NEA to study disposable packaging's environmental impact

Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: A study to assess disposable packaging for takeaway food or dining in, and single-use carriers, was called by the National Environment Agency on Wednesday (Aug 24).

To better inform its policies on the use of disposable packaging, NEA will be conducting a study to analyse how different packaging materials commonly used for food compare in terms of cost and impact on the environment, it said in its press release.

The study will evaluate the environmental impact associated with all the stages of a disposable’s life cycle. This would cover the raw materials needed, as well as the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of the disposable, the agency explained.

"The study will provide insights into whether alternatives to commonly used disposables can be less damaging on the environment," NEA said.

The tender will close on Sep 13, and the study is expected to start either in September or October this year and end by the second quarter of 2017, it added.

- CNA/kk

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Indonesia: Haze starts disrupting flights in Kalimantan

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 16;

Haze from forest fires in West Kalimantan has caused delays in morning flights at Pontianak’s Supadio Airport over the past two weeks.

A flight that was scheduled to take off at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday was delayed until the sky cleared at 7 a.m.

PT Angkasa Pura II's Supadio branch general manager, Bayuh Iswantoro, said Wednesday that at 6 a.m. visibility at the airport was only 500 meters.

“But it was only for a brief time because at 7 a.m. visibility was 1,000 meters,” said Bayuh. He said on haze-free days visibility averaged 5,000 meters.

West Kalimantan Disaster Mitigation Agency head of emergency and logistics Bosman D. Hutahaean said that of the 14 regencies and municipalities in the province, eight had declared a haze emergency.

“Once a region declares an emergency, it can deploy personnel and financing and use infrastructure and equipment,” Bosman said.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) provides real-time information on particles in the haze to enable people to plan outdoor activities. When the figure exceeds 150 micrograms per cubic meter, it means the pollution is “unhealthy”. When it is between 0 and 50 micrograms, it falls in the “good” category.

On Wednesday morning, the pollution level reached “very unhealthy” with 314 micrograms per cubic meter. The figure decreased at noon. (evi)

Riau in Danger of Being Surrounded by Forest Fires
Tempo 24 Aug 16;

TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru - Forest and land fires have continued to surround the Province of Riau - with satellite imagery from Terra and Aqua Satellites indicating that there are 35 active hotspots that are spread across the province. According to the satellite imagery, the majority of the hotspots are localised across the regencies of Rokan Hilir and Bengkalis - with each region contributing to 11 hotspots in the region.

"As per 06:00 Western Indonesia TIme (WIB), we have received reports of newly-formed hotspots," said the Head of Pekanbaru's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.

Sugarin said that satellite imagery has shown that there five hot spots reported in Pelalawan, three in Dumai, two in Rokan Hulu, two in Siak, and one in Indragiri Hulu. "Out of the 35 hotspots observed, we can report with a significant degree of confidence that at least 15 of these hotspots may indeed turn into active fire spots," he said.

Sugarin further explained that generally speaking, the weather forecast across the province of Riau is sunny with a chance of some overcast conditions. That said, there are a significant possibility of light-to-moderate showers - followed by a chance of strong gale force winds and thunderstorms in the Riau's southern, central and northern regions. "Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 32.0-35.0 degrees centigrade," he said.

The fires have begun to produce haze that has caused a significant decline in air quality across several areas, including Dumai and Pelalawan - where visibility has dropped to 4 kilometres. "The haze is visible to the naked eye," said Sugarin.

The Chief Firefighter for Bengkalis Disaster Mitigation Agency, Suiswantoro said that fires have been reported in the village of Muara in Siak Kecil district - where fires have ravaged some 4 hectares of fields. "The fires were first reported three days ago," he said.

Fires on a larger scale have also been reported in the village of Tasik Serai in Pinggir District in Bengkalis, where scores of hectares have been ravaged by an ongoing fire. As of today, a joint-firefighting force - consisting of members of the Indonesian Army (TNI), the Police, and firefighters from the Ministry for the Forestry and the Environment (Manggala Agni) have continued to fight the ongoing fires in the area - aided by helicopters that are tasked to water bomb the affected areas.

Fires in Riau have been reported the dry season began - with the very first reports emerging as early as last month. Riau's Special Taskforce for Field and Forest Fires have since deployed six water bombers to fight the fires, and have begun to resort to weather modification techniques to create artificial rain - while the TNI, Police, and Manggala Agni utilised the land route to fight the fires.

The fires in Riau has claimed one casuaty - an enlisted TNI Officer from Dumai's 004 Aerial Artillery and Defence Detachment - Private 1st. Class Wahyudi - who perished during a fire fighter operation in the village of Pasir Putih in the District of Bagan Sinembag in Rokan Ilir. Prior to the discovery of Wahyudi's body, he had been reported missing from his group for a week.


Air Pollution Levels in West Kalimantan Improve
Sahat Oloan Saragih Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. The air pollution index readings in Pontianak, West Kalimantan and its surroundings reduced slightly to the "moderate" range on Wednesday (24/08), after being marked as "unhealthy" on Tuesday following the increasing number of forest fire hotspots in the region.

An index reading between 51-100 is moderate and 101-199 is considered unhealthy.

Based on observations by the Modis satellite, 61 hotspots have been detected in West Kalimantan, scattered around the districts of Sambas, Mempawah, Sanggau, Ketapang, Sintang, Bengkayang, Sekadau, Melawi and Kubu Raya.

Sambas has the most number of hotspots reported, with 18, followed by Mempawah and Kubu Raya with 9 each.

Data from Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, or BMKG said the number of hotspots spreading in West Kalimantan reached 100 last week.

“But now, it has declined to 61 [hotspots],” Dasnian, Pontianak BMKG spokesperson said on Wednesday.

There is likely to be some respite over the next few days as visibility levels have improved from 7.30 a.m. and there is a predicted forecast of rain set to arrive by the end of the week.

“If the [hotspots persist], then the city of Pontianak and its surrounding areas will be blanketed by haze,” Dasnian said.

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Singapore Offers Assistance in Anticipation of Haze Returning

Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. Indonesian Ambassador I Gede Ngurah Swajaya said the government of Singapore has offered assistance to put out peatland and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

"The Singaporean government has already offered to douse the fires – they have offered a plane and a helicopter," Ngurah told state-run news agency Antara in Jakarta on Wednesday (24/08).

The Indonesian government has not yet confirmed whether it would accept the offer of foreign assistance, since the forest fires this year are not as hazardous as last year.

"The hotspots this year are much fewer compared to last year. In addition to the thorough monitoring conducted by officials, the unusually wet dry season has been favorable to us," Ngurah added.

While smoke from the fires has yet to reach the city-state, the Singaporean government expressed its readiness to cooperate in anticipation of this happening.

"This is a concrete step in working together as a government, private sector and community to put out the fires," the ambassador said.

In Riau province, 35 hotspots have been detected in the districts of Rokan Hulu, Siak, Inhu, Pelalawan, Bengkalis and Dumai.

North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Lampung, Bangka Belitung, Jambi and West Kalimantan have a combined total of 43 reported hotspots.

On Sunday, Malaysia also offered to assist Indonesia by deploying aerial water bombers after detecting haze in the capital Kuala Lumpur last week.

We are prepared to send our Bombardier aircraft to Sumatra to help put out the forest fires that have been responsible for the cross-border haze," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim said, as reported by Malaysian news outlets.

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Malaysia: Matang mangroves -- A jewel in the mud

T. AVINESHWARAN The Star 24 Aug 16;

THE MATANG Mangrove Forest is already recognised by Unesco as one of the world’s best-managed mangrove forests, and now Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar wants Guinness World Records to also recognise it as as the world’s best-managed mangrove forest.

Speaking to reporters after launching the National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day at the Matang Mangrove Forest, Wan Junaidi said if Guinness recognises the forest, it will help boost eco-tourism in the country.

“This is going to be a long process and I will start discussions with the state government and other stakeholders. They’ve certainly managed this area well.”

Wan Junaidi said the authorities tasked with the care of the are are well-versed in sustainable development and are able to control the activities in the forest.

“People use the wood of mangrove trees for charcoal, but the authorities have a system and they make sure the trees for charcoal are managed well.

“This resource must be well looked after but we should also see the economic side of it. So far, we have been managing these resources well and making sure we benefit economically,” he said in a press conference after launching the event and planting some trees in the mangrove area.

National Mangrove Ecosystem Conservation Day is in line with the government’s effort to conserve and maintain mangrove forests to ensure that they can perform their role in the ecosystem as a buffer zone that provides a natural protection from the sea, and a rich economic resource for the people.

Wan Junaidi said his ministry has conducted studies on mangrove species and also conservation efforts along Malaysia’s shores since 2005, after a tsunami struck certain areas in the country in 2004.

“This effort is being carried out simultaneously around the country and we’ve involved various agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and the public.

“The total area involved under this programme up to July this year is 1,059ha with 6.4 million trees planted,” he said to reporters.

State Energy and Water Committee Chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said Malaysia is one of the twelve countries to have various kinds forests and Larut Matang area is internationally recognised by environmentalist and environmental organisations.

“Mangrove forest are vital because of their uniqueness the role they play in nature and there are various types in Malaysia.”

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve was gazetted as Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906 it contains rich and diverse flora and fauna that attracts nature lovers to visit and explore the wetlands.

Near the reserve the Perak State Forestry Department is cultivating the Rhizophora, Lenggadai and Seaward berus mangrove species.

The area is also the breeding ground for crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, lobsters, horseshoe crabs and prawns as well as fish and shellfish.

During his visit to the forest reserve, Wan Junaidi together with the other guests took a walk on a wooden walkway to get a closer look at the mangrove trees and the animals that live in the muddy areas of the mangrove ecosystem.

He also took the opportunity to plant some trees at the area and mingled with the Forestry Department officers to get a feel of the work they are doing in the forest reserve.

In a separate matter, Wan Junaidi acknowledged that some cities in the country have recorded moderate Air Pollutant Index readings over the last week and said the haze season is back.

Wan Junaidi said this is due to forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

But he said things have changed as the Indonesian authorities are taking swift action to combat forest fires though the effects of it are still being felt in Malaysia.

“It hasn’t reached a critical stage but I will write a letter to Indonesia Forestry and Environment Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya Bakar to tell her that the haze is coming here.

“We don’t want to pick a fight, but we just want to notify them that the haze is here,” he said to reporters.

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Indonesia: Vets Trained to Save Sumatran Tigers From Extinction

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. With the constant threat of habitat degradation and poaching hanging over them, the critically endangered Sumatran tigers have been known to scour for food in residential areas around the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program (WCS-IP), there have been 113 cases of human-tiger conflicts in 23 villages between 2008 and 2015, with two human casualties reported in 2011 and one in 2015.

WCS-IP data also showed that 292 livestock, mostly goats and cattle, had been lost during tiger attacks in several villages around the outskirts of the mountainous national park, which stretches across three provinces, Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra.

The wildlife organization has been offering training courses for veterinarians to drill them in emergency responses to reduce the number of tiger deaths during a conflict with humans — a vital endeavor since the critically endangered species is nearly extinct.

"We need vets to help handle clashes between tigers and humans, especially to help relocate injured tigers after a conflict like that," WCS-IP country director Noviar Andayani said in a statement on Tuesday (23/08).

"We hope to create a network of trained veterinarians in the three provinces where the national park is located," Noviar said. "That should help us immeasurably to save Sumatran tigers from extinction."

The most recent training in Lampung lasted four days and involved 17 veterinarians.

According to the wildlife organization, the severe lack of wildlife medics and government support in Indonesia has been the greatest obstacle in protecting the Sumatran tigers.

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Indonesia: Tens of thousands fish die in Kedungombo

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 16;

Thousands of red tilapia and common carp in bamboo cages belonging to fish farmers at Kedungombo Dam, Sragen, Central Java, have died over the past two days.

The farmers suspect extreme weather was the cause.

Daryono Gundul, one fish cage owner, said the most of the dead fish were found in Ngasinan village. In the past two days, 15 to 25 tons of fish died had each day.

“Each farmer has suffered different levels of loss, starting from hundreds of thousands of rupiah to tens of millions of rupiah,” Daryono said.

Mitra Tani suffered the biggest loss, he said, because the owner moved his aquaculture cages too late.

Ngargotirto village head, whose name is also Daryono, said every year in Kedungombo fish in aquaculture cages died. Change in weather caused fungus that killed the fish. He said the fungus came from the sedimentation and residue of fish feed, which rose from the bottom of the dam in extreme weather.

Besides moving the cages to edge of the dam, farmers also supplied oxygen by creating air circulation using pumps.

Another farmer, Suharno, said some of the dead fish were cut into pieces for feed while others were buried.

Suharno said there were 81 fish farmers with 1,600 cages in Ngasinan village alone. Each day the village produced 5 to 7 tons of fish per day to meet demand from Surakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali. (evi)

Farmers suffer losses as fish die
Sragen Jakarta Post 25 Aug 16;

Tens of thousands of fish in fishing cages in the Kedungombo Resevoir in Sumberlawang, Sragen, Central Java, have died in the past two days, apparently due to extreme weather.

Fisherman Daryono Gundul confirmed that 15 to 25 tons of fish died in the past few days, leaving the fishermen with millions of rupiah in financial losses.

“Each fisherman may have suffered [losses of] millions of rupiah depending on the differences in the number of dead fish,” he added.

He said the Mitra Tani cooperative suffered the biggest financial loss as its operator was late to pull out the fishing cage.

Ngargotirto village head Daryono said the significant loss of fish in Kedungombo was an annual phenomenon. Strong wind disturbed the water, making the sediment in the bottom of the reservoir rise, thus poisoning the fish, he added.

“The muddy water means a lack of oxygen for the fish. They will also get poisoned by food residue from the sediment,” Daryono said.

He said some fish farmers managed to save their fish by pulling their cages out of the water in time.

At least 500 fish cages had been pulled out of the water. Other fish farmers used air pumps to circulate oxygen into the water to help the fish survive the poisoning.

“The moment I saw numerous dead fish, I immediately pulled out the fish cages to prevent any more from dying,” he said.

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