and will be completed in January 2016, a police spokesperson said.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and four other government agencies had reviewed the proposal for any potential environmental concerns, a URA spokesperson told TODAY. The Singapore Police Force is to do environmental monitoring and put in place mitigating measures such as silt control during construction.

The police were required to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Kranji barriers, but not for the Poyan ones.

“As the coastline next to Poyan Reservoir consisted mainly of seawalls, approval was given for the installation of sea-based barriers, on condition that the physical structures would not impede the movement of water-based plants and animals, and that the sediment plumes ... be kept to a minimum during construction,” said Dr Lena Chan, director of the National Parks Board’s National Biodiversity Centre.

The EIA for the Kranji barriers was to ascertain the potential impact on existing biodiversity areas and aquaculture facilities nearby, said the URA.

Mitigation measures for the Kranji stretch included building the fences on land to minimise disturbance to the inter-tidal environments.

The Kranji-Mandai area is home to some rare and endangered mangrove plants. Dr Hsu Chia Chi, who started the Nature Society (Singapore)’s horseshoe crab research and rescue programme, said the mangroves also have one of the highest published densities of Mangrove horseshoe crabs.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Dr Hsu said he found out in September 2012 about the barriers to be built in the Kranji-Mandai area. The society’s Marine Conservation Group asked the Police Coast Guard for more information about the project and offered to provide data about the area’s flora and fauna if needed.

It was most important for the mangroves and mudflats not to be impacted by the siting of the fences. “If the barriers are done properly and access is allowed to people who use (the area) responsibly, the fences may not be a bad thing. Now, when it’s wide open, you do find abandoned nets, which trap horseshoe crabs,” said Dr Hsu.

If the horseshoe crab population is decimated, migratory birds would be deprived of their eggs and young to feed on, he added.

Wild Shores of Singapore’s Ms Tan agreed that it is important for responsible users to continue to have access to the mangroves and mudflats, but felt the fences “probably will not keep out people who abuse (the) shores”.

It would be ideal for the Kranji barriers to have low openings at intervals to allow crawling or slithering creatures to move between both sides of the fence, and for biodiversity studies to be done before and after barriers are built, said Dr Hsu.

Related links
Mandai and Kranji mangroves to be fenced on wild shores of singapore blog

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Singapore gets funding, access to experts in effort to become resilient city

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 3 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: The Republic will soon get more support to deal with the adverse events it faces, after becoming a member of the US$100 million (S$131 million) "100 Resilient Cities" project - an initiative to help 100 cities be more resilient to challenges - on Wednesday (Dec 3).

This initiative will focus on more than just environmental "shocks" such as floods and earthquakes, and will include stresses that "weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day basis", according to US-based philanthropic organisation The Rockefeller Foundation, which is behind the project. These stresses could be unemployment, socio-economic inequality or chronic food and water shortages, it added.

"Cities are learning that by building resilience, not only will they be better prepared for the bad times, but also life becomes better in the good times, especially for the poor and vulnerable," said Dr Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.


The foundation estimates that by 2050, 75 per cent of the world's population will live in cities. Sudden shocks or accumulating stresses in cities can cause significant damage and disruption. For instance, in 2011, the cost of natural disasters was estimated at more than US$380 billion.

The 100 Resilient Cities initiative was launched last year and currently has 67 members on board, 35 of which were unveiled on Wednesday. Besides Singapore, other cities selected include London, Chennai, Sydney and Paris.

Member cities will receive funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city's resilience efforts. Additionally, members will also get technical support to develop their resilience strategy, and access to service providers in the public, private and non-governmental sectors.

This year's cities were chosen from nearly 350 applicants on the basis of their ability to demonstrate a unique vision for resilience, a long-term commitment to cutting across silos of government and sectors of society, and a special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

The 100 Resilient Cities Challenge will open for its last round of applications in mid-2015.

- CNA/kk

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Indonesia: Jokowi’s Case for Indonesia’s Ocean Future

Basten Gokkon Jakarta Globe 3 Dec 14;

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, with some 17,000 inhabited islands. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

Jakarta. Despite taking on the job of president of Indonesia with minimal foreign policy experience and exposure to the maritime sector, President Joko Widodo has set his first landmark policy that gets people around the globe interested in the country he currently leads: his Global Maritime Fulcrum doctrine.

Joko put the spotlight on himself during his speech at the ninth East Asia Summit in Naypyidaw on Nov. 13, not merely because he gave a presentation equipped with a slide show, but also for the “global launch” of his maritime-based doctrine.

“Indonesia realizes that a substantial transformation is taking place in the 21st century. The center of gravity of the geo-economic and geopolitical world is shifting from West to East. Asian countries are on the rise,” Joko said during the presentation.

Joko added that the sea would play an increasingly important role in Indonesia’s future and that as a maritime country it must posit itself as a force in between two strategic oceans.

At a public forum in Jakarta on Tuesday, Vice President Kalla also stressed the necessity of Joko’s maritime-based doctrine, which would boost “the welfare of the country much better than before.”

“President Jokowi has declared how the maritime will be more useful for the country than before in relations to its functions as a facility as well as resources,” Kalla said. “For Indonesia, the sea is not to separate the island but unite the islands.

“That’s why, our ministers have been criticizing and giving strong comments particularly on how Indonesia’s sea or maritime can create a much better welfare for the country than before.

“Indonesia is a maritime country. The sea is our history. How the sea gives us welfare that will be implemented next in our government but the sea will be not only unity for Indonesia but the unity for Asian the region.”

The advisor explains

At a public forum on Tuesday, Rizal Sukma, a presidential advisor for the foreign policy sector, shared more details on what the president was aiming for with the doctrine which Rizal calls the country’s “agenda of development.”

Tuesday’s public forum, organized by the secretariat of the vice president in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was also attended by Kalla, former foreign affairs minister Hassan Wirajuda, and Surakiart Sathirathai, the chairman of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC).

“So basically what we want to do is to transform Indonesia into the fulcrum of the two seas, the two strategic oceans — the Pacific Ocean on the left and the Indian Ocean on the right,” Rizal said.

“The Global Maritime Fulcrum is basically the place upon which the burdens of the two seas rest.

“In Joko’s speech during [the East Asia] summit, he basically talked about two things.”

“Number one, when we talk about the maritime fulcrum, it means as a vision, as a doctrine and as agenda of development,” Rizal said.

“As an agenda of development, it has five pillars,” he said, adding that the five pillars in general included issues related to economy, security and development.

According to Rizal, the first pillar highlights that the Indonesian government “will strengthen and revisit and also bring back [the nation's] awareness as a maritime country and culture.”

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, with some 17,000 inhabited islands.

The second pillar, Rizal said, the president emphasized the need to prioritize maritime infrastructure and maritime connectivity development by building sea tolls and deep-sea ports while also improving the shipping industry, logistics and maritime tourism.

The third pillar focuses on maritime resources and Joko wants to “put the fishermen as at the center of full supremacy,” according to Rizal who is also the executive director of Jakarta-based think-tank CSIS.

The fourth pillar, highlighting maritime diplomacy, Indonesia needs to “use [the country's] diplomatic instruments to force cooperation around the globe” by promoting regional cooperation to prevent the escalation of maritime conflicts, such as illegal fishing, violations of sovereignty, piracy and marine pollution.

The last pillar, Rizal said, is overseeing and maintaining the sovereignty and safety in the seas by developing Indonesia’s maritime defense.

Who’s who

Rizal, a main instigator of Joko’s maritime plans, currently serves as the executive director of the CSIS in Jakarta.

He is also one of young leaders of Muhammadiyah, serving as the head of the international relations division at the central executive board of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization.

Additionally, he sits as a member of the board of governors of the implementing agency for the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF); a member of the regional editorial board for Australia-based Global Change, Peace and Security.

He is also a member of International editorial board for Studies in Asian Security, Stanford University Press and East West Center.

Rizal, who earned his PhD degree in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, was named one of 100 Global Thinkers by United States-based Foreign Policy magazine in 2009.

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Malaysia: Nationwide alert for floods

The Star 3 Dec 14;

PETALING JAYA: With the north-east monsoon in full swing, the country is on the alert for floods.

Already, several areas in Selangor, Labuan, Perak and other places are reporting flash floods and landslides.

In Labuan, heavy and incessant rain yesterday caused flash floods in several low-lying areas, such as Taman Mahkota Impian and housing estates along Jalan Pantai.

The rain also caused monsoon drains to overflow and the water to seep into several houses. Boat journeys from Menumbok to Labuan were also affected.

Labuan Fire and Rescue Department director Zainal Madasin said he had instructed his men to be prepared for any eventuality, including landslides.

He also advised speed boat operators ferrying people to be more careful, saying that the current weather was likely to bring strong winds and high waves.

In Slim River, heavy rain caused part of Jalan Kuala Slim here to cave in, making it impassable to traffic.

Md Zain Mohd Saedin, the head of the Slim River Fire and Rescue Department, said the collapsed portion of the road was estimated to be some 34m long and 45m deep.

“The road connecting Slim River town to Kampung Kuala Slim was immediately closed to motorists,” he said, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

“The Public Works Department is monitoring that stretch of road for further soil movement although things appear to be stable for now.”

Some 1,000 villagers believed to be affected by the incident would have to use a longer diversion to get to the town area.

In Hulu Bernam, 187 people were still at the two flood relief centres despite reports that water had receded.

The National Security Council portal reported that 177 evacuees were housed at the Geo Kosmo National Service Training Centre while the rest were at Sekolah Kebangsaan Hulu Bernam.

According to the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department official Facebook page, the areas affected were Hulu Bernam Selatan, Kampung Sungai Kerian, Kampung Hassan, Hulu Bernam Utara, Kampung Lalang, Kampung Gesir Tengah, Kampung Sri Pagi and Kampung Nilam.

In Kuantan, Pahang Regent Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said all elected representatives must lead by example and play their part in helping to keep drains clean.

He said if drains were kept clean, there was less likelihood of floods occurring.

“To the local councils and district offices, I have told them to step it up when it comes to maintenance.

“The elected representatives have to go down to the ground and check things out directly,” he said after being briefed on the state’s flood preparations at Wisma Sri Pahang here yesterday.

Also present were Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and State Secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail.

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Malaysia: Female elephant a victim of mating ritual gone awry

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 2 Dec 14;

KOTA KINABALU: An adult female elephant found dead by the roadside near Danum Valley on Monday was a victim of a mating ritual gone awry.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said foul play had been ruled out in the incident as post-mortem results showed trauma in the elephant's head and shoulder region as there was evidence of brain congestion and haemorrhage.

"From the injuries found on her, we believe the female elephant was a mating ritual victim," he explained on Tuesday.

"Based on reports, there was a group of 40 elephants in the vicinity and there is a strong reason to believe that there was fighting among some of the bull elephants prior to the female elephant's death," he said.

The carcass of the elephant is believed to be aged between 15 and 20 years old, and was discovered by a group of tourists and their guides heading towards the renowned research site, some 78km from east coast Lahad Datu.

Adult elephant found dead near Danum Valley
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 2 Dec 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife officials are looking into the death of an adult female elephant near Danum Valley.

The carcass of the elephant was found lying on the roadside by tourists and their tour guides who were heading towards the renowned field research station and conservation area some 74km from east coast Lahad Datu on Monday morning.

Assistant Wildlife director Dr Sen Nathan said it was too early to determine the cause of its death, adding that a post-mortem is being carried out to ascertain how or why the elephant died.

“There are no indications of how it died. There was no gunshot wound as well,” he said on Tuesday.

“We are investigating but for now, we need to wait for the post-mortem results first,” he said.

A picture of the dead elephant, which was posted in Facebook, saw many people expressing their concern that elephants were again being killed.

In Jan last year, 10 pygmy elephants were found dead in east coast Tawau.

The elephants were reportedly poisoned but the incident remains a mystery as there was no evidence.

Dept probes death of female elephant
The Star 4 Dec 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife officials are looking into the death of an adult female elephant discovered not far from Danum Valley.

The carcass of the elephant was found on the roadside on Monday morning by tourists who were heading to the Danum Valley Field Centre which is a prominent rainforest research establishments in the region.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said a post-mortem was being carried out to determine its cause of death.

“There are no indications of how it died. There was no gunshot wound,” he said.

A picture of the dead elephant which was posted in Facebook saw many people expressing concern that elephants were again being killed.

In January last year, 10 pgymy elephants were found dead in Tawau.

Signs showed that those elephants were poisoned but the deaths still remain a mystery as no evidence was found or arrests of culprits had been made until now.

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New U.S. regulations reel in fishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna

Letitia Stein PlanetArk 3 Dec 14;

The Atlantic bluefin tuna gained protections from overfishing in the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off North Carolina under a federal rule published on Tuesday to better regulate a species coveted by sushi lovers.

The regulations, effective in January, restrict the use of certain longline fishing gear in parts of the Gulf of Mexico during April and May, when the species spawns in the region.

Off North Carolina, regulators are closely monitoring fishermen and tightening enforcement of quotas for the species. High numbers of bluefin tuna have been fatally snared in fishing lines set to catch swordfish, regulators said.

Many of the dead bluefin tuna were being dumped back into the ocean under current regulations.

"That is a waste," said Margo Schulze-Haugen, division chief of highly migratory species management for NOAA Fisheries, a federal agency. "The fish that are caught that are dead will come to shore, and they will be used," she added.

Environmental leaders praised the protections.

"Rebuilding bluefin stocks will take work, but if the government and fishery managers stay committed, fishermen will reap the benefits through large and stable future catches," Gib Brogan, northeast representative for the Oceana conservation group, said in a statement.

The regulations were devised through extensive public hearings. Regulators received nearly 200,000 comments about the tuna, which can weigh over 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and reach 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length.

While the species is not endangered, fishing is strictly regulated by U.S. and international authorities, which set annual quotas. The species is highly prized in sushi and sashimi, and an individual fish can fetch prices of $10,000 or more, NOAA said. Japan is the prime market for the fish.

In the central Gulf, the rule will affect an area of water the length of the state of Louisiana, regulators said, roughly spanning from Galveston, Texas to Gulfport, Mississippi.

Fishing vessels departing from the Florida Panhandle will also be affected by new limits on longline gear during key months, but their use is permitted during the rest of the year.

Some fishermen had hoped for more opportunities to go after a prized catch.

"I don't think our fisherman are crazy about it," North Carolina charter boat Captain Rom Whitaker said of the rule to protect bluefin tuna. "It's probably one of the most studied, politicized fish in the ocean."

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Eat less meat, dairy to slow climate change, study says

Chris Arsenault PlanetArk 3 Dec 14;

Meat and dairy consumption are rising rapidly across the developing world, and consumers are unaware that their appetite for animal products contributes as much to climate change as exhaust emissions from the transport sector, a new survey shows.

Climate-changing emissions from livestock are estimated to account for 14.5 percent of the global total, according to Chatham House, a UK-based thinktank.

A survey of 12,000 people in 12 countries released by Chatham House late on Tuesday showed that more than twice as many respondents saw transport exhaust emissions as a major contributor to climate change than saw emissions from meat and dairy output as important - 64 percent vs 29 percent.

Livestock consumption is set to rise significantly over the next 40 years, particularly in large emerging markets including China, India, Brazil and South Africa, which were included in the survey.

"By 2050, we are looking at a 60-70 percent increase in meat consumption," Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Part of this increase is happening because consumers do not know the climate-changing impacts of meat and dairy consumption, researchers said.

More than 40 percent of Russians, and 25 percent of South Africans, thought meat and dairy production caused "little or no" climate change.

Once consumers were aware of the implications for global warming of eating more meat, about 20 percent became more likely to express willingness to change their diet, according to the survey.

Respondents in Brazil, India and China, where meat consumption is rising, showed a greater willingness to modify their consumption than the average of the countries assessed, once they were shown the climatic impact of their diet.

Climate change impacts, however, are generally secondary to more immediate considerations of taste, price, health and food safety in shaping food choices, the research said.

Across the 12 countries, women were more likely than men to say the impact of climate change was an important determinant of how much meat they eat, by 71 to 64 percent.

"It is unlikely dangerous climate change can be avoided unless (meat) consumption falls," Rob Bailey, lead author of the study, said in a statement. "Consumers need to change their behavior and this survey shows a substantial lack of awareness of this."

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Eating less meat essential to curb climate change, says report
Global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than transport but fear of a consumer backlash is preventing action, says Chatham House report
Damian Carrington The Guardian 3 Dec 14;

Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.

“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”

The recent landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that dietary change can “substantially lower” emissions but there is no UN plan to achieve that.

Past calls to cut meat eating by high-profile figures, from the chief of the UN’s climate science panel to the economist Lord Stern, have been both rare and controversial. Other scientists have proposed a meat tax to curb consumption, but the report concludes that keeping meat eating to levels recommended by health authorities would not only lower emissions but also reduce heart disease and cancer. “The research does not show everyone has to be a vegetarian to limit warming to 2C, the stated objective of the world’s governments,” said Bailey.

The report builds on recent scientific studies which show that soaring meat demand in China and elsewhere could tip the world’s climate into chaos. Emissions from livestock, largely from burping cows and sheep and their manure, currently make up almost 15% of global emissions. Beef and dairy alone make up 65% of all livestock emissions.

Appetite for meat is rocketing as the global population swells and becomes more able to afford meat. Meat consumption is on track to rise 75% by 2050, and dairy 65%, compared with 40% for cereals. By 2020, China alone is expected to be eating 20m tonnes more of meat and dairy a year.

Two recent peer-reviewed studies calculated that, without severe cuts in this trend, agricultural emissions will take up the entire world’s carbon budget by 2050, with livestock a major contributor. This would mean every other sector, including energy, industry and transport, would have to be zero carbon, which is described as “impossible”. The Chatham House report concludes: “Dietary change is essential if global warming is not to exceed 2C.”

The consumer survey in the report, covering 12 nations including the US, China, India, Brazil and the EU bloc, found a link between the awareness of climate change and its impacts and the willingness to change behaviour. Acceptance that human activities cause climate change was significantly higher in China, India and Brazil than in the US, UK and Japan.

The good news, said Bailey, was that “the majority of future demand appears to be in the countries [like China and Brazil] that are the most receptive to change”. He said it was “pretty disappointing” that in developed countries, where meat and dairy eating is highest, awareness of livestock’s impact on the climate is low and willingness to change is low.

Brigitte Alarcon, sustainable food policy officer at WWF said: “Our LiveWell project has shown we can cut a quarter of our climate emissions from the European food supply chain by eating more pulses, fruit and vegetables and by reducing our meat consumption. National governments should improve food education to encourage healthy eating habits and environmental sustainability as a first step.”

A spokesman for the UK government said: “Greenhouse gas emissions from the UK agricultural industry have fallen by more than 20% since 1990. While food choices can have an impact on emissions, well managed livestock also provide many environmental benefits including supporting biodiversity.”

A separate survey by the Eating Better alliance, also published on Wednesday, shows that UK consumers are beginning to eat less meat. The YouGov poll found 20% saying they have cut the amount of meat they eat over the last year, with only 5% say they are eating more.

Prof Keith Richards, at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers behind the two key scientific studies, said: “This is not a radical vegetarian argument; it is an argument about eating meat in sensible amounts as part of healthy, balanced diets.”

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