Food recycling machines to be installed at 10 schools for 2-year pilot

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 8 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: Starting next week, students at Chongzheng Primary School will be turning food into fertiliser.

It is the first of 10 primary and secondary schools to have a food waste digester installed, as part of a two-year pilot by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to get the education sector to cut down on food waste.

The project, Love Your Food @ Schools, aims to cultivate the message of reducing food waste from young. Students, staff and canteen operators will have to sort their leftovers into dedicated bins.

The school generates about 17 kilogrammes of food waste every day and all this will be dumped into the digester, which will churn out 2 kilogrammes of compost in just 10 hours. This will be handed out to community groups, for instance, to use in their gardens.

Principal of Chongzheng Primary School, Audrey Wong, said: "We will have a learning journey for all our students to come down to see how food waste can be converted into a resource, and that will encourage them to reduce their food waste."

At the launch on Friday (Apr 7), about 500 students from 30 schools went on an interactive trail to learn more about food waste.

“To achieve a clean and green future, it’s important for everyone, including our youth, to come together to make environmentally friendly behaviour our way of life and champion environmental stewardship," said chief executive officer of NEA Ronnie Tay. "We hope to inspire our youth to make a conscious effort to reduce and recycle their waste.”

The other participating schools are Admiralty Primary School, Anchor Green Primary School, Broadrick Secondary School, Dunman High School, Greendale Primary School, Greenwood Primary School, Hillgrove Secondary School, Nan Hua High and Punggol Primary School.

The schools will be equipped with the food recycling machines by the end of May.

- CNA/xk

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Survival of Seychelles’ coral in jeopardy, says marine biologist

The Seychelles National Park Authority says above average sea temperatures caused by the El Niño phenomenon has affected between 60 percent to 90 percent of coral in the Curieuse Marine Park.
Jamila Figaro and Betymie Bonnelame Seychelles News Agency 7 Apr 17;

The coral reefs of Seychelles are in grave danger due to the damage sustained during last year's warm El Niño and the general effect of climate change, says a local marine biologist.

Jude Bijoux told SNA that, “The current live coral cover in sites that have been monitored is now approximately 3 to 5 percent and very much at risk due to the warming effect of the climate change."

The level of coral bleaching currently is similar to the bleaching catastrophe which happened in 1998, where up to 97 percent of corals in some areas bleached and caused many reefs around the islands to collapse into rubble.

Bleached coral continues to live, but without its colourful symbiotic algae it loses most of its food source and becomes extremely vulnerable to disease, predators and invasive organisms like seaweed and sponges. If the water temperature remains high, the coral will die.

Bijoux said, “Currently, the worrying trend is if the next bleaching event happens sooner than expected, that is before 17 years, it would not have sufficient time to bounce back to pre-bleaching levels.”

The target is to ensure that live coral remain at levels that were there before the bleaching of 1998.

“If the reefs do not get sufficient time to recover, they will become smaller and eventually upset the ecosystem as many underwater species depend on the coral reefs for food and shelter,” said Bijoux.

For an island state like Seychelles, coral reefs are extremely important as they contribute to the two most important sectors of the country’s economy -- tourism and fisheries.

Coral reefs are affected by natural factors such as cyclones and El Niños, as well as man-made factors such as pollution and physical destruction which includes reclamation projects, walking on reefs, as well as dropping of anchors on the reefs.

“One way that humans can protect the reef is by ensuring that the water that runs off into the sea are of better quality with very little or no nutrients. Nutrients promote the growth of algae, which grows faster that the coral reefs,” explained Bijoux.

Nature Seychelles, a local non-governmental organisation, started the country’s first scientific coral restoration program seven years ago to reverse the trend. Taking corals that had survived the 1998 bleaching, the organisation grew over 45,000 fragment of corals in underwater nurseries and planted a degraded area in the Cousin Island special Reserve covering the size of a football field.

“This has been acknowledged by experts as the world’s largest coral reef restoration program using a specific method called coral gardening,” said Nirmal Jivan Shah, the chief executive.

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is currently undertaking another coral nursery project since the end of 2015 off Curieuse Island to try and restore the reefs.

Bijoux said that there are reefs which have degraded and without manual help, they will not recover.

“There are a few instances where some corals have not been affected by bleaching, which means that there is certain resilience. We are therefore taking small samples of these corals, make them grow and then use them to rehabilitate other coral reefs which have been affected by bleaching,” he explained.

In February, as part of the Valentine’s Day activities, guests at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles had to prepare a rescued coral fragment from the reef bay and attach it to a heart-shaped metal frame, which was then transplanted into the nursery for full recovery. The fragment will then be transplanted back to the reef in its natural habitat.

Looking to the future, Shah told SNA that “We cannot turn back the clock and what is gone is gone. We have to now design new types of reef – designer reefs as we call them.

The Nature Seychelles’ Reef Rescuers’ team who are in the water all the time has recently discovered “super corals” that have not bleached at all.

“We are now growing 3,000 fragments of these in our nurseries so we can design and plant new, climate-proofed coral reefs,” added Shah.

In the Indian Ocean, Seychelles, a group of 115 islands, is the most vulnerable as it is much closer to the equator and thus the water is warmer than neighboring countries of Reunion and Mauritius.

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Australia: Cyclone Debbie eases coral bleaching on Barrier Reef 8 Apr 17;

Tropical Cyclone Debbie has eased coral bleaching on parts of the Great Barrier Reef, marine biologists have found.

Surveys earlier this week of the Ribbon reefs off Lizard Island, 240km north of Cairns, revealed a drop of up to three degrees in coral-threatening sea temperatures, reports the Cairns Post.

Queensland-based marine biologists aboard the Spirit of Freedom in the Coral Sea reported sea temperatures of 28C, which eases stress on the coral and means less chance of bleaching.

The optimum sea temperature range for corals to live in is 23C to 29C, according to OceanWatch Australia.

As well as bringing deeper, cooler water to the surface of the Great Barrier Reef, the clouds formed by Cyclone Debbie also reduced light stress on the coral. The cyclone also absorbed energy from the surface water through heat transfer, which resulted in evaporative cooling.

Free-diver Audrey Buchholzer, of France, aboard the Spirit of Freedom, told the Post she was stunned by the “flashy” colours and ­kaleidoscope of marine life on the outer reef.

“I had to see it with my own eyes,’’ the 24-year-old said.

“I’d heard negative reports the reef was dead. That’s not true. There are patches of dead and bleached coral, but so much of it is alive and thriving.

“It is an underwater wonderland,” she said.

But marine experts have struck a note of caution on the benefits Cyclone Debbie could bring for the reef

Professor Terry Hughes, the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, told Guardian Australia that the most severe coral bleaching occurred north of Cyclone Debbie's path.

“Cyclone Debbie has come a month too late and in the wrong place to prevent mass bleaching,” he said.

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