Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jul 15

Green Drinks: Shifting Towards a Haze-Free Society
Green Drinks Singapore

Environmental Talks, Sustainability Workshops and Green Tours
Green Future Solutions

Trilogy of Pulau Semakau (17072015 - 19072015)
Psychedelic Nature

White-crested Laughingtrush - preening
Bird Ecology Study Group

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Indonesia: 42 hotspots detected in Riau

The Jakarta Post 22 Jul 15;

PEKANBARU: The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru detected on Tuesday 42 hotspots in Riau province. Pekanbaru BMKG Data and Information Division head Slamet Riyadi said that the hotspots, which indicate the presence of land or forest fires, had been found in eight regencies and cities.

The most hotspots, 11, had been found in Siak regency, followed by nine in Kampar regency, six in Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies, four in Dumai city and three in Pelalawan regency.

The remaining three hotspots, meanwhile, were found in Indragiri Hulu and Meranti Islands regencies. He further explained that satellite reports indicated a 70 percent likelihood that 29 of the total hotspots in Riau were fires.

“Nine have been found in Siak, six in Kampar, five in Kuantan Sengingi, four in Dumai, three in Bengkalis, and one in Meranti Islands and in Pelalawan,” he said as quoted by — Tribunnews

Raging Peat Fire Approaches Jambi Village
Jakarta Globe 24 Jul 15;

A peat fire raging through the forests of Jambi province is inching closer to Gambut Jaya Kumpeh village in Muarojambi district. (EPA Photo/Azwar)

Jakarta. A peat fire raging in Jambi province has reportedly spread and is inching dangerously closer to Gambut Jaya Kumpeh village in Muarojambi district, according to a local official.

Villagers are cooperating with officers from the Farmers Group Fire Brigade (KTPA) to prevent flames from reaching plantations and residential areas, said Gambut Jaya KTPA chairman Basir.

“The fire is getting bigger and moving closer to people’s homes. It is reaching our village. Yet, at the same time, villagers are on guard to prevent flames from reaching their plantation and houses,” Basir said on Friday as quoted by

Basir added that both local residents and firefighters have attempted to extinguish the blaze but their efforts have been unsuccessful due to lack of equipment.

“We are unable to stop the fire entirely. Our equipment is very limited. This is a bad situation because we know most people can’t stand the haze,” Basir said.

The Manggala Agni forest fire brigade were en route to the fire’s point of origin at the time of writing.

Bestari, head of the Jambi Forestry Agency’s forest protection unit, said the team was equipped with the proper equipment to stop the blaze from spreading further.

“One team consists of 15 members. They are on their way to the location at this time. They will be there for three days or even longer, until the fire stops,” Bestari said.

“However, should this team be unsuccessful in extinguishing the fire within three days, we may replace them with another team,” Bestari said.

The fire has destroyed some 200 hectares of land since it erupted earlier this month in the forests located between Jambi and Palembang, South Sulawesi.

Jambi’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) chairman Dalmanto said the BPBD along with five district governments within the province were in the process of preparing a regulation on handling peat fires that will later be proposed to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

“We need help from the central government. We need them to provide equipment for operations such as water bombing and weather modification,” Dalmanto said.

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Thailand: Bangkok 'could be submerged in 15 years'

AEKARACH SATTABURUTH Bangkok Post 22 Jul 15;

Without urgent action, Bangkok could be under water within 15 years because of excessive pumping from the aquifer, the weight of mushrooming development and rising sea levels, a panel set up by the National Reform Council has warned.

Immediate and costly solutions are needed to avert a catastrophe, the NRC committee studying the risk of Bangkok being submerged said in a report presented to parliament on Wednesday.

Witthaya Kulsomboon, head of the committee, said Bangkok and adjacent provinces were only 0.5 to 2 metres above mean sea level and sinking. The longstanding and excessive use of underground water in areas without tap water supplies and the heavy weight of tall buildings were accelerating the subsidence.

"There are about 700 buildings with 20 floors or more and 4,000 buildings with 8-20 floors in Bangkok. There are also many electric railways. These could cause the submergence of parts of Bangkok and surrounding areas in the future," he said.

Mr Witthaya recommended a national committee chaired by the prime minister be set up to handle the issue.

Solutions must be urgently implemented and would be costly, and the relocation of the capital might have to be considered, he said.

Some reform councillors proposed the government stop the growth of the capital and surrounding areas and move industries and businesses out of Bangkok.

The NRC is to send the submergence report to the cabinet in seven days.

Sujarit Khunthanakulwong, a member of the NRC committee, later said the exploitation of underground water and building construction must be controlled, "otherwise, Bangkok will be submerged in 15 years".

He recommended a sea wall embankment stretching from Si Racha district in Chon Buri to Hua Hin district in Prachuap Khiri Khan to protect the greater Bangkok area from rising sea levels. The cost of construction could be as much as 500 billion baht, Mr Sujarit said.

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New study shows mangroves may protect against sea level rise

University of Auckland Scoop 22 Jul 15;

New research shows mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change.

A joint study between Associate Professor Giovanni Coco from the University of Auckland’s School of Environment and colleagues at the Universities of Southampton (Dr Barend van Maanen) and Waikato (Dr Karin Bryan), used leading-edge mathematical simulations to study how mangrove forests respond to elevated sea levels.

The new model incorporates biophysical interactions to study the formation of tidal channel networks, how these channels are modified by mangroves and how mangroves are in turn affected by channel evolution.

The researchers studied the evolution of the channels by using a hybrid model that connects biotic (mangroves) and abiotic (currents and transport of sediment) processes, to simulate their interaction.

In particular the research focused on how estuarine environments with and without mangroves responded to sea level rise.

The study also used longer timeframes than have been incorporated into this type of modelling work than ever before, studying mangrove evolution for hundreds of years.

The research found that as a mangrove forest begins to develop, the creation of a network of channels is relatively fast. Over 160 years, tidal currents, sediment transport and mangroves significantly modify the estuarine environment, creating a dense channel network.

Within the mangrove forest, these channels become shallower through organic matter from the trees, reduced sediment resuspensions (caused by the mangroves) and sediment trapping (again caused by the mangroves)and the sea bed begins to rise, with bed elevation increasing a few millimetres per year until the area is no longer inundated by the tide.

In modelling of sea level rise in the study, the ability of mangrove forest to gradually create a buffer between sea and land occurs even when the area is subjected to potential sea level rises of up to 0.5mm per year. Even after sea level rise, the mangroves showed an enhanced ability to maintain an elevation in the upper intertidal zone.

“These findings show that mangrove forests play a central role in estuarine and salt marsh environments,” Associate Professor Coco says.

“As we anticipate changes caused by climate change, then it’s important to know the effect sea level rise might have, particularly around our coasts.

“Mangroves appear to be resilient to sea level rise and are likely to be able to sustain such climatic change. The implications for the New Zealand coastline are considerable and will require new thinking in terms of sediment budgets and response to climatic changes.”

This paper is the result of a series of papers to study estuarine morphodynamics initiated thanks to funding from NIWA and the University of Waikato.

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Pope urges U.N. to take strong action on climate change

Philip Pullella PlanetArk 22 Jul 15;

Pope Francis on Tuesday urged the United Nations to take a "very strong stand" on climate change at a landmark summit this year in Paris on global warming.

The pope spoke at a Vatican-hosted conference of mayors and governors from major world cities who signed a declaration urging global leaders to take bold action at the U.N. summit, saying it may be the last chance to tackle human-induced global warming.

"I have a great hopes in the Paris summit," he said. "I have great hopes that a fundamental agreement is reached. The United Nations needs to take a very strong stand on this."

Last month, the pope issued an encyclical on climate change, the first ever dedicated to the environment. The call to his church's 1.2 billion members could spur the world's Catholics to lobby policymakers on ecology issues and climate change.

The Vatican conference linked climate change and modern slavery because, according to an introductory paper, "global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migration".

Francis, speaking in unprepared comments in Spanish to the group at the end of the first day, said he hoped the Paris summit would address "particularly how it (climate change) affects the trafficking of people."

The conference is the Vatican's latest attempt to influence the Paris summit in December, the purpose of which is to reach a global agreement to combat climate change after past failures.

Mayors from South America, Africa, the United States, Europe and Asia signed a declaration stating that the Paris summit "may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2 degrees centigrade."

Leaders should come to a "bold agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity while protecting the poor and the vulnerable...," the declaration, which the pope also signed, reads.

High-income countries should help finance the cost of climate-change mitigation in low-income countries, it says.

In a rejection of so-called climate-change deniers, the declaration says: "Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity."

On Tuesday morning, California Governor Edmund "Jerry" Brown, whose state is suffering a severe drought, urged mayors to "fight the propaganda" of big business interests that deny that climate change is human induced.

"We have fierce opposition and blind inertia and that opposition is well-financed," Brown said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called Pope Francis "the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard," and added: "He did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it".

De Blasio announced that New York City would commit to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 on top of a previous commitment to reduced them by 80 percent by 2050.

Tony Chammany, the mayor of Kochi, India, said coastal areas were already feeling the effects of rising sea levels. "It is now or never, there may never be a replay," he said.

(Editing by Larry King)

U.N. climate deal draft must be shorter, clearer: minister
Megan Rowling PlanetArk 23 Jul 15;

Ministers working towards a new U.N. deal to tackle climate change, due in December, need a negotiating text that is shorter and more manageable than the current draft, the Marshall Islands' foreign minister said after informal talks in Paris.

"It should be something that people can understand, be able to work with and negotiate from," chief diplomat Tony de Brum told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from France.

The current version of the draft text is a bewildering 85-page list of options, incorporating the demands of the nearly 200 nations participating in the process.

At the last round of formal U.N. talks in June, negotiators slimmed the document down by only a few pages and tasked the co-chairs with preparing a new version, to be published on Friday.

This unofficial document is expected to streamline the text, and may provide more structure aimed at sorting the elements of the draft into a potential core legal agreement and an accompanying set of decisions.

The message from this week's two-day gathering in Paris of around 40 countries' delegations, including 26 with ministers, and an earlier meeting of the world's major economies was that the negotiating text should be short - around 40 pages - and ambitious, de Brum said.

"The ministers should have something that they feel comfortable moving forward with," he added.

The co-chairs will find it hard to chop the text by half, as they have no mandate to weed out options.

But they can set them out more clearly, said Liz Gallagher, leader of the climate diplomacy program at London-based consultancy E3G.

"The co-chairs have a very delicate balance to keep - they can't cut large swathes of the text because they don't want to alienate countries, but we do need manageable options for ministers to choose from," she said.


France is undertaking a major diplomatic push to avoid a repeat of the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, where leaders were not ready to seal such a complex deal, and were forced to stitch together a voluntary accord at the last minute.

De Brum said the Paris meeting this week had been useful in helping ministers get to know each other and building trust.

They had discussed substantive issues including a long-term goal to curb climate-changing emissions and how to share the burden of doing that fairly, he added.

He noted growing support for a five-year cycle of assessing and strengthening the national emissions reduction pledges that will be part of the Paris agreement, to ensure they are enough to keep global warming to an internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees Celsius.

This week, the Marshall Islands became the first small island developing nation to submit a contribution to the new global climate change agreement, committing to cut economy-wide emissions of greenhouse gases by 32 percent below 2010 levels by 2025.

It also included an indicative target to further reduce emissions to 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, in line with a longer-term vision of net zero emissions by 2050.

De Brum said it was key that the Paris deal - slated to take effect from 2020 - should include a pathway for countries to ratchet up their emissions-cutting ambition "in short spurts" of five years.

"Small island countries need that confidence ... to accept a treaty that does not have 2 degrees guaranteed anywhere," he said. "It has to be flexible enough to allow for greater ambition, that's what all the component parts must add up to."

E3G's Gallagher said that while general consensus was building on a five-year cycle, there was a lack of agreement over what it should aim to achieve.

Some countries with a 2025 emissions reduction target, including the United States, wanted it to serve as an opportunity to decide fresh goals for the coming five years, while others with 2030 targets such as the European Union would prefer it to be a review, she said.

French President Francois Hollande made it clear this week that offers of emissions cuts so far would not be sufficient.

"With the accord that we could have based on the current state of negotiations and the contributions submitted by governments, we are still above 2 degrees, probably 3 degrees," he told another conference in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement after the informal ministerial meeting that participants "are committed to finding compromises on the major political issues".

Those include fresh funding to help developing nations adapt to climate change impacts and green their economies, which was not discussed this week in Paris.

"We're all conscious of what is at stake and resolutely geared towards searching for the essential solutions," Fabius added.

(Editing by Tim Pearce; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

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