Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jun 15

Chek Jawa boardwalk partial closure until 24 Oct 2015
wild shores of singapore

Elusive Macro Wonders
Hantu Blog

Nature walk at Gardens by The Bay
My Nature Experiences

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URA calls for ideas to turn Kallang Park Connector into a commuter cycling route

Today Online 30 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE — The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is calling for ideas to see if the Kallang Park Connector, which links Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Kallang Riverside Park, can be improved such that it can serve as a commuter cycling route.

The route, which was completed in 1992, has several crossings that require cyclists to dismount and push and carry their bicycles, such as overhead bridges.

For example, to cross the Pan Island Expressway, cyclists must dismount and push their bicycles 250m to cross the Kallang River along a narrow footpath alongside PIE, cross a high pedestrian overhead bridge, and cycle 300m on narrow sidewalks in a landed housing estate before they re-join the Kallang Park Connector.

The URA called for an Expression of Interest today (June 30), inviting consultants to undertake a planning study to propose design and technical solutions to improve the experience.

“Due to its alignment, this Park Connector has the potential to serve as a key commuter cycling route from central Singapore to the south,” said the URA in a media release.

The URA has identified seven locations along the 10km-long park connector where pedestrians and cyclists’ journeys are currently affected or interrupted by major roads and expressways.

Possible solutions include cycling-friendly ramps and bridges over roads and waterbodies in constrained sites, which would also meeting vehicular height clearances.

The construction process cannot adversely compromise drainage or vehicular capacity.

For proposed underpasses, studies must be conduced to ensure the stability of the existing Kallang River drain wall, existing vehicular bridge footings, or existing underground services are not compromised.

Interested teams can submit their proposals and other information by Aug 24. From this, the URA will shortlist up to five teams of consultants to participate in the second stage in October. The successful team that will undertake the planning study will be announced in the second quarter of next year.

The study is expected to take a year to complete. The URA also said that its an “exploratory study”, and the course of action thereafter will be determined based on the findings and the costs involved.

More information on the tender process is available at

URA calls for ideas to turn Kallang connector into seamless cycling route
ASIAONE 30 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE - The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has called for ideas from the consultants on how the Kallang Park Connector can be enhanced for a better cycling experience.

The 10-km long route connects Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Kallang Riverside Park. Due to the connector's alignment, it could potentially serve as a key commuter cycling route from central Singapore to the south, said URA.

Seven locations have been identified where pedestrians and cyclists' journeys are currently affected or interrupted by major roads and expressways.

Some ideas URA hopes to implement include innovative design and technical solutions for cycling-friendly ramps and bridges over roads and waterbodies, or conduct soil and structural investigations to ensure proposed underpasses to do not compromise existing structures.

URA said the exercise will be a two-stage tender process. Interested teams are required to submit their proposal and information, such as team composition and track record by Aug 24, 2015.

URA will evaluate the proposals and shortlist up to five teams of consultants to participate in the second stage in October.

The successful team that will undertake the planning study will be announced in 2nd quarter of 2016. The study is expected to take one year to complete.

Bishan to CBD on a bicycle?
Danson Cheong The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Jul 15;

Cyclists may be able to ride from Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park to Gardens by the Bay, and then into the Central Business District (CBD) in future - without having to get off their bicycles at all.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) plans to study whether the 10km-long Kallang Park Connector, which starts in Bishan and runs along the Kallang River, can become a seamless commuting route for cyclists.

Yesterday, it called for consultants to come forward to find solutions around the seven obstacles that now interrupt the route.

These include pedestrian crossings, an underpass with low head room and overhead pedestrian bridges, such as the 14m-high one spanning an eight-lane stretch of the Pan-Island Expressway.

In a statement, the URA said it would shortlist the external consultants by October and select a team to conduct the study by the second quarter of next year. The study will take a year to complete.

URA executive planner Joycelyn Yik said this could be the birth of Singapore's first seamless cycling route into the heart of the city - one that would pass through 11 housing estates and serve 400,000 people.

If completed, it could take a cyclist about 30 to 45 minutes to ride from Bishan to the heart of the city, compared with about one hour to 11/2 hours now. "We feel this will help improve quality of life by helping us move towards a car-light future for Singapore," said Ms Yik.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan first mooted the idea for a seamless connector in April on his Facebook page, saying that it would help achieve "a great social outcome".

Possible solutions to the obstacles include elevated cycling-friendly bridges with gentle ramps or underpasses, said Ms Yik, who noted that these have to be studied for feasibility.

There are challenging technical constraints, she added.

"Given that the Kallang Park Connector and Kallang River run through very built-up areas, there's really not much land for us to play with around here."

NParks assistant director of park planning Henry Hee said the biggest obstacle along the route is the bridge over the PIE, near St Andrew's Junior School.

Cyclists have to carry their bikes up and down eight flights of stairs to get to the other side.

The Kallang Park Connector, which was built in 1992 by the National Parks Board, is the oldest in Singapore.

Both URA and NParks said they would study the route before turning their attention to other park connectors in the future.

Singapore's cycling-path network will expand to 700km in 2030, with more than 300km of paths built so far. It is part of a shift towards getting more people on bicycles and away from cars.

Mr Pierre Chew, an engineer who cycles from his home in Bishan to the CBD to attend upgrading courses, felt the bridges are the main hindrance. "If you are not strong enough, by the time you carry your bike to the top, you will already feel the strain," said Mr Chew, 42.

He added that although the overhead bridge at Braddell Road had a "bicycle gutter" for cyclists to push their bikes up, this could still be hard work for old folk.

"If they could get around these obstacles, it would be a very pleasant, scenic route to ride," he said.

Experts agreed. Associate Professor Wong Yiik Diew, director of the Centre for Infrastructure Systems at Nanyang Technological University, said the initiative would set up an important "trunk route" for commuting cyclists.

Dr Alexander Erath, a transport researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, noted it would be important to see how individual towns can be best connected to the upgraded Kallang route.

"Intra- and inter-town cycling depend upon each other. Only if people consider the entire trip to be safe and convenient for cycling, will they start considering it as a relevant travel option," he said.

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New energy labels for lamps from July: NEA

Today Online 30 Jun 15;

Singapore — From tomorrow (July 1), a new energy label illustrating different levels of energy efficiency on lamps can be found on its packaging.

The label will carry useful energy information on the different types of energy saving lamps in the market to help consumers make informed decisions that will best suit their needs, the National Environment Agency said in a media advisory today (June 30).

The new energy rating system for lamps will have three efficiency bands (one to three ticks). The highest efficiency level is denoted by three ticks and the lowest by a single tick.

In a household energy consumption survey conducted by NEA, lighting accounts for 4.3 per cent of total household consumption and it is also among the top five types of energy-consuming household appliances and devices.

NEA also revealed that the three commonly used lamps in homes are the incandescent lamps (tungsten filament and tungsten halogen), compact fluorescent lamps with integrated ballasts (CFLi) and non-directional light emitting diode (LED) lamps. And from tomorrow, these lamps must meet the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and comply with Mandatory Energy Labelling (MELS) requirements.

Incandescent lamps need at least one-tick while CFLi and LED lamps need two-tick efficiency to meet the MEPS requirements.

To allow lamp importers, manufacturers and retailers to clear existing stock, products that have been supplied to the market before July 1 are exempted from the MELS and MEPS requirements for a year. ILI NADHIRAH MANSOR

Lamps to have new energy labels from July
The rating system will have three energy bands: The highest efficiency level is denoted by three ticks and the lowest by a single tick. This is to help buyers make more informed decisions when purchasing lamps, says NEA.
Channel NewsAsia 30 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE: From Wednesday (Jul 1), new energy labels will be placed on lamps to help buyers make a more informed decision on the different types of energy-saving lamps in the market.

Based on a survey conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA), lighting was among the top five types of energy-consuming household appliances and devices, the press release said.

The following types of lamps, commonly used in households, must meet Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and comply with Mandatory Energy Labelling (MELS) requirements from Wednesday, said NEA.

Incandescent lamps (tungsten filament and tungsten halogen)
Compact fluorescent lamps with integrated ballasts (CFLi) and
Non-directional light emitting diode (LED) lamps.

Under the new energy rating system for lamps, it will have three energy bands. The highest efficiency level is denoted by three ticks and the lowest by a single tick.

“Based on currently achievable efficiency and life cycle cost consideration, incandescent lamps will have to be at least rated one-tick efficiency, while CFLi and LED lamps have to be at least rated two-tick efficiency in order to meet the MEPS requirements,” said NEA.

To allow lamp importers, manufacturers and retailers time to clear their existing stocks of lamps, products that were supplied to the market before Jul 1, 2015, will be exempted from the MELS and MEPS requirements for one year.

- CNA/ek

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Malaysia: Sabah to restore 200,000ha of degraded forests

The Star 30 Jun 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is targeting to restore some 200,000ha of degraded forests – an area almost seven times the size of Penang island – within a decade.

Describing the target as a modest one, state Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said about a quarter of it had been achieved at the Ulu Segama-Malua forest reserve in Sabah’s east coast.

He said about 60,000ha of degraded jungles had been replanted with native tree species, making Ulu Segama-Malua the world’s largest rehabilitated dipterocarp forest in the world.

It was recovered from the ravages of uncontrolled logging, forest fires and encroachment.

Mannan added that determination and political will were needed to achieve the target.

The Sabah government phased out logging activities in 2007 and seven years later, nearly 243,000ha of forests were classified as totally protected areas.

Restoration of Ulu Segama-Malua began earlier in March 2006 with the primary aim of protecting the vital habitat for orang utan.

The restoration was also aimed at protecting the buffer zones for the pristine Danum Valley conservation area.

The Ulu Segama-Malua area is home to some 3,500 to 4,000 orang utan, which make up 30% of the state’s orang utan population.

The restoration efforts appeared to have borne fruit, based on frequent sighting of orang utan nesting areas in previously degraded forests at Bukit Piton, in northern Ulu Segama, Mannan said.

He said work to restore another 10,000ha of degraded forests would begin soon, thanks to RM50mil funding from the palm oil sector.

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Malaysia: Follow Sabah and Sarawak and ban turtle egg sales nationwide - WWF

The Star 29 Jun 15;

PETALING JAYA: There should be a nationwide ban on the trade of sea turtle eggs of any kind, and not just in Sabah and Sarawak, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

In a statement, WWF said all states in Malaysia should emulate Sarawak and Sabah's ban on the trade of endangered animal's eggs.

"As states are left to make laws relating to turtles under the Federal Constitution, this has resulted in varying standards being applied in each state," it said.

"For instance, it is not explicitly prohibited in Terengganu with the exception of Leatherback Turtle eggs. The absence of a national ban is permitting the sale of eggs that are purportedly sourced from another state or any country," it said.

The WWF noted it was practically impossible to distinguish where the turtle eggs came from, making enforcement difficult.

The statement was issued following news of the Marine Police foiling an attempted smuggling of 2,100 turtle eggs into Sandakan, as reported by The Star last week.

WWF-Malaysia chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said if left undisturbed on a nesting beach, about 70% to 80% of the eggs would have hatched.

"We have now lost approximately 1,500 hatchlings," he said.

"Malaysia is fortunate to host four species of marine turtles. Sadly, the number of turtle nestings have reduced and some populations are on the brink of extinction. Leatherback turtles have not been sighted in Terengganu in the last five years," he said.

He added that earlier this year, 19 turtle carcasses were found in Sabah waters as a result of illegal activity. From January to May this year, at least 60 male and female turtles were found dead in Terengganu, trapped in fishing nets.

"If a turtle manages to beat all odds and matures to return to the same beach it was born to nest, it may face poachers who take its eggs and end the turtle's cycle of life," WWF-Malaysia marine head Robecca Jumin said.

"The issue goes beyond that of turtle egg smuggling. Where there is demand, there is supply," she said.

Concerns that a ban would affect livelihoods should not arise as a survey conducted by WWF-Malaysia in Terengganu in November 2013 indicated that the sale of turtle eggs were not a significant source of income to villagers involved in the trade, she added.

WWF: Ban selling and eating of turtle eggs
The Star 30 Jun 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Selling or eating turtle eggs should be banned nationwide, not just in Sabah and Sarawak, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The conservation body made this call once again following the rampant smuggling of turtle eggs in several states.

These activities were causing a reduction in the nesting areas and taking some turtle populations to the brink of extinction, said WWF Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma.

He said that a recent survey in Terengganu led to the discovery of hundreds of turtle eggs up for sale.

The eggs were believed to have come from another state, possibly Sabah, or from another country, such as the Philippines, he said in a statement yesterday .

WWF Malaysia believes that the challenges of stopping turtle egg smuggling did not rest with Sabah alone and it was a threat to Malaysia’s biodiversity and national security, he said.

He said Malaysia has had little success with turtle conservation because the states were left to make the laws relating to turtles, resulting in varying standards.

“While the sale of turtle eggs is prohibited in Sabah and Sarawak, this is not explicitly forbidden in Terengganu, with the exception of leatherback turtle eggs,” he said, citing an example.

He said the situation was worsened by the fact that the lack of a national ban meant the sale of turtle eggs claimed to come from another state or internationally was permitted.

Since it was difficult to differentiate turtle eggs by place of origin, enforcement was challenging, he added.

Dr Sharma commended the Sabah marine police for seizing more than 2,000 turtle eggs in Sandakan recently.

But he said it would have been better if the smuggling did not happen at all.

“If left undisturbed on the nesting beach, 70% to 80% of those eggs would have hatched.

“We have lost about 1,500 hatchlings now,” he said.

Malaysia is fortunate to host four species of marine turtles – leatherback, green, hawksbill and Olive Ridley.

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Indonesia: Haze begins to envelop parts of Riau

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 30 Jun 15;

A number of regions in Riau have been covered in haze over the past few days as hotspots — which can trigger forest and land fires — continued to surround the province as a result of the prolonged dry season.

In Dumai municipality, haze started to emerge on Sunday evening and had grown thicker by Monday morning, leading to poor visibility in the city, which was recorded at only 2 kilometers.

Head of Dumai Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD) prevention and control section, Tengku Ismed, said the thick haze was coming from both local forest and land fires as well as those in neighboring regions.

“A joint team has been working to extinguish the fires while at the same time coordinating with the provincial administration to anticipate the emergence of new fire locations,” Ismed said on Monday.

Thin but acrid smelling haze also covered a number of regions in Pelalawan regency for the last two days due to land fires. Data at the Pelawan Firefighter and Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBPKD) showed that serious land fires were visible in Kemang subdistrict, Pangkalan Kuras district, burning some 30 hectares of farmland and bush.

Based on the data collected by the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) Pekanbaru station, from the Terra and Aqua satellites, 59 hotspots were detected on Monday in 10 regions across Riau.

According to the data, Pelalawan and Rokan Hilir shared the greatest number of hotspots, with 16, followed by Bengkalis with six, Kuantan Singingi and Indragiri Hulu, with five, Kampar, four, Dumai, three, Indragiri Hilir, two and Siak and Rokan Hulu, with one.

Responding to the situation, Rokan Hilir Regent Suyatno expressed his concern and called on the provincial administration and the central government to focus on extinguishing the fires.

He did not dismiss the possibility that traditional land clearing measure through burning could have caused the fires.

“After conducting air monitoring, I promptly coordinated with Rokan Hilir police chief for law enforcement support,” he said.

Separately Riau BPBD head Edwar Sanger said that starting on Monday the agency’s water bombing operation moved from Rokan Hilir to Pelalawan to prevent the haze from covering the provincial capital of Pekanbaru.

Edwar also admitted that the weather modification technology (TMC) to create artificial rains had not yet provided satisfying results due to strong winds and lack of clouds. “We’ve seeded 12 tons of salt over Riau but only rain of light intensity has fallen in a number of areas including in Koto Kampar and Meranti Islands,” he said.

Last month, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned that the dry season this year could last longer than that of previous years due to the weather phenomenon known as El Nino.

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UN climate talks moving at snail's pace, says Ban Ki-moon

Pace of negotiations for a climate deal in Paris later this year is too slow, says UN secretary general, as China says it will shortly submit its carbon pledge
Suzanne Goldenberg The Guardian 29 Jun 15;

Negotiations for a deal to fight climate change were moving at a “snail’s pace”, the United Nations chief, Ban Ki-Moon, told a high-level meeting on Monday.

A promise from China – the world’s biggest carbon polluter – for ambitious cuts to greenhouse gas emissions “very soon” could inject some much-needed optimism into the talks.

But the UN and other leaders warned that time was running out to reach a strong climate change deal in Paris at the end of the year.

The gloomy assessment from Ban contrasts with sense of building momentum following the G7 commitment to phase out fossil fuels, the Pope’s call for radical climate action, and a flurry of recent climate announcements from Barack Obama.

Five months before the critical gathering, Ban said talks were bogged down, and that negotiators faced many challenges and controversies. “The negotiation pace is too slow, far too slow,” Ban told reporters. “It is moving at a snail’s pace.”

He noted there were only 10 formal days of negotiation left before Paris.

The countries of the European Union and 10 other countries have already made public their pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.

The EU has committed to a 40% drop in bloc emissions by 2030 and, speaking after a bilateral summit in Brussels, the bloc’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker called on China to match its resolve.

“I would strongly welcome China taking on its shoulders, commitments that have the same ambition, if not in numbers then at least in targets,” he told a Brussels press conference.

Beijing though is increasingly measuring its climate pledges against those made by the US - and not Europe, according to analysts at the ChinaDialogue think tank. Trade spats, incoherent policy priorities, and mutual suspicions over climate agendas have all strained ties.

Responding to Juncker, the Chinese premier Li Keqiang said that China and the EU could jointly combat climate change, within existing frameworks that oblige deeper emissions cuts by more developed countries first.

“We are willing to work together with the EU to jointly tackle the challenges caused by climate change, observe common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and our respective capabilities to implement climate change solutions,” he said.

An agreement signed by both sides called for an ambitious and legally-binding agreement to be sealed in Paris, and for links between their respective carbon markets to be expanded.

After the last round of talks, in Bonn earlier this month, the 193 countries at the table were left far apart on the contours of the deal.

Meanwhile, there was growing frustration with rich countries for failing to deliver on a promise to mobilise $100bn a year from 2020 to help poor and developing countries deal with climate change.

In a much-needed positive note, China, which is responsible for 24% of global carbon emissions, said it would make an official commitment to make ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions “very soon”.

“We are making great efforts to bring about a revolution in energy production and consumption,” Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate change envoy, told the meeting.

He said China would step up those efforts in its post-2020 climate change plan, and would set lay out a detailed plan for cutting carbon pollution and protecting its people from sea-level rise, extreme weather and other consequences of climate change.

“These targets are quite ambitious and will require arduous effort for implementation,” Xie said. “We have a determination and a confidence to reach these goals so they replace fossil fuel energy.”

The countries of the European Union and 10 other countries have already made public their pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.

China and the US – the world’s two biggest carbon polluters – took an historic first step to reining in emissions in the coming decades last November.

The US unveiled a plan to cut its emissions by 26% to 28% on 2005 levels by 2025, and China for the first time agreed to peak its emissions and get 20% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

China said in the past it would deliver its pledge by the end of June, and there was growing anticipation that it may raise its ambitions.

India, the third biggest carbon polluter, has said it will deliver its pledge by the end of September.

But there was growing acknowledgement on Monday of the challenges to reaching a deal to avoid dangerous climate change. Ban told the meeting that the commitments made ahead of the Paris meeting would fail to limit warming to 2C, the internationally-agreed limit.

One of the big sticking points is cash – with rich countries so far failing to live up to promise to mobilise $100bn a year by 2020 for climate finance.

The funds were first promised at the Copenhagen climate conference six years ago to help poor countries cut carbon pollution and protect their peoples from climate change.

Ban called on presidents and prime ministers to provide clear guidance, saying “creditable climate finance is essential”. He went on: “It is imperative that developed countries provide greater clarity on the public finance component of the $100bn before Paris.”

Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate envoy, said there was a disconnect between UN and negotiators’ view of climate funding, and those of finance ministers and financial institutions.

“You can definitely feel that there is something moving,” Kyte said. But she added: “There is a disconnection between financial world and negotiation world, and just as urgently as we have to mobilise finance so we urgently need to fix that disconnect.

She added. “Maybe it’s not a complete disconnect but it’s a weak connection.”

For the small islands of the Pacific, it may already be too late. Anote Tong, the president of the tiny island of Kiribati, told the meeting king tides were already forcing villages to relocate.

“We may be in the world’s last hour in which our planet can be saved,” Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, told the meeting.

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