Best of our wild blogs: 4 Oct 17

Open for registration – World Habitat Day Walk at MacRitchie Forest (7 Oct 2017)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Full moon is here!
BES Drongos

Movies Galore!
BES Drongos

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Malaysia: Kinta Nature Park gazetted as a nature reserve

amanda yeap The Star 2 Oct 17;

The Kinta Nature Park has officially joined the ranks of Perak’s natural treasures.

Located 6km south of Batu Gajah, it is now Perak’s third state gazzetted park, after the Royal Belum and Pulau Sembilan.

State tourism, arts, culture, communication and multimedia committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi said the 395ha park promises an enriching experience for bird watchers.

“We believe it is one of the biggest bird sanctuaries in the country, as there are currently more than 150 bird species here.

“Along with flora and fauna that is hard to find elsewhere, we are expecting this park to be a major attraction to both domestic and foreign tourists,” she said after the park’s opening ceremony.

State executive councillor Datuk Saarani Mohamad was present to open the park, on behalf of Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

The park is open to the public from 8am to 6pm daily. Visitors can enjoy activities such as bird watching and trail hiking.

Nolee Ashilin said entry to the park is free of charge for the rest of the year.

“We will begin to charge an entrance fee from Jan 1 and the funds will be used to ensure the park’s maintenance,” she said.

As part of efforts to preserve the park’s pristine condition, Nolee Ashilin said only 80 to 100 visitors will be allowed to visit the park a day, and no overnight camping is currently allowed.

“We are doing this to ensure that this area, gifted to us by Mother Nature, will not be destroyed.

“This is also why the state has decided to gazette the area as a state park, so that we can continue to preserve and conserve it based on laws and regulations,” she said, adding that all activities and facilities must adhere to the requirements and conditions set by the Perak State Park Cooperation.

“We do not want to jeopardise the unique ecosystem here in the name of tourism,” she said.

Kinta Nature Park was mentioned as “the place to discover wild nature escapes” by renowned travel guide Lonely Planet in its listing of Ipoh as the sixth best place in Asia to visit last year.

Located about 40km from Ipoh, the park, consisting of 14 former mining ponds, was set up in 2000 with the cooperation of the Malaysian Nature Society and the Kinta Barat District Council then.

Although the park was previously said to cover 950ha, Nolee Ashilin said state authoritites decided to reduce the gazetted area to a more manageable size.

“We also found that this is the best way for locals here to continue with their economic activities around the park.

“We want to ensure that their livelihoods are looked after,” she said in response to a question on whether the size of the park was reduced due to illegal duck farms, net fishing and sand mining activities, as mentioned in previous reports.

Restoration works on the park’s existing watchtower, toilets, pavilions, walkway and power substation had commenced last December.

The project also involved the cleaning up of the entire camp area, the setting up new perimeter fencing and replacing its old storage facility, as well as the construction of a new pavilion together with new signage for the area.

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Indonesia: Tourism is economic backbone of East Nusa Tenggara

Fardah Antara 3 Oct 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has been paying greater attention to economic development in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) to help the province catch up with other regions that are more developed.

The development of a Special Economic Zone in NTT has been given priority, while Laboan Bajo has been designated as one of the countrys 10 top priority tourist destinations.

Sports tourism activities, such as the Tour de Flores and Tour de Timor, are organized annually as part of the tourism program to promote NTT globally.

As a result, the number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the province has increased from year to year, especially with the opening of more international routes for air transportation.

Moreover, the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy of the province has exceeded those of other sectors.

Economic observer Dr James Adam has even claimed that the tourism sector has become a new economic backbone of NTT Province.

The tourism sector contributed Rp2 trillion to the gross domestic product of the province, with a population of 5.2 million in 2016, Adam had said in Kupang, NTTs capital, on Sept 22, 2017.

"This means the tourism sector has become a new economic strength, with 80 thousand foreign tourists visiting the region in 2015, increasing to more than 100 thousand in 2016. It was a 20 percent increase, or exceeded the growth target of 10 percent," he pointed out.

Adam, a member of the International Fund for Agricultural Development for the empowerment of coastal people of NTT, made a statement on the tourist arrivals in the province and the impact on the regional economy and purchasing power of the local people.

"The parameter is clear. The numbers of visits by domestic and foreign tourists rose sharply, thereby making NTT known across the world," he added.

Indeed, the number of tourist arrivals on Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara, has risen steadily and contributed to a significant increase in revenue.

Revenue from the tourism industry had exceeded the target set by the Komodo National Park Office, Sudiyono, head of the office, revealed here, Friday.

Until August this year, some 60-70 thousand tourists had visited the national park, he said.

During the period, the park had earned Rp19 billion from tourist visits, exceeding the target of Rp15 billion, he pointed out.

Last year, the park had earned Rp22 billion from a total of 90 thousand tourists visiting the park.

Several facilities and infrastructure, such as toilets, bridges, and sidewalks, are currently being built on several small islands under the supervision of the Komodo National Parks office.

The parks management has also organized a beach clean-up drive in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund, the maritime affairs and fisheries office, and several non-governmental organizations.

In fact, revenue from tourism in Laboan Bajo, including Komodo Island, reaches Rp1 trillion per year, according to WWF Indonesia.

"This is the latest data that we have found, and it has occurred since 2016," WWF Labuan Bajo Coordinator Jansi Sartin stated on Sept 29, 2017.

The revenue has increased significantly since Komodo Island, the habitat of the Komodo dragon giant lizards, has become a major world tourism destination and icon, he noted.

Furthermore, NTT has promoted its tourist destinations by holding international interactive dialogs broadcast by Radio Verbum in the provincial capital of Kupang.

The routine interactive dialogs were held in English with audience from various countries, Marius Ardu Jelamu, head of the NTT tourism office, said.

The dialogs have been held twice, so far, and the response from potential tourists was quite enthusiastic, he revealed.

The first dialog held on August 17, 2017, drew responses from the audience in Chili, Italy, and Brazil, he noted.

Last week, another dialog took place with several youngsters in Mississippi, the US, he added.

"Their response was very positive, and thanks to the dialog, they said they wanted to visit Indonesia, particularly NTT, after we explained about our tourism resources during the dialog," he remarked.

Komodo National Park, home to Komodo dragon giant lizards, is located in Labuan Bajo.

In addition to utilizing the medium of radio, NTT has promoted its tourist resorts through television programs and exhibitions in the country and overseas.

With regard to the security aspect, the NTT Police will deploy personnel to guard the provinces iconic tourist attractions, such as Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island.

The deployment of police personnel aimed to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the islands, Inspector General Agung Sabar Santosa, head of the East Nusa Tenggara Police, was quoted as saying by Senior Commissioner Jules Abraham Abast, spokesman of the NTT Police in Kupang, on October 2, 2017.

"If the tourists feel comfortable while enjoying their stay in this regions tourist destinations, we believe that more tourists would come to visit, and as a result, it will help to boost the local economy," he explained.

The police officers will also monitor the waters of the islands by boats.(*)

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Indonesia: 4,000 hectares of palm oil in Jambi to undergo re-plantation program

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 3 Oct 17;

The central government hopes to improve 4,000 hectares of palm oil plantation belonging to local farmers in Jambi, Agus Rizal, the head of the province's plantation agency, said on Monday.

An undisclosed sum of funds has been disbursed by the Finance Ministry to the Jambi provincial administration to support this ambition.

Agus said the program was fully funded by the central government and sponsored by his agency, which would play a role as a facilitator to the farmers.

"We have been making a list of farmers who are eligible to get the aid,” Agus said, adding that his team had been deployed to Merangin, Batanghari, Sarolangun and West Tanjung Jabung regencies for that purpose.

The team also conducted data validation on the geographical coordinates of the farms and the ages of the palm oil trees.

Each farming family will get funds to improve two hectares of palm oil plantation.

Agus said the amount of money for each family was still being calculated.

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Asian Games: Jakarta's air still unfit for Asiad athletes with 2018 Games on the horizon

Straits Times 3 Oct 17;

INDONESIA (THE JAKARTA POST) -In less than a year, Jakarta will host the Asian Games, but amid its preparations, the world's third-most polluted city has yet to do anything to improve its air quality.

Athletes can only perform at their best when they compete in good-level air quality, which is indicated by a global air pollution index of 0 to 50.

Most of the time, Jakarta's air quality is within the 51 to 100, or modest, range, which may cause breathing discomfort for sensitive people, according to the Committee for the Phasing Out of Leaded Fuel (KPBB)

"If next year the athletes have to compete in these circumstances (poor air quality), it will be a big problem," said KPBB chief Ahmad Safrudin.

Of the 366 days in 2016, Jakarta had 250 days when its air quality was at the moderate level, according to KPBB's data.

It had 76 and 31 days with good and unhealthy air quality, respectively. Because of the city's substandard air quality, 58.3 percent of Jakarta's 9.6 million residents suffer from various respiratory diseases like asthma and pneumonia, the data also revealed.

Airvisual, a real-time air quality index application, placed Jakarta third out of the most polluted cities in the world after Beijing and Dhaka in September. In mid-August, Jakarta topped the list, followed by Ankara and Lahore.

Nevertheless, Ahmad said Jakarta's air could be improved ahead of the quadrennial multi-sport event, which will be held from Aug 18 to Sept. 2 next year, if the city's officials implemented extensive and comprehensive policies targeted at reducing pollution-causing activities.

One of these policies would be to ensure all vehicles in the capital underwent emissions tests through regular street checks.

"The city administration, in cooperation with the Jakarta Police, must regularly conduct vehicle-emissions checks on the streets. Those with vehicles that have not undergone emission tests must be ticketed," said Ahmad.

The administration, moreover, must stick to its commitment to use gas fuel to power the city's public transportation fleets, including Transjakarta buses - some of which still use diesel fuel.

"Our bylaw says that all public transportation must use gas fuel but it has not been fully implemented yet. The Jakarta administration must be assertive if it wants to host the Asian Games (properly)," said Ahmad, referring to Article 20 Paragraph 1 of Jakarta's bylaw No. 2/2015 on Air Pollution Control.

Air pollution was one of China's biggest headaches when it held the Beijing 2008 Olympics, as the city's air quality was measured at 88, according to figures from the China Environmental Monitoring Center, prior to the games.

Beijing responded by implementing mass-scale, aggressive measures to bring back its blue skies during the games; from banning vehicles based on license plate numbers, halting infrastructure projects, to temporarily closing down dozens of factories.

"Air quality heavily impacts the performance of athletes in outdoor sports, like the marathon and long-distance running," said Hario Tilarso, a doctor in Indonesia's Satlak Prima sports task force.

"Polluted air can disturb their larynx function and can make those with allergies suffer from coughs or even asthma."

Indonesian endurance runner Agus Prayogo echoed Hario's thoughts, saying "We, endurance runners, depend on our lung function. If the air quality level is not good, our lungs will have to work harder and that can harm our performance."

He then recalled his personal record of two hour and 23 minutes recorded at the 2015 Tokyo Marathon - a faster time than he recorded at the 2015 Jakarta Marathon, where he finished in two hour and 30 minutes

"Aside from intensive training, I found that Tokyo's air quality helped me record a faster time," he said.

In an attempt to reduce emissions, the Jakarta Environmental Agency plans to conduct mass vehicle-emissions test in November, said the agency's deputy head, Ali Maulana.

An event to be held in Senayan, South Jakarta, and Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, will allow vehicle owners to check their vehicles' emissions for free.

"These emissions tests are actually not related to our preparation for the Asian Games, but the impacts will certainly benefit the Games," he said, adding that the test results would be recorded within the city's computer database.

Moreover, he added, officials had gradually been phasing out high-emission modes of public transportation, like the three-wheeled bemo, in favour of environmentally-friendly vehicles run on electric power or gas fuel.

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Indonesia Environment Ministry: Forest and Land Fires Begin Showing Declining Trend

Netral News 3 Oct 17;

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Director of Forest and Land Fire Control at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Raffles B Panjaitan said according to Forest and Land Fire Control Main Post on October 2, 2017 at 8 pm decrease of hotspots was visible in Indonesian territory.

Based on NOAA satellite, there were only six monitored hotspots, including Bangka Belitung one spot, East Java one spot, Central Kalimantan one spot, South Kalimantan one spot, and South Sulawesi two spots.

Meanwhile, based on TERRA AQUA (NASA)'s confidence level of 80 percent there were only seven hotspots, namely South Sumatera one spot, Riau two spots, South Sulawesi one spots, and East Nusa Tenggara three spots.

"From monitoring the hotspots have decreased and the rain has dropped in some areas, Manggala Agni [fire brigade] is still conducting an integrated patrol with some parties and providing counseling to the community. The condition of vulnerability also begins to be safe," said Raffles, as quoted from the website of the Ministry of Environment, Tuesday (10/03/2017).

Until last night (10/02), the Main Post recorded NOAA Satellite has monitored hotspots amounting to 2,332 points throughout the territory of Indonesia. Meanwhile in the same period in 2016, the number of hotspots was 3,707 points, so there is a decrease in the number of hotspots by 1,079 points or 31.67 percent.

Meanwhile, the TERRA-AQUA satellite (NASA) recorded a total of 1,717 hotspots, decreasing by 1,782 points (50.90 percent), compared to 2016 in the same period, which were 3,497 points.

"Integrated patrol with some parties is still being implemented to realize the presence of officers at the site level. Manggala Agni also socializes forest and land fire prevention to the community, runs a chain of communications, and strengthens early detection and extinguishing efforts," Raffles said.

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Asean banks must do more in climate change fight: WWF, NUS study

WONG KAI YI Business Times 3 Oct 17;

SOUTH-EAST Asia's banking regulations and bank practices do not reflect deep commitments to fighting climate change, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the National University of Singapore.

The study surveyed 34 banks across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and found that none of them disclosed climate or sustainability risks at their portfolio level.

Although 26 banks refer to sustainabiltiy in their strategy or vision, only 12 of them acknowledged the importance of climate risk for society and business, WWF said.

WWF found Asean banks to have good corporate governance foundations upon which to build environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies, but found regulators were lagging in incentivising or penalising quicker ESG incorporation and standards.

On a national level, WWF found that supporting regulatory frameworks for sustainability reporting and corporate governance were present in all six surveyed countries. However, more could be done to coordinate sustainable finance regulations across Asean, due to the irregular nature of their implementation.

In Singapore, the three banks surveyed - DBS, OCBC and UOB - disclosed efforts to integrate sustainability concepts into their business, and distinguished between direct and indirect ESG footprint of their business actitivities. They have also made progress in recognising environmental issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss and human rights.

More could be done to integrate environmental and safety (E&S) factors into mainstream capital allocation decisions, the study said.

The WWF called upon Asean regulators to implement prescriptive and timely sustainable finance guidelines to ensure the sector works towards those common goals.

Jeanne Stampe, WWF's head of Asia finance and commodities, said: "Countries will not have any chance of meeting their commitments to the Paris Climate Accord and the UN Sustainable Development Goals without the finance sector playing its part. There remains four years from now to stay below a 1.5 degrees (Celsius) temperature rise as adopted in the Paris Agreement. Banks must therefore act now and develop robust sustainable banking practices within the next 12 months."

Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and champion of the United Nations Environmental Program, urged the finance sector to take necessary measures and find solutions against the looming spectre of Asean's food, water and physical security being at risk.

"Banks have the power and responsibility to influence business practices and transform the region's approach to development," he said in a statement.

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Going diving in the tropics? Don't eat the reef fish!

University of British Columbia Science Daily 21 Sep 17;

Reducing tourist consumption of reef fish is critical for Palau's ocean sustainability, finds a new study that suggests other small island nations might also consider adopting this strategy.

Climate change is expected to lead to sharp declines in Palau's reefs, and this new research suggests that the best tourism management strategy includes a more than 70 per cent reduction in the amount of reef fish eaten by visitors. These findings are relevant for sustainable development for other small island developing states that are likely to feel a significant impact from changes to the ocean.

"Palau's reefs and the fish communities they host are incredibly beautiful and recognized worldwide as a top diving destination," says lead author Colette Wabnitz, research associate with the Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program at UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. "Tourist numbers can reach nine times the local population and most come to enjoy the ocean. This puts enormous pressure on local marine resources that are central to local communities' culture, food security and livelihoods."

Palau, an archipelago of 700 islands in the South Pacific, is heavily dependent on tourism. Many studies have focused on damage that tourists cause reefs physically -- from stepping on coral to interacting with wildlife -- but this is the first to look at the effects of consuming the same fish that tourists are looking at through their dive masks.

The authors developed a social-ecological computer model to explore policy scenarios involving tourism, climate change, marine conservation, and local food security. Fish consumption emerged as playing an important role in future ecosystem declines.

The authors found that the health of reefs can be better maintained by shifting seafood consumption to open water fish, such as sustainably-harvested tuna, instead of reef fishes such as grouper, snapper, and parrotfish.

"Dining habits are removing important fish species from local reefs, and it's ironic that viewing these fish is the reason people come in the first place. This is an important step that can be taken now, rather than a future adaptation to climate change," says co-author Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program manager. "Sustainable tourism, especially ecotourism, shouldn't threaten the food security of local people or their environment."

The study's recommendations, which align with the government's current proposal of developing an offshore national fishery as part of the recently designated National Marine Sanctuary, may allow Palau to protect reef systems and the industries that rely on them, as well as traditional local lifestyles intimately linked to catching and eating seafood.

"The ocean is central to Palau's life and customs; their seafood consumption must be maintained sustainably," says co-author Yoshitaka Ota, Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program director of policy at the University of Washington. "The most important thing is for the people of Palau to keep engaging with the ocean, eating good fish, catching fish sustainably and protecting their way of life, tekoi ra belau -- as they say in Palau. We are hoping that this study will be used for current Pacific Island Nation policy to address what they can do right now and for the future."

Journal Reference:

Colette C.C. Wabnitz, Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor, Quentin Hanich, Yoshitaka Ota. Ecotourism, climate change and reef fish consumption in Palau: Benefits, trade-offs and adaptation strategies. Marine Policy, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.07.022

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Climate change creating food shortages across the Pacific, says support agency

Islanders say warming oceans are affecting their main source of food - fish. Frances Cook NZ Herald 4 Oct 17;

Food shortages and eroding coastlines are an increasingly urgent problem across the Pacific, thanks to climate change.

Caritas has just released Turning the Tide, its 2017 report on the state of the environment in Oceania.

Problems accessing safe food and drinking water were highlighted, with the increasing frequency of natural disasters making the problem more urgent.

"Our experience in 2016/17 is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity of these sources [of local food supplies] - especially after a disaster," the report said.

"The poor are most affected when local supplies are disrupted - they often cannot afford to buy food and water from other sources."

George Alabeni from Arihu Rural Training Centre in Solomon Islands, told Caritas the sea was now becoming so hot, it was unpleasant.

"Before you just go down to the shore and might take fish and see a lot of seashells, crabs and the beauty of the sea; everything.

"There are birds all around the beach, very white beach.

"Now seabirds' coastal homes are being destroyed, and dead fish are washing up on shore.

"We don't expect it, and it's new to us. We have never seen those things happening."

Meanwhile those living in Tuvalu and Vanuatu had been forced to permanently change their diet after Cyclone Pam.

Climate justice advocate Aso Ioapo said locals hadn't been able to replant crops damaged by the storm surges and flooding of the 2015 disaster.

"Since the cyclone they have had to use more imported food, from stores, including chicken, meat, because our food was destroyed in the cyclone.

"Imported food is very new for us in our lives.

"We miss all of our local foods, because in Tuvalu they really need the fish every day ... you have breakfast, morning, lunch and dinner with the fish."

Caritas rated the impact of coastal erosion, flooding, and rising seas as "severe".

It said coastal flooding and sea level rise was displacing increasing numbers of people, especially around Papua New Guinea.

While Caritas acknowledged climate aid money was increasing, it said the funding still fell short of what was needed.

In particular it said that New Zealand "could be playing a pivotal role", yet "seems to be lagging and even reducing its commitments to the Pacific".

The organisation made a raft of recommendations, including a call for the global community to do more to help people who will lose their homes through climate change.

This includes a call to create legal protections for people who are forced to leave their country because of climate change, and putting together a regional body to map which communities are likely to be worst affected.

It's also pushing for the Australian and New Zealand governments to prioritise investments in agriculture, fisheries, and water sources that are climate resilient, to make sure Pacific communities have access to sustainable local sources.

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