Best of our wild blogs: 3 Sep 15

Sharing the marvelous marine life at Marina at Keppel Bay
wild shores of singapore

Crested Goshawk at Bishan Park, Singapore
Bird Ecology Study Group

AVA’s Relative Abundance Survey for Urban Birds 2015
Singapore Bird Group

Read more!

PUB to build 4th desalination plant

Singapore's water agency says the new plant will have a capacity of 30 million imperial gallons per day, which would help meet future water demand in the city area and strengthen the country's resilience against droughts.
Channel NewsAsia 3 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB announced on Thursday (Sep 3) that it plans to build a fourth desalination plant, which would help meet future water demand in the city area and strengthen the country's resilience against droughts.

A tender for the provision of professional engineering services for the Marina East plant will be called, and the new facility will have a planned capacity of 30 million imperial gallons per day.

Located near water demand zones in the city and eastern Singapore, the desalination plant will also have the capability to treat freshwater from Marina Reservoir, the press release said.

“PUB has been making investments to build up and diversify our water supply sources in order to strengthen our water security. During the dry weather in recent years, we were able to ensure supply by increasing the production of NEWater and desalinated water," said Deputy Chief Executive for Policy and Development at PUB Chua Soon Guan.

"Building up weather-resilient water sources will help us be better prepared for possible prolonged periods of dry spells in future.”

- CNA/kk

4th desalination plant for S’pore
KIM SO-HYUN Today Online 3 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE — The Republic will build a fourth desalination plant in Marina East to help meet the demand for water in the city area as prolonged dry spells tighten the island’s water supply.

The new plant will have the capacity to produce 30 million imperial gallons of freshwater per day (mgd) from sea water, the PUB said today (Sept 3), adding that it will call a tender for the provision of professional engineering services for the project.

The announcement comes just six months after Singapore unveiled plans to build a third desalination plant in Tuas, due to be completed in 2017. The fourth desalination plant will be completed in four to five years, said the PUB.

Located near water demand zones in the city and eastern Singapore, the Marina East desalination plant will also have the capability to treat freshwater from Marina Reservoir, the national water agency said.

“PUB has been making investments to build up and diversify our water supply sources in order to strengthen our water security,” said Mr Chua Soon Guan, Deputy Chief Executive of PUB. “Building up weather-resilient water sources will help us be better prepared for possible prolonged period of dry spells in the future.”

Once the third and the fourth plants are completed, Singapore will be able to produce up to 160 million gallons of freshwater per day from sea water.

Desalinated water, or treated sea water, now meets up to a quarter of current water demand, which is about 400 million gallons of water a day. This could almost double by the year 2060.

During the Committee of Supply debate for his ministry in March, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan told the House that beyond the third desalination plant in Tuas, the Government is planning for more plants sited in other parts of Singapore, to be announced in due time.

Singapore’s second desalination plant, the S$1.05-billion Tuaspring – which is the largest seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Asia with a daily capacity of 70 million gallons – started running two years ago. The first, the SingSpring desalination plant which can produce 30 million gallons of freshwater per day, began operations in 2005.

Singapore also uses NEWater, or treated used water, as well as treated rainwater and water imported from Malaysia. The agreement with Malaysia will expire in 2061.

Last month, PUB agreed to Johor authorities’ request for Singapore to supply more potable water to the state in light of the dry weather afflicting the state’s water supply. Water-rationing was implemented in parts of the city starting last Sunday and lasting till Sept 15, after the dry weather severely affected water levels in the state’s Sungei Layang dam. Since Aug 14, PUB has been drawn an additional 5 to 6 million gallons per day of potable water from the Johor River Waterworks it operates at the Kota Tinggi district to supply to Johor Baru.

Before that, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan had cautioned that with the water levels of Linggiu Reservoir — which enables Singapore to reliably draw water from the Johor River — at a historic low, the public should save water, and restrictions could kick in if the situation worsens.

PUB to build fourth desalination plant in Marina East
AsiaOne 3 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE - A fourth desalination plant is being planned, national water agency PUB announced on Thursday.

In a statement, PUB said it will call a tender for the provision of professional engineering services for the Marina East desalination plant.

Planned with a capacity of 30 million imperial gallons per day (mgd), the plant will help meet future water demand in the city area and strengthen Singapore's drought resilience, PUB said.

The plant will be located near water demand zones in the city and eastern Singapore. It will also have the capability to treat freshwater from Marina Reservoir.

Chua Soon Guan, PUB's Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Development), said: "PUB has been making investments to build up and diversify our water supply sources in order to strengthen our water security. During the dry weather in recent years, we were able to ensure supply by increasing the production of NEWater and desalinated water. Building up weather-resilient water sources will help us be better prepared for possible prolonged periods of dry spells in future."

The tender will include the engineering design for the development of the plant under a Design-Build-Own-Operate (DBOO) arrangement.

Fourth desalination plant to be built
Carolyn Khew Straits Times AsiaOne 5 Sep 15;

Singapore will build a fourth water desalination plant to meet future water needs in the city area and strengthen its drought resilience.

Yesterday, national water agency PUB announced that it will call for a tender for the provision of consultancy services for the new plant in Marina East.

It will be able to treat freshwater from the nearby Marina Reservoir and produce 30 million gallons of water per day.

PUB deputy chief executive (policy and development), Mr Chua Soon Guan, said the agency has been making investments to build up and diversify Singapore's water sources to strengthen water security.

He said: "During the dry weather in recent years, we were able to ensure supply by increasing the production of Newater and desalinated water. Building up weather-resilient water sources will help us be better prepared for possible prolonged periods of dry spells in future."

With the new plant, Singapore will be able to produce a total of 160 million gallons of water a day through treated seawater.

Singapore's agreement to obtain water from Malaysia ends in 2061. By 2060, its water needs are expected to be about double the current 400 million gallons a day.

The desalination plant is part of the Government's plan to ensure that Singapore can meet 80 per cent of its water demand through treated seawater and Newater, or treated used water, by 2060.

To achieve this target, plans are well under way.

The third desalination plant in Tuas, for instance, will be completed by 2017, and produce 30 million gallons of water per day.

The fifth Newater plant is expected to be completed by next year and will supply 50 million gallons a day to Singapore's water supply.

Senior research fellow Cecilia Tortajada, from the Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said building a fourth desalination plant is a "very smart move".

"It's part of the strategy to build the water resilience of Singapore. The location is also an advantage because they can tap the water from the Marina Reservoir," she added.

PUB said the tender for the fourth desalination plant will be put on the government Gebiz website today. The tender will include the engineering design for the development of the plant under a Design-Build-Own-Operate arrangement.

In recent weeks, Singapore leaders have raised concerns about Singapore's water supply.

Last month, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, highlighted how dry weather had led water levels in Johor's Linggiu Reservoir to drop to an all-time low that month - of only 54.5 per cent of its capacity. The reservoir's water level affects Singapore's ability to draw water from Malaysia's Johor River.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also said he is watching Singapore's water stocks carefully. He wrote last month on Facebook: "In Singapore, water will always be a precious resource. Never take it for granted, or waste it."

New plant ups water security
Audrey Tan Straits Times 7 Sep 15;

National water agency PUB announced last Thursday that it will build Singapore's fourth water desalination plant.

The new plant, which will be built in Marina East, will also treat fresh water from Marina Reservoir. It will have a capacity of 30 million gallons a day.

Building this new plant is part of the Government's plan to ensure Singapore can meet 80 per cent of its water demand through treated seawater or treated used water by 2060 - just before Singapore's agreement to obtain water from Malaysia ends.

It is a move that will also further increase Singapore's water security, amid a climate of increasingly erratic weather with longer dry spells.

Last month, dry weather led to a sharp decline in the water level in the Linggiu reservoir in Malaysia, which helps supply water to Singapore. The water level in the reservoir dropped to an all-time low that month, to only 54.5 per cent of its capacity.

Despite this, Singapore managed to fulfil the nation's needs while supplying additional drinkable water to Johor.

Over the years, the PUB has, at Johor's request, supplied about 16 million gallons of drinkable water a day to Johor. But last month, the stretch of dry weather there led its water regulatory body to ask for help, and Singapore temporarily raised the supply provided up to 22 million gallons a day.

Besides building more desalination and Newater plants to increase Singapore's water self-sufficiency, the Government is also expanding its rainwater catchment area from two-thirds to 90 per cent of the island by 2060.

The PUB, together with researchers here, is also looking underground for possible water sources.

But to supplement all these infrastructure efforts, residents must remember that they have a part to play in water security.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post: "In Singapore, water will always be a precious resource. Never take it for granted, or waste it."

Read more!

BCA introduces new Green Mark scheme for commercial buildings

The Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Green Mark 2015 will have an expanded focus to "address sustainability in a more balanced and holistic manner", the agency says.
Channel NewsAsia 2 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE: There will be a new benchmarking scheme, called Green Mark 2015, for non-residential buildings, and this will have an expanded focus to "address sustainability in a more balanced and holistic manner", said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday (Sep 2).

The Green Mark 2015 has been structured into four main sections: Climactic response; building energy performance; resource stewardship; and smart and healthy building. There is also a bonus section on advanced green building efforts, to "spur efforts beyond requirements".

Key benefits for building occupants and users include a stronger emphasis on indoor environmental quality in relation to enhanced health and well-being, and buildings that are equipped with smart controls and analytics to assist in the management and optimisation of building resources, it said.

The revamped scheme will also enable projects to analyse its energy effectiveness in both the optimisation of energy efficiency and consumption, while greater recognition for renewable energy will be considered, BCA said.

Dr John Keung, Chief Executive Officer of BCA, said: “Green Mark 2015 will play a more prominent role in driving and communicating sustainability outcomes in Singapore, as buildings consume more than 30 per cent of the total electricity."

Findings from the BCA Building Energy Benchmarking Report (BEBR) were also released, and it showed that commercial buildings had better energy performance in 2014 compared to 2013. Retail buildings showed the most improvement.

BCA Green Mark-certified commercial buildings continued to perform better than non-certified ones, it added.

Additionally, the world's first high-rise rotating laboratory for the tropics will be built on the roof of a new building at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy, the agency touted.

The BCA SkyLab will be located on the roof, and can turn 360 degrees to test energy-efficient building technologies. It will also have two similar indoor units that simulate an office environment to compare tests results. The units are equipped with sensors to measure energy performance and environmental parameters.

Each unit measures 40 square metres and its layout can be easily changed and configured for installation of different testing technologies, BCA said.

Dr Keung said: "With the BCA SkyLab, we are moving another step closer to the ambitious goal of achieving 'low-energy high rise' buildings and 'zero-energy low-rise' buildings in the tropics."

The BCA SkyLab is expected to be opened in the first half of 2016.

- CNA/wl

BCA to build rotating rooftop lab for green tech R&D
Audrey Tan Straits Times AsiaOne 3 Sep 15;

Singapore has rotating restaurants. Now it is going to get its first rotating rooftop laboratory.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will build this special 132 sq m lab at the top of one of its buildings at its Braddell Road premises.

Located on the sixth floor, and costing $4.5 million, the BCA SkyLab will give researchers a new place to test and develop green technology and materials.

BCA chief executive John Keung told The Straits Times that the advantage of building a lab here which rotates and on the top floor is that it can catch sunlight and wind any time of the day - and be tailored specifically for the tropics.

Ready by the first half of next year, the lab is being developed in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which has a similar rotating lab suited for a temperate climate.

Environment and Water Resources Ministry Permanent Secretary Choi Shing Kwok said getting buildings to become greener is key in reducing Singapore's carbon emissions. "In cities worldwide, including Singapore, buildings contribute about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions and make up nearly 40 per cent of energy consumption," he said, adding that this is why the sector has to lead the way in sustainability.

He was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the International Green Building Conference, Bex (Build Eco Xpo) Asia and MCE (Mostra Convegno Expocomfort) Asia 2015 at Marina Bay Sands.

During the event, the BCA also launched the revamped Green Mark scheme, which recognises buildings for their environmentally friendly features. More than 2,500 buildings, or around 30 per cent, are considered green here. The revamped scheme will, among other things, take into consideration passive features which cut electricity use, such as the use of natural lighting. Buildings that tap renewable energy, such as solar power, will also be better recognised.

Dr Keung said: "Green Mark 2015 will recognise the leadership of building owners who drive improvements to the overall environmental credentials of projects."

Yesterday, the BCA also released its Building Energy Benchmarking Report for 2015, which helps building owners get a sense of their energy performance as compared to buildings of similar types and sizes.

One of its key findings showed that commercial buildings here are getting greener. While gross floor area grew at a rate of 25 per cent from 2008 to 2014, electricity consumption for commercial buildings increased by only 16 per cent.

- See more at:

Read more!

Malaysia: Air quality worsens

The Star 3 Sep 15;

PETALING JAYA: The air quality in several west coast areas of Peninsular Malaysia remained in the unhealthy zone Thursday morning with Alor Setar in Kedah recording the highest Air Pollutant Index reading (10am) of 116.

Residents of most areas in the Klang Valley woke up to the smell of haze caused by smoke from open burning in over 380 hotspots in Sumatra.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), and 301 and above (hazardous).

At 10am, other areas with unhealthy API reading are Shah Alam (107), Port Klang (110), Banting (102), and Batu Muda (111).

In Negri Sembilan, Nilai recorded a reading of 104.

In the north, Kangar has a reading of 106 while Sungei Petani recorded a reading of 104.

Other areas that recorded unhealthy readings are Taiping (104), SK Jalan Pegoh (Ipoh) 105 and Seri Manjung 106.

The haze condition varies with the wind direction.

Earlier report of 7am API reading.

PETALING JAYA: Air in several west coast areas moved into the unhealthy zone early Thursday with Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur recording the highest Air Pollutant Index reading (7am) of 112.

Residents of most areas in the Klang Valley also woke up to the smell of haze caused by smoke from open burning in over 380 hotspots in Sumatra.

An API reading of between 50 and 100 is considered moderate and those above 100 unhealthy.

At 7am, other areas with unhealthy API reading are Shah Alam (108), Port Klang (108), Banting (102), Putrajaya (99) and Cheras (100).

In Negri Sembilan, Nilai recorded 106 while Seremban 100.

In the north, Alor Setar has a reading of 122, Kangar 101, Sungei Petani 108, Seberang Jaya 2 (Perai) 104 and USM 101.

Other unhealthy API areas are Taiping (103), SK Jalan Pegoh (Ipoh) 103, Seri Manjung 104 and Jalan Tasek (Ipoh) 93.

The haze condition varies with the wind direction.

Haze advisory issued to schools in Penang
The Star 3 Sep 15;

GEORGE TOWN: All schools in Penang have been advised to cut down on outdoor activities if the haze situation worsens.

A circular from the Education Ministry released some time last week stated that all outdoor activities should be reduced or stopped if the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in the area went above 150.

State Education Department director Datuk Osman Hussain replied in a text message that the ministry had its own standard ­operating procedure and it had been circulated to all schools in Penang.

Meanwhile, several areas in the northern states were shrouded in haze yesterday.

In Penang, the Department of Environment online portal recorded the API readings in Seberang Jaya 2 at 88 from 6am until 8am and 97at 11am.

The monitoring station at Univer­siti Sains Malaysia showed 81 at 11am. In Prai, the API was 75 at 11am. In Alor Setar, the API was 86 at 11am.

Over in Bakar Arang, Sungai Petani, the API reading reached the unhealthy level of 103 at 4pm. The reading was 91 at 11am.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy) and 301 and above (hazardous).

The horizontal visibility level recorded by the Malaysian Meteoro­logical Department monitoring stations in Bayan Lepas was 4km while it was only 2km in Butterworth at 8am.

Data from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) website showed there were 380 hotspots in Sumatra on Tuesday.

380 hotspots detected
HANIS ZAINAL The Star 3 Sep 15;

PETALING JAYA: The haze could become worse should the smoke from hotspots in neighbouring Indonesia cross over to the country.

There are currently 380 hotspots in Sumatra and nine in Kalimantan, up from 200 on Monday, according to the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the Environ­ment Department was closely monitoring the situation.

The department, he said, was monitoring the status and trend of air quality hourly due to the uncertainty of the haze (pattern).

The increase in the number of hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan could potentially cause the haze (in Indonesia) to cross the border into the West Coast of Malaysia and Sarawak, he said yesterday.

“Seven hotspots have been identified in the country, one in Sabah and the other six in Pahang,” said Dr Wan Junaidi.

The Fire and Rescue Department’s assistant director-general (operations) Zulkarnain Mohd Kassim said the department would also closely monitor the hotspots.

“Now it’s still raining quite a lot, so it helps us in putting out the hotspots quite fast,” Zulkarnain said.

He said the rain meant there were fewer hotspots this year than during the same period last year, adding that the department was prepared to respond fast should the hotspots in the country increase.

The Malaysian Meteorological Depart­­ment’s National Weather Centre senior meteorologist Dr Hisham Mohd Anip said the dry season started late this year, which could explain the delayed presence of hotspots and haze.

“It usually starts in July but we had a lot of rain in July and August this year.

“The rainfall is considered above normal as during the south-west monsoon season, the rainfall is normally very little,” said Hisham.

He said the situation was similar in Indonesia, which was why the haze season started late this year.

“We are lucky this year, because the haze only started last week (in this country) and will hopefully clear out in two to three weeks when the inter-monsoon season starts,” he said.

As of 6pm yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index reached the unhealthy level in two areas – Bakar Arang in Sungai Petani (103) and Nilai, Negri Sembilan (101).

Air quality in Peninsular Malaysia worsens
VICTORIA BROWN The Star 2 Sep 15;

PETALING JAYA: The air quality in Peninsular Malaysia has worsened as the day progressed, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) bordering on unhealthy levels on Wednesday.

According to Department of Environment’ website, Cheras recorded an API reading bordering an "unhealthy" ozone level at 91c.

Shah Alam and Port Klang's API reading was a "moderate" level of 95 as of 3pm, increasing from its 8am reading of 86 and 87 respectively.

Petaling Jaya's API reading increased to a "moderate" level of 87 at 3pm from its 81 reading at 8am.

As of 3pm, Banting increased to 94 from 89 (at 8am) and Putrajaya increased to 90 from 83 (at 8am).

Sabah and Sarawak's air quality was "good" except for Bintulu, which had a "moderate" reading of 52.

The API reading of 100 to 200 is considered "unhealthy", 51 to 100 is considered "moderate", while 0 to 50 is considered "good".

The API is calculated based on five major air pollutants, namely Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ground Level Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and particulate matter with a diameter below 10 micrometers (PM10).

Haze nearing unhealthy zone in west coast
The Star 2 Sep 15;

GEORGE TOWN: Several areas in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia were shrouded in haze with Air Pollutant Index (API) readings showing above 80, albeit in the moderate zone, at 11am.

Among the worst hit areas are Putrajaya which showed an API reading of 86, Batu Muda (KL) 83, Cheras 75, Shah Alam 90, Petaling Jaya 84, Port Klang 89, Banting 91, Seremban 80 and Nilai 95.

In the north, Bakar Arang (Perlis) has a reading of 91, Alor Setar 86, Seri Manjung 81, Seberang Jaya, Perai 90 and USM 81.

A reading of between 50 to 100 is considered moderate, above 100 unhealthy.

Read more!

Malaysia: Kota Baru river shellfish contaminated

Compiled by RAHIMY RAHIM, ADRIAN CHAN and R. ARAVINTHAN The Star 3 Sep 15;

POISONOUS toxins usually linked with shellfish have been discovered in oysters and cockles in Sungai Geting, Kota Baru, reported Kosmo!

The state Fisheries Department warned the public against collecting or eating these contaminated oysters and cockles, usually found in the river bed.

Its director Mohd Zain Saad said research by scientists from Universiti Malaya, via its research lab in Bachok, found traces of Alexandrium (bacteria) in the waters of Sungai Geting.

“Those who consume these contaminated oysters or cockles could suffer poisoning or other serious implications including death. I have asked the department to issue an advisory,” he said.

The toxin is produced by tiny phyto-plankton, but it can accumulate in the tissues of the mussels, oysters and cockles.

Among the common symptoms experienced by those who consume the shellfish are nausea and numb lips.

Mohd Zain said although his department had yet to receive any reports of poisoning from Sungai Geting, the authorities were not taking the situation lightly.

“We have submitted water samples to Pahang and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for further investigations,” he said.

Read more!

Indonesia: Forest Fires, Haze Crisis Returning to Sumatra With a Vengeance, Disaster Official Warns

Jakarta Globe 2 Sep 15;

Jakarta. Satellite imagery picked up more than 600 fire hot spots across Sumatra on Wednesday, with the provinces of Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra accounting for most of the sightings.

Indonesia’s weather agency, the BMKG, detected 229 hot spots in Jambi, 189 in South Sumatra and 178 in Riau, fanning fears that a particularly acute dry season this year could result in a worse-than-usual haze threat from the annual forest fires that blight Sumatra.

“Sumatra is burning up,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter on Wednesday in response to the BMKG’s report.

He argued that the numbers indicated that the fire season in Sumatra this year would be worse than last year or in 2013, when choking haze from forest fires in Riau sent air pollution indexes in Singapore and Malaysia to record hazardous levels.

Sutopo said that Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, was likely also suffering from an inordinate number of fires, but satellite images were not yet available as of Wednesday.

Citing reports from local offices of the BNPB in the fire-hit regions, Sutopo said visibility had deteriorated considerably, while schools in Jambi and Riau had been ordered closed as the air pollution index reached dangerous levels.

“The index [in many regions] has reached dangerous levels. More people will suffer from lung problems,” he warned.

Several airports – including Sultan Syarif Kasim II in Pekanbaru, Hang Nadim in Batam, Riau Islands, and Supadio Airport in the West Kalimantan capital of Pontianak – reported disruptions to scheduled flights as a result of poor visibility brought about by the haze.

“The visibility at Supadio is only 200 meters. It’s very thick,” Sutopo said.

Fires in Jambi, meanwhile, are threatening oil pipes that run through the forests there.

“Half of the fires along the oil pipelines in Betara Jambi have been put out, but [a comprehensive solution] obviously requires firm action from the government,” Sutopo said.

In Riau, water-bombing efforts to fight the fires were halted after the operating licenses of three helicopters rented by the BNPB for that purpose expired over the past couple of days.

Authorities were forced to rely solely on land-based operations to put out the fires, reported.

Walhi to gather complaints on forest fires
The Jakarta Post 2 Sep 15;

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) is setting up regional posts to accommodate complaints from the public related to losses caused by forest fires.

The posts will be set up at district levels in five provinces: Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan. Each post will be equipped with doctors and academics that will record health, ecosystem and social losses caused by the man-made disaster.

“This is a new breakthrough. Usually we sued companies that caused fires without submitting data on loss experienced by the public. This time we will include the data to sue not only the companies but also regional and central governments for letting the companies cause the fires,” said executive director of Walhi, Abetnego Tarigan, in a press conference called “Where There are Concessions, There is Smoke” at Walhi headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

So far one post has been set up in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, and it has been operating for a week.

Walhi notes at least four types of losses are caused by the draining of high carbon stock peatland for agriculture use, the root reason for forest fires. They are losses to ecosystem balance, social and health, which lead to economic losses.

The director of Jambi Walhi, Musri Nauli, said that Jambi residents could no longer easily find native semah river carp in peatland waters in addition to some species of herbs and edible vegetation due to the destruction of peat forests.

Nauli said that there were 700,000 hectares of peatland in Jambi, 20 percent of which had been drained and burned by industry.

“As the peat dries, water supplies decrease and water quality is also affected because seawater easily gets into the land. For this reason, most people living around the peatland in Jambi consume bottled water instead of the natural water enjoyed in the past,” Nauli remarked.

Seawater contaminated land plus drier land due to oil palm plantations and climate change had shifted the planting season and caused harvest failure on Jambi farms, he said.

“Oil palm does not create groundwater supply as they don’t absorb rainwater,” Nauli said.

He went on to say that haze from the fires had also affected many businesses.

“Sailors and those working in river transportation cannot sail because of the haze.”

The haze has also caused 1,250 Jambi residents to suffer from acute respiratory infections (ISPA) every week from June to September last year, according to Nauli.

During the press conference, Walhi also presented data on fire locations in 2014. As many as 4,084 hot spots were detected in plantation concessions owned by 150 companies while 603 hot spots were detected in natural forest concession land owned by 85 companies in 66 regencies in the five provinces.

The Center for International Forestry Research recommended the government make detailed concession maps available to the public to allow third parties to monitor activities within concessions.

When asked to comment on the recent “zero deforestation” pledge signed by the giant five palm oil companies in Indonesia, Abetnego said that, “We appreciate the initiative but the government has to supervise the implementation in the field because their subsidiaries still tell locals to burn the land for them.” (rbk)

Four areas in Riau shrouded in thick smoke 2 Sep 15;

Thick smoke blanketed four regencies and municipalities in Riau, reducing the visibility to only 400-800 meters on Monday morning.

“Pelalawan is the area with the worst visibility, reaching only 400 meters, followed by Pekanbaru [500 meters], Dumai [700 meters] and Rengat Indragiri Hulu [800 meters],” Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said as quoted by Antara in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Based on satellite imagery results at 7 a.m. local time on Wednesday, the BMKG Pekanbaru said there were 134 hot spots, which were spread across 11 regencies and municipalities in Riau.

Sugarin said Pelalawan had the highest number of hot spots, which reached 36, followed by Indragiri Hilir (24) and Indragiri Hulu (16). Meanwhile, Kampar and Kuantan Singingi had nine hot spots each. Rokan Hulu and Siak had three hot spots each while Bengkalis and Meranti reported two hot spots and one hot spot, respectively.

Sugarin said smoke had blanketed several areas in Riau since August.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency head Edwar Sanger said the thick smoke shrouding Riau was from land and forest fires occurring in the area and its surrounding provinces, namely Jambi and South Sumatra.

A number of flights departing from Pekanbaru experienced delays on Wednesday morning due to low visibility in the region.

The head of state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II office at Sultan Syarif Kasim Airport in Pekanbaru, Dani Indra, said that at 7:45 a.m. local time, four airlines experienced delays: Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia, Citilink and Air Asia. (nov/ebf)

1 Million Hectares of Peatland in Sumatra Damaged By Fire
TEMPO 2 Sep 15;

Palembang- A total area of one million hectares of peatland in South Sumatra from 2006 to 2014 were damaged by fire, officials said Wednesday, September 2.

Head of Regional Technical Implementation Unit (UPTD), Forest and Land Fire Control, South Sumatra Forestry Office, Ahmad Taufik, in Palembang, on Wednesday said that in the period between 2006 to 2014 forest fire hit the area has resulted in the destruction of most of the province’s peatlands.

South Sumatra Land and Forest Fire Control recorded about one million hectares of 1.4 million hectares of peatlands in South Sumatra are now in a badly damaged condition due to the burning of the land.

He explained that, the forest and land fires caused the haze disaster that hit South Sumatra, as experienced in recent weeks.

Taufik explained that the dry season exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon, causing drought is one factor of the frequent forest and peatland fires in South Sumatra.

According to Taufik, from June 2015 a number of hotspots has appeared on peatland on the east coast of South Sumatra, as in Ogan Ilir, Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin. On average there were 100 fires observed by Aqua and Terra Modis satellites by the local meteorological agency.

While, anticipating the impact of peatland degradation that occurs, the South Sumatra provincial government together with related agencies is trying a variety of ways for the forest and land fires not to cause haze that spread to other regions.

These efforts include monitoring readiness of the land and air team, and intensified water bombing in four districts with potentially burning peat. In addition, they seek to improve law enforcement.

He added that this year's peak fire season occurred in August and September.

Haze triggers health issues, flight delays
Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, Jon Afrizal and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 2 Sep 15;

Thick haze produced by ongoing land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan has blanketed several cities on the two major islands for the past few days, creating potential health problems for local residents and a series of flight delays at local airports.

In Padang, the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has called on regional administrations in the province to anticipate the potential health issues created by the haze.

The head of the agency’s prevention division, Rumainur, said the density of the haze in Agam regency, for example, was recorded at 153 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and increased to 173 ug/m3 an hour later. Meanwhile, in Dharmasraya regency, the haze density was recorded at 170 ug/m3 on Monday.

“According to the air pollution standard index [ISPU], these numbers indicate that the air in the regions is now at an unhealthy level,” Rumainur told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

According to the ISPU, a haze density level between 101 and 199 ug/m3 is categorized as “unhealthy”, while between 200 and 300 ug/m3 is “very unhealthy” and over 300 ug/m3 is “dangerous”.

The Jambi Environmental Agency has also declared the air in the province to be unhealthy.

“The air quality here is very bad,” agency head Rosmeli said on Tuesday.

Data at Jambi’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) office showed that 320 hotspots were detected in the province on Tuesday, 124 of which were found in East Tanjung Jabung regency.

Local authorities in many parts of the country, particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan, have been struggling to put out massive land and forest fires over the past few months due to this year’s prolonged dry season.

In Pekanbaru, thick haze also continued blanketing the Riau provincial capital, decreasing visibility to around a kilometer.

Riau Health Agency official Jon Kenedi said that 5,737 local residents had suffered from haze-related diseases in July alone. Of them, 4,885 suffered from acute respiratory infections (ISPA), 591 from skin irritations, 274 from eye irritations, 146 from pneumonia and 141 from asthma.

In Batam, Hang Nadim International Airport reported that several flights heading to the airport had been canceled on Tuesday morning due to haze.

Among the canceled flights were Citilink flight QG 930 from Palembang, South Sumatra, and Lion Air flight JT 957 from Medan, North Sumatra.

In Central Kalimantan, Palangkaraya’s Tjilik Riwut Airport head Usman Effendi told Antara news agency that haze had also caused delays to the departure and arrival of a number of flights, including Lion Air flight JT 671 heading to Jakarta and Garuda Indonesia GA 550 flight from Jakarta.

Usman said thick haze had blanketed the city from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesday, reducing visibility to only 500 meters. The standard minimum visibility for safe landing and take-off at the airport was 700 meters, he said.

Haze of smokes from bush fires disrupts flight schedules in Batam
Antara 2 Sep 15;

Batam (ANTARA News) - Thick haze of smokes from bush fires disrupted flight scheduled from and to the Hang Nadim international airport of Batam.

Citilink QG 930 from Palembang was scheduled to arrive in Batam at 10.000 local time but the flight had apparently been cancelled from Palembang.

Another Citilink aircraft, QG 884, from Medan to land at 10.10 was also cancelled.

Similar inconvenience was also suffered by Lion Air JT 975 from Medan cancelling morning flight to arrive at 10.40 at Batam on Wednesday.

Nam air IN 9886 from Jambi was due to land at Batam at 09.00 but until 10.30 failed to appeared at Batam.

Meanwhile , a number of flights from Batam have also been cancelled or delayed including those of Transnusa to Dumai of Riau, and Lion Air JT 963 to Bengkulu.

The smokes from bush fires in Sumatra had caused visibility problem in a number of airports in mainland Sumatra over the past several days.

"A number of flights have been cancelled or delayed since Monday," said Suwarso, head of the general affairs of the International Airport of Hang Nadim.

The visibility in the Hang Nadim airport is still safe , but the thick smokes over the ports of destination or departure in Sumatra caused the problem.

"Batam has only the impact of disruption of flight schedules in other airports in Sumatra," he said.

Read more!

Tropical forests in trouble in SE Asia, west Africa: analysts

Marlowe Hood AFP Yahoo News 2 Sep 15;

New satellite data reveals a rapid loss of tropical forests in Cambodia, parts of west Africa and Madagascar, and the Gran Chaco region of South America, analysts said Wednesday.

Overall the world last year lost some 18 million hectares (45 million acres) of tree cover -- equivalent to two Portugals -- more than half of it in the tropics, the World Resources Institute (WRI) said.

That is doubly bad news for the fight against climate change because the destruction of carbon-rich forests releases greenhouse gases and diminishes one of Earth's CO2-trapping "lungs".

Even as Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Indonesia -- the two nations with the most tropical cover -- have slowed the pace of deforestation, the rate of tree loss has accelerated in other equatorial regions, the Washington-based research unit reported.

"The analysis identifies a truly alarming surge in forest loss in previously overlooked hotspots," said Nigel Sizer, global director of the WRI's forest programme.

Tropical forests are being cleared to plant commodity crops or make way for commercial cattle production, he said.

In Cambodia and other parts of the Greater Mekong region -- where tropical deforestation has accelerated since 2001 at five times the global rate -- natural forests have given way in large measure to rubber plantations.

In the region straddling Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, soy crops and cattle ranches are replacing virgin forests that are also dense repositories of plant and animal life.

And in parts of the Congo Basin, palm oil plantations and mineral extraction are the main drivers of forest loss. The countries affected are the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Gabon.

The island nation of Madagascar, meanwhile, lost fully two percent of its forest cover in 2014 due to mining, agriculture and the extraction of high-value tropical timber.

Bringing tropical deforestation under control is a crucial plank in the complex UN negotiations set to culminate this December in a global 195-nation pact to rein in the threat of climate change.

In all the countries covered by the new report, except China, changes in the way land is used, including deforestation, is the greatest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, the WRI said.

The analysis was the first to use data from the Landsat satellite system, which can deliver global coverage every eight days.

"We (now) have an unprecedented ability to monitor global forest change," said Matt Hansen, a professor of geography at the University of Maryland and a contributor to the research.

Read more!

Emissions 'far above' 2C target

Matt McGrath BBC News 3 Sep 15;

Global plans to curb carbon dioxide are well below what's needed to keep temperatures from rising above 2 degrees according to a new analysis.

It is the work of researchers from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a consortium of research institutions.

They examined the commitments already made by governments to limit warming.

The CAT rated seven of the 15 submitted carbon plans as "inadequate" to keep temperatures below the accepted level of dangerous warming.

The analysis was released at UN climate negotiation meet in Bonn aimed at advancing a new global treaty.

As part of the attempts to tackle global warming, countries have agreed to submit their national plans to the UN before key talks in Paris in December.

So far 56 governments have published their "intended nationally determined contributions," or INDCs in the jargon of the UN.

The likes of China, the US and the EU have already submitted their intentions. In this analysis, the CAT looked at the plans of 15 countries that between them account for almost 65% of global emissions.

Beyond reach

However, seven, including Australia, Canada and Japan, were said to be "inadequate", meaning that they are not considered fair contributions to limiting warming to 2C.

Six, including the US, EU and China were said to be "medium", meaning they are consistent with the target.

Two countries, Ethiopia and Morocco, were said to be "sufficient", and in line with the 2 degree goal.

"It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5 degrees C, beyond reach," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, part of the CAT group.

According to the analysis, the commitments made so far would see temperature rises of up to 3C, with greater impacts on sea level rise and the frequency of extreme weather events.

Many countries with significant emissions of CO2 have not declared their hands so far, including Indonesia and Brazil.

Brazilian environmentalists have come up with their own INDC at this meeting in an effort to push their government forward.

They claim that the country, the world's seventh biggest emitter, can trim carbon by 35% by 2030 from 2010 levels. They call for an end to deforestation, replanting at least 14 million hectares of native forests and boosting hydropower and biofuels.

Lack of progress

"We are showing that it's possible for the country to give a fair and ambitious contribution that is both good for the climate and good for the economy," said Carlos Rittl, from the Brazilian Climate Observatory.

The overall lack of progress towards meeting the 2 degree target will not come as a surprise to government officials meeting here to push forward negotiations on a new global compact.

This week they are attempting to cut down an unwieldy 83 page draft text into something more manageable. There are still major divisions over the shape and content of a new treaty which will attempt to put long term ambitions to curb carbon into a legally binding form.

Issues of money are never too far from the surface in these talks. In their opening statement, Sudan, on behalf of the African group of countries affirmed their "strong reservations" over the current text.

"The group reaffirms that loss and damage is very critical to the core agreement," pointing to the issue of reparations for damages caused by climate change that is anathema to richer countries.

It is one of a number of thorny issues that have paralysed progress in this forum. Delegates are aware that they face a very difficult task with just one more week of formal negotiations left after this one, before the parties gather in Paris.

Read more!