Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jul 17

Anemone hunt at Cyrene
wild shores of singapore

How effective are wildlife corridors like Singapore’s Eco-Link?

Highlights of the July Love MacRitchie Walk

Night Walk At Upper Seletar Reservoir (26 Jul 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Indonesia: Dozens hospitalised as thick haze spreads

Channel NewsAsia 25 Jul 17;

MEULABOH: Young children lie in hospital in Aceh province, Indonesia, as thick smoke caused by forest fires forces dozens of people to be treated for lung infections.

Some schoolchildren were still able to go to school in Meulaboh on Wednesday (Jul 26) wearing masks but several schools suspended classes so students could stay at home.

In the past week, about 35 hotspots - concentrations of fires - have destroyed 70 hectares (0.27 square miles) of forests and other land in Aceh, the national disaster agency said.

"The land fires have been caused by people who clear their land by the traditional slash and burn method, so the fire spreads," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purno Nugroho said.

People are advised to monitor their land and not to slash and burn, especially since the current dry season makes it easy for forest fires to escalate, Nugroho added.

Authorities are trying to put out the blazes and have warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to continue for several months.

The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

The blazes occur mainly on Indonesia's Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, with monsoon winds typically blowing the haze over nearby Singapore and Malaysia.

There are currently about 180 hotspots in Indonesia over about six provinces, but the number is significantly lower than in 2015 when haze cloaked large parts of the region causing huge numbers to fall ill and sending diplomatic tensions soaring.

Last year, researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the United States estimated that the 2015 smog outbreak may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths.
Source: AFP/ec

Eight hot spots detected in Jambi
Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 26 Jul 17;

Eight hot spots have been detected across Jambi. The hot spots have been monitored by the Aqua and Terra satellites since July 23.

Jambi Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) data and information division head Kurnia Ningsih said the eight hot spots were detected in Batanghari, Bungo, Tebo and West Tanjung Jabung regencies.

“Two hot spots were detected in Bungo and West Tanjung Jabung each,” Kurnia said on Wednesday. Three hot spots have been detected in Tebo while in Batanghari, there is only one hot spot, she added.

Jambi Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) acting chairman Hamdan said authorities were striving to extinguish fires in Tebo by dispatching one of three helicopters provided by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) for water-bombing operations.

“Shortly after we received information from BMKG Jambi, we dispatched the helicopter to carry out fire-extinguishing activities,” said Hamdan.

Meanwhile, the police reported they had arrested ET, 50, a housewife who was also a resident of Sumay district, Tebo regency, for her alleged involvement in land burning. The land burning reportedly took place in Pemayungan village, Sumay district, last Saturday.

Jambi Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Kuswahyudi Tresnadi said the crime was discovered when Tebo Police personnel conducted a fire patrol in Pemayungan village.

The police followed up their finding, from which they found the fire starter. On Sunday, ET surrendered herself to the Tebo Police and admitted her guilt. She was charged under Articles 78 (3) and 50 (3) of Law No.41/1999 on forestry. (ebf)

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Malaysia: Indonesia assures there will be no repeat of 2015 haze

JOSEPH KAOS JR The Star 26 Jul 17;

PUTRAJAYA: Amid reports of developing forest fires in Sumatra, Malaysia said it will hold on to Indonesia's assurance that there will be no repeat of the 2015 haze crisis.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic) has expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Indonesian government to combat forest fires in the aftermath of the 2015 incident.

"During meetings with my Indonesian counterparts, including a recent one in Singapore this April, I received assurances that there would not be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation, which badly affected Malaysia and Singapore.

"Since 2015, they have taken such measures including the setting up of a specific department to tackle the haze issue and a special taskforce involving the police, the army and other authorities to handle forest fires.

"With the taskforce, they now respond quicker to forest fires, and many fires have been put out before they could spread.

"Indonesia has also increased its fire fighting assets, including the purchase of helicopters that could carry water to put out fires from above.

"I am quite confident with the assurance given by Indonesia, and we believe there won't be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation this year," said Dr Wan Junaidi at a press conference here on Wednesday.

The minister added that the fact there was no haze crisis last year showed that Indonesia had done well to prevent the situation.

"In 2016, there were about 200 hotspots in Sumatra at one point. Yet, there was no haze in our country," he said.

Reports from Indonesia revealed that there are currently 170 hotspots across the country, mostly in Aceh, East Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan.

In 2015, smoke from mass illegal burning in Indonesia caused over a month of haze in Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand - triggering school closures and disrupting air travel.

Dr Wan Junaidi earlier opened the 18th International Seminar on Current International Issues Affecting Forestry and Forest Products as well as the 20th Meeting of the Asean Senior Officials on Forestry.

‘Indonesia fighting forest fires well’
The Star 27 Jul 17;

PUTRAJAYA: Amid reports of developing forest fires in Sumatra, Malaysia says it will hold on to Indonesia’s assurance that there will be no repeat of the haze crisis two years ago.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Indonesian government to combat forest fires in the aftermath of the 2015 incident.

“During meetings with my Indonesian counterparts, including a recent one in Singapore this April, I have received assurances from them that there will not be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation, which badly affected Malaysia and Singapore.

“They have taken many measures since 2015. These include setting up a specific department to tackle the issue and a special task force involving the police, the army and other authorities to handle forest fires.

“With the task force, their response to forest fires is quicker, and many fires have been put out before they could spread.

“Indonesia has also increased its fire-fighting assets, including the purchase of helicopters that carry water to put out fires.

“I am quite confident with the assurance given by Indonesia, and we believe there won’t be a haze situation like in 2015 this year,” Dr Wan Junaidi said at a press conference here.

The minister added that since there was no haze crisis last year, Indonesia was already doing a good job.

“In 2016, there were about 200 hotspots in Sumatera at one point. Yet, there was no haze in our country. This is because Indonesia has stepped up efforts to prevent the haze. So, I believe it can be prevented this year too,” he said.

Reports from Indonesia revealed that there are currently 170 hotspots across the country, mostly in Aceh, East Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan.

In 2015, smoke from illegal burning in Indonesia caused over a month of haze in Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand, triggering school closures and disrupting air travel.

Prior to the press conference, Dr Wan Junaidi opened the 18th International Seminar on Current International Issues Affecting Forestry and Forest Products as well as the 20th Meeting of the Asean Senior Officials on Forestry.

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Malaysia: ‘Forest fires in Aceh: No cause for alarm’

Churchill Edward Borneo Post 27 Jul 17;

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister and State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, says there is no cause for alarm arising from the forest fire in Aceh, Indonesia.

Based on an expert opinion, he said, from past experiences South West wind from northern Sumatra would blow to Penang and Thailand.

The Southern Sumatran wind also blows to Singapore and Johore, he added yesterday.

“We should be worried of Borneon fires instead,” said Uggah while referring to past forest fire incidents in Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.

State Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) environment quality controller Peter Sawal also shared Uggah’s sentiment.

“From previous records, no trans boundary smoke from Sumatra crossed over to Sarawak but mostly from Kalimantan (Barat). However we are monitoring it (effect of Aceh forest fire),” Peter said yesterday.

“JPBN will make all the necessary policy and strategy to deal with emergencies, including the haze but until the situation warrants it. NREB is also monitoring the situation in Aceh closely and that of local open burning,” Peter said.

“Transboundary haze are also being dealt at Sosek Malindo forum and Asean Ministerial Sub-Committee headed by Federal NREB,” he added.

On Tuesday evening Jakarta Post reported that a major forest fire had occurred in Acheh and that relevant authorities in Kalimantan Barat had got four fire fighting or water bombing helicopters to counter fire spread, ready.

Smoke rose from burnt peatland at an oil palm plantation in Riau, according to Antara/FB Anggoro on Tuesday.

Fires spread across 64 hectares of forest and peatland have been reported in five districts in West Aceh.

According to data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Johan Pahlawan district was the most affected district with 19 hectares of peat land reportedly burning while the Arongan Lambalek and Meureubo districts each recorded 15 hectares of burning land.

Ten hectares were reportedly burning in Sama Tiga district while five hectares of burning peat land was reported in Woyla district.

The fires were allegedly caused by local farmers’ slash-and-burn practices, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Tuesday.

The BNPB, in collaboration with the police, the military and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), have intensified efforts to control the fire and haze, Sutopo said.

“Challenges include difficulty in accessing the locations of the fires, a lack of firefighting vehicles and equipment, as well as a lack of water sources near the fire spots,” he said.

According to data collected by Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Aqua and Terra satellites and a National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) SNNP satellite, 170 hotspots were detected across Indonesia, 35 of which were in Aceh.

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Bukit Panjang CC recognised for green features

LOUISA TANG Today Online 27 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — Bukit Panjang Community Club (CC) has become the first upgraded community club to be certified Green Mark Gold Plus, following the implementation of a raft of green features, such as a real-time energy monitoring platform.

The Green Mark scheme is used by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of a building’s facilities and operations. While some of the newly built community clubs have been awarded the Gold Plus — the second-highest rating after the Green Mark Platinum — Bukit Panjang CC is the first existing community club to receive the certification.

Its digital monitoring platform, developed by grid operator SP Group, tracks electricity use in various locations within the community club and alerts staff to potential energy wastage, with the aid of more than 50 sensors. For example, staff members, who can access the platform through an online software, are able to check if they have forgotten to switch off any appliances after they have left their offices for the day.

The platform has already helped the community club to save 31 per cent on energy consumption. It also collects baseline data on energy use in the building for future analysis.

The platform was part of a pilot project at Bukit Panjang CC that was carried out between last October and May this year. Under the pilot, SP Group also installed 150 solar panels on the building’s roof, which has saved about 20 per cent on energy consumption.

In total, the community club has saved about 50 per cent on energy consumption, from using about 30,000 kilowatts a month to about 15,000 kilowatts.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, mayor of North West District, said that the goal is to reduce energy consumption at the CC by 10 per cent every year. The coffee shop in the community club will also go green by the end of the year.

“Our hope is that one day, we are able to help our CCs to go towards a zero-energy building. As we increase the usage of our CC premises and facilities, you’ll find that there is more demand for energy, so it is important for us to explore new technology,” he added.

Other green features at the CC include new water fittings, such as half-flush buttons for toilet cisterns and sensors for urinals and toilet bowls.

The community club has also changed all its light fixtures to LED lights, which are more energy-efficient, and replaced old air-conditioning units with energy-saving fan-coil units and cooling units.

There are plans to transform 16 other community clubs in the district to become energy-efficient as well, with six of them to be upgraded by 2020.

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Malaysia: Elephants a common sight in Dumpas Plantation

Bernama New Straits Times 26 Jul 17;

TAWAU : A herd of wild elephants is a common sight at the Dumpas oil palm plantation near the Kalabakan-Tawau road here. The plantation’s manager Mohd Rahmat said the elephants were seen roaming the area of the workers’ quarters at about 2pm yesterday, believed to be looking for food.

He said to avoid undesirable incidents, the Dumpas elephant monitoring team and Wildlife Department personnel had chased the elephants away from the plantation area to the nearby forest.

“The elephant herd has been spotted many times in the plantation area and we will closely monitor them by doing regular patrols,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

As of yesterday, he said no incidents had been reported due to the problem, which went viral on social media.

The elephants have also been spotted in areas like Brumas, Cenderamata, Benta Wawasan, Kalabakan and Felda Umas, he said. – BERNAMA

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Malaysia: Border post security tightened to check animal smuggling

The Star 27 Jul 17;

KUCHING: The army has tightened security at its border post in Serikin, Bau, to ensure no animals are smuggled between Sarawak and West Kalimantan.

This comes after Kampung Serikin, located some 80km from Kuching, was declared a rabies-infected area on Tuesday, said First Malaysian Infantry Division commander Maj Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw.

“We have increased checks and patrols along the border to curb smuggling and other illegal activities.

“We are also keeping an eye on those carrying animals across the border,” he said in a statement.

During the division’s 51st anniversary celebration at Muara Tuang camp on July 14, Mundaw said soldiers stationed along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border have been instructed to prevent stray dogs from entering the state since the rabies outbreak.

Kampung Serikin and the Sungai Maong wet markets were the latest areas to be declared rabies-infected, bringing the total number of affected areas in the state to 22.

Pet owners who could not make it to the Veterinary Services Depart-ment’s free dog vaccination campaigns may have to wait until August for new vaccine stocks to arrive.

Vets around town have also run of stock.

“People have been calling non-stop to ask about the vaccines but we ran out of stock on July 19,” said an employee at a veterinary centre at Rock Road here.

The price to vaccinate cats and dogs in Kuching range from RM55 to RM65.

In Ipoh, 20 samples taken from dog carcasses in Kuala Sepetang came back negative for rabies.

Perak executive council member Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who chairs a special task force on rabies, said that of the 22 samples taken between July 13 and 26, only one tested positive – the two-year-old dog that bit two girls earlier this month.

“There’s one more sample still pending further tests,” he said in a statement.

Surveillance and vaccination efforts are still ongoing in Kuala Sepetang within a 10km radius from the place where the two girls were bitten.

Some 127 dogs and 239 cats have been vaccinated while 88 stray dogs have been culled.

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Malaysia: Twelve protected birds seized and trafficker nabbed

The Star 27 Jul 17;

ALOR SETAR: Twelve protected birds of prey worth more than RM25,000 were seized by the Kedah Wildlife and National Parks Department with the arrest of a wildlife trafficker in Bukit Jenun, Pendang, near here.

Its director Muhammad Ali Che Aman said a 41-year-old man was nabbed at home after he failed to produce a permit to legally keep the birds, comprising the Crested Goshawk, Bat Hawk, Hawk Eagle and Collared Falconet.

“An eight-member team raided the premises on Tuesday and found the birds in the porch and at the back of the house with their feet tied.

“We are now trying to determine where the birds were caught so that they could be released back into their natural habitat,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Muhammad Ali added that action would be taken against the man for hunting totally protected wildlife.

He will be investigated under Section 68(2)(a) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, which carries a fine of up to RM100,000, a jail term of not more than three years, or both, upon conviction.

Wildlife traffickers have turned to the Internet to sell protected animals through a popular online classified website as well as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Last year, a mechanic who sold protected birds in such a manner was arrested with a White-rumped Shama, Little Green Pigeon, a Black-shouldered Kite, a Blue-winged Leafbird, a Striped-throated Bulbul, a Slaty-breasted Rail and three Watercock.

12 eagles rescued from Kedah home, man arrested

ALOR SETAR: Twelve eagles worth more than RM25,000 were rescued by the Kedah Wildlife and National Parks Department from a house in Bukit Jenun, Pendang, near here on Tuesday.

The department's director Muhammad Ali Che Aman said a 41-year-old man was also arrested after failing to provide any documents to prove he had legal possession of the eagles.

"Spurred by our intelligence report, a team of eight raided the premises and found the birds, some in the porch and others in the back of the house, with their feet tied to stop them from flying.

"Where the eagles came from, what they are for and the actual value of the birds are all under investigation. All I can say is that the value is in the thousands and the total could reach more than RM25,000," he said when contacted Wednesday.

Muhammad Ali said the eagles that were found are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) and guilty parties, under Section 68(2)(a) of the same Act, could be fined not more than RM100,000 or face a jail term of not more than three years, or both.

He added that after receiving a court order, the eagles would be released to their natural habitat.

Among the species of eagles rescued were the accipiter trivirgatus, machearhamphus alcinus, spizaetus cirrhatus and the collared falconet (microhietax caerulescens).

Kedah Wildlife Department seized 12 eagles from man in Pendang
The Wildlife and National Parks Department have seized 12 protected eagles from a man in Bukit Jenun, Pendang.
EMBUN MAJID New Straits Times 26 Jul 17;

ALOR STAR: The Wildlife and National Parks Department have seized 12 protected eagles from a man in Bukit Jenun, Pendang.

Its state director Inche Ali @ Muhammad Ali Che Aman said the birds of different species including crested goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), bat hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus) and collared falconet (Microhietax caerulescens).

He said a team of eight state Wildlife staff seized the birds after the man failed to produce a permit to keep the eagles.

“The birds are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and the 41-year-old man is being investigated for keeping the birds without proper permit,” he said in a statement today.

He added that keeping protected birds without licence is an offence under Section 68(2(a) of the Act which carries a maximum fine of RM100,000 or imprisonment up to three years’ or both, upon conviction.

He said the man has been released after he had his statement recorded.

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Indonesia: Locals bulldoze orangutan conservation forest area in East Kalimantan

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 26 Jul 17;

Local people living near an orangutan rehabilitation compound in Samboja Lestari, around 45 kilometers north of Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, have reportedly cut down trees in the forest area, threatening the survival of 24 individual orangutans living there.

“They have occupied 300 hectares of our land. They are now using bulldozers to chop down the forest and to open land,” Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) program manager Agus Irianto said on Wednesday.

At the BOSF rehabilitation center, which covers 1,852 hectares of land, the 24 orangutans are undergoing survival training as part of rehabilitation efforts before their planned release into the wild. They are among 170 orangutans being treated by the conservation foundation.

According to BOSF management, it took around 15 years for the foundation’s volunteers to reforest Samboja Lestari, which was previously in critical condition. They planted various species of trees that were used to help train the orangutans.

Agus said the suspects, residents of Tani Bhakti village in Samboja district, claimed that the Samboja Lestari forest was previously designated a transmigration area.

The suspects, he said, were transmigrants from East Java who had lived in the area since 1957. However, the BOSF had bought the land from the local people in stages at around Rp 2 million (US$150) per ha from 2000 to 2005, he added.

“We hope the Kutai Kartanegara Transmigration Agency can help explain the legal status of the land to the local residents,” said BOSF executive director Jamartin Sihite. (ebf)

Indonesia orangutan sanctuary says villagers encroaching
Associated Press Yahoo News 28 Jul 17;

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A conservation group says nearly a fifth of the forest in an orangutan sanctuary on the Indonesian part of Borneo has been taken over by people, threatening efforts to rehabilitate the critically endangered great apes for release into the wild.

People thought to have migrated from other parts of Indonesia have occupied part of the sanctuary, cut down trees and planted crops including palm oil, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation spokesman Nico Hermanu said Thursday.

The human activities are near a "forest school" where more than 20 orangutans live semi-independently and learn how to find food, build nests and other skills they need for survival — a crucial part of their rehabilitation from trauma often inflicted by people, who take babies for pets or kill the animals for wandering into plantations.

The foundation bought the land for the 1,850-hectare (4,571-acre) sanctuary from locals over several years and restored its forest. The facility now cares for 170 orangutans overall.

Hermanu said the foundation told the residents they were encroaching on the Samboja Lestari sanctuary, "but their activities keep continuing."

Local police have refused to prosecute and recommended talks instead "which won't solve anything," he said. The foundation is now seeking the help of the local government in East Kalimantan province to ensure its rights over the land.

Nearly 340 hectares (840 acres) of the sanctuary have been encroached, and Hermanu said some of it may have stemmed from dry season fires in 2015 when part of Samboja Lestari burned. Plantation companies and villagers often deliberately set the fires to clear land for planting.

The number of orangutans in Borneo and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, recognized as separate species and both classified as critically endangered, has fallen precipitously since the 1970s.

The orangutans are protected species in Indonesia and Malaysia but deforestation has dramatically shrunk its habitat, with about 40 percent of Borneo's forests lost since the early 1970s and another huge swath of forest expected to be converted to plantation agriculture in the next decade.

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, one of several groups focused on orangutan conservation, also has 60-year concession rights to about 86,000 hectares (212,000 acres) of forest in Borneo that it bought from the government in 2011 for 12.9 billion Indonesian rupiah ($1.5 million at the time). About a quarter of it is suitable habitat for releasing orangutans after their years-long rehabilitation.

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Indonesia: How mangroves got their roots back in East Java

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Thomson Reuters Foundation 26 Jul 17;

In a village called Gelung in East Java, Indonesia, 43-year-old Rustima looks out from the small kiosk she maintains with her husband overlooking the sea and a new mangrove rehabilitation site.

Here, as in other low-lying island areas, each time the tide goes out it comes in just a bit further, and the waves hide an insidious secret: a rising ocean is swallowing the beaches, driving away tourists and fisherfolk alike, eroding the earth and the livelihoods of people like Rustima.

Rustima's kiosk

By the time she opens for business at 9 AM, Rustima has already returned from the market with goods and supplies to sell, fed her family’s livestock and cooked the day’s meals. During the fishing season, the kiosk – located near Gelung’s Pathek beach – stays open throughout the night, so that people fishing along the shore can gather for periodic coffee breaks.

When it’s not the fishing season, Rustima and her husband work in the corn fields. Her afternoons are spent gathering grass as fodder for her livestock, and in the evenings, there is time for Koran recitations and social activities.

Livelihoods swept out to sea

At Pathek Beach, the effects of climate change and rising sea levels have been profoundly felt. In the 1990s, mangrove forests were cleared to make way for more intensive aquaculture. The economic benefit of those measures was quickly lost when about 13 km of fully-exposed coast fell into the sea, causing flash floods that swept through the sub-district, taking with it chunks of East Java’s main east-west artery. The crumbled road left 80% of the population, all fisherfolk, with little choice but to raise the prices of their goods to account for the extra time spent getting from fishing site to market and back.

Some were forced to change professions entirely – leaving behind the beaches, and Rustima’s kiosk.

Returning mangroves to Gelung

Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a joint coastal ecosystem initiative of IUCN and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that spans 11 countries across Asia and the Indian Ocean, has been supporting Rustima and her village to build their resilience to rising sea levels by helping to restore mangroves, and by helping women diversify family income. So far, 74,000 saplings have been planted in and around the village, and women’s community groups have begun selling homemade snacks to generate revenue.

“I have picked up some new skills,” Rustima says, arms buried up to her elbows in fish cracker dough. “I use fish that I get from the local market to make crackers and fish floss that I sell at my kiosk. My family now makes about IDR 1,302,000 (US $100) per month. This is 14% more than what we made before the project started.”

Once the mangroves grow large enough for young fish to shelter among them, fisheries yields are likely to rise. This helps the women generate more income. Rustima’s kiosk business will also benefit – more fish means more fishermen, which in turn means more snack orders.

Nature’s coastal purifier

Mangroves protect both humans and wildlife, providing nurseries for fish, molluscs, crabs, shrimp and even sharks. In Southeast Asia, home to 41% of the world’s mangroves, they have been estimated to support 30% of the fish catch and almost 100% of the shrimp catch.

Mangroves also act as a natural barrier between land and water. The tangled roots of mangrove trees keep coastal sediment from slipping out to sea, and the trunks absorb the force of waves - from ripples to Tsunamis.

Mangroves are hard to rival when it comes to carbon storage as they can extract large amounts of carbon from the air, which is then sequestered in the soil. When mangrove forests are cut down – to make room for fish ponds, for example – the impact is twofold: stored carbon is released into the atmosphere, and the trees are no longer there to absorb it.

As we figure out how to curb climate change and reverse the trend of biodiversity degradation on a global scale, many people’s lives will continue to be affected. Programmes like MFF help people like Rustima and her community – at the frontlines of the battle for nature – by rehabilitating mangroves, restoring the integrity of coastal ecosystems and expanding opportunities to sustainably generate income from coastal resources.

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On International Day, UN spotlights threatened coastal mangrove ecosystems

UN Media Release 26 Jul 17;

26 July 2017 – Coastal mangroves are among the most imperiled ecosystems on earth, with current estimates indicating that up to 67 per cent have been lost to date, according to the United Nations science wing.

“The stakes are high, because mangrove ecosystems provide benefits and services that are essential for life,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a message on the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

“From advancing food security, sustaining fisheries and forest products and offering protection from storms, tsunamis and sea level rise to preventing shoreline erosion, regulating coastal water quality and providing habitats for endangered marine species – the list is long on the importance of mangrove ecosystems,” she added.

UNESCO shined a spotlight their unique role in sequestering and storing significant amounts of coastal blue carbon from the atmosphere and ocean – crucial for mitigating climate change.

While healthy mangrove ecosystems are vital, Ms. Bokova pointed out that “nearly all unprotected mangroves could perish over the next 100 years.”

Through its 'Man and the Biosphere Programme,' its International Hydrological Programme, its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems Programme, UNESCO is drawing on all of its strengths to protect mangrove ecosystems.

“This action reaches across the world, from the Bosque de Paz transboundary biosphere reserve in Ecuador and Peru, and the Delta de Saloum Biosphere Reserve in Senegal to the Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark in Malaysia,” the Director-General elaborated.

UNESCO is deeply engaged in supporting the conversation of mangroves, while advancing the sustainable development of local communities who interact closely with mangroves and depend on their goods and services.

She underscored that UNESCO is also leading an active role in the Blue Carbon Initiative to mitigate climate change through the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems, focusing on mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.

“We must do far more and this calls for stronger science,” she exhorted.

To this end, UNESCO is working to broaden the capacities of States and reinforce their scientific knowledge, especially in countries that are highly dependent on these ecosystems in Africa and small islands development States, always working with local communities, always drawing on indigenous knowledge.

This Day provides “the moment for everyone to redouble their commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Ms. Bokova.

“UNESCO's message today is clear – we must reverse the trend of degradation and protect the mangroves that are so essential to the health of the planet,” concluded the Director-General.

The International Day, commemorated annually on 26 July, aims to raise awareness of the valuable services provided by mangrove ecosystems.

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