Best of our wild blogs: 23 Nov 15

Chek Jawa with jellyfish and otters!
wild shores of singapore

Male Siamese Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylotrupes gideon) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Monday Morgue

Semakau Landfill: Not Just A ‘Rubbish Island’

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PUB embarks on study to tap into solar energy via reservoirs

The study, which will last nine months, will determine the usable space for installing solar panels on reservoirs and at land-based facilities such as waterworks and water reclamation plants.
Channel NewsAsia 23 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB is embarking on a nine-month feasibility study to determine the potential of harnessing solar energy at its reservoirs and facilities.

In a media release on Monday (Nov 23), PUB said findings from the study will determine the usable space for solar deployment and guide the agency's efforts in that area.

Ten reservoirs have been identified to be part of the project. They are:

Sarimbun Reservoir
Murai Reservoir
Poyan Reservoir
Tengeh Reservoir
Kranji Reservoir
Pandan Reservoir
Upper Peirce Reservoir
Lower Peirce Reservoir
Upper Seletar Reservoir
Lower Seletar Reservoir
PUB added that solar PV technology has been identified as a key renewable energy source, that could potentially be deployed across Singapore.

"The reservoirs, with their open surface area, offer much potential for solar energy generation," PUB said. The study will assess the extent to which solar panels can be installed and the solar yield that can be achieved, before a business model and implementation plan are proposed.

Besides reservoirs, the study will also look into the solar deployment potential at land-based facilities such as waterworks and water reclamation plants, PUB said.

"Through this study, PUB is keen to explore how we can balance the installation of solar panels on water surface with other competing water activities at our reservoirs. Together with other solar energy projects PUB has embarked on, we are on track to diversifying our energy options from conventional, non-renewable fossil fuels, contributing to a smaller carbon footprint and promoting more sustainable use of energy resources”, said Chief Sustainability Officer at PUB Tan Nguan Sen.

Earlier this year, Choa Chu Kang Waterworks began tapping into solar power for its energy needs through 3,333 pieces of solar panels, enough to meet about 7 per cent of the plant's daily energy needs.

PUB, the Economic Development Board and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore are also test-bedding a floating solar system at Tengeh Reservoir, including an environmental study to measure the impact of such systems on reservoir evaporation, biodiversity and water quality, PUB said. The panels are expected to be installed by 2016.

The water agency added that it is participating in HDB's solar leasing tender to install solar PV systems at Changi Water Reclamation Plant, Bedok Waterworks and WaterHub by 2017, and had earlier invested in Marina Barrage's Solar Park as well.

- CNA/dl

PUB starts feasibility study on installing solar panels at reservoirs

SINGAPORE — The PUB is conducting a nine-month feasibility study to explore greater use of reservoirs and facilities to deploy solar PV panels, the national water agency announced in a press release today (Nov 23).

The S$338,000 study will assess the extent to which solar panels can be installed at 10 reservoirs identified for this study, such as Kranji, Upper Peirce and Lower Seletar. The study will also assess the amount of solar energy that can be generated before proposing a business model and implementation plan, said PUB.

In addition to reservoirs, the study will also look at the solar deployment potential of other land-based facilities such as waterworks and water reclamation plants.

“With Singapore reaching a critical mass for solar installations coupled with the declining cost of solar technology, PUB wants to ride on this wave and explore how some of our reservoirs can support floating solar systems. Through this study, PUB is keen to explore how we can balance the installation of solar panels on water surface with other competing water activities at our reservoirs,” said PUB’s Chief Sustainability Officer Tan Nguan Sen.

“Together with other solar energy projects PUB has embarked on, we are on track to diversifying our energy options from conventional, non-renewable fossil fuels, contributing to a smaller carbon footprint and promoting more sustainable use of energy resources,” he added.

PUB studying potential of solar panels at more reservoirs
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 24 Nov 15;

Floating solar panel systems could be a feature at more reservoirs here, to help get more energy from the sun.

PUB, the national water agency, is embarking on a nine-month feasibility study to assess the possibility of installing solar panels at its reservoirs and other facilities, it said yesterday.

The $338,000 study will determine the usable space for solar deployment, and guide PUB's future efforts in this area.

Ten reservoirs, namely Sarimbun, Murai, Poyan, Tengeh, Kranji, Pandan, Upper Peirce, Lower Peirce, Upper Seletar and Lower Seletar, have been identified for the study.

PUB chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen told The Straits Times that the 10 were chosen based on factors such as the lack of congestion and visibility.

Besides reservoirs, the study will also look into the solar deployment potential at land-based facilities such as waterworks and water reclamation plants.

The study will be conducted by a consortium led by renewable energy systems company WEnergy Global, with SMS Consulting Engineers and Progressive Engineering and Management as consortium members.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology - which converts energy from the sun into electricity - has been identified as a key renewable energy source with high potential for large-scale deployment here.

Last year, researchers from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris) said the sun could supply almost a third of Singapore's electricity by 2050. But this hinges on factors such as Singapore's ability to reduce its electricity demand and expand its solar PV capacity.

Dr Thomas Reindl, Seris deputy chief executive, welcomed PUB's latest announcement, saying solar installations on reservoirs could help the Republic overcome space constraints. But one important factor that must be considered is cost.

He said: "To be competitive, the floating PV systems cannot be substantially more expensive than installations on land. This not only includes the floating structure itself, but also the interconnection to the grid and/or PUB facilities."

Currently, Singapore gets more than 90 per cent of its electricity from natural gas. But tapping more solar energy would put Singapore in a better position to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions further.

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ASEAN needs to deepen cooperation on terrorism, haze: PM Lee

“The South China Sea has become a test of ASEAN unity and effectiveness,” added PM Lee Hsien Loong, who urged faster progress on a binding Code of Conduct in the territory.
Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Terrorism, transboundary haze and the South China Sea dispute are three salient issues currently facing ASEAN, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking at the opening session of the 27th ASEAN Summit, Mr Lee said the recent terror attacks in Paris, Ankara and Mali are a reminder that the terrorist threat is serious and around us.

He also noted that Southeast Asia is a key recruiting ground for the Islamic State – and that there even being enough foreign fighters from the region to form a battalion of Southeast Asian fighters as part of the group. The militant group is also preparing publicity material in Bahasa to try and recruit more fighters from the region.

In Singapore, Mr Lee said close to a dozen people are known to have wanted to go to Syria to fight – with some succeeding, but with others detected and stopped in time.

“We should enhance cooperation and information sharing among our security and intelligence agencies and continue to share best practices on countering the terrorists’ ideology," said Mr Lee, noting that one example of this was when Singapore hosted an EAS Symposium on Religious Rehabilitation and Social Integration.

On transboundary haze, Mr Lee said the perennial issue has been especially severe this year, with it affecting six ASEAN member states – including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines.

Mr Lee added that he is grateful that all ASEAN Member States have shown resolve to address the issue expeditiously.

“It is vital that we deepen cooperation and share information to bring errant companies to account for their irresponsible and unsustainable practices that are the root cause of land and forest fires causing haze pollution,” said Mr Lee.

"Therefore, we must urgently operationalise the ASEAN Sub Regional Haze Monitoring System.”

As for the ongoing South China Sea terroritorial dispute – Mr Lee said it is an important issue for claimant and non-claimant states, as any miscalculations at sea could escalate into conflicts that threaten regional peace and stability.

China and several other Southeast Asian states have laid claims on the territory. Singapore is a non-claimant state.

“The South China Sea has become a test of ASEAN unity and effectiveness,” said Mr Lee, who urged faster progress on a binding Code of Conduct in the territory.

“We must continue to urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from provocative actions or the use of force, and commit to accident prevention measures and the non-militarisation of land features in the SCS.”

Mr Lee also said Singapore will be a “transparent and objective coordinator” for ASEAN-China Dialogue relations – a role it has assumed in August.

The ASEAN Summit comes ahead of the ASEAN Community being established at the end of the year.

It will spell deeper integration in the region – a single market production base, with free movement of goods, services and skilled labour.

Mr Lee said while this establishment is a significant milstone in ASEAN’s history, there is still work to be done.

This includes implementing the remaining 20 per cent of action lines in the existing ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, including those related to services liberalisation.

It also includes ratifying the ASEAN Open Skies agreement and concluding a high quality Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership.

Mr Lee said that as the 10-member grouping becomes more integrated – the bloc is bound to have to tackle some difficulties in their relationships.

“How we will deal with them will define the ASEAN Community,” said Mr Lee.

- CNA/av

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Sharing scheme launched in Toa Payoh

Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Nov 15;

Singaporeans will soon be able to borrow items such as wheelchairs, stools and stepladders from their Residents' Committees (RCs).

Called Resource Centre @ RC,the initiative - which was launched yesterday in Toa Payoh and will be rolled out to 450 RCs across the island by February next year - offers items based on the demographic profiles and needs of residents.

It is modelled on a similar programme in the North East District launched in February last year that was well received by residents.

Although companies have already sponsored items such as first aid boxes and portable sound systems, it is hoped that residents will also share items with their neighbours via this initiative, with some already expressing interest in contributing aids such as walking sticks and crutches.

"What we want is a sharing community because I believe that is the way to build stronger relationships between residents," said Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat, who attended the launch.

The Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC added: "This is not just something we do for the residents; this is something we do with the residents."

Residents can borrow items for up to three days, with the option to extend the loan period.

They do not have to pay for the items.

Those who require items on a long-term basis will be referred to other agencies for assistance.

Toa Payoh resident Paruvadi Duraisamy, 84, used to get shortness of breath and have pain in her legs when walking to the clinic. She is now able to borrow a wheelchair from her RC whenever she needs to go for doctors' appointments.

Mr Aaron Yeo, 29, who borrowed a cooler box to store cold drinks for a barbecue he was holding to celebrate his birthday, said: "People may not have friends who can lend them the stuff they need.

"So, I think this is a good initiative."

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Malaysia: Help resolve water shortage in Johor, urges Wee

YEE XIANG YUN The Star 23 Nov 15;

KULAI: The Federal Government should step in to help the Johor state government solve the prolonged water shortage affecting several areas for the past three months, said Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic).

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said he had brought up the matter in the Cabinet meeting on Friday, urging the Federal Government to look into the matter urgently.

He said while it was fine to seek divine intervention, the people cannot be praying and waiting every day for the rain to fall.

“A more concrete and long-term plan based on scientific facts needs to be introduced immediately to prevent the issue from worsening further and ending up like the Selangor water crisis,” he said here yesterday.

He said that during the Cabinet meeting, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili gave his word that he would look into the matter before figuring out follow-up actions.

Dr Wee added that he received numerous complaints about the water issue, which affected more than 640,000 consumers in residential, commercial and industrial areas in Johor Baru, Kota Tinggi and Pengerang since August.

The residents and business owners are also suffering from the scheduled water exercise as water levels in the Sungai Layang and Sungai Lebam dams fall further below their critical mark.

This needs immediate attention, Dr Wee said.

He said Johor was spearheading the country’s economy for attracting record foreign direct investment into the state, and the water issue could affect the confidence of investors.

He said that the Government should consider building new and bigger catchment areas away from agricultural activities to prevent pollution in the water and exercise better control of farming activities near the areas.

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Malaysia: Metropolis dreams for Johor Baru

The Star 23 Nov 15;

JOHOR BARU: The Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD), valued between RM20bil and RM25bil is set to help the state capital achieve a world city and metropolis status by 2020.

It was launched by Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar in conjunction with his 57th birthday yesterday.

Spanning over 101.17ha, the main component of the project is the 2.56ha Coronation Square, which will include a medical suite, three blocks of serviced apartments, an office tower and a hotel building developed by Coronade Properties Sdn Bhd.

During the launch held at the Persada Johor International Con­vention Centre, Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the IIBD is the brainchild of Sultan Ibrahim and expressed hope that the massive project would turn Johor Baru into a “second Kuala Lumpur”.

In conjunction with the Ruler’s birthday, Khaled said the IIBD was named as such to honour the Ruler’s contributions to the state’s development.

It would be introduced as a new brand for Johor, similar to other well-known business districts such as Australia’s Sydney CBD, Canada’s Downtown Toronto, China’s Beijing Business Central District as well as Seoul Special City in South Korea, he added.

When completed, the Coronation Square, valued at RM3bil, would be on par with other world landmarks such as Trafalgar Square in London and Times Square in New York.

IIBD is developed by Johor Corporation (JCorp) in cooperation with Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and the state government in its effort to modernise the state’s capital city, Khaled said.

JCorp president and chief executive Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim said the Coronation Square is expected to be completed between nine to 10 years, with its first phase slated for completion in four years time.

Kamaruzzaman added that the tallest building in the square would be an office tower with 60 to 80 floors.

The IIBD will enhance the image and position of Johor Baru and Iskandar Malaysia as the most successful metropolis and development regions in the world, Kamaruzzaman said.

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Malaysia: Study being done on 1,000 Gunung Ledang flora species

The Star 23 Nov 15;

TANGKAK: A six-month scientific study on the more than 1,000 flora species on Gunung Ledang has started.

It is being carried out by the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department (JPSM) and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM).

“It is a scientific study to identify the nutritional values, potential, diversity, advantages, benefits and uses of the plants there,” said Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Hamim Samuri.

He said this to reporters after launching a community service programme of the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) in Kampung Orang Asli Tanah Gembur, here yesterday.

Hamim said there were many plant species, especially herbs and roots on Gunung Ledang, which had high nutritional value and properties but no specific research had yet been done.

He added the people living on Gunung Ledang, especially the Orang Asli community, used these plants as traditional medicine as they are aware of the high medicinal properties and their various uses.

During his speech, Hamim, also the Ledang MP, urged the Orang Asli community to assist in the research as they were familiar with these nutritional plants and their properties.

“This can be done through education so that the children of the Orang Asli entering public or private universities can specialise in studying the benefits of these plants,” he added.

Gunung Ledang’s summit is located between the border of Muar and Malacca. Standing at 1,276m, the mountain is a popular destination favoured by amateur climbers.

Gunung Ledang is also the 64th highest mountain in Malaysia.

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Malaysia: Bush meat widely sold in Sabah

The Star 23 Nov 15;

KOTA KINABALU: A variety of bush meat are still widely sold in local tamu or farmers markets in the interior of Sabah despite the state’s all-out war against illegal trade and poaching of wildlife.

Bush meat ranging from wild boars to protected species like the Sambar and barking deer were on sale at a tamu in Nabawan, about 200km from the state capital, said wildlife conservationist Fairul Pat Lingam.

Fairul, 40, who stopped by the market during a trip to the interior on Saturday, said that when he was taking pictures of the various bush meat sold openly, he was threatened with bodily harm as about 12 to 15 people started gathering around him.

He said he quickly thanked the sellers and quietly walked away as he sensed that he could be harmed.

On his return to Kota Kinabalu, Fairul lodged a police report yesterday about the sale of bush meat in Nabawan tamu and also the threat by one of bush meat sellers that if he returns to Nabawan he would be shot.

Nabawan tamu which operates every Tuesday and Saturday is widely seen by Sabah Wildlife Department as a hotspot for the sale of bush meat where wildlife rangers were also threatened previously.

Fairul, said that he hoped that either the police or wildlife department could take firm action against the illegal trade and poaching of wildlife in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu City police chief Asst Comm M. Chandra in confirming the report said that the case would be forwarded to the Wildlife Department while the case of criminal intimidation would be probed by Keningau police.

Wildlife officials have in the past described Nabawan district in southern Sabah as one of the hotspots in recent years due to the road networks all the way to Tawau in the east coast of Sabah.

They have not dismissed the possibility that bush meat sold in Nabawan was from animals illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected forest reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu.

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Indonesia: Leading banks support wildlife projects

Ayomi Amindoni, 23 Nov 15;

Indonesia’s largest eight banks by assets have expressed their commitment to support sustainable development in a pilot project of cooperation between the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia.

The banks involved in the project comprise six conventional banks, namely Bank Mandiri, BRI, BCA, BNI, BJB, and Bank Artha Graha International, and two Islamic banks, Bank Muamalat and BRI Syariah.

OJK head Muliaman D. Hadad said the pilot project was aimed at supporting the OJK’s financial sustainability roadmap for the period of 2014-2019.

He said the project specifically targeted the competence of Indonesian banks in environmental, social and good governance concerns.

"This project is also aimed at increasing the share of the banks’ business financing activities that are conducted in a sustainable manner," said Muliaman at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

The OJK chief added it was expected that the major step taken by the eight banks, which represented 46 percent of national banking assets, could encourage other banks and financial institutions to follow suit and start implementing sustainable finance in Indonesia.

"It is expected that more banks will make similar commitments in the near future," he said.

Under the project, the OJK and WWF Indonesia will accompany the eight banks in financing sustainable projects in the palm oil sector. This project will run for 18 months starting in January 2016.

OJK deputy director for the Indonesian banking architecture Edi Setijawan said the palm oil sector was selected for the project since this sector was often associated with environmental destruction.

"The banks involved in the project can take a role in the palm oil industry to improve the profile of this commodity, so it could continue to be the mainstay of the national economy," said Edi.

WWF Indonesia head Efransjah said that with their commitment to implement environment and social sustainability and good governance, the banks could raise their performance in Indonesia.

"In addition to being part of a sustainable banking industry, the banks will also have the power to push their clients to implement environmental, social and good governance principles in their business processes," Efranjah said.

As part of the pilot project, the banks will receive technical assistance, which will include the identification of risks from various sectors and how to develop a framework to mitigate risks. (ebf)(+)

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As Brazil's Largest City Struggles With Drought, Residents Are Leaving


It happened slowly at first. The reservoir's water level dropped, so the resort extended the boat launch ramp.

Then they had to add another extension.

Eventually, the water dropped so much that business dried up — along with the lake.

"For this coming weekend, there's not one reservation. This business was 98 percent dependent on the water. Now that the water's gone, the customers are gone as well," says Francisco Carlos Fonseca, the manager of Marina Confiança.

The resort is located on what were once the banks of one of Sao Paulo's most important reservoir system, called Cantareira. A drought has been devastating the region for the past two years. Unless there is more rain, some water conservation groups estimate there is only enough water to last about five months.

A demonstrator dressed as a bather protests against the rationing of water, outside the official residence of Sao Paulo's Governor Geraldo Alckmin in Sao Paulo, on Jan. 26. The banner behind him reads, "Planet Water, Dry Lives."

Walking around the resort, Fonseca says that until a year ago, this place was a weekend getaway paradise, packed with vacationers. Today the hotel, with its attached bungalows and party spaces, is a ghost town.

It's a symbol of the economic cost of the drought here.

Fonseca says four or five other marinas have closed completely because there's no access to water. He's not sure what he'll do if his resort closes.

The only thing that could bring tourists back to this region?

"Rain," he says.

This resort was a respite for those living in Sao Paulo. The megacity of 20 million people is as dense with high rises as the Amazon jungle is with trees.

The drought has forced severe water rationing for many of those who live here. Nine million depend on this reservoir system for their daily water use.

The dishes are piled high in the sink when we arrive at Renata Trindade's house in a poor neighborhood in the north part of the city. Since she works during the day, she says she has to be creative about doing chores: She lets dishes and clothes pile up to make sure she and her boyfriend have enough water for other things like bathing or flushing the toilet.

For her and many other Sao Paulo residents, this is the new normal.

And this city is not alone. Brazil's second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, is also facing water troubles, as are other coastal areas. It's been an enormous shock to Brazilians, who are used to their country being called "the Saudi Arabia of Water" — historically, it has had as much water as that Middle Eastern country has oil.

But not anymore. Satellite data from NASA shows that the drought in much of southeast Brazil — also home to the region's breadbasket — is much worse than originally believed. Some recent studies suggest that the lack of rain on Brazil's coasts may be linked to deforestation in the Amazon.

Alexandre Uezu, an ecologist with Sao Paulo's Ecological Research Institute, explains that trees in the Amazon suck up water through their roots and produce huge "flying rivers" of water vapor that move around the continent and fall as rain.

"Were it not because of flying rivers, airflows, the whole area here would be desert," he says. "So we're dependent on the humidity that comes from Amazon."

Except now, according to some estimates, as much as 40 percent of the forest is destroyed or degraded. And that may mean a profound, longterm shift in rainfall patterns here.

So it may take more than a good rainy season to stop Sao Paulo from drying up.

The drought may be exacerbated by other issues, including poor planning. Scientists are trying to determine what is happening and why.

But Uezu can say one thing with certainty: The vast tract of trees in the middle of the continent is crucial to the well-being of people on the coasts, where most Brazilians live.

"Were it not because of the Amazon [forest], we'd have even bigger problems here," he says.

Some people are already deciding to pick up and move their lives completely, in search of more irrigated pastures.

Cesar Farinha Figueredo is what you might call a water refugee. He closed his restaurant in Sao Paulo and moved his family to the city of Jundiai, about two hours away, in the interior of Sao Paulo state.

At his apartment complex, a large pool is full of frolicking sun worshipers. He says moving is the best decision he's made. Back in Sao Paulo, he would spend hours in gridlock, only to get home to find water rationing. It was a struggle to even take a shower.

Here in Jundiai, the city is thriving. Jundiai has water as a result of local government policies that have emphasized conservation and a careful management of their resources. The city's reservoir, full to the brim, is surrounded by thick forest. In a park on its edge, families are playing in the afternoon sun.

That has become extremely attractive to many people in water-starved Sao Paulo. One real estate agent in Jundiai says she has been getting up to 70 calls a day from residents looking to relocate because of the water shortages.

I ask Figueredo if he thinks more people will feel compelled to flee Brazil's economic hub.

Those who can afford it will, he says.

"I already left. The last one to go needs to turn off the lights," he quips.

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