Best of our wild blogs: 18 May 15

Where have our Common Mynas gone?
Bird Ecology Study Group

Bukit Brown – an introduction tour (24 May’15 @9am)
a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History

Scalloped Spiny Lobster (Panulirus homarus) @ Pasir Ris
Monday Morgue

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My special tree

Bryna Singh The Straits Times AsiaOne 18 May 15;

Some of the many trees in the Garden City that is Singapore have hidden stories of people who tended them, benefited from them, worked under them, slept under them or loved them. An ongoing exhibition at the National Library captures these tales and relationships between Singaporeans and their special trees.

Singapore, Very Old Tree is spearheaded by freelance writer Adeline Chia and artist Robert Zhao, both 32, who worked with two researchers from last December to unearth these individuals and their stories.

Ms Chia says: "Although people know Singapore as a Garden City, the image is ultimately an impersonal one of anonymous trees and gardeners. We want to give these gardeners faces and names."

They trawled through local nature blogs and National Parks Board (NParks) publications, and approached NParks for contacts of tree lovers and community gardeners. The team also went through newspaper archives for tree-related stories, tapped on their networks of friends and put out calls on social media.

Three months later, they had a list of about 80 trees, from which they picked 30 for the project.

Some of them are majestic old specimens, such as the angsana near the entrance of the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort. It is believed to have been planted in the 1880s by the British when the artillery battalion was stationed on the island, then known as Pulau Blakang Mati. With a girth of 10.2m, it is also the biggest angsana tree here. It has been cared for by gardener Mohd Yusri Abdullah for more than 20 years.

Other trees involved dramatic rescues and student activism, such as the Malayan Banyans next to the Goodman Arts Centre and at the Tanglin Trust School. Both were saved following calls by ex-students for their preservation.

Many other stories feature "humble and relatively young trees, never quite imperilled", says Ms Chia. "But we included them because they meant something to someone." Cobbler Goh Cheng Lam, 70, is fond of a Bodhi tree in Sungei Road, under which he has been operating for the past five years. Apart from giving him shade, it is also where his friends and regular customers hang out.

A home-grown rambutan tree reminds nature lover Goh Yue Yun, 57, of her late mother who planted it. "My late mother used to fertilise the tree with her diluted urine," she says. Ms Chia and Mr Zhao say some of the challenges they encountered in their project include pinning down the trees' ages and getting full views of the trees in photographs.

On the trees' ages, Ms Chia says: "We needed to rely on recollection by witnesses, look at old pictures to see if the trees were there before or compare a specimen of similar size with a known age."

Mr Zhao says most of the images were difficult to capture because the trees are "just too big". "Even with a wide-angle lens, I had to stand pretty far back."

He took the black-and-white pictures with the trees seen in full and the humans tiny to emphasise the contrast in scale. His illustrator-friend Sokkuan Tye hand-tinted the images in vintage-postcard style.

The project, mostly funded by the Singapore Memory Project's irememberSG Fund as part of the SG50 celebrations, also consists of a publication - a booklet of stories, a set of 30 postcards of the exhibited images and a map showing about 20 interesting trees in Singapore. The publication will be sold only a year from now as part of the irememberSG funding agreement.

Mr Zhao says: "The work is about spending a little more time considering something that is ubiquitous in the Singapore landscape. While we celebrate Singapore's Golden Jubilee, it is important to remember that some trees on our island easily surpass 100 years."

Do you have an old tree that means something to you? E-mail

Irresistible draw of durian trees

At least twice a year, Mr Teo Teah On, 66, dons a construction helmet, construction boots, a long-sleeved shirt and pants, and heads into the Bukit Panjang forest at night to search for durians.

Alone, he sets off at 9pm from his flat along Jelapang Road in Bukit Panjang and treks about 3km into the jungle.

All he carries are a gunny sack for the durians, a torchlight and a wooden stick to fend off wild boars and snakes.

He has no fear, only immense enthusiasm for the potential loot out there.

"Once I know durian season is here, I just need to go out and pick the durians. I can't sleep knowing that they are lying there, waiting for me," he says with a laugh.

Mr Teo, a father of two who runs a carpentry business, has been doing this for seven years now. It all began when he was exercising in his neighbourhood and came close to the fringe of the forest.

He saw people emerging from it with gunny sacks filled to the brim with the thorny, pungent fruit.

As he is a lover of the fruit and a believer in durians that are picked from trees growing in the wild ("they don't have added fertilisers or chemicals"), his interest was immediately piqued.

The durian pickers he met told him there were about 100 durian trees scattered throughout the wilderness.

Previously, he would buy durians from one of his friends who picked them from the forests here.

Since he started collecting the fruit himself, he has been watching the durian season like a hawk.

He says the trees usually flower twice a year and the fruit falls about 100 days after that. Older trees between 60 and 70 years old can bear up to 200 fruits each time, while younger trees around 30 years old bear about 50 fruits each.

How does he know these things?

"I just do," says Mr Teo, who adds that once you start tracking these things and talking to people, you will learn.

"Walking in and out of the forest is a good workout. You will sweat a lot."

He saw the durian trees flowering in March this year, so he estimates the fruit fall to be in July.

He says poor weather conditions last year meant no fruit for the pickers, so they are all hoping for a good harvest this year.
It is unclear who has authority over the part of the forest where these durian trees grow. Under National Parks Board guidelines, it is illegal to pick up fallen fruit in places under its purview.

But the four other pickers Mr Teo usually hangs out with pick durians for personal consumption and not to sell. There is no competition among them either.

"We are all friends," says Mr Teo. "We meet in the forest, sit down for a chat, pick the durians, chat some more and then we head home."

There is no particular durian tree that they seek out because every tree's fruit has a slightly different taste, he says.

The sizes of the durians in the Bukit Panjang forest and the colour of their flesh vary, says Mr Teo.

But the trophy durians are those picked from a self-dubbed "XO Tree", a name referring to a popular variety of durians famous for its slightly alcoholic aftertaste.

"You can't tell which tree this is. You know only after you've eaten the fruit," he says.

On each trip, he usually collects up to 20 durians, weighing about 10kg.

Once home, he and his wife, Mrs Teo Cheng Hway, 58, set about opening the shells and getting the flesh packed into air-tight boxes, before tucking them away in the freezer. Stored this way, the fruit can last for up to six months, says Mr Teo.
Some boxes are refrigerated and consumed within days.

"I will complain that there's no space to put anything else and about the slight odour for those few months," says Mrs Teo, who helps her husband with his business. "But I like to eat durians and since the ones my husband brings back are the only ones I eat, I just have to deal with it."

The saga of childhood memories

A saga tree in Mount Emily park holds special childhood memories for Ms Kong Yin Ying , 19.

Ms Kong, who is waiting to enter university, recalls competing with her older brother Jun Yin, 20, to find odd-shaped and odd-coloured saga seeds. This was years ago when the siblings were four and five years old respectively.

They were then attending Mount Emily Kindergarten and the tree was right behind it.

"The tree was enormous to me then. It towered above me and its roots were many and large," says Ms Kong.

But its presence did not intimidate the siblings, who would run towards it after school.

"We dug around the tree's roots with our bare hands, competing to see who would find the oddball saga seeds first," she says.
"We were not interested in the normal red ones. We were keen only on those that either had flat edges or had orange-yellow hues."

Whoever found one would call out to the other and they would gaze at the strangely formed seed with a mixture of curiosity and wonder. They would usually leave the seed behind, though.

Explains Ms Kong: "What made things exciting was the process of searching for the seeds, rather than keeping them."

She believes there are only a handful of "really cool ones" that she has stashed away "somewhere at home".

After their kindergarten days, she and her brother pretty much stopped going to the tree, except once when they were in primary school because they happened to be in the area. So for nearly 10 years, Ms Kong had not seen the tree. This year, she has re-visited the tree twice as part of the Singapore, Very Old Tree project, and says it reminded her of a "simple, fun part" of her life.

"As my brother and I dug for the seeds, we were sharing moments together. Life was not complicated then. No sibling rivalry, just quiet companionship," she says. Today, the Pat's Schoolhouse branch in Mount Emily stands in place of the siblings' kindergarten.

Principal Melina Quek, 53, says her teachers are familiar with the tree. Its large canopy provides shade for the children when they organise outdoor picnics or classes. But the little ones are not allowed to root about for saga seeds.

"Children are curious and we don't want them to put the seeds into their mouths or stuff them up their noses," says Ms Quek.

Ms Kong, on the other hand, has no qualms about taking her children there in future to do what she did.

A favourite of bridal couples

Once there was a tree and engaged couples loved the tree. Some days, these couples would come and take their wedding photos there. And they were happy.

Photographer George Wong, 37, was introduced to this casuarina tree at Upper Seletar Reservoir by a couple about 10 years ago.
They had told him that this tree was one of their dating spots and wanted it captured in their wedding photos.

When he saw the tree, Mr Wong was struck by its beauty. "It has a nice shape and is exactly between two benches. The background - the reservoir - is also clean, so the various elements make for a good picture."

Over the years, he says, word spread about the thriving casuarina to the extent that it has been called "the wedding tree".
Since his first shot there, he says he has snapped more than 100 couples at the tree.

It is such a popular site that he recalls waiting 30 minutes one weekend because several couples were waiting to have their pictures taken there.

"Everyone is on a tight schedule, so among the photographers, we'll usually just signal to one another and say something like, 'Bro, I'm next, yeah?'" says Mr Wong.

Another photographer, Mr Seah Yu Hsin, 43, is also aware of this "wedding tree". He first came across the tree during a run around the reservoir about eight years ago and says he made a "mental capture" of its potential for a photo shoot.

A few months later, a couple told him that they wanted an outdoor location for their pre-wedding photo shoot that had natural elements. He recommended the spot to them and has been shooting couples there since.

"Whether you take the pictures by day or by night, they always look good," he says.

According to him, the tree's prominence spread thanks to social media because people are quick to post their pre-wedding pictures online.

One of the couples he shot in 2009 found out about the tree that way.

Bank executive Cassandra Cheok, 35, recalls seeing other couples' pictures with the tree online. While the tree holds no significance to her, she says she found it "very elegant and photogenic". Together with her then-fiance and their golden retriever, she had her pre-wedding pictures taken there.

"It was the first and only time I'd been there," she says. So, for years, the tree gave marrying couples a spot for a beautiful photo and the couples were happy. But not really. Some couples insist on not having their pictures taken there, says Mr Seah. "They will tell me that everyone goes there now," he explains.

Over the years, the wedding tree has witnessed much change. Mr Wong recalls there used to be a playground a short distance away from the tree which was also a photo-worthy spot, but that is no more.

Also nearby is a little stone path that leads into the water. That area has since been barricaded, possibly because the steps are worn and unsafe.

But the area near the tree is still a good spot for relaxing and photo taking.

Muses Mr Wong: "Things around the tree have changed, but it has stayed the same."

And the tree seems happy.

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Homes of the future: Building designs that adapt to its environment

Could landed properties in low-lying areas or even future HDB flats be made to float on flooded waters? We talk to experts to find out.
Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia 17 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Could landed properties in low-lying areas or even future HDB flats be made to float on flooded waters?

These ideas may sound far-fetched, but countries like the Netherlands are already experimenting with such features to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as flooding and rising sea levels.

Experts said Singapore, too, should use the impact of climate change to its advantage to create a city where building design is in sync with its environment.

Singapore, 60 years from now, will be a lot warmer, if no action is taken against global carbon emissions. It could result in an even more pronounced urban heat island effect – when a built-up area is warmer than rural or natural surroundings as heat is trapped by dense building environment.

Urban greenery, such as vertical plants on buildings and rooftop gardens, have become familiar features in new developments around Singapore. They are known to bring down temperatures and reduce energy consumption of buildings.

But there needs to be a bigger picture to withstand future temperature rises.

Said Dr Kua Harn Wei, Associate Professor, School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore: "Building design has to be in sync with the design of a neighbourhood at the city level or even at the precinct level. Right now, with more understanding of how all these different pieces work, we are beginning to see more enlightened design where all these pieces are coming together. But remember that we are facing a somewhat uncertain future, in which the effect of climate change will be upon us. So we need to keep promoting such integration.”


In the last 35 years, the Straits of Singapore has risen by almost six centimetres. But this is nothing compared to an almost 80-centimetre rise in sea level by 2070, in a worst-case scenario.

Some countries are preparing for the rising waters with innovative ideas.

The Netherlands is experimenting with amphibious and floating houses. Floating houses are built on foam bases covered in concrete and they float with rising waters. After the floods, they sink back with the subsiding waters.

Amphibious houses are built on similar bases, but anchored to the ground with thick posts. They can also rise over flood waters.

One expert on coastal waters said local homes prone to floods as a result of sea-level rise could look to this model. These include homes in Loyang, Pasir Ris and even Sentosa Cove.

Dr Wong Poh Poh, Coordinating Lead Author, Coastal Systems Chapter of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “A lot of people want to live on water chalets, so why can't you have water chalets for the entire year? It's possible. Look at our East Coast. What if you built another barrier outside, much higher, and that barrier protects an inner lagoon which can be flooded? So at anytime, any higher sea-level rise can be absorbed by this lagoon.”

Dr Wong said the lagoon will act as a safety measure, while being used for social and economic activities.

- CNA/dl

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Tampines butterfly garden to undergo expansion

LEE YEN NEE Today Online 17 May 15;

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s sole butterfly garden within a housing estate will double in size next year, as part of a S$1.5 million upgrading project announced today (May 17) by Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, Ms Irene Ng.

The garden, located next to Block 124 Tampines Street 11, will be expanded from 132.5 sqm to 267 sqm to include a raised observation deck for visitors as well as educational panels on butterflies and waterfall features. Outside the enclosure, a community plaza will be built for activities such as yoga and qigong.

Ms Ng, who had pushed for the garden’s launch in 2011, said: “I took a personal interest in developing the new plans for the butterfly garden and am glad to see so much support for it, not only from our own residents, but also from nature lovers from all over the island. When completed, the upgraded Butterfly Garden will be an iconic landmark in Tampines.”

Besides the upgrading of the garden, Ms Ng today also shared other plans for the estate, including a 1km cycling track along Tampines Street 11 that residents can take to the Tampines Round Market, neighbourhood shops as well as the butterfly garden. Construction is expected to be completed by September.

More greenery will also be added to the area by the fourth quarter of this year, in the form of small pockets of linear gardens lining both sides of the street.

Ms Ng also said Blocks 124 to 127, 138 and 139 on Tampines Street 11 will undergo the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. Residents of the affected blocks will first be consulted for ideas and suggestions on how to improve the estate, which can include adding new features such as a children’s playground, fitness corner or new letter boxes.

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New walking trail to cover Singapore's water locations

The ABC Waters Project Walk begins on Jun 28 and it will see participants exploring Singapore's water locations.
Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia 17 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Residents of Hong Kang North can look forward to a new trail next month which explores Singapore's water locations.

The ABC (Active Beautiful Clean) Waters Project Walk was launched on Sunday (May 17) by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor after the completion of a park connector walk programme which encouraged residents to adopt brisk walking.

The "GO!GO!GO! Park Connector Walk" was first launched by the Hong Kah North Active Aging Committee in 2013 to encourage residents to adopt brisk walking as a regular exercise by bringing them to the rustic parts of Singapore.

64-year-old Monsiah Mansor has been participating in the park connector walk programme since 2013.

Every month, she and her friends walk to different parts of Singapore to re-discover the island's heritage sites. It also improves her overall health.

Residents participated in a total of 18 sessions and covered areas such as Woodlands, Sengkang, Bedok Reservoir and East Coast Park. Nearly 4,000 people have taken part in the initiative.

Each participant walked at least 6,250 steps per session and accumulated over 112,500 steps through the whole park connector walk programme. They walked more than 100km over the course of two years, and collectively have burned over one million calories.

But as the GO!GO!GO! Park Connector Walk by the Hong Kah North Active Ageing Committee comes to a close, a new trail is on the horizon.

The ABC Waters Project Walk will see residents exploring 14 water locations in Singapore on the fourth Sunday of each month. The walk begins at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Jun 28 and will take participants to places such as Yishun Pond, Sungei Whampoa and the Rochor River. It will end at Jurong Lake in March 2017.

Dr Amy Khor, who is also Hong Kah North's Grassroots Advisor, said: "Programmes like this help to motivate them, create some interest, because it is not just about exercising ... but also about going to some fun places."

Dr Khor hopes the initiative can be extended to other constituencies to promote the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

- CNA/xq/al

ABC Waters walks launched
Melissa Lin The Straits Times AsiaOne 19 May 15;

A series of walks that will take participants around 14 ABC Waters locations throughout Singapore over the next two years was launched yesterday.

Organised by the Hong Kah North Active Ageing Committee, the first walk will take place at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on June 28. Other locations include the Lorong Halus Wetland, Jurong Lake and the Geylang River.

The walks will take place on the fourth Sunday of each month.

ABC Waters stands for the national water agency PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme, which converts waterways into recreational areas.

Hong Kah North MP Amy Khor, an adviser to its grassroots organisations, said the programme aims to encourage residents to exercise while taking them to places they may not have visited before.

Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, said the walks are open to all, even those not residing in Hong Kah North.

She was speaking at Bukit Batok Nature Park, where the last of another series of walks took place yesterday morning.

Around 400 people walked 5km from the park to Hong Kah North Community Club (CC), the closing stretch of a programme that took participants to Singapore's park connectors.

An average of 200 people joined the monthly walks, which started two years ago.

Housewife Monsiah Mansor, 64, who took part in all 18 walks, said she joined the programme alone but soon made friends along the way.

"I feel that my health has improved, I don't feel so weak any more," she said, adding that she is keen to take part in the new series of walks.

Those interested in signing up for the ABC Waters walks can do so at Hong Kah North CC or Gek Poh Ville CC.

There is a $2 fee for the shuttle bus service which takes participants from the CCs to each walk's location.

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Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Implement Eco-Friendly Policies

Erwida Maulia Jakarta Globe 17 May 15;

Singapore. The Singaporean government has called on financial institutions operating in Southeast Asia to exercise caution in funneling funds to palm oil producers, saying scrutiny on the sector continues to intensify with recurring problems in transboundary haze.

Banks have acted as an important source of capital for the region’s palm oil industry, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said last week.

Citing a 2010 report by BankTrack, he said lenders provided an estimated 24 percent of the total financing needed for the sector globally, with more than $50 billion invested in the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil sectors alone during the decade prior to the release of the study.

“The number has grown significantly since then. And this includes local sources of capital from within Indonesia and Malaysia,” Balakrishnan said in a keynote speech during the second annual Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held last Wednesday.

With the recurring issue of transboundary haze, he added, calls have intensified for companies and individuals “all the way down” the supply chain to be held accountable for deforestation — the main culprit behind recurring forest fires in Indonesia and haze affecting neighbors Singapore and Malaysia.

“Due to the environmental scrutiny and the campaigns by environmental NGOs, banks have now also become part of the watch list,” the minister said.

“And my plea to you, therefore, is please pay attention to this and remember the questions will be asked not only of the companies involved, but also of the financiers and the banks behind the industry.”

Balakrishnan added that lenders and other financial institutions are now expected to be more responsible in conducting background checks on palm oil companies. It is not enough to merely see whether their clients would be able to pay their loans and interest rates, he said.

How the companies derive their resources, their methods of production, the environmental, social and even political risks they face all must be assessed before banks decide whether they should invest in the business.

“These [steps] have to become part and parcel of standard due diligence,” Balakrishnan said.

Financial institutions, including banks and investors, have significant influence over the market and the proper behavior of producers, he added.

Representatives from the financial sector speaking at Wednesday’s dialogue conceded that more banks are gradually recognizing the opportunities in sustainable financing. They are also beginning to understand the need to assess their clients’ environmental and governance records to protect themselves from potential reputation damage.

“It makes good business sense, not just from a reputational perspective, but also from a credit prospective. Generally, a company that actually does good from an environmental perspective would be in better financial health,” said Vincent Choo, chief risk officer of OCBC Bank.

However, Jeanne Stampe, the Asian finance and commodities specialist of environmental group WWF International, sees domestic banks from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations lagging behind in implementing environmental, social and governance standards.

Both bank management and shareholders simply don’t see the need or urgency to take action, she said.

Stampe added that she also recognizes a lack of senior-level prioritization, a lack of capacity and lack of pressure coming from both regulators and company stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

The Singapore dialogue raised concerns that sustainability, which should be a new basis for growth in the region, has instead become a greater challenge amid falling commodities prices across the globe, as well as the constant need to create more jobs in Southeast Asia.

However Simon Tay, the chairman of Singapore Institute of International Affairs, the organizer of the event, said there was still hope for a better outcome.

“If we look at the industry itself, we see signs of change,” Tay said during his opening speech.

“More larger and leading companies among us here today recognize and are responding more strongly to the sustainable challenge as a business issue; not merely as public relations.”

Minister Balakrishnan added that there was an increasing trend among consumers to demand for environmentally friendly products — and that this was not just a phenomenon in developed countries.

He cited a Nielsen survey conducted last year, which reported that 55 percent of the online consumers across 60 different countries said they were willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to providing positive social and environmental impacts.

“This propensity of willingness to buy socially responsible brands is actually strongest in the Asia-Pacific region, where 64 percent of respondents [had] this preference. And I believe this preference will stay, with their wallets that will grow stronger in the years to come,” Balakrishnan said.

“The industry sectors that can first develop standards and labels on sustainable products will have a head start,” the minister added.

Arief Yuwono, the Indonesian Environment Ministry’s deputy for environment degradation control and climate change, said promoting sustainability would also be a key priority for President Joko Widodo and his administration.

The Indonesian government is currently seeking to extend the moratorium on granting new land concessions for plantations and mining activities, which expired on Wednesday.

“We’re working on the final draft, and we hope it will be issued very soon,” said Arief, who also addressed the audience at Wednesday’s dialogue.

He conceded that several issues still needed to be addressed before the new moratorium draft could be finalized, including law enforcement, synchronization with other related, existing regulations and the one-map reference issue.

Overlapping maps of concessions, community forests and protected forests have caused problems in implementing the deforestation moratorium since it was first introduced by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011.

Joko has agreed to extend the moratorium, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya revealed after a meeting with the president at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Proposals to strengthen [clauses in the moratorium] from Walhi, Kemitraan, Sawit Watch, WRI and others are very much appreciated and will be summarized by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for a follow-up,” ministry spokesman Eka W. Soegiri said in a press statement on Wednesday, naming Indonesia’s leading environmental groups.

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Malaysia: Enforcement against illegal logging weak - Wildlife Conservation Society

YU JI The Star 18 May 15;

KUCHING: Until the authorities embarked on the sudden sweep against illegal loggers last week, enforcement has been weak and wanting for the past 10 years, says the Wildlife Conservation Society.

WCS Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal said the problem appeared to be less severe in the 1980s.

“Perhaps greed was less prevalent and organised then. I don't know what happened from then until recently.

“Obviously enforcement declined to the extent that there is now a major damage,” he said commenting on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) Ops Gergaji, which began Tuesday.

To date, authorities have frozen some RM700mil in bank accounts in Sarawak following a joint operations with various agencies that had taken some six months to plan.

Conservationist like Dr Gumal are cautiously optimistic that the state's poor environmental track record is taking a turn for the better.

“The new Chief Minister is making a clear stand and a good one, too,” Dr Gumal added.

Early this month, WCS and other stakeholders were invited to help state authorities, including Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation, design environmental awareness talks for judges.

Dr Gumal said WCS was invited by Chief Judge of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Melanjum to participate.

The conservation group’s international chief executive, Dr Cristian Samper, who is on a working trip to Sarawak this week, said he was encouraged by Sarawak's renewed political will to combat illegal logging.

“I see a lot of challenges but also opportunities in Sarawak, where there is much forest left.

“The challenge is to strike a balance, to do a better job than others in South-East Asia.

“In 10 years, Sarawak has done the best job in this part of the world," Samper said.

World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma urged the authorities to investigate and prosecute without fear or favour.

“We hope anyone found guilty will be successfully prosecuted in line with Sarawak government's efforts to fight illegal logging,” Dr Sharma said.

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