Best of our wild blogs: 17-18 Sep 16

Night Walk At Punggol Waterway Park (16 Sep 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Is this a Greater Sand Plover?
Singapore Bird Group

Chek Jawa boardwalk slowly
wild shores of singapore

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Singapore’s rough week for shipping foreshadows challenging 2017

Today Online 16 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — It has been a rough week for Singapore’s shipping services industry and the going could get even tougher next year with record debt falling due.

Rickmers Maritime, which operates container ships, said Thursday (Sept 15) it is asking creditors for leniency on about US$253 million (S$345 million) of debt. Marco Polo Marine, a provider of barges and tugs for coal, steel scrap and iron ores, said Tuesday it’s asking bondholders for approval to delay paying S$50 million of securities due next month. The city-state’s shipping and other logistics firms face a record US$1.8 billion in note repayments in 2017, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Singapore, a former British colony, relied on its port to help transform itself into one of Asia’s so-called tiger economies. Container throughput shrank 8.7 per cent in 2015 as global trade slowed, while slumping crude prices have hurt firms that service the energy industry. Swiber Holdings, which operates construction vessels to support the oil industry, defaulted in August, while Ezra Holdings said last week it held talks on potential fundraising. Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp have reported slumping profits.

“It doesn’t look like the worst is over for the maritime industry,” said Mr Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Fraser Securities in Singapore. “It’s tough for the creditors. The banks need to continue to provide liquidity given the industry’s cashflows are tight.”

Singapore’s bad loans rose to 2.25 per cent of the total in 2015, the highest since 2009. Oil services firms are also facing mounting difficulties as crude prices have dropped to about half the prices in 2013, forcing energy giants to put investment plans on hold.

“The shipping and oil and gas space has really been a minefield in the bond market,” said Mr Terence Lin, an assistant director of bonds and portfolio management at fund researcher iFast Corp in Singapore. “One of the positives from this is that there’ll be increased scrutiny on very levered companies, and a push for management to take corrective plans or pre-empt liquidation outcomes.”

Rickmers Maritime won’t be able to repay US$179.7 million of senior debt due in March 2017 and the interest and principal on S$100 million of notes due in May 2017, it said in a filing Thursday. It’s asking investors to exchange their debt with S$28 million of new perpetual securities to avoid potential liquidation or judicial management that it says would be “likely to result in zero recovery for noteholders”.

Marco Polo Marine told some noteholders of its debt-delay plan at a meeting Tuesday, and those present “appeared generally supportive”, it said in an exchange filing. It will hold another meeting on Sept 16 on the debt extension proposal, which it didn’t disclose.

“The boards and management teams of the offshore and marine bond issuers still seem to be in denial on the need to do proper balance sheet restructuring,” said Mr Kurt Metzger, a Singapore-based restructuring consultant at GEM Advisory. “Bondholders are facing significantly higher risk and should be looking for significantly higher returns and improved structures.” BLOOMBERG

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Tanah Merah beach cleaning drive turns up 500kg of waste

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 18 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: Volunteers collected a half a tonne of trash from a single 800-metre stretch of coastline in eastern Singapore on Saturday (Sep 17).

Around 200 of them, comprising members of the public, corporates and students from the National University of Singapore (NUS), had packed the beach at Tanah Merah early that morning to commemorate the 25th International Coastal Clean-up Singapore.

When they descended on the beach, the participants were greeted by a long line of washed up garbage comprising slippers, food packaging and fishing items, as well as a buoy and piece of luggage.

NUS undergraduate Giles Ee said he was shocked by the sight: "I wasn't expecting there to be so much. I thought it would be quite an easy job; I come here, just pick up small litter. But actually, there's a lot of rubbish. I feel shocked and ashamed that humans have caused this much damage to our natural environment."

School of the Arts student and first-time participant of the coastal clean-up also said the volume was not what she had expected: "You don't actually see a lot of trash lying around like that in Singapore, so to me, it's quite shocking. But it can be a learning experience as well."

Mr N Sivasothi, who oversees the clean-up efforts said that Singapore's recreational beaches are clean because they are well taken care of by authorities. However, the same cannot be said for non-recreational beaches like the one in Tanah Merah.

"This is very interesting for participants because it's a non-recreational beach, so it's not cleaned as frequently, and we get to see what's actually present in the sea and being washed up on our shores," he said.

Mr Sivasothi said the most common type of marine trash collected during coastal clean-ups are single-use consumer items like plastic bottles, straws, cigarette lighters and styrofoam.

This is why 500kg of waste is an "impressive" sum - these are very light items.

Mr Sivasothi also said one way to cut down on marine pollution is simply, to cut down on generating waste. "We live as if there's no tomorrow, like we have unlimited space," he said.

Several participants have vowed to respond positively to the experience, including NUS undergraduate Kenneth Lee.

"I may return to the school community with an idea for a campaign, which can help reduce plastic products or recycle them so we find less of these on beaches," he said.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, around 60 volunteers got into kayaks and paddled from Sembawang beach and Seletar Island while picking up trash in the water. They hauled a total of 167kg of waste.

It is part of a first-of-its-kind initiative by the Marine Port Authority of Singapore that comes on top of its daily efforts to deploy garbage collection and flotsam retrieval craft to pick up trash from ships and along the waterways.

Supported by the Singapore Waterways Watch Society, the kayaking expedition hopes to raise awareness of litter in coastal areas other than those on beaches.

A total of 3,500 volunteers took part in the island-wide cleanup efforts. The data on the types of trash, the amount, as well as where they were found, will be submitted to various agencies and non-governmental organisations like the Ocean Conservancy for analysis and research.

- CNA/hs

MPA Media Release

17 September 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us at this water clean-up event held in conjunction with International Coastal Clean-up. I am delighted to see so many young volunteers joining us for a meaningful cause on a Saturday afternoon, thank you. I would also like to thank the Singapore Waterways Watch Society for supporting us not only in this event but also on our overall efforts to raise greater awareness on the importance of keeping our waters clean.

International Coastal Clean-up

2 International Coastal Clean-up is an annual event that is held in partnership with volunteer organisations and individuals around the globe. Every year, passionate environment lovers and supporters will come together on this day to remove litter from the world’s beaches and waterways. I was told we have about 3,500 other volunteers who are out at the various Singapore beaches today to pick-up litter. Data collected from the clean-up efforts will then be submitted for further analysis and research.

3 This is the first time that MPA is teaming up with ICC Singapore to raise awareness of litter in coastal areas besides litter on the beach. It is also important that we support the efforts of NParks and NEA to keep Singapore clean and green by including our coastal waters and islands particularly now that we have our own national marine park at St John’s and Sister’s Island marine park. .

Ill-effects of marine pollution

4 As we all know, marine pollution is a global concern. It not only harms the environment and marine life but also poses potential threats to navigational safety.

5 Marine debris comes in many forms. Plastic bags, glass, metal, Styrofoam and tyres are all examples of debris that often end up in our waterways. These debris can come from many sources. From land, rivers, aqua farms and even ships.

Protecting the environment is a shared responsibility

6 To keep our port waters clean, MPA deploys garbage collection and flotsam retrieval craft on a daily basis to collect garbage from ships anchored at the anchorages and to retrieve flotsam and debris along the common channels, fairways and anchorages. This is part of our efforts in protecting the sea environment as well as to ensure that all vessels will be able to navigate safely within the port. MPA also works with other government agencies such as NEA and NParks, and liaise with owners of waterfront properties to ensure that they also do their part to clear their own areas of flotsam and debris.


7 Keeping our waters clean is a shared responsibility. Together with MPA’s existing marine environmental protection and safety efforts, we hope this clean-up on kayak event can help young Singaporeans understand the importance of protecting Singapore’s port waters and marine environment.

8 Thank you again for spending your Saturday afternoon in this meaningful event. I wish you an enjoyable day ahead. Thank you.

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More rain, thunderstorms expected in second half of September: Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 16 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: The second fortnight of September will see higher rainfall compared with the first half of the month, said Meteorological Service Singapore on Friday (Sep 16).

It added that strong solar heating of the land could give rise to thunderstorms on five to seven days, mostly in the late morning and early afternoon.

Daily maximum temperatures on most days are likely to range between 32°C and 33°C, the Met Service said. On rainy days and especially during the night, the daily minimum temperature is forecast to be cooler than normal and range between 22°C and 24°C. The total rainfall for September 2016 is expected to be above normal.

The Met Service added that prevailing southwest monsoon conditions are forecast to persist for the rest of the month. During this period, the low-level winds are expected to blow mainly from the southwest. It added that the presence of low-pressure systems like tropical storms in the nearby region could also cause winds to turn to blow from the west on some days.


Singapore saw some "squally weather" in the first half of September, said the Met Service, noting that on a few days, squall lines that developed over Sumatra or the Strait of Malacca passed over Singapore, bringing widespread thundery showers and gusty winds in the pre-dawn hours and morning.

Arising from the squally weather, the Met Service logged the heaviest rainfall on Sep 14 over the Paya Lebar-MacPherson area - a total of 86.6mm of rain. It observed that overall, most of the thundery showers in the first half of the month fell in the late morning and early afternoon, and were due to strong solar heating of land areas.

The agency added that rainfall was slightly above normal over the central and western parts of Singapore. The highest rainfall of 128.9mm (54 per cent above average) was recorded around the Paya Lebar area, it said. Rainfall was lowest around Sentosa island where 39.8mm (53 per cent below average) was recorded.

The lowest daily maximum temperature recorded was 29.4°C on Sep 12 when rain fell over the island from the early morning and eased off in the later part of the afternoon. The lowest daily minimum temperature recorded ranged between 21.9°C and 25.8°C.

Singapore also saw a few warm days at the beginning of September, where the highest daily maximum temperature recorded was 34.2°C.

- CNA/xk

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'No substantive evidence' to stop using antibacterial soap: Singapore Health Sciences Authority

Channel NewsAsia 16 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: While washing your hands with regular soap and water would suffice for personal hygiene purposes, there is "no substantive evidence" to stop using antibacterial hand and body washes, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Friday (Sep 16).

Replying to Channel NewsAsia's query on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s recent ban of 19 ingredients commonly found in antibacterial hand and body washes, HSA said Singapore is part of the regional framework of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which adopts regulatory principles and requirements similar to European Union (EU) regulations when it comes to cosmetic products such as antibacterial soaps and hand washes.

The FDA had proposed banning the ingredients in 2013 unless companies could prove they were safe and effective, and went ahead with the ban on Sep 2 as it was unsatisfied with the data. The US authority had said that the antibacterial products were no more effective than soap and water, and could cause long-term harm.

However, HSA said Singapore regulated cosmetic products primarily on the "inherent safety" of the active ingredients and had not found evidence of some of these products being harmful to humans.

"Based on the safety assessments by the EU and ASEAN, 13 of the 19 ingredients announced by US FDA are already prohibited for use or only allowed for use with restrictions in Singapore," the spokesperson said.

According to the authority, the 13 ingredients currently already regulated in Singapore are:

Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
Poloxamer-iodine complex
Povidone-iodine (5 per cent to 10 per cent)
Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
Phenol (greater than 1.5 per cent)
Phenol (less than 1.5 per cent)
Triple dye
The authority specifically addressed the use of triclosan, which has been linked to changes to hormone behaviour and antibiotic resistance with long-term exposure in animal studies.

The chemical, while regulated in Singapore, is still allowed as a preservative in cosmetic products at a concentration of 0.3 per cent and in higher concentrations in antiseptic preparations, HSA said, adding that the antibacterial agent has not been shown to be harmful to humans.

Although triclosan is allowed in cosmetic products in Singapore as long as they are within the restrictions, some brands have been quietly taking it off their ingredient list in past years amid health concerns. For example, Shokubutsu's antibacterial body foam was formerly marketed as containing "shiso and triclosan", but triclosan has since been removed from its list of ingredients. Toothpaste brand Darlie's Singapore page also released a statement in August 2014 declaring that its products were triclosan-free.

Another six ingredients banned by the US FDA in antibacterial hand and body washes – cloflucarban, fluorosalan, hexylresorcinol, methylbenzethnium chloride, secondary amyltricresols and sodium oxychlorosene – continue to be allowed without restriction in cosmetic products as "they have not been shown to pose safety concerns in humans", the authority said.

"HSA will also continue to work with our international counterparts to review the long-term safety of these antibacterials and will initiate appropriate regulatory action as necessary," it added in its statement to Channel NewsAsia.

- CNA/mz

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New Zika cluster in Sengkang, as local cases hit 369

Today Online 16 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — Fourteen new cases of Zika were confirmed as at 3pm on Friday (Sept 16), bringing the total number of locally transmitted cases to 369.

A new cluster at the Sengkang Central/Sengkang East Avenue area has also been reported, with two cases at Block 272C and Block 279C in the last two weeks, according to an update on the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Zika webpage.

This brings the total number of clusters to eight: Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive/Paya Lebar Way/Kallang Way/Circuit Road/Geylang East Central/Geylang East Avenue 1; Bedok North Avenue 2/Bedok North Avenue 3/Bedok North Street 3; Joo Seng Road; Bishan Street 12; Elite Terrace; Ubi Crescent; Jalan Raya/Circuit Road; and Sengkang Central/Sengkang East Avenue.

The bulk of the cases are still in the Aljunied cluster, with 283 cases as of Friday, of which 39 emerged in the last two weeks.

The second biggest cluster is the Elite Terrace cluster, with 11 cases.

The other clusters are at Bedok North Avenue 2/Bedok North Avenue 3/Bedok North Street 3; Joo Seng Road; Bishan Street 12; Ubi Crescent; and Balam Road/Jalan Raya/Circuit Road.

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Indonesia: Satellite detects 63 hotspots on Sumatra Island

Antara 16 Sep 16;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - NASAs satellite detected 63 hotspots on Sumatra Island on Friday, a sharp increase from the 14 found on the previous day.

The hotspots were found in eight of the islands 10 provinces, Sugarin, head of the Pekanbaru meteorology, climatology, and geophysics office, said here, Friday.

Thirty-one hotspots, or 49 percent of the total hotspots, were found in Riau Province, of which nine were believed to be fire spots.

South Sumatra Province had 15 hotspots; North Sumatra, 5; Bengkulu, 3; Jambi, 3; Lampung, 3; West Sumatra, 2; and Bangka Belitung, 1.

In Riau, the hotspots were detected in Pelalawan (7), Rohan Hulu (7), Siak (6), Dumai (4), Kampar (4), Rokan Hilir (2), and Kuantan Singingi (1).

The Riau authorities have extended the emergency status until November 30 to optimize efforts to put out the forest, peatland, and plantation fires.(*)

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Indonesia: 800,000 people in W. Nusa Tenggara affected by water crisis

Panca Nugraha The Jakarta Post 16 Sep 16;

Four of 10 regencies in West Nusa Tenggara have declared an emergency after two months of water crisis, in which residents have depended on water supplied by trucks from the provincial administration.

The four regencies are: Central Lombok, East Lombok and North Lombok on Lombok Island and Bima regency on Sumbawa Island.

“The four have issued a water emergency through a decree,” said the head of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), Muhammad Rum, in Mataram on Friday. He said the water crisis had been going on for the past two months and its impact had spread wider.

For example, he said, the East Lombok regency had recorded that dozens of villages in 12 districts depended on water trucks sent by the BPBD and East Lombok Social Affairs Agency. “Out of 12 districts in East Lombok, seven are experiencing a severe water crisis,” he said.

Central Lombok recorded eight districts having a water crisis, four districts in North Lombok and six districts in Bima.

Rum said the number of people affected by the crisis in the four regencies had reached 800,000. He said his office and the administration offices had dropped water trucks to the affected villages but geographical challenges in some villages had hampered the effort.

He said water crises occurred annually in several regencies in the province. He suggested drilling deep wells to mitigate the impact of such disasters in the future.

“So far, the solution has been reactionary. Water trucks can only help for a short period of time, and then next year, it happens again. We suggest drilling wells in several vulnerable areas,” he said. (evi)

Water crisis worsens in four NTB regencies
Jakarta Post 17 Sep 16;

The Mataram Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has said four out of the 10 regencies and cities in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) are seriously short of clean water.

The four regencies are Central Lombok, East Lombok and North Lombok in Lombok Island and Bima in Sumbawa Island.

“Four regencies have declared themselves to be in a water crisis with the issuance of regional head decrees,” BPBD head Muhammad Rum said.

He said the water crisis in the four regencies had begun two months ago and the affected areas were expanding.

In East Lombok, for example, residents of dozens of villages in 12 districts are dependent on water supplied by the social affairs agency and the BPBD office.

“The East Lombok administration has requested financial assistance to deal with the water crisis,” he added.

Rum said a total of 800,000 people were affected by the water crisis in the four regencies.

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Indonesia: W. Kalimantan man imprisoned for selling protected animal parts

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 17 Sep 16;

The Singkawang District Court has sentenced a souvenir seller in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, to nine months and 10 days in jail and ordered him to pay a Rp 50 million (US$3,795) fine for owning and selling body parts of protected animals.

The seller, whose name was not revealed, was arrested on April 21 in a joint operation between the West Kalimantan Police special crimes directorate and West Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) after it was discovered that the seller was selling animals body parts, BKSDA chief Sustyo Iriyono said on Saturday.

"Souvenir stores selling parts of rare animals are always accepted by the public because there is a certain prestige in owning preserved animals. We hope the verdict will provide a deterrent effect.”

The court found the seller guilty of owning and selling three orangutan skulls, two sun bear skulls and sun bear fangs and nails, nine antlers, two beaks of helmeted hornbills, a number of preserved pangolins, porcupine thorns and preserved turtles. The seller admitted that he received his products from many parts of Kalimantan.

West Kalimantan World Wildlife Fund (WWF) manager Albertus Tjiu welcomed the sentence as previously perpetrators for similar cases had only received two to five-month prison sentences. (rin)

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Indonesia: Fisheries Minister Receives WWF Leaders for a Living Planet Award

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 17 Sep 16;

Jakarta. Environmental conservation agency World Wildlife Fund has presented a "Leaders for a Living Planet" award to Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.

The award celebrates individuals who have made a significant contribution to the conservation of the natural world and sustainable development. It was presented on Friday (16/09) in Washington, D.C., by WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse during the "Our Ocean" conference organized by the United States Department of State.

"Susi Pudjiastuti has spent a lifetime fighting illegal fishing, ensuring science-based sustainable fisheries management and promoting marine health by expanding Indonesia's network of marine parks and protected areas. There is no greater champion fighting for the health of Indonesia's oceans," Kakabadse said.

During her term, the minister has issued a number of policies to protect the ocean, including ratifying the Port State Measures Agreement, which prohibits the use of environmentally damaging fishing methods. She has also established marine conservation areas, and has been promoting protection of marine life.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Unfao), Indonesia's aquaculture is the second largest in the world. Illegal fishing practices, however, cause an annual state loss of $20 billion.

"Susi Pudjiastuti has shown consistency in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to protect Indonesia's marine resources. As a maritime country, Indonesia's maritime assets must be protected and managed effectively for the welfare of its own people and the preservation of the planet," WWF Indonesia Coral Triangle program director Wawan Ridwan said in a statement.

WWF's Leaders for a Living Planet award was founded in 2000, and has so far been given to 100 leaders in environmental conservation.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti recognized as champion for oceans
Antara 17 Sep 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has presented Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, its prestigious Leaders for a Living Planet Award.

The award was presented by WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse at an event coinciding with US Department of States Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

"Ms. Pudjiastuti has spent a lifetime fighting illegal fishing, ensuring science-based sustainable fisheries management, and promoting marine health by expanding Indonesias network of marine parks and protected areas. There is no greater champion fighting for the health of Indonesias oceans," Yolanda was quoted as saying in a WWF press statement.

The award recognizes individuals who make a significant personal contribution to the conservation of the natural world and sustainable development.

Throughout her career, Pudjiastuti has put in place significant policies to safeguard ocean health, including ratifying the Port State Measures Agreement, introducing minimum catch sizes for certain species, banning the use of harmful fishing gear that threatens the environment, establishing marine protected areas, and improving marine species protections.

"Minister Pudjiastuti has been strong and consistent in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to protect Indonesias ocean resources. As a maritime country, Indonesias valuable ocean assets need to be fully protected and effectively managed for the prosperity of the people and the planet.WWF hopes Minister Pudjiastuti continues her bold actions improving fisheries sustainability along with establishing more marine protected areas that will also contribute to Indonesias commitment to the Aichi target," said Wawan Ridwan, the Coral Triangle Program Director of WWF Indonesia.

Over 100 individuals have received this award since 2000, recognizing a wide variety of initiatives ranging from local actions to protect wildlife, to leading government initiatives that achieve specific conservation goals.

Recent high-level recipients include Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, the Minister of Fisheries of Norway the Vice-Premier of China and the Ministers of Water Affairs of France, Togo and Benin.

The Leaders for a Living Planet award winners inspire environmental leadership and demonstrate personal responsibility to protect the environment.

Their actions represent an important contribution to the achievement of WWFs global conservation priority goals.

"When added together, multiplied and magnified, these actions make a major contribution to securing the status of our living world," WWF said.(*)

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Indonesia: Flegt License Shows Indonesia Is Serious in Combating Illegal Logging -- WWF

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 16 Sep 16;

Jakarta. Indonesia will soon send its first timber export to Europe which meets the European Union's Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade, or Flegt, standards.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) praised Indonesia for being the first country to meet the stringent requirements, which the EU designed specifically to combat illegal logging.

"It shows Indonesia's commitment to forest conservation and improving forest governance. It is now the only country in the world that sells certified timber products," WWF Indonesia acting chief executive Victor Benja Mambai said in a statement on Friday (16/09).

Indonesia's timber products are being verified through the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), which means all Indonesian timber legally exported to Europe comes from responsibly managed forests.

The European Union and Indonesia have agreed the first licensed timber export under Flegt will start before Nov. 15.

"The SVLK took more than 10 years to process and it already yields very encouraging results. This could not have happened without a strong commitment from the Indonesian government," Aditya Bayunanda, WWF Indonesia forest commodity market and transformation leader, said.

WWF Indonesia, Forest Rescue Network Riau and Friends of the Earth Indonesia will join forces as "Eyes on the Forest" to monitor SVLK's implementation and ensure no illegal timber enters the system.

FAO Praises Indonesia for Flegt Timber License, Commits to Monitoring System
Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 16 Sep 16;

Jakarta. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has welcomed an agreement between Indonesia and the European Union to issue the world's first Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, or Flegt, timber license.

The FAO has called it a major achievement in the fight against the global illegal logging and timber trade.

"Indonesia has taken important steps to strengthen forest governance, combat illegal logging, modernize its forest sector, and improve business practices," Robert Simpson of the FAO's Flegt Program, which supports tropical timber-producing countries engaged in these initiatives, said in a statement on Thursday (15/09).

As of Nov. 15, all timber shipments exported from Indonesia to EU member states will be accompanied by a Flegt license to certify that it has been harvested, transported, processed and traded in accordance with Indonesian law.

"In addition to helping limit the environmental damage caused by illegal logging, demonstrating timber legality opens the door to promoting the sustainable livelihoods of forest communities and increasing access to international wood markets," Simpson said.

The region established in 2013 the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits the sale of illegal timber products in European countries.

As Indonesia supplies a third of the EU's tropical timber imports, the Flegt license will automatically allow the country's timber exports to enter that market.

According to the FAO, forest crimes, including the illegal logging and timber trade, account for between 10 percent and 30 percent of the total global trade, and contributes to a loss of forests and biodiversity, accelerating climate change.

"They also rob developing nations of revenue and can fuel cycles of corruption, poverty and conflict," Simpson added.

The FAO will continue to support the process by providing assistance for projects to strengthen the development and implementation of the national timber legality assurance system.

As corruption is the biggest threat to the agreement, the FAO will also assist by empowering independent forest networks to monitor the sector.

Indonesia is the first country to obtain the license, with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, and the Republic of Congo working towards the same goal.

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