Best of our wild blogs: 9 Feb 15

The Silt is Alive!
from Hantu Blog

Butterfly Galore
from My Nature Experiences

Bidadari Park
from Psychedelic Nature

Dark Brand Bush Brown male rivalry
from Bird Ecology Study Group

What the green community could do better this year
from Green Future Solutions

Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos varians) @ Sungei Buloh
from Monday Morgue

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Wanted: Ideas for Jurong Lake Gardens

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 8 Feb 15;

SINGAPORE: The first phase of Jurong Lake Gardens West is expected to be completed by 2017, and the National Parks Board is seeking ideas from the public on what they hope to see at one of Singapore's largest gardens.

The public can submit their suggestions at several roving exhibitions organised by NParks. The first exhibition will be held at Jurong Point in early April.

The NParks has established some key design principles for the 70-hectare Gardens.

This includes setting aside spaces for what it calls "show gardens”, which will be created and maintained by volunteers together with the agency's landscape designers and industry partners.

NParks also wants to see the integration of science and technology with horticulture and nature restored to the living environment.

A veteran volunteer with one of NParks' community gardening programme, the Community in Bloom initiative, said the gardens can be more than just a gardening space. "People can play mahjong in the evening and at the end of the mahjong session, maybe we can have a candlelight dinner or a garden dinner,” said Mr Tony Yau. “We get some caterers and we can run events."

Mr Yau, who has been a Community in Bloom Ambassador a year after the programme started in 2008, believes more financial support should be given to the community gardens. He said the gardeners currently buy their own equipment and tools.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who chairs the Jurong Lake District Steering Committee, said the team had already received several suggestions on the Gardens prior to the public consultation. Mr Wong, who is also the MP for Jurong GRC, was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event at HortPark on Sunday (Feb 8) morning.

"The initial feedback, a lot of suggestions and feedback we had from people were that they wanted to maintain the rustic charm, the tranquility, the natural habitats within the gardens," said Mr Wong.

"At the same time, there was also feedback that people wanted more spaces, more programming, more activities for families and communities to make it (the gardens) more vibrant. NParks is trying very hard to integrate the feedback together and get the balance right."

- CNA/ec

Have a say in shaping new Jurong gardens
Joanna Seow The Straits Times AsiaOne 9 Feb 15;

The public will get an opportunity to shape Singapore's newest national gardens.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said yesterday a roving exhibition to gather ideas for the masterplan for Jurong Lake Gardens will be launched in April.

"You don't get this very often because we don't have very many national gardens in Singapore," said Mr Wong, who chairs the Jurong Lake District Steering Committee.

"This is perhaps a chance of a lifetime to get something done right and done beautifully for the western region."

He was speaking after touring a quarterly event for gardening enthusiasts at Hort Park in Alexandra with Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

Designs for five new community gardens in the park were unveiled as part of Singapore's golden jubilee celebrations by the National Parks Board (NParks).

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Hundreds volunteer to clean up Sentosa's Siloso beach

Jessica Yeo Channel NewsAsia 8 Feb 15;

SINGAPORE: About 450 volunteers from Nee Soon South helped to clean up Sentosa's Siloso Beach on Sunday (Feb 8).

Jointly organised by Nee Soon South and Sentosa Development Corporation, the event attracted students, residents and grassroot leaders.

It is aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to take responsibility over the cleanliness of their surroundings.

"We would like to get more of such people together and we hope that concerted effort will be part of a culture, part of our habit, and together we can keep Singapore clean without a big army of cleaners,” said Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah.

"Currently Singapore is clean because it is cleaned by cleaners. We hope that Singapore will be clean because of the good habits of all of us."

- CNA/ec

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Malaysia: Abnormal heavy rain phenomenon can recur, says expert

Borneo Post 8 Feb 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The disastrous floods which hit some states last year are expected to recur more frequently and with greater intensity as a result of global warming and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) phenomenon, says climatologist and oceanographer Professor Dr Fredolin T Tangang.

He said climate change due to global warming was causing a worsening of the phenomenon.

The media had previously reported that the MJO phenomenon was a factor causing heavy rains in Malaysia.

MJO is an element in the tropical weather pattern which occurs once in 20 to 60 days as compared to the El Nino phenomenon which happens in three to seven years.

It is a large-scale weather pattern phenomenon which occurs due to temperature changes in the Indian Ocean, affecting atmospheric moisture.

However, when the MJO meets with the northeast monsoon and a cold surge from the north, the result will be exceptionally heavy rainfall.

Fredolin, who is a lecturer at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said there were already studies which proved that the increase in global temperature caused phenomena like El Nino, La Nina, and MJO to be stronger and more frequent.

“This means that in future, in Malaysia, there will be more frequent extreme rain and droughts caused by these phenomena,” he told Bernama recently.

He said according to the Fifth Synthesis report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in November 2014, the increased frequency of extreme weather and climate event phenomena were connected to weather change.

“An increase of one degree in global temperature would increase the atmospheric moisture by seven per cent, thus increasing the frequency of extreme weather episodes which are worse than we experienced, last year,” he said.

Fredolin stressed that the IPCC report also stated that the average global temperature had increased by 0.87’C in 100 years.

He added that his studies showed the heavy floods in Johor in 2006 resulting from exceptionally heavy rains were caused by the MJO.

He said data showed that rainfall distribution in Johor was only 29mm in an hour, but between Dec 21 to 24 last year, Kelantan recorded an increase in rainfall of up to 35mm in one hour, caused by the same phenomenon. — Bernama

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Save Great Barrier Reef from becoming dumping ground

WWF 9 Feb 15;

If unchecked, reckless industrialization alongside the Great Barrier Reef could cause severe damage to one of Earth’s most important environmental systems, according to a new report commissioned by WWF. The Great Barrier Reef Under Threat found that the dumping of waste from port expansions within its World Heritage-listed boundaries would have “devastating impacts” on the reef.

In order to prevent unacceptable new stress on this already-vulnerable ecosystem, WWF is calling on the Australian government to ban all dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the planet’s richest ocean habitats, home to endangered species, a valuable economic asset for Australia, and a natural treasure for the whole world.Turning the reef into a dumping ground is the wrong choice for the environment and makes no business sense, particularly to build ports that are unnecessary,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini.


Port expansion plans call for the dredging of approximately 51 million cubic metres of the ocean floor, enough seabed to fill up New York City’s Empire State Building 49 times. Without new laws to ban sea-dumping, much of that waste could be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef’s sensitive World Heritage waters, where it can cause damaging plumes of sediment that can drift for up to 80 kilometres. Dredging and dumping can smother corals and threaten the survival of endangered species like marine turtles.

Multi-national coal companies are seeking to more than double coal export capacity in the state of Queensland, even though the state’s existing coal port capacity sits unused one-third of the time, the analysis by independent consulting firm Dalberg Global Development Advisors found. Under current plans, Queensland’s coal export capacity would increase to 637 million tonnes annually, when near-term forecasts predict that Australia as a whole will export significantly less than that.

The coal industry globally appears to be in structural decline as renewable energy gains ground, the report says. “As a result, it is unlikely that all of the proposed coal ports will be needed. The damage to the reef, however, will have been made,” it says.

“To protect the reef and to safeguard the 69,000 jobs it provides, the Australian government needs to work with the state of Queensland to legislate a ban on the dumping of dredge spoil in the entire Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia. “In addition, dredging should be minimized and greater efforts made to improve water quality.”

If appropriate steps are not taken to reverse the reef’s decline, the area risks being listed as “in danger” by UNESCO. The status of port expansions and the Great Barrier Reef’s overall health could stir controversy at the June meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

“We want Australian leaders to know the world is watching and expects the damaging practice of sea-dumping in World Heritage waters to be banned before the World Heritage Committee meets in June” said Mr O’Gorman. “Global pressure and attention can help tip the balance and bring the reef back towards recovery,” he said.

According to the WWF report, many prominent banks have backed away from financing coal terminals in the reef due to concerns over environmental impacts. WWF urges companies not to invest or participate in any project that could threaten the Great Barrier Reef or any other World Heritage Site.

“As we can see from the Great Barrier Reef, healthy ocean habitats can be engines for sensible economic growth that provide jobs and improve people’s wellbeing,” Lambertini said. “Responsible management of the ocean, which is essential to preserve the crucial role marine ecosystems play in providing food and jobs for billions, should be a key feature of any roadmap for a sustainable future.”


Australia Failing to Protect Great Barrier Reef, Report Says
Report Commissioned By WWF Finds Dumping From Port Developments Having Damaging Effects
REBECCA THURLOW Wall Street Journal 8 Feb 15;

Australia has fallen short in its efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the damaging effects of port developments, a report commissioned by an environmental group has found, leaving the nation at risk of having one of its top tourist attractions placed on the United Nations’ list of endangered heritage sites this year.

The Great Barrier Reef is a network of about 3000 reefs and 900 coral islands along Australia’s northeast coast that attracts about 2 million visitors each year, and sustains tens of thousands of jobs. The reef has lost half its coral cover over the past 30 years, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and is under threat from rising sea temperatures, water pollution and coastal development.

Australia’s conservative government said recently it would ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the marine park after the U.N’s World Heritage Committee expressed concern over plans to dispose up to 3 million cubic meters of mud and rock into the surrounding ocean as part of work to expand the Abbot Point coal port, adjacent the reef in northern Queensland state.

“The Great Barrier Reef Under Threat” report, written by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, said the ban won’t fix the problem because the 344,000-square-kilometer (138,000-square-mile) marine park, which is slightly smaller than the World Heritage Site, doesn’t include most of the islands and waters around the ports where most of the dumping has occurred to date.

The World Heritage Site covers a broader area than the marine park, so it captures more of the water ways and islands that surround the reef and are important for the reef’s health. The World Heritage Site, which covers 348,000 square kilometers, is defined by the World Heritage Committee and the marine park is created by Australia.

The ban “will have little impact on current dumping levels, and will provide very little additional protection to the Great Barrier Reef,” said the report, which was commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

One of the planet’s most diverse ocean habitats, the Great Barrier Reef hosts 400 types of coral, 1,500 types of fish, rare snubfin dolphins and a variety of turtle species under threat of extinction. The World Heritage Committee has warned it might put the reef on its list of at-risk sites at its June meeting if Australia hasn’t done enough to protect the fragile ecosystem.

WWF is calling for the Australian government to ban the dumping of dredge waste inside the entire World Heritage Site.

The government last week defended its stewardship of the reef in an urgent effort to keep it off the endangered list, arguing that it is the best managed marine ecosystem in the world and authorities are taking strong action to address the threats to its survival.

Australia isn’t legally bound to heed the U.N.’s warnings or act on the report’s criticism, but the World Heritage Committee could revoke the reef’s highly prized World Heritage status, which would be an embarrassment for Australia and could have a detrimental impact on tourism.

The Dalberg report found up to 51 million cubic meters of seabed material could be dredged for the planned construction and expansion of several ports along the reef—enough to fill New York City’s Empire State Building 49 times over.

Plumes of sediment caused by dredging and the dumping of material dug from the sea floor can smother corals and sea grass beds, which in turn affects marine wildlife that depend on them for food, the Dalberg report said.

WWF in push to expand Great Barrier Reef protection
onali Paul PlanetArk 10 Feb 15;

Conservation group WWF is stepping up pressure on Australia to do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef, launching a global campaign ahead of a vote by UNESCO on whether to put the world's largest coral reef on an "in danger" list.

UNESCO, which has given the reef a World Heritage listing, is due to decide in June whether to designate it as "in danger", which could lead to restrictions on shipping and port expansions that could hit Australia's trade in commodities and energy.

The WWF wants the government and state of Queensland to ban all dumping of sand dug up for port expansions anywhere near the reef, which is one of Australia's main tourist attractions and runs 2,300 km (1,450 miles) along its east coast.

"These places need to be protected and not used as an industrial dumping ground," WWF-Australia Chief Executive Dermot O'Gorman told Reuters.

The national government has already moved to ban all dumping of dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which covers a slightly smaller area than the World Heritage listed area.

But the WWF, which is the official name for the World Wide Fund for Nature, said most port dredging was outside the marine park zone.

"To be successful turning around the decline of the reef you need to see a ban across the whole World Heritage area," O'Gorman said after releasing a report titled "The Great Barrier Reef Under Threat".

The campaign is being designated a priority across the WWF's 80 offices around the world.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt criticized the report as misleading, saying even with the ban on the disposal of dredge material in the reef marine park the government was focused on protecting the reef and would work with organizations like the WWF to do so.

"It's disappointing that WWF's report is so inaccurate and out of date and has the potential to mislead the international community," Hunt's spokesman, John O'Doherty, said in an email.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Global climate deal should not hamper individual countries' economic growth: France

Tommy Wilkes and Aditya Kalra PlanetArk 6 Feb 15;

A global deal to curb carbon emissions must recognize each country's right to develop, France's foreign minister said in New Delhi on Thursday, as the host of this year's U.N. climate change talks seeks to win India's backing for a global deal.

Laurent Fabius said that efforts to reach an agreement, which is due at the United Nations summit in Paris in December, would fail if any country believed it would hurt their economic prospects.

India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, often acts as the voice of the developing world in climate change talks, and winning its support is seen as crucial if countries are to reach a deal.

"An agreement that would leave some countries to consider their growth hampered by its provisions will not be accepted," Fabius told an audience at an annual sustainable development summit.

Fabius, who was due to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Thursday, said he understood "the constraints of India" as it seeks to grow its economy.

Governments across the world are expected to submit national plans to rein in greenhouse gas emissions by an informal deadline of March 31 to form the basis of the global agreement due at the Paris summit.

India has long resisted pressure to commit to any emissions targets, on the grounds that it could hamper its economy and that rich countries should shoulder most of the burden of lowering emissions.

Instead, India has committed to a huge expansion in renewable energy and improving the energy efficiency of its rapidly growing economy, while at the same time increasing its burning of coal to meet the bulk of its growing energy needs.

India will build an ambitious 100,000 MW of solar power capacity - 33 times its current level - by 2020, two years ahead of a target date announced last year, Prakash Javadekar, India's environment minister, told the same event in Delhi.

Fabius also argued that the public and private sector should commit more money to a green climate fund, a U.N. initiative that aims to help poor nations cope with global warming, if the world is to cut emissions successfully.

"No significant reduction of greenhouse gas emission can be achieved without critical access to sustainable development," he said.

"The initial capitalization of the green climate fund has mounted to over $10 billion ... but beyond that we need increased financing from both public and private sources to reach $100 billion a year starting from 2020."

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