Best of our wild blogs: 2 Nov 16

COUNTDOWN to the 1st Singapore Eco Film Festival – Nov 10 to 13 @ the ArtScience Museum

13 Nov (Sun) FREE Guided Herp Walk @ Bukit Timah!
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Wild fun for kids during the December school holidays!
wild shores of singapore

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Answers sought to Cambodian sand export to Singapore

Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Yesenia Amaro Phnom Penh Post 2 Nov 16;

Pressure mounted on the Ministry of Mines and Energy yesterday from politicians and civil society for the ministry to explain to the public massive discrepancies in data on sand exports to Singapore.

Just one day after the ministry temporarily shuttered six sand depots in Kandal over infractions, CNRP spokesperson Yim Sovann during a party meeting yesterday pointed to irregularities in data on sand exports to Singapore as evidence of ongoing corruption in the Kingdom.

UN data show $752 million in imports of sand from Cambodia to Singapore since 2007, despite the Kingdom only reporting about $5 million in exports to the small island nation. A ministry official initially questioned the reliability of the UN data, but statistics obtained from Singapore’s Trade Ministry closely mirror the UN’s.

“We see that there is a lot of loss to the national budget [regarding sand cases],” Sovann said. “The anti-corruption commission will research this issue and will call [Mines Minister Suy Sem] for questioning in the National Assembly regarding the discrepancies in Singapore statistics and Cambodian statistics.”

Piling on, a group of 47 civil society organisations sent a letter to the Ministry of Mines and Energy requesting that it provide clarification on the matter. The organisations outlined questions they would like answered by the ministry on the discrepancies on the number of tonnes of sand exported to Singapore and its value.

Him Yun, with the Coalition for Integrity & Social Accountability, said the ministry should clarify to the public and provide a reason for the inconsistency of data. “We urge the Ministry of Mines, as well as other ministries, to be transparent with the public,” he said. “We hope that they will react to our statement.”

Vann Sophath, of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, which was behind the letter, said Sem in June made a commitment to be transparent, and even welcomed requests from the public wishing to obtain documents related to mining.

Responding to their request “would be a sign of transparency”, he said.

The organisations also suggested that the ministry restrict the export of sand as well, but officials were tight-lipped yesterday on what measures they would take to address the inconsistencies.

Ministry of Mines spokesman Meng Saktheara said the ministry had received the letter by the NGOs and was carefully looking into the questions. “The ministry takes this issue very seriously and will cooperate with all parties involved, including civil society,” he said.

Dith Tina, secretary of state for the ministry, declined to comment yesterday, but said the ministry would respond to the NGOs “in detail”.

On Monday, a half-dozen sand depots in Kandal were shut down after the Mines Ministry and the Ministry of Interior’s department of traffic and order launched an inspection of vehicles transporting sand, soil and stone, said Heng Chanthuon, deputy secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines. Ten overloaded vehicles, which were fined, led officials to the six sites.

Though Chanthuon said the depots’ licences were expired, the ministry said they were closed because of the overloaded trucks.

Additional reporting by Bun Sengkong

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Panel members reviewing environmental measures for Mandai nature hub named

Straits Times 1 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE - The members of a panel, which will monitor and review the implementation of measures to address concerns about the negative environmental effects of a massive makeover of Mandai into a nature hub, were revealed on Tuesday (Nov 1).

Mandai Park Holdings, the developer of the hub, said in a statement that its Environmental Advisory Panel comprises independent subject matter experts from the scientific community, academia, nature groups and the private sector.

"All representatives share a profound interest in conserving biodiversity and nature, as well as promoting sustainability in Singapore," it added.

The chairman of the panel is Professor Peter Ng, head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Other members on the panel are Professor Ng Soon Chye, advisory council member of the Nature Society (Singapore); Dr Shawn Lum, senior lecturer at the Nanyang Technological University's Asian School of the Environment; and Mr Tai Lee Siang, chairman of the World Green Building Council.

Mandai Park Holdings said the environmental measures for the Mandai makeover project were identified through an environmental impact assessment and documented in a plan that will be reviewed in consultation with relevant government agencies on an ongoing basis.

An initial environmental assessment report released in July had set out six mitigation measures to minimise the Mandai hub's impact on the environment. They included one that swops the locations of the new Rainforest Park and Bird Park, such that existing trees do not have to be cleared.

Then in October, six new mitigation measures were announced, including plans to locate a visitor arrival node at least 10m from a freshwater stream, and retain a forested strip that can serve as a link for wildlife to cross into the neighbouring Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The representatives of the Environmental Advisory Panel will periodically review the mitigation, management and monitoring measures in the Mandai makeover project's design, construction and operation plans as they change and get updated.

The panel will also advise the board of Mandai Park Holdings on the environmental management of the Mandai nature hub, as well as regularly monitor the effectiveness of the environmental measures.

If required, the panel will provide oversight and guidance on corrective actions, which may include modifications to an environmental management and monitoring plan.

Said the panel's chairman Prof Ng: "Our overall task as Environmental Advisory Panel members is to guide development plans to achieve good environmental stewardship. It is critically important that the conservation needs for the project site as well as adjacent areas are addressed.

"I look forward to working alongside fellow nature lovers, biologists, and sustainability experts, as well as Mandai Park Holdings to achieve the best possible result for the rejuvenated Mandai precinct."

Mr. S Dhanabalan, chairman of Mandai Park Holdings, said that the organisation is committed to developing a destination that "celebrates Singapore's natural heritage and seeks to preserve it for generations to come".

"With (Environmental Advisory Panel's) deep passion for nature and technical expertise, I believe that the (panel) will provide valuable insights for the betterment of Mandai," he added.

Members of the public who are interested to comment on or provide suggestions about the Mandai development can visit for more details.

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More thundery showers in first half of November

Today Online 1 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE — Keep your umbrellas handy over the next two weeks: More thundery showers are expected on five to six days of the first half of November, said the Meteorological Service Singapore in its fortnightly weather outlook on Tuesday (Nov 1).

The showers follow expected weather patterns as the inter-monsoon period continues. The Inter-monsoon period is characterised by an increase in the occurrence of showers and light winds.

The average temperature for the next two weeks is forecasted to be around 27°C while maximum daily temperature on most days is predicted to be around 32°C or 33°C. Temperatures may peak to 34°C on a few days.

Singapore generally experienced fewer warm days in the second half of October, compared to the first half, due to more frequent rain showers.

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Malaysia: Flash floods strike parts of Penang yet again

PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 1 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Flash floods inundated a large section of a village here today following continuous overnight rain.

A check at the site showed that knee-deep flood waters had swept past the low-lying village, causing damage to household items.

Residents from some 15 houses at Block K of Kampung Batu Maung were furious when floodwaters gushed into their homes for the third time this year about 7am.

Suhaimi Saidin, 37, was saddened about the recurring flash floods in the village neighborhood and blamed the ongoing highway development as the root cause of the floods.

Showing picture of his house interior inundated by flood waters when met, Suhaimi lamented his misfortune.

"This flood this morning is the worst of its kind.

"My house is filled with filth and mud and the furniture and bedding has been submerged in murky water," he said.

Another resident, Zahara Arshad, 61, said the she was jolted from her sleep when the flood waters swept into her house.

"I had a shock when the water gushed into my house.

"The ongoing highway project and a landed property project off the village have caused the earth drainage to overflow due to the excessive quantity of the rainwater irrigation system" she said.

The cleanup process is in full swing. Civil Defence Department members chipped in to help the villages scrape off the mud stuck at the open compound.

Batu Maung assemblyman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim was at the scene to inspect the damages to the property.

The water level receded about 9am.

Flash floods wreak havoc in Penang
The Star 2 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Heavy rains brought by the northeast monsoon continue to lash Penang, which was hit by floods on Deepavali day.

After residents in Bandar Baru Air Itam, Taman Lumba Kuda and Jalan P. Ramlee bore the brunt of the torrential rain on Saturday, it was the turn of those living in Batu Maung and Permatang Damar Laut.

Continuous rain from 3am yesterday caused the water level to rise to a metre in Batu Maung, affecting more than 30 houses.

Penang Civil Defence Department operations officer Muhammad Aizat Abdul Ghani said 10 personnel rushed to the scene to help.

“However, water had receded by then and there was no immediate danger to the residents,” he added.

Muhammad Aizat said Pe­­nang Island City Council workers helped to clear the debris in flood-hit houses.

Public Works Department director Salleh Awang said the water from the hills had overflowed from the retention pond of a housing project and discharged into the drains along the road.

“The water was supposed to be retained in the pond. The drains along Jalan Batu Maung have not been completed because of the project,” he said yesterday.

Salleh added that the road upgrading project was scheduled to be completed by end of next year.

A Penang Meteorological Depart­ment spokesman said rain over the past few days was the result of the northeast monsoon.

“The rain on Saturday was evident as the winds were blowing in the north and bringing rain in the evening,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Kek Lok Si Tem­ple has refuted news that the temple was closed to the public.

Temple trustee Datuk Steven Ooi said the temple was open as usual.

Floods worsen despite RM94mil for flood mitigation
The Star 1 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Over-exploitation of hill slopes and ‘excessively pro-business policies’ are the main reasons for the floods that have been plaguing the state, said Penang MCA deputy chief Tan Teik Cheng.

He singled out approved development projects around Paya Terubong, Ayer Itam and Sungai Pinang that were putting a strain on the state’s drainage system.

“This time, in addition to floods, landslides also occurred near Air Itam. The culprit is obviously hillside development.”

He said in a statement yesterday that despite a reported RM94,378,364 spent on flood mitigation in the state, the flooding appeared to have become more serious.

“The Penang government spent so much money on flood mitigation even in Teluk Bahang, Bayan Baru, Penang International Airport, Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam but why haven’t we seen the effectiveness of these projects?” he asked.

At a press conference, state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow denied that the flooding of Sungai Dondang and Sungai Air Itam was due to over development.

He asked people to name any hillside project in these areas.

“In the Sungai Dondang and Sungai Air Itam catchment upstream, there are no development projects.

“Even if there are, they are not at hillsides,” he said yesterday in Komtar.

Floods hit Batu Maung, Permatang Damar Laut in Penang
R. SEKARAN The Star 1 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Flash floods hit Batu Maung and Permatang Damar Laut here after a heavy downpour since 2am on Tuesday.

At least 50 houses were flooded putting Civil Defence Department (JPAM) personnel on standby for any evacuation.

In Batu Maung, at least 20 houses were flooded with water reaching a metre high since 3am.

Penang JPAM operations officer Second Lieutenant Muhammad Aizat Abdul Ghani said 10 personnel were sent to the affected areas.

"We are monitoring the situation and are ready for any evacuation if needed," said Muhammad Aizat.

It is believed that the floods were due to clogged drains from upgrading works at a residential project along the Bayan Lepas-Batu Maung area.

Works on clearing the hill for the project had been going on for some time.

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Indonesia: La Nina brings country worst disasters in five years

Moses Ompusunggu, Arya Dipa, Syamsul Huda M. Suhari
The Jakarta Post 1 Nov 16;

Under the spell of La Niña, Indonesia is experiencing its worst hydrological catastrophes in the past five years, according to the country’s disaster mitigation agency.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded that 1,853 natural disasters had happened between January and October, suggesting that 2016 would be the most calamitous year the country has seen in the last five years.

The BNPB estimated that the number of catastrophes throughout the year was likely to exceed the current record from 2014, during which 1,967 disasters occurred.

Of the 1,853 calamities from January to October, 89 percent were hydro-meteorological disasters such as flooding and landslides.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the strong La Niña weather phenomenon throughout the year, as well as the increasing sea surface temperature, partly contributed to the high number of disasters.

The La Niña phenomenon caused heavy rainfall from July to September, during which the country normally experiences a dry season.

Sutopo said that catastrophes happened in almost all provinces in the country from January to October, with most cases recorded in Central Java, where 456 disasters occurred, and in East Java, where 298 disasters affected citizens living in the province.

“Heavy rain will peak between December and February 2017. Disasters are likely to happen in areas prone to floods and landslides,” Sutopo said in a statement.

Floods and landslides in many regions across the country have killed 324 people and displaced 2,4 million citizens, BNPB estimated.

In Gorontalo, heavy rain continue to cause several rivers in the province to overflow. On Sunday, a river that runs into Lake Limboto overflowed and took the lives of three boys, Hutuo subdistrict denizens, who were swimming there.

A local NGO, Gorontalo Digital Area, estimated the floods in Gorontalo have affected about 23,000 residents in four regencies: Gorontalo, Boalemo, North Gorontalo and Bone Bolango.

Previously, Gorontalo environmental activist Rahman Dako said that apart from the extreme weather, the widespread floods were caused by extensive environmental destruction in the region.

West Java deputy governor Deddy Mizwar claimed his administration had done its best to control excessive construction in North Bandung, which is considered a major cause of the worsening annual floods in Bandung.

Deddy said the West Java administration was planning to abrogate a Bandung mayoral regulation on spatial planning in Bandung, as he alleged foul play occurred that allowed a developer to build a condotel in the protected area of the city.

Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil said that spatial planning in the Bandung basin was required to provide directives on how to mitigate perennial flooding in the area.

The government is preparing a presidential regulation to do spatial planning in the area, which consists of Bandung, Cimahi, Bandung regency, Sumedang regency and some parts of West Bandung regency.

A draft bylaw will also initiate spatial planning in North Bandung, which is a designated water catchment area for the city.

North Bandung has historically supplied 60 percent of the 108 million cubic meters of groundwater the city uses annually.

Surakarta braces for bad weather until 2017
The Jakarta Post 2 Nov 16;

The Surakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has issued a “disaster alert” status effective from November 2016 to January 2017 due to extreme weather that could potentially lead to natural disasters in the region.

“Based on a study from the BMKG [Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency], rainfall will be very high, even until March 2017. During this period, there is a very high risk of floods and landslides in the region,” Surakarta BPBD executive head Gatot Sutanto said on Monday.

He said the implementation of the status could be extended if necessary.

To mitigate the impact, Gatot said the local government had begun continuous monitoring of the water levels of the Bengawan Solo River as well as other smaller rivers such as the Pepe, Anyar, Jenes, and Premulung rivers.

The agency is also rigorously checking the functionality of disaster infrastructure.

Separately, Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo acknowledged that the poor condition of drainage systems had increased the risk of flooding in the city.

“For short-term anticipation, we are preparing the quick-response and early-warning systems,” he said.

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Experts Warn Mekong Delta Agriculture, Livelihoods Face Serious Threats

Roseanne Gerin Radio Free Asia 27 Oct 16;

The effects of the severe drought that the El Niño weather phenomenon—exacerbated by climate change—delivered to Southeast Asia this year will be felt for months, if not years, to come in the economically vital Mekong Delta, environmentalists and United Nations experts said.

They also said Vietnam and other Mekong states must brace for an increase in extreme weather events, bolstering early disaster preparedness and response activities to mitigate the potentially devastating effect impact on tens of millions of people and natural resources.

“These types of extreme climate events are foreseen to increase in number and seriousness in the future, which intensifies the current desertification trends in several areas in Vietnam,” said Vu Minh Hai, a senior program manager and chairman of the Climate Change Working Group in Vietnam, a member organization of the NGO network Climate Action Network-International.

Even though the latest El Niño—a weather event that occurs every four to five years and triggers drier and hotter weather conditions in countries in the Southeast Asian monsoon zone—wound down in Vietnam in September, it left in its wake diminished water supplies, risks to people’s health and food security, and a loss of livelihoods.

This El Niño was the strongest ever to hit the Mekong Delta, the fertile region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River empties into the sea through a network of channels, and which is one of the world’s top rice producers and exporters.

The weather system ushered in an increase in storms in 2015, followed by the worst drought in the Mekong Delta area in 90 years, wreaking havoc on the area’s fragile ecosystem and the lives of many of the more than 20 million people who live there.

The climate change issue is “very serious for particular parts” of Southeast Asia, said David Nabarro, the United Nations special adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, during a briefing with reporters at the Social Good Summit in New York in September.

“In the Mekong Delta, we see salination is coming up the river, and it’s affecting the productivity of quite a bit of the land in southern Vietnam, and it’s also affecting parts of Cambodia,” he said. “That whole climate change issue is hitting hard in that region.”

Extreme weather patterns like El Niño, which scientists believe are related to climate change, are increasingly causing slow-onset disasters that pose problems for the global humanitarian system, drive people away after they have lost their livelihoods, and undermine economic development, experts said.

“It’s heartbreaking to see poor countries seeing their development undermined because of climate change that is human-induced now,” said Mary Robinson, one of two special envoys on El Niño and climate appointed by United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon in May.

“Make no mistake about it, it is human-induced, and we are responsible for undermining the development chances—people who haven't been held responsible for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions,” she said during a briefing with reporters at the Social Good Summit in New York in September.

The government of Vietnam has estimated the total economic loss from El Niño at 15 billion dong (U.S. $660.8 million), or 0.35 percent of national GDP, with negative agricultural growth of 0.18 percent for the first time in decades for all affected parts of the country, according to a drought recovery plan issued on Oct. 17 that includes measures to be taken in the short, medium and long terms.

The intense drought that peaked in the country between February and May brought record-high salt levels and severe water shortages. About 2 million people had no access to water for consumption and domestic use, 2.2 million were food insecure, and more than 2 million lost income due to damaged or lost livelihoods, the report said.

Though drought conditions in Vietnam ended in September, their ramifications have created an ongoing need for humanitarian assistance.

“[The] drought impact for affected households is still lingering and needs are pertinent, particularly in terms of water storage and purification, hygiene and nutrition support, disease surveillance and response, and livelihood recovery,” the report said.

The drought recovery plan lays out myriad goals aimed at ensuring that the 18 provinces affected by the drought, including those in the Mekong Delta region, receive water and water treatment supplies, foods, seed packages, nutritional supplements, essential medicines, and fish and poultry restocks. The plan also will provide irrigation infrastructure repairs, cash-for-work programs, and technical assistance and technology for improved meteorological and disaster forecasting.

The provinces have estimated that the total cost of the recovery from now until 2020 will be more than $1.2 billion, the report said.

Significant investment is also needed for recovery measures along with access to climate information services and early warning measures, particularly in light of recurrent droughts and a possible La Niña—the weather pattern closely related to El Niño that usually brings more rain to the region—in the next few months, the document said.

“For medium- and longer-term recovery, there should be a more comprehensive approach to water supply, water, and land resource management, adaption measures for livelihoods and agricultural restructuring for a changing climate,” said Vu Minh Hai of Vietnam's Climate Change Working Group in an email.

The Mekong’s rural poor

Roughly one-fifth of Vietnam’s population of about 94.1 million people who live in the Mekong Delta region are rural poor who depend on fishing and agriculture to eke out a living. They are the ones who have been most affected by the fallout from El Niño.

“Extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and floods … have huge human tolls,” said Maureen Harris, Southeast Asia program director of environmental watchdog International Rivers, in an email response. “Those hardest hit tend to be those living simple and subsistence-based lifestyles in rural areas—farmers and fisherfolk.”

“In the Mekong, many of these are also ethnic minority and indigenous people,” she said.

The high levels of saltwater intrusion brought by El Niño began two months earlier than usual this year, with saltwater reaching about 60 kilometers (37 miles) inland, according to the Vietnamese government.

It damaged rice production and groundwater supplies in the Mekong Delta, raising concerns about food security and reducing the incomes of farmers who must buy supplies for the next planting cycle.

“For people living along the river, the changes from climate change and hydropower development pose a major threat to food security and livelihoods,” Harris said, referring to dam projects being built upstream by China, Thailand, and Laos that have affected fisheries in the Mekong.

About 80 percent of the Mekong Basin’s population relies on natural resources for subsistence and livelihoods, she said.

“Any significant loss of critical resources such as productive agricultural land, riverbank gardens and the protein from fisheries would critically increase food insecurity,” she said.

The Vietnamese government has provided support of nearly 1.5 billion dong (U.S. $60.7 million) since 2015 to provide food, water purification tablets, financial aid, and water infrastructure repair work to drought-affected areas of the country, according to the recently issued drought recovery plan.

United Nations agencies and NGOs have mobilized a further U.S. $6.1 million from various sources to provide water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, food, health, and financial aid for Vietnamese who live in the provinces affected by the drought, the report said.

Robinson, a former president of Ireland who previously served as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said leaders of countries affected by El Niño must do more, especially since other extreme weather events will continue to take a toll on areas with vulnerable populations in the future.

“We want leaders of countries to be in the forefront of a new approach,” said Robinson, who visited Vietnam earlier this year as part of a U.N. mission to see how the El Niño weather pattern affected the Mekong Basin.

“It has been very important to talk to the leaders in the countries most affected by El Niño to get them to understand that we’re now only talking about an El Niño aggravated by climate,” she said. “We’re into a new normal which won’t get better—it will get worse. And how are they preparing their people for this, and how can we get a better approach?”

Robinson also warned of what she calls a well-founded prediction that there could be as many as 200 million climate-displaced people by 2050.

“It may not be as many as that, but could be along that order because we have millions in countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and parts of Africa that could not live in the places that they are now,” she said.

‘Slow and uncoordinated’

Despite ongoing efforts to continuously monitor and address El Niño’s impact, saltwater intrusion, and water availability in the Mekong Delta’s farmlands, the sharing of information with farmers remains “still slow and uncoordinated,” said Wilhelmina Pelegrina, food and ecological agriculture campaign coordinator at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“Democratizing and decentralizing climate information at the level of villagers or municipalities and enabling farmers and fisherfolk to have access to this information and its interpretation are crucial,” she said in an email. “By having climate information in the hands of farmers and fisherfolk combined with their local knowledge systems, they will be able to plan and adjust their farming and fishing systems.”

Farmers in the Mekong Delta must “climate-proof” their farming by diversifying their crops to ensure that they have food when extreme weather events occur, Pelegrina said.

“Having diversity on-farm will be a challenge in the Mekong Delta as this is the rice bowl of Vietnam and the source of almost 90 percent of exported rice,” she said. “The region will have to look into ways to diversify and ensure resilience in their rice system. At the very least, by having different rice varieties that are adapted to local conditions.”

Research for this story was supported by a fellowship from the International Center for Journalists and the United Nations Foundation.

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Failure to secure forest dweller rights risks carbon emissions spike, report says

Channel NewsAsia 2 Nov 16;

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Securing the land rights of indigenous people and forest dwellers is crucial to keeping global rises in temperature below the agreed 2 degree Celsius threshold, according to a report.

Community forest lands from Brazil to Indonesia contain at least 54,546 million metric tons of carbon, equivalent to four times the global carbon emissions in 2014, according to analysis by the Rights and Resources Initiative, Woods Hole Research Center and World Resources Institute.

Without secure rights for the communities that live in these forests, there is a risk that the people will be displaced and the lands destroyed, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere, said the report published on Wednesday.

"The global community needs to recognise the scientific evidence: keeping tropical forests intact prevents carbon emissions, and forest peoples do the job better than anyone else," Katie Reytar, a research associate at World Resources Institute, said in the report.

"We need to take concrete steps towards recognising rights, before global warming reaches the breaking point."

A landmark agreement struck in Paris last year committed nearly 200 countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 with the aim of limiting the rise in the global average temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Deforestation contributes about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and 58 percent in Latin America alone.

In tropical forests where indigenous and community land rights were recognised and protected, deforestation rates were two to three times lower, the report said, citing research.

One tenth of the total carbon contained above ground in tropical forests is in collectively managed forests that lack formal, legal recognition, the report said, based on "conservative estimates" from 37 countries.

But from Brazil to India, indigenous people and traditional forest dwellers struggle to protect their lands, while neither Indonesia nor the Democratic Republic of Congo legally recognise the rights of forest communities.

In India, indigenous people hold legal titles to only about 5 percent of the land they have lived on.

Brazil loses the equivalent of two football fields of rainforest every minute, mostly due to illegal logging.

Tenure security is a far more cost-effective means of achieving climate mitigation targets than other carbon capture and storage measures. It is also proven to reduce poverty and inequality, as well as conflict, the report said.

Conserving forests is crucial to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, ambitious targets set by U.N. member states last year to end poverty, hunger and inequality by 2030.

"Without secure land and forest tenure and the protection of customary rights, international efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and keep the global rise in temperature below the two-degree threshold will remain a struggle," the report said.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

- Reuters

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