Best of our wild blogs: 21 Nov 15

Life History of the Bengal Swift
Butterflies of Singapore

Read more!

Haze raises demand for green label

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 21 Nov 15;

The recent haze episode has resulted in a green awakening that is spurring more companies to certify their products as environmentally friendly, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) said yesterday.

Since the haze started in late September, the council has received between 30 and 40 enquiries from companies looking to certify their products under the SEC's Singapore Green Labelling Scheme.

Of these, at least 12 of them are companies that want to certify consumer products, such as paper, with the green label.

"Before the haze episode, we received an average of just one or two enquiries from companies looking to certify consumer products," Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, SEC's head of eco-certifications and lead environmental engineer, told the media yesterday.

Under the SEC's labelling scheme, companies must submit information, with supporting documents from laboratories, on aspects such as manufacturing processes, materials used and packaging, to SEC.

New applications cost $1,500, and yearly renewals cost $1,000. The timeline for approval is typically about two months.

The SEC has awarded the green label to about 3,200 products so far, with around 20 per cent being consumer products.

The rest are industrial products such as cement and paint. The use of such green-certified products is a prerequisite for builders looking to have their developments certified as environmentally friendly under green building schemes.

SEC executive director Edwin Seah said: "The haze presented the opportunity to get consumers to be more aware about buying sustainable products... and we don't want that to go to waste."

He said the council wants to keep up the momentum by working closely with schools and government agencies to increase outreach efforts, and with retailers to make it more convenient for shoppers to make green choices. Measures include, for instance, working with supermarkets to formulate green lanes, or making certified products more visible on the shelves.

The SEC also hopes to work with more community development councils to come up with workshops and biodiversity trails.

Mr Seah said: "Simply hard-selling the message of why it is important to buy green products may cause people to tune out.

"We have to look at different ways of upgrading the messaging by establishing a link between what they see, like nature and biodiversity, and what they buy."

Read more!

'Difficult choices' help Singapore curb greenhouse gas emissions: DPM Teo

Decisions such as not subsidising energy costs and introducing the world's first urban traffic congestion pricing scheme mean Singapore accounts for just 0.11 per cent of global emissions, says Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
Chan Luo Er Channel NewsAsia 20 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: Singapore accounts for 0.11 per cent of global emissions today, one of the lowest in the world, and this is due to the "difficult choices" it made in its early years to support sustainable development, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Speaking at a prize presentation ceremony for the National Climate Change Competition 2015 on Friday (Nov 20), he said these choices include not subsidising energy costs so that the industry and households will consume energy judiciously.

Singapore also implemented the world’s first urban traffic congestion pricing scheme in the 1970s to reduce car usage and emissions through a package of measures such as quotas for new cars and significant fuel taxes, he noted.

"We made these difficult choices because we believe they are the right things to do – for ourselves, and for the world, so that Singaporeans can commute conveniently, and not fume away in endless traffic jams, so that Singaporeans can enjoy a clean and green living environment, so that we can have fresh air all year round, and do not ourselves pollute the air that we breathe," said Mr Teo.

In July this year, Singapore had submitted a new climate pledge to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce its Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. Singapore will also stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and aim to peak around 2030.

Next month, a new global agreement that will cover greenhouse gas emissions from all countries after 2020 will be negotiated in Paris. It is a step up from the current Kyoto Protocol, which governs only emissions from developed countries.

"If we are able to reach a new global agreement, it would be the first time that all signatories to the UNFCCC have committed to undertake actions to address climate change. The target is for the collective actions of all countries to help limit global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100," said Mr Teo, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.

The National Climate Change Competition 2015 saw more than 170 entries from schools, institutions of higher learning and members of the public. Participants created short videos on the impact of climate change and the actions people can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

S’pore to act on climate change even without accord: DPM
STACEY LIM Today Online 21 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE — Ahead of the coming 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP) climate summit taking place in Paris next month, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that even if no consensus is reached, there are many measures and practices that “make sense for us to do anyway”, such as using more energy-efficient appliances.

Mr Teo, who is chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, spoke about Singapore’s participation in the meeting on the sidelines of the annual National Climate Change Competition (NCCC) award ceremony yesterday.

“We are looking for a universal agreement, that’s important. So for every country that’s in, we want to have an agreement that is legally binding so that there will be obligations from all countries,” he said. “And we also want an agreement that is durable, that will stand the test of time, and because this is a long-term agreement, we will be looking at climate-friendly actions to be taken by all countries (that will) go out till 2100, that kind of time frame.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli will be leading the delegation to Paris for the climate-change talks, where nations will seek to reach a legally binding and universal agreement on how to cut fossil-fuel use.

Countries will have to put forward a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, which would form the basis of the accord to be signed next month and enacted by 2020.

If an agreement is not reached, Singapore will review its position, said Mr Teo. “There are many things which make sense for us to do anyway, to use more energy-efficient appliances, to save energy usage ... but other measures need to be done in tandem with other countries, so we will have to look at what climate change agreement actually comes up with.”

He also noted that Singapore is already one of the most efficient countries in terms of emissions intensity, and reiterated that the aim is for a 36 per cent reduction in emission intensity from 2005 levels as well as for carbon emissions to peak by 2030.

He added: “Our negotiators have been playing a facilitative role in helping to arrive at a good global climate change agreement throughout the negotiation progress over the last few years … and to try and help bridge the differences between these countries. So, we hope that (with) these efforts, along with the efforts of the other countries, (it) will enable us to arrive at a good climate change agreement.”

Yesterday, a total of 24 awards were given to winners of the NCCC competition, which was organised by the National Climate Change Secretariat. The winning videos will be adapted for use by the secretariat in its public education and outreach efforts.

Read more!

NEA to launch campaign to get people to cut food waste

SUBWAY Singapore has partnered the National Environment Agency to raise greater awareness among consumers by putting up posters to educate them on how they can reduce food wastage.
Loke Kok Fai Channel NewsAsia 20 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) is launching a campaign next week to get people to cut food waste.

This comes on the back of a study by NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) which showed that many people in Singapore are not comfortable with wasting food. However, the study also found that the biggest reason Singaporeans choose to cut down food waste is not to save the environment, but the pocket.

In 2014, consumers threw away 687,200 tonnes of food.

According to the study, eight in 10 respondents felt bothered about throwing away uneaten food, while 90 per cent of them felt that it was a waste of money. Concern for the environment "came a close second”, said NEA and AVA.

The top reason for food waste in households was throwing out expired food, with respondents unwilling to compromise on the freshness of food. About 26 per cent said they bought more food than they could consume.

Seventy per cent of these respondents said it was to ensure that household members had more than enough to eat.

"They buy too much and then when they cook, they don't like it,” said Mrs Angela Lee, a housewife. “It’s such a waste.”

"You see things, you want to buy them. But after that, when you go home, you never eat them. So (the things are) wasted. You put them in the fridge and the next day, you throw them away,” echoed Ms Kamariah Samsoori, also a housewife.

"I think we love food and we always order more than what we want actually,” added Mr Sng Sock Kon, a tour bus driver.

However, over-ordering is not a great concern at its outlets in Singapore, said SUBWAY Singapore.

"Even though we have suggestive sales of our items - buy one get one free, bigger sized meals or even add-on meats - these things are not free, so definitely customers only pay for things they can consume and expect to finish," said operations director of SUBWAY Singapore Development, Chua Teow Hock.

The sandwich chain has partnered NEA to raise greater awareness among consumers by putting up posters to educate them on how they can reduce food wastage. Also on board are supermarkets such as Giant, Sheng Siong and NTUC FairPrice.

"NTUC FairPrice supports NEA’s national campaign to raise awareness on reducing food waste, which complements our ongoing campaign to reduce food waste that we spearheaded last year," said chairperson of NTUC FairPrice's Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, Jonas Kor. "The various promotions and discount schemes provide greater value to help customers save; we do not advocate food wastage."

- CNA/ek

1 in 4 buys more food than needed: Survey
A survey of 1,016 people conducted from January to July this year found that 80 per cent of respondents are bothered about having to throw food away. Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 21 Nov 15;

Food wastage has increased in recent years, with the average person in Singapore dumping about 146kg of food last year - or the equivalent of 29 packs of rice.

One in four people admits to buying more food than is needed, said a new survey. Most of them do so to ensure household members have "more than enough" to eat, said the survey commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) released yesterday.

The poll of 1,016 people conducted from January to July found that 80 per cent of respondents are bothered about having to throw food away. Eighty-one per cent think they should reduce food wastage to save money, with 77 per cent thinking that they should do so as food wastage is bad for the environment.

"Overall, the results showed that the awareness of food wastage is high, but more can be done to motivate consumers to take action to reduce food wastage," said NEA and AVA in a joint statement.

To encourage people to cut food wastage, NEA is launching a campaign using posters and educational videos that compare the cost of food wastage and what the money could be spent on otherwise. These will be shown on digital and mobile media platforms, at bus-stop shelters, in newspapers and on TV.

A focus group discussion held after the survey found that consumers are more likely to waste food when dining at home than eating out, as they tend to buy more than what they eventually consume. Many tend to shop on impulse, buying food items on promotion, for instance, instead of referring to checklists and meal plans.

The campaign will thus include customised educational materials on how to reduce food wastage at home. An online guide will be available to provide suggestions on things such as meal planning.

NEA will partner supermarket chains like Sheng Siong and FairPrice, as well as the Subway sandwich chain, to place posters and table-top stickers on their premises to remind consumers not to waste food.

The campaign, which will be expanded to schools early next year, adds to NEA's efforts to cut food wastage. These include pilot pro-jects to convert food waste into compost or water at two hawker centres, expected to be launched next month.

Food accounts for one-tenth of all waste produced in Singapore. About 788,600 tonnes of food were thrown away last year, slightly less than the 796,000 tonnes in 2013, but more than the 606,100 tonnes in 2009. Only 13 per cent of last year's food waste was recycled.

Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, head of eco-certifications and lead environmental engineer at the Singapore Environment Council, said that while change will take time, the campaign is a good start.

"Greater receptiveness by industries and the public towards providing and accepting food donations would also be a step in the right direction," he said.

Saving money biggest motivation to reduce food wastage: NEA, AVA
AsiaOne 20 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE - Singaporean consumers are mostly motivated by cost savings in a drive to reduce food wastage, a survey found.

A survey commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) collated responses from 1,016 participants.

It found that eight out of ten Singaporean consumers feel bothered when uneaten food is thrown away. Most respondents said that they avoid wasting food if possible in their preparation of meals at home, eating out or catering of food.

Consumers were also more likely to waste food when eating at home compared to dining out because they tend to over-buy. According to the survey, the most common reason given for doing so was to ensure that household members had more than enough to eat.

In its bid to reduce food wastage, NEA will be launching a programme to encourage the public to engage in smart food purchase, storage and preparation habits.

From Nov 23 onwards, posters and educational videos on food wastage will be featured through channels such as digital and mobile media platforms; at bus-stop shelters; in newspapers and on TV.

The press statement added that the public can also access an online handy guide to reducing food wastage, available at, which provides a wide range of useful tips on how to reduce food wastage at home and when dining out. The handy guide provides suggestions on meal planning, food storage, as well as recipes and innovative ideas on how to use leftover food to create tasty dishes for the family.

NEA will be partnering various food retail businesses such as Cold Storage/Giant, PRIME as well as Community Development Councils (CDCs), grassroots leaders, partners and stakeholders to undertake community-led initiatives related to reducing food wastage.

Mr Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of NEA, said: "The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has seen a 1.5-fold increase in the past 10 years. While we work to reduce food waste disposed of through means such as food waste recycling and redistribution of unsold and excess food, the preferred approach remains that of preventing food wastage in the first place. We encourage everybody to buy only what he needs, or order only what he can finish, and help save the environment and resources by reducing food wastage."

Read more!

Singapore Botanic Gardens set to be bigger, better

The Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children's Garden are set to be expanded by 2018.
Olivia Quay Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Botanic Gardens is going to get bigger and better by 2018, with its expansion of the Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.

Works on these locales are expected to start in 2017, after the National Parks Board (NParks) has called for tenders.

The eight-hectare extension of the Learning Forest will include three new features - the Gallop Arboretum, as well the Forest Conservation Interpretative Centre and Natural History Art Gallery, which will be housed in two black and white colonial bungalows along Gallop Road. The added area will put the Learning Forest at approximately 18 hectares.

When completed, the four-hectare Jacob Ballas Children's Garden will be the largest of its kind in Asia.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong marked the event on Saturday (Nov 21) with a community tree planting at the Gallop Arboretum site. It involved residents from Tanjong Pagar and Jalan Besar GRCs, and students from the National University of Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

"Our aim in developing the Learning Forest is to get people to learn more about forest ecology by experiencing it, so the trees we have planted today will form part of the future Gallop Arboretum - a living laboratory of trees for education and research," said Mr Wong.

"You will be able to see 200 species of Dipterocarps, also known as forest giants. They are majestic trees that are unique to this region and can grow to 80 metres. That's about the height of a 25-storey HDB flat," he added.

Mr Wong also threw back to the Botanic Garden's recent UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. "The Gardens received unanimous support from the UNESCO experts, because of its significant contributions to botanical research and conservation, which were deemed to be of outstanding universal value. But we cannot rest on our laurels. Securing the UNESCO World Heritage inscription marks not the end but the start of a journey."

NParks also took this opportunity to launch the 'Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year' coffee table book. Specially produced to commemorate SG50, it features the best photos from all three of NParks' photography competitions. In addition, the book offers photography tips for budding photographers and photo enthusiasts.

- CNA/av

Singapore Botanic Gardens expands in land area
Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been expanded by 8 hectares, bringing its total size to 82 hectares — its largest since the park’s establishment in 1859.

Today (Nov 21), the National Parks Board (NParks) announced a new extension to the Learning Forest, situated along Gallop Road. The new extension will include three features — the Gallop Arboretum, Forest Conservation Interpretative Centre and Natural History Art Gallery — and will bring the total land area of the Learning Forest to about 18 hectares.

An NParks statement said that the extension will provide more opportunities for visitors to understand forest ecology, while showcasing the Gardens’ botanical art collection.

Meanwhile, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will double its current size to 4 hectares. This expansion has already been factored in to the 82 hectares calculation.

NParks said the 2-hectare extension at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will include attractions geared towards children up to 14 years old, educating them on a range of eco-systems such as rainforest and marsh habitats. There will also be a farm there.

The new extensions at the Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will be open to the public by 2018.

Botanic Gardens to keep on growing
Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Nov 15;

The country's only Unesco World Heritage Site is set to become bigger than ever, and it is not all about size.

The new 8ha being added to the Singapore Botanic Gardens will help preserve the country's colonial past, and provide a platform to showcase the park's ecological work.

There will also be a living laboratory of giant trees, along with a Natural History Art Gallery to display the Gardens' botanical art collection, the largest in Asia, and those of artists both local and foreign.

All these will be ready by 2018, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced yesterday.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong stressed the need for the Gardens to not rest on its laurels after clinching the Unesco World Heritage status in July.

"We want it to break new grounds in horticultural research and conservation," he said. "We want it to be a place close to every Singaporean's heart, and we want to continue growing it for our future generations and for the entire world to enjoy."

The 8ha, approximately the size of eight football fields, is being added to the Gardens' Learning Forest, a previous 10ha extension to enhance the Gardens' role as a place of learning. The Forest will now occupy 18ha and bring the total area of the Botanic Gardens from 74ha to 82ha, almost four times its original size in 1859.

The extension will include a Forest Conservation Interpretive Centre and the Natural History Art Gallery, which will be housed in colonial buildings more than a century old. The houses were designed by R.A.J. Bidwell, the architect behind Raffles Hotel.

The conservation centre will be at No. 5 Gallop Road - the earliest known black-and-white colonial bungalow in Singapore. Its neigh-

bour at No. 7 will be refurbished as the gallery.

"Through these, we hope that future visitors will be inspired to participate in the Gardens' conservation work and citizen science projects," said Mr Wong.

There will also be a 4ha Gallop Arboretum, which will include 200 species of forest giants, scientifically known as Dipterocarps, which can grow up to 80m, the height of a 25-storey Housing Board block.

Dipterocarps are iconic to the Indo-Malayan rainforests, but have seen their population decrease over the years due to illegal logging and deforestation. The public will be able to explore the area on elevated platforms as well.

Mr Wong, together with more than 120 students, residents and community gardening group members, yesterday planted 100 trees at the site. They included the Meranti Tembaga tree, a vulnerable Dipterocarp species important to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

"These trees can't be conserved in a seed bank, so we actually have to plant living trees and keep them alive for these species to survive," said Botanic Gardens director Nigel Taylor. "Today, we planted the beginning of this arboretum which will grow in size as the years go by."

In the future, the public may even see these trees in Singapore's urban landscape.

Mr Wong said: "Planting them in urban areas will conserve a wider genetic diversity of species, complementing the conservation of our forests. This is timely as regional forests are disappearing rapidly."

Read more!

Malaysia, Indonesia leaders to sign up to new palm council

* Coordination on future replanting, biodiesel mandates expected
* Council to merge both countries sustainability schemes
* Palm industry's image tarnished by annual haze problem

Michael Taylor and Bernadette Christina Reuters 20 Nov 15;

JAKARTA, Nov 20 Malaysia and Indonesia will formally sign up to a new joint palm oil body on Saturday as the world's top two producers try to tackle an array of challenges - from bulging stockpiles to weak prices and a polluting haze caused by smouldering forest fires.

Previous attempts to develop better palm relations between the countries have had limited success, but analysts believe this time they will try harder to make it work given the plunge in benchmark prices to 6-1/2 year lows this year.

"We hope we can synchronize and optimize stock management in both countries," Indonesia's chief natural resources minister Rizal Ramli said. "If we do that, we can maintain price sustainability."

Supply sustainability will also be in focus. Industry watchers will seek clarity on how the council will accommodate Indonesia's push to drop a "no deforestation" pledge made by major companies at a climate summit last year.

"It is still early days and they have not specified the criteria for their joint sustainability certification," said Ivy Ng, an analyst at CIMB Research. "People will be watching to see how this could potentially help prevent haze in the future and whether it will improve the reputation of palm to consumers."

Green groups say smallholder farmers and palm plantations are largely responsible for Indonesia's slash-and-burn forest-clearing techniques that send vast plumes of smoke across Singapore, Malaysia and northern Indonesia every year, described by climate officials as a "crime against humanity".

Indonesian government officials have said the new body, the Council of Palm Oil Producer Countries, will educate smallholders on adopting sustainable land-clearing practices.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will sign-off on the council on Saturday. This group will merge the separate sustainability certification schemes currently operating in the two countries.

It is unclear what the council's relationship will be with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) - an independent body of consumers, green groups and plantation firms - that many European buyers see as the global sustainability benchmark.

RSPO's co-chairman Biswaranjan Sen said it had not been approached by either government, but that the RSPO was open to working with the producer group.

The new council, which does not plan to directly support palm prices, aims to develop downstream industries, manage stocks, coordinate biodiesel mandates and re-planting schemes.

Both countries currently have huge palm oil inventories, with combined stocks set to approach 5 million tonnes this year, a record high according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Indonesia and Malaysia are afraid of a major sell-off and the new council is about reassuring the market and the smallholders "that prices will not go below the cost of production", a Kuala Lumpur-based palm trader said. (Additional reporting by Emily Chow in Kuala Lumpur, reporting by Michael Taylor and Bernadette Christina; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Malaysia, Indonesia to spend $5 mln each on joint palm council's initial ops
* Council to manage stock levels, ensure welfare of smallholders
* Also proposes global framework of sustainable palm standards (Adds quotes, details)
Reuters 21 Nov 15;

Malaysia and Indonesia will invest $5 million each in the initial operations of a new joint palm oil body, whose tasks will include stabilising prices and managing stock levels, the countries announced on Saturday.

The council secretariat will be located in Jakarta and its membership will be extended to all oil palm cultivating countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Uganda.

"We must be able to chart the direction of the palm oil industry and, with similar objectives, the industry will continue to prosper the people and especially assist the smallholders," Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Malaysia's plantation industries and commodities minister, told a press conference after the signing of the joint council.

The formation of the new joint council, called the Council of Palm Oil Producer Countries (CPOPC), took place at the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur and was witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo.

Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs Rizal Ramli also said both countries will coordinate their respective stock management plans in order to maintain palm's sustainable prices, and ensure the welfare of smallholders in the industry.

Creating new demand for palm through the biodiesel mandate will help maintain optimal palm stock levels, said Rizal, as the vegetable oil is used for blending into biodiesel.

Malaysia's palm oil stocks rose to a near 15-year high of 2.83 million tonnes at end-October on an unexpected rise in production, while a Reuters survey estimated Indonesian inventory falling slightly to 3.025 million tonnes from 3.050 million a month ago.

The ministers also announced a proposed framework for sustainable palm oil, taking into account laws and regulations related to the sustainable development of both countries.

The framework, called e+POP, will be benchmarked against other international standards and addresses issues such as the legal requirements for land use and management, industry best practices and protecting the use of primary forests and peatlands from planting.

Malaysia and Indonesia first announced the CPOPC in October with the aim of ensuring further industry cooperation, establishing a global framework for sustainable palm oil, stabilising prices and managing stock levels.

The world's top two producers, who supply 85 percent of global palm oil, are trying to tackle various industry challenges from high stockpiles to weak prices and a polluting haze caused by smouldering forest fires.

(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Praveen Menon and David Evans)

Read more!

Half of all tree species in Amazon 'face extinction'

Helen Briggs BBC News 20 Nov 15;

More than half of all tree species in the Amazon face extinction, warn international scientists.

According to new data, up to 57% of all Amazonian trees may already fit the criteria of being globally threatened.

If confirmed, the estimates would raise the number of threatened plant species on Earth by almost a quarter.

Forest cover in the Amazon has been shrinking for decades, but little is known about the impact on individual plant species.

The trees at risk include iconic species like the Brazil nut tree, food crops such as cacao, the source of chocolate, as well as rare trees that are almost unknown to science.

The research, published in the journal, Science Advances, compared data from almost 1,500 forest plots with maps of current and predicted forest loss to estimate how many tree species have been lost and how many are likely to disappear by the middle of the century.

It found that the Amazon - the world's most diverse forest - could be home to more than 15,000 tree species.

Of these, between 36% and 57% are likely to qualify as being globally threatened under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria.

Prof Carlos Peres from the University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences in Norwich is one of 158 researchers from 21 countries who worked on the study.

He said there was a big gap in knowledge about all the plants and animals in the Amazon, from trees and ferns to bats and birds.

"Our research estimates that more than half of all species may face extinction," he said.

"Fortunately protected areas and indigenous territories now cover over half of the Amazon basin, and likely contain sizeable populations of most threatened species. "

He said parks and reserves - which face "a barrage of threats - from dam construction and mining to wildfires and droughts" - will prevent extinction of threatened species only if they are properly managed.

"In a sense this is a call for more effort into the 'last chance saloon' to discover this diversity before it goes inevitably extinct," said Prof Peres.

William Laurance from James Cook University in Australia, who also contributed to the study, added: "Either we stand up and protect these critical parks and indigenous reserves, or deforestation will erode them until we see large-scale extinctions."

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is regarded as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

Read more!