Best of our wild blogs: 12 Sep 15

Smooth Otters taunting Saltwater Crocodile
Bird Ecology Study Group

Morning Walk At Venus Drive (11 Sep 2015)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Whale, whale, whale, what have we here?
BES Drongos

Butterfly of the Month - September 2015
Butterflies of Singapore

Singapore Bird Report-August 2015
Singapore Bird Group

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Flooding in Singapore: 'There's enough water to rear fish'

COMMON OCCURRENCE: The stretch of 23 shops at Block 504, Jurong West Street 51, hit by flooding after a heavy downpour yesterday afternoon.
Ang Qing, The New Paper AsiaOne 12 Sep 15;

Whenever there is heavy rain, they know the drill.

Like clockwork, shop owners at Jurong West Street 51 will pack the wares they display outside their shops, to save them from the flood waters.

Yesterday afternoon was no different. A heavy downpour hit the stretch of 23 shops at Block 504 between noon and 1pm.

A bookshop sales assistant, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan, 50, told The New Paper: "The water level was around 10cm high. If it had risen further, it would have entered my shop."

Frantic owners at a nearby market were also alert to the rising waters. "There was enough water to rear fish," joked one of the shopkeepers.

Yesterday's flood was one of the worst, said Mr Simon Tan, 57, a jewellery store owner.

He had to stay at a nearby coffee shop until 1.30pm before he could get back to his own shop.

Mr Tan said the floods have been a regular occurrence, dating back some 20 years.

After a few complaints, Mr Tan said the town council responded by opening the drain cover in front of his shop when it flooded.

But the problem has persisted.

Despite their frustration, many shopkeepers told TNP they were resigned to the situation.


Clothing store owner Priscilla Lu, 47, said: "I was scared when I first saw the flooding 10 years ago because all my clothes got wet. Now, I'm used to it. Sometimes, I will help tell the others if I see the water is coming."

A household product store sales assistant in her 50s said in Mandarin: "When it floods, it takes half an hour for us to pack and another half an hour to take everything out. But I have no choice but to do it."

A PUB spokesman said that its officers reached the site at about 2.40pm and the water had subsided by then.

The national water agency said it will work with the relevant agencies to look into flood protection measures for the area.

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Wind change helps keep haze away

Samantha Boh, Straits Times AsiaOne 12 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE - A change in wind direction has given Singapore some respite from the haze, which threatened to turn very unhealthy early yesterday.

Gusts from the south and south-west had been blowing smoke from burning forests in Sumatra in Indonesia to Singapore, but the winds now come from the south-east, the National Environment Agency said yesterday.

These winds are expected to persist today, it said.

It forecast the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), an air quality measure, to be in the mid to low end of the unhealthy range (101-200). This may even move into the high end of the moderate range (51-100) if winds stay favourable.

At 5am yesterday, the 24-hour PSI hit between 158 and 182 - its highest level since the new PSI was launched in April last year, and the closest it has come to reaching the very unhealthy range (201-300).

Air quality improved throughout the day. At 8pm, the 24-hour PSI was between 124 and 143.

The number of hot spots in Sumatra also fell from 328 on Thursday to 304 yesterday. On Thursday, Indonesia sent more than 1,000 soldiers there to help put out fires.

On the same day, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called his counterpart to offer Singapore's aircraft and personnel to seed clouds and aid in firefighting.

Indonesia has accepted this, he said yesterday at the HDB Hub polling centre. He said: "Thankfully, the winds shifted this morning and the haze has come down. But we have to find some way of bringing down the problem, and I'm glad the Indonesian authorities are looking at it."

Despite the unhealthy air quality, many Singaporeans were out and about at East Coast Park, the Botanic Gardens and Bedok Reservoir. Customer service officer Heddy Fan, 28, said: "There isn't any burning smell today, so it should be safe to come to the Botanic Gardens."

But as a precaution, some opted to wear face masks to the polls. Housewife Vivian Ng, 48, said: "It doesn't look as hazy as before, but I decided to wear one just in case."

Accounts manager Deon Gan, 47, did so as her throat has been itchy and uncomfortable from the haze.

The Singapore Cancer Society said yesterday that it is considering cancelling its Race Against Cancer tomorrow. It will decide by 6pm today whether to proceed with the charity run if the PSI exceeds 100.

CapitaLand will close the external features of its properties, such as outdoor playgrounds, if the PSI crosses 150.

Business at East Coast Lagoon Food Centre has slowed slightly since the haze returned this week, some stallholders said.

Drink stall owner Annie Seet, 56, said the centre, usually packed, has been quiet in the last two days. In the 2013 haze episode, when the 24-hour PSI hit a high of 246, she closed her stall for five days as the haze irritated her eyes and throat.

"I hope it will not be as bad this time," she said.

Hazy conditions move into the Moderate range in the early hours of Saturday
Today Online 12 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE — The hazy conditions in Singapore continued to improve past midnight.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) announced at 3am on Saturday (Sept 12) that the 24-hour PSI was at 74 - 95, indicating readings that are in the Moderate range. The 3-hour PSI remained the same as the previous hour, staying at 58.

The total number of hotspots detected in Sumatra on Friday (Sept 11) was 304, said the NEA; and widespread moderate to dense haze was observed in central and southern Sumatra, with some haze spreading to the western parts of Peninsular Malaysia.

Slightly hazy conditions are expected to continue for the rest of Saturday.

The prevailing winds are forecast to continue blowing from the southeast and Singapore may experience occasional hazy conditions during the day, said the NEA.

The NEA said on Friday that hazy conditions improved due to a shift in the direction of the prevailing winds to southeasterly and are expected to continue improving through the day as the winds are forecasted to be maintained.

Singapore experienced its worst haze in two years overnight with the three-hour PSI breaching the 200-mark, hitting 207 at 11pm and reaching a high of 248 at 3am early this morning. The PSI then began to decline in the following hours.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday conveyed Singapore’s “deep concern” to the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, and called for stricter enforcement actions against the perpetrators.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu to assist in combating the forest fires in Sumatra. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have placed on standby a C-130 aircraft for cloud-seeding operations, a Chinook helicopter with a water bucket for aerial fire-fighting, and up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry the Singapore Civil Defence Force fire-fighting assistance team.

Occasional haze in Singapore expected through Saturday: NEA
A total of 304 hotspots were detected in Sumatra, Indonesia, on Friday, down from 328 on Thursday, says the National Environment Agency.
Channel NewsAsia 11 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE: Occasional haze is expected in Singapore through Saturday (Sep 12), though the air quality is expected to improve, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

At 1am on Saturday, the 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 58, while the 24-hour reading was 95-110.

The air quality in Singapore was in the Unhealthy range throughout Friday. A total of 304 hotspots were detected in Sumatra, Indonesia, on Friday, down from 328 on Thursday.

“Singapore may experience occasional hazy conditions during the day” on Saturday, said NEA in an advisory. The 24-hour PSI is expected to be in the “low end of the Unhealthy range, with the possibility of entering the high end of the Moderate range if winds remain favourable”, the agency added.

The air quality in Singapore reached unhealthy levels on Thursday, with the 3-hour PSI peaking at the year’s highest of 248 at 3am on Friday.

Indonesia on Thursday accepted Singapore's offer of help in fighting the forest fires that are causing hazy skies in the Republic and Malaysia, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

- CNA/xq

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Indonesia accepts Singapore's offer to fight forest fires

Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer to fight the ongoing forest fires in Sumatra.
Channel NewsAsia 11 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Friday (Sep 11) said that Indonesia has accepted Singapore's help to deal with the haze situation.

He had contacted Indonesia's Defence Minister on Thursday (Sep 10) about the Singapore government's offer to assist Indonesia to fight the ongoing forest fires in Sumatra.

"We’ve offered our Charlies (C-130s) for cloud seeding, and helicopters, Chinooks, for large water buckets to douse the fires in Sumatra," said Dr Ng. "Thankfully the winds shifted this morning and the haze has come down. We have to find some way of bringing down the problem and I’m glad the Indonesian authorities are looking at it."

Indonesia said on Friday it will send more than 10,000 troops to fight the fire as well.

The National Environment Agency said that the number of hotspots detected in Sumatra increased to 328 on Thursday, up from 140 on Wednesday (Sep 9). Prevailing winds blow smoke into Malaysia and Singapore, shrouding these countries in haze.

Haze levels rose to unhealthy levels in Singapore on Thursday, with the 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hitting a high of 248 at 3am on Friday.

- CNA/wl

Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer to help fight forest fires in Sumatra
Straits Times AsiaOne 11 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE - Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer of help to combat the ongoing forest fires causing the haze, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Friday.

Speaking at a Toa Payoh polling station, Dr Ng said that on Cooling-off Day on Thursday, he had called his counterpart in Indonesia, who accepted the offer.

The Singapore government has offered haze assistance packages to Indonesia since 2005 during the traditional dry season from June to October. These include a C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding, up to two C-130s to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from Singapore there and a Chinook helicopter with a water bucket for aerial fire-fighting.

Dr Ng said: "Thankfully the winds shifted this morning and the haze has come down. But we have to find some way of bringing down the problem, and I'm glad the Indonesian authorities are looking at it."

At 5am on Friday, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), an air quality measure, hit between 158 and 182 - its highest level since the new PSI was launched in April last year, and the closest it has been to reaching the very unhealthy range (201-300).

Air quality has improved throughout the day. At 9pm, the 24-hour PSI was between 120 and 137.

- See more at:

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Malaysia: Worsening haze in Sarawak, Klang Valley

RAZAK AHMAD The Star 12 Sep 15;

PETALING JAYA: The haze worsened yesterday, especially in parts of Sarawak and the Klang Valley, with the number of areas recording unhealthy air quality readings rising from five at 9am to 16 by 6pm.

Sarawak was the worst hit state with the three highest Air Pollutant Index (API) readings –Samarahan (182), Sri Aman (177) and Kuching (163).

The smog, which occurs almost yearly, is caused by land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia

An API reading of between 100-200 indicates an unhealthy air quality, 201-300 is very unhealthy while anything above 300 is hazardous. An API of below 50 denotes good air quality while a reading of between 51 and 100 is considered moderate.

The haze also delayed two flights at the Kuching International Airport, grounded helicopters and disrupted ferry services.

Six of the eight areas measured in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor recorded unhealthy air quality.

The highest reading was in Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur, at 120, followed by Banting (116), Petaling Jaya (115), Shah Alam (114), Port Klang (112) and Putrajaya (108).

The air quality in all three areas listed in Negri Sembilan were unhealthy – Nilai (138), Seremban (127) and Port Dickson (107).

Malacca also recorded unhealthy readings with 115 for Bukit Rambai and 104 for the historic city.

In Johor, Pasir Gudang and Larkin Lama recorded unhealthy API readings at 113 and 107 respectively.

Perlis, Sabah, Terengganu, Penang, Pahang, Kelantan, Kedah and most parts of Perak, meanwhile, recorded either good or moderate air quality readings.

In a statement, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said satellite imagery showed 328 hot spots in Sumatra and 18 in Kalimantan.

“Malaysia is urging Indonesia to take immediate action in handling the rise in the number of hotspots and to raise efforts to put out the fires,” said Wan Junaidi.

Haze: Nine Flights Affected In Kuching
Bernama 11 Sep 15;

KUCHING, Sept 11 (Bernama) -- Nine flights heading in and out of the Kuching International Airport (KIA) have been affected by the haze as of 5 pm Friday.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd's (MAHB) manager of KIA, Mohd Nadzim Hashim said as of 5pm, land visibility in Kuching was about 1,600 metres.

"Nine flights were delayed, involving five arrivals and four departures, affecting 934 passengers. No cancellations have been done as at 5pm," he said in a statement.

"MAHB advises all passengers who are flying through KIA to check their schedules with the respective airlines before heading to the airport," he said.

The daily activities of people in three areas, namely Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman have remained as usual, despite recording unhealthy levels on the air pollutant index (API).

As of 5pm, Samarahan recorded an API of 184, followed by Sri Aman (177), and Kuching (164).

A check by Bernama around the city revealed that people and motorcyclists had begun wearing masks when doing outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Health Department director Datuk Dr Zulkifli Jantan told Bernama as of today, there was no significant increase in the number of patients seeking treatment due to the haze.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in a statement said that as of yesterday, 18 hotspots had been detected in Kalimantan, Indonesia

Medium and thick haze smoke from hot spots in the province of west, south, and central Kalimantan are expected to spread to most parts of the state within the next 24 to 48 hours, the statement said.

In the meantime, Samarahan deputy resident (Development) Jamalie Busri when contacted said that air quality around Samarahan was somewhat affected. However residents were still safe.

He said residents had been advised to reduce outdoor activities, and if possible, to wear a face mask when outside the house.


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Indonesia: More airports affected by haze from land fires

Antara 11 Sep 15;

Activity flights to and from the city by Sultan Taha Jambi, Jambi, was canceled due to thick haze with visibility of 500 meters lows. (ANTARA/Wahdi Septiawan)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - More airports are being affected by the haze in Indonesia as flights continue to be disrupted.

The head of the public communication center at the Ministry of Transportation, J.A. Barata, said in a written statement on Friday that the number of airports affected by the haze from land fires had risen to 21 on Friday from 16 on Thursday.

He said the five airports that were affected by the haze were the airports in Nangah Pinoh (West Kalimantan), Palembang (Sumatra), Pekanbaru (Sumatra) and Balikpapan (Kalimantan).

Other similar airports are in Melak (East Kalimantan), Pangkalan Bun (Central Kalimantan), Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), Pontianak (West Kalimantan, Jambi (Sumatra), Sampit (Central Kalimantan), Putusibau (West Kalimantan), Samarinda (East Kalimantan), Sintang (West Kalimantan, Ketapang (West Kalimantan), Long Apung (North Kalimantan), Sampir, Muara Teweh and Palangkaraya all in Kalimantan provinces.

"Until today, visibility in Jambi (Sumatra) is still 600 meters. Three general flights plus a hajj flight have been rescheduled, while others have been cancelled," he said.

Among the flights that have been rescheduled are Garuda Indonesias GIA 132/133, serving Jakarta-Jambi-Jakarta, while a Lion Air Jakarta-Jambi flight remained grounded over night.

Barata said cancellations and delays had also been reported at the Syamsuddin Noor Airport in Banjarmasin (Kalimantan). A total of 13 flights at the airport have been delayed and two cancelled.

The Rahadi Usman Airport in Ketapang (Kalimantan) recorded six delays, the Iskandar Airport in Pangkalan Bun five delays and one cancellation, the Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya eight delays and three cancellations, the Beringing Muara Airport in Muara Teweh three cancellations, the Haji Asan Airport in Sampit four delays and the Susilo Airport in Sintang two delays and the Pangsuma Airport in Putusibau two delays.

(Reporting by Juwita Trisna Rahayu/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

Haze shuts down C. Kalimantan airport for a week 11 Sep 15;

The operator of Beringin Airport in Muara Teweh, Central Kalimantan, has canceled all flights for a week due to a thick haze filling the air over and around the airport.

“There have been no flights since last Friday [Sept. 4] because the haze is getting thicker,” Akhmad Sidik, an officer at Beringin Airport, said on Friday as reported by Antara news agency.

Affected flights included those of Susi Air, which services a route from Muara Teweh to Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya three times a week, under normal conditions.

Susi Air was also forced to cancel two other flights servicing Muara Teweh to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan and Muara Teweh to Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan.

Chartered airlines that carry the employees of several mining and gas companies have also had to cancel their flights due to the haze.

Meanwhile, Nurdin from the North Barito Transportation, Communication and Information Agency said that the receding water in the Barito River had not affected commercial river transportation.

Currently, speedboats serving Muara Teweh to Buntok in South Barito and to Puruk Cahu in Murung Raya are operating normally, according to Nurdin.

But he warned river transportation operators and passengers to be cautious of the dropping water level in the Barito River. “So far, the water receding has only caused longer travel times for speedboats,” Nurdin added.

Sunardi, the head of Beringin Muara Teweh Meteorology Station said that horizontal visibility measured at 8 a.m. on Friday morning was at 50 to 100 meters and vertical visibility was at 150 feet.

“The thick haze is more or less the same as recent days but the vertical visibility is better. The haze usually decreases during the evening, but still remains thick,” said Sunardi. (nov/bbn)(++++)

Hot spots decrease in Riau
The Jakarta Post 11 Sep 15;

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru, Riau, has stated that the Tera and Aqua satellites have identified a total of 210 hot spots across Sumatra on Thursday, a drop from 283 hotspots the previous day.

The head of BMKB in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru, Sugarin, said that South Sumatra still had the highest number of hot spots, reaching 123 based on monitoring reports at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

According to Sugarin, hot spots were also seen in seven other Sumatran provinces. “The level of confidence for the hot spots is 70 percent,” Sugarin said as quoted by

Hot spots decrease in Riau 10 Sep 15;

Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru, Riau, has stated that the Tera and Aqua satellites have monitored a total of 210 hot spots across Sumatra on Thursday, decreasing from 283 hotspots the previous day.

Head of BMKB in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru said that South Sumatra still had the highest number of hot spots, reaching 123 based on monitoring reports at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

According to Sugarin, hot spots were also seen in seven other Sumatran provinces.

“The level of confidence for the hot spots is 70 percent," Sugarin said as quoted by

He also said that there was a lot of haze in Riau.

“Light rain is expected to occur in the afternoon and in the evening across the north, middle and coastal parts of Riau. The temperature will reach around 31.5 to 33.5 degrees Celsius,” Sugarin said.

Visibility was decreasing due to the haze from the hot spots. However, in Pekanbaru the visibility was gradually improving and is currently around 1500 meters.

Head of Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency Edward Sanger explained to that light and moderate rain had poured over some parts of Riau, which made the fires and haze less intense.

He said that a weather modification task force team was cloud seeding to produce rain and had also water bombed the forest fires from helicopters. “If there is haze, it is likely caused by forest fires in other provinces,” he added. (nov/bbn)(++++)

Alarming haze records in Singapore, Malaysia
Nani Afrida and Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post 11 Sep 15;

Singapore and Malaysia recorded alarming levels of air pollution on Thursday as the Indonesian government has yet to quell forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Air pollution in Singapore reached its highest level in a year on Thursday as smog from Indonesian forest fires shrouded the island nation in a veil of gray.

The Pollutant Standards Index, Singapore’s main measure of air pollution, hit 187 at 8 p.m., cruising above the official “unhealthy” bandwidth of 100, according to the National Environment Agency.

Anything above 200 is considered “very unhealthy” particularly for young children, the elderly and those with heart and lung diseases.

In 2013, the same three-hour index hit a historic high of 401, way above the “hazardous” mark of 300.

Singapore has issued transboundary haze pollution laws since last year, targeting those responsible for causing such fires if burning results in unhealthy levels of haze,

The PSI level has exceeded 101 since 1 p.m. on Thursday, according to the Singaporean government website,

Several areas in Malaysia have also suffered from poor air quality.

According to readings published on the Malaysian Department of Environment’s (DOE) website, six locations including Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman were rated as unhealthy (100-200) on the API as of 8 p.m. on Thursday.

“According to reports from Kuala Lumpur, moderate haze started to disappear this morning. But, Malaysia said that the haze in Kuala Lumpur did not come from Sumatra or Kalimantan,” Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Thursday.

As of Thursday, there were 118 hotspots detected in Sumatra and 1,466 hotspots in Kalimantan.

Jambi administration ordered on Wednesday all schools to close down all activities for the next two days due to thickening haze with the air pollution standard index [ISPU] reaching the hazardous level of 324.

Previously the newly appointed head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei said the economic loss caused by the haze could not be dismissed as insignificant. Quoting a 2013 World Bank report, he said that the total financial loss that Riau suffered from the haze amounted to Rp 20 trillion (US$1.4 billion).

He said that, after being sworn in as BNPB head and receiving instructions from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to put an end to the haze in Sumatra and Kalimantan, he stipulated a deadline to finish dealing with the haze within two weeks.

The Indonesian military (TNI) has joined the effort to put out the fires, deploying on Thursday 1,059 military personnel to seek and extinguish hotspots in Sumatran forests.

The military, consisting of personnel from the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, are part of a task force to extinguish wildfires in the forest. They were transported to South Sumatra and Jambi using four military transport planes Hercules C-130 from Halim Perdana Kusuma military airport.

“We still have additional 1,150 personnel as the back up and they are ready to be deployed when needed,” Indonesian Military Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo told journalists on the sidelines of military deployment at the military airport.

Gatot said that two battalions of military personnel would be stationed in South Sumatra, while the rest would be in Jambi. They would comb the forest and seek the hotspots. When they find the source of the fires, they could extinguish them.

According to Gatot, besides deploying its personnel directly to the forests, the military could also extinguish the hotspots from the air using water-bombing.

“The military will prioritize forest in three regencies in South Sumatra; Musi Banyuasin, Banyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir,” the military chief said.

He also asked his men to not hesitate in taking perpetrators to the police, even if the perpetrators were military members.

“We aim to clear the area from haze by the end of this month,” Gatot said.

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Indonesia: Rafflesia, Amorphopallus flowers declared endangered species

Antara 11 Sep 15;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has said two rare native flowers species from the Sumatran forests, Rafflesia and Amorphopallus, have become endangered due to habitat conversion done for various purposes.

The Deputy for Life Sciences, Enny Sudarmonowati said on Friday that the two rare flower species had to be preserved by all parties, including researchers, governments and the community.

"Not much time is left for botanists to apply research to conserve these giant flora," Sudarmonowati said.

The endangered status of the two rare species will be highlighted at the international symposium for Rafflesia Arnoldii and Amorphopallus Titanum, which will be organized by LIPI in Bengkulu from September 14 to 16, 2016.

Sudarmonowati remarked that the endangered flora indicated that changes have been taking place in the Sumatra forests, particularly Bengkulu, the native habitat of the flowers.

There is a biological aspect that remains a mystery about the ideal habitat for these plants.

LIPI has also initiated an international forum to bring together researchers and academics to discuss the preservation of the rare flowers.

"The forum is expected to build perspective to save Rafflesia and Amorphopallus," she said.

In addition to a number of experts on Amorphopallus and Rafflesia, the symposium will also draw local administrators, community groups and tourism players.

The Head of Plant Conservation, Bogor Botanical Garden, Didik Widyatmoko, said the forum would bring together stakeholders to share knowledge and experience related to Rafflesia and Amorphophallus.

One expected result is the formulation of a preservation model for rare flowers that will be beneficial for not only biodiversity conservation, but also for the tourism sector to have a positive impact on the development of Bengkulu.

Bengkulu forests house four species of Rafflesia, including Arnoldii, Gadutensis, Bengkuluensis and Hasselti. Meanwhile, the Amorphophallus species, among others, includes Titanum, Phaeonifolius, Gigas and Variabilis.

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Burning all fossil fuels will melt entire Antarctic ice-sheet, study shows

Oceans would rise by over 50m sinking land inhabited by a billion people and changing the face of planet Earth, say scientists
Damian Carrington The Guardian 11 Sep 15;

Burning all the world’s coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by over 50m, a transformation unprecedented in human history. The conclusion of a new scientific study shows that, over the course of centuries, land currently inhabited by a billion people would be lost below water.

“For the first time we have shown there is sufficient fossil fuel to melt all of Antarctica,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances. “This would not happen overnight, but the mind-boggling point is that our actions today are changing the face of planet Earth as we know it, and will continue to do so for tens of thousands of years to come. If we want to avoid Antarctica to become ice-free, we need to keep coal, gas and oil in the ground.”

The Antarctic ice cap is the largest on Earth. But at the moment it contributes only about 10% of the sea level rise being driven by climate change as, despite warming, temperatures on the continent are still largely below freezing. But in May 2014, scientists concluded that a large part of the west Antarctic ice sheet is already doomed, because of the long-term effect of greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere. Melting this part of the ice sheet would raise sea level by about four metres over the course of a few centuries.

The new study shows that the much larger east Antarctic ice sheet would also melt eventually, if all the world’s fossil fuel resources are extracted and burned. The work is based on detailed computer models that account for warming air and ocean temperatures, ice flow and potential changes in snowfall.

The research also shows that if global warming is restricted to the 2C rise, which is the limit targeted by the world’s nations, sea level rise will be a few metres over the next millennia. That rate of change could allow countries to adapt to the rising tide, the scientists said.


But in the extreme case in which all fossil fuels are burned and temperatures rise by over 10C, sea level would rise by 30cm a decade. “Human beings haven’t experienced anything like that before,” said Winkelmann.

In this scenario, sea level would rise over 30m by the end of this millennium and to over 40m in the next millennium. The ultimate rise over several millennia would be close to 60m.

“By using more and more fossil fuel energy, we increase the risk of triggering changes that we may not be able to stop or reverse in the future,” said Anders Levermann, another member of the research team at the Potsdam Institute. “The west Antarctic ice sheet may already have tipped into a state of unstoppable ice loss, whether as a result of human activity or not. But if we want to pass on cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Calcutta, Hamburg or New York as our future heritage, we need to avoid a tipping in east Antarctica.”

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Scientists expect warmer ocean temperatures to lead to Hawaii's worst coral bleaching ever

AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press USA News 11 Sep 15;

HONOLULU (AP) — Warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures around Hawaii this year will likely lead to the worst coral bleaching the islands have ever seen, scientists said Friday.

Many corals are only just recovering from last year's bleaching, which occurs when warm waters prompt coral to expel the algae they rely on for food, said Ruth Gates, the director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. The phenomenon is called bleaching because coral lose their color when they push out algae.

The island chain experienced a mass bleaching event in 1996, and another one last year. This year, ocean temperatures around Hawaii are about 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, said Chris Brenchley, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

Bleaching makes coral more susceptible to disease and increases the risk they will die. This is a troubling for fish and other species that spawn and live in coral reefs. It's also a concern for Hawaii's tourism-dependent economy because many travelers come to the islands to enjoy marine life.

Gates compared dead coral reef to a city laid to rubble.

"You go from a vibrant, three-dimensional structure teeming with life, teeming with color, to a flat pavement that's covered with brown or green algae," said Gates. "That is a really doom-and-gloom outcome but that is the reality that we face with extremely severe bleaching events."

Gates said 30 to 40 percent of the world's reefs have died from bleaching events over the years. Hawaii's reefs generally have been spared such large scale die-offs until now. Most corals bleached last year bounced back, for example. But Gates said it will be harder for these corals to tolerate the warmer temperatures two years in a row.

"You can't stress an individual, an organism, once and then hit it again very, very quickly and hope they will recover as quickly," she said.

Scientists have reports of bleaching in Kaneohe Bay and Waimanalo on Oahu and Olowalu on Maui. For the Big Island, reports of bleaching have come in from Kawaihae to South Kona on the leeward side and Kapoho in the southeast.

Scientists on an expedition to the remote, mostly uninhabited islands in the far northeastern end of the island chain reported some coral died after last year's bleaching event. Courtney Couch, a researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said a mile and a half of reef on the eastern side of Lisianski Island was essentially dead. Coral further out from the atoll handled the warm temperatures better, she said.

Brian Neilson, an aquatic biologist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said people could help by not adding to the coral's problems.

That means avoiding fertilizing lawns and washing cars with soap so contaminants don't flow into the ocean. People should avoid walking on coral and boaters should make sure they don't drop anchor on coral. Fishermen should fish responsibly, he said.

Scientists have also asked people to help them keep track of bleached coral by reporting sightings to the state's "Eyes on the Reef" website at .

Hawaii is home to 85 percent of the coral under U.S. jurisdiction, including 69 percent within the mostly uninhabited islands of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Another 15 percent of U.S. coral lies among the Main Hawaiian Islands — from Niihau in the north to the Big Island in the south — where the state's 1.4 million people live.

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World Forestry Congress sets out vision for future of forests

Forests vital for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
FAO 11 Sep 15;

11 September 2015, Durban - The world's forests must be recognized as "more than trees", the XIV World Forestry Congress meeting in Durban, South Africa, concluded today.

Instead, forests hold vast potential to play a decisive role in ending hunger, improving livelihoods and combating climate change.

The largest gathering on forests this decade set out its vision of how forests and forestry should look in 2050, adopting the Durban Declaration after a week of debate.

The vision calls for the forests of the future to be "fundamental" for food security and improved livelihoods.
Forests and trees must also be integrated with other land uses such as agriculture in order to address the causes of deforestation and conflict over land, according to the declaration.

Finally, sustainably managed forests must be an "essential solution" to combating climate change, optimizing their ability to absorb and store carbon while also providing other environmental services.

Investment and partnerships critical

The declaration outlines a series of actions needed to realize the vision, including further investment in forest education, communication, research and the creation of jobs, especially for young people.

It also stresses the need for new partnerships among the forest, agriculture, finance, energy, water and other sectors, and strong engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities.

"The declaration reflects the extremely rich and diverse set of viewpoints and experiences of all participants in the Congress, who recommended ways to make the vision a reality," said Tiina Vähänen, Deputy Director of FAO's Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division.

Almost 4,000 delegates from 142 countries attended the congress, including representatives from civil society, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities and the private sector as well as around 30 ministers and deputy ministers.

Message on Sustainable Development Goals

The Congress underlined that forests are critical to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a message to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, which will meet later this month in New York to adopt the 2030 development agenda.

While SDG 15 addresses the need to sustainably manage forests, trees and forests are also a key to achieving several of the other 16 goals, including those related to ending poverty, achieving food security, promoting sustainable agriculture and ensuring sustainable energy for all, the message says.

Message on climate change

The Congress also issued a message to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, set to meet in Paris in December 2015 to hash out a new global climate change agreement.

Climate change poses a serious threat to the planet, forests and forest-dependent people. However, at the same time countries' responses to climate change can present new opportunities for forests, such as additional sources of financing and greater political support for forest governance.

Congress participants recommended a set of actions that include increasing understanding among governments and other stakeholders of both the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents.

Forests and water action plan

The Congress also saw the launch of an international five-year forests and water action plan to recognize the role of trees and forests in maintaining the water cycle, and to ensure appropriate management of one of the world's largest sources of freshwater.

The World Forestry Congress is held every six years. Under the theme Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future, this year's event was hosted by the Republic of South Africa with technical support from FAO and marked the first time the Congress was held on African soil since its inception in 1926.

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