Best of our wild blogs: 6 Oct 17

Full Speech: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Bill (Oct 2017)
Your Voices in Parliament

Phenomenal congregation of Wagtails at Yishun
Singapore Bird Group

Universal Children’s Day!
BES Drongos

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Factories, cars behind haze in Singapore

Experts point to concentration of particle vapour and emissions from cars, factories
Tan Tam Mei Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

Hazy conditions in parts of Singapore this week might have prompted fears that fires were once again burning in the region, but experts point to culprits closer to home: factories and cars.

Air quality scientist Erik Velasco told The Straits Times it was not transboundary haze: "The haze-like condition could have been due to the concentration of particle vapour and local emissions - from cars and factories."

Usually these particles would disperse on their own, but Dr Velasco said that cloudy conditions and "not too much wind" could have caused the vicinity to appear hazy.

Residents in some areas, including Pasir Ris, had reported hazy conditions on Tuesday even though the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level was in the moderate range at 6pm that day.

The hourly concentration readings for PM2.5 - tiny pollutant particles associated with haze - were also in the normal band, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a daily haze update.

In response to queries, NEA said that the "slightly hazy conditions" on Tuesday morning were due to an accumulation of particulate matter under "light wind conditions".

This was coupled with some convergence of winds around the south-west areas of Singapore. "The accumulation of particulate matter had dispersed around noon and PM2.5 concentration readings have remained in Band I (Normal)."

Dr Velasco added that rainy conditions meant there might not have been much solar radiation as well. Solar radiation releases heat, which produces turbulence that helps to disperse particles in the air.

"All these contributed to the concentration of particles and what looked like hazy conditions. People have nothing to worry about."

NEA said that due to cloud cover, it did not detect any hot spots in Sumatra on Tuesday, but added that there were showers over most parts of the area that day.

The incident comes after the events of last Monday, which saw a chemical stench cloaking parts of the island, in areas like Sengkang, Punggol and Bishan. Experts had ruled out volcanic action in Bali and the haze as its cause.

The source of the stench was later traced to a chemical plant in the Johor Baru industrial town of Pasir Gudang.

The daily haze update for yesterday showed that the 24-hour PSI was in the good-to-low end of the moderate range, and the hourly PM2.5 concentration was in the normal band.

There were showers over most parts of Sumatra and no hot spots were detected due to cloud cover yesterday.

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Malaysia: Peka to check possible return of logging activities near Fraser's Hill

HIDIR REDUAN New Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

KUANTAN: The Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) is sending a team to Fraser's Hill to check on rumours that loggers have resumed logging activities near an ecotourist spot, in defiance of an ongoing temporary cease order.

Its president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said this comes after a visitor claimed to have spotted a lorry entering the Batu Talam Forest Reserve recently.

"We have heard from someone that a lorry was trying to remove the logs (piled within the area) but we need to verify this first," she said.

She said Peka needed to ensure that the information was accurate before proceeding with further action. So far, she said none of them have witnessed the return of logging activities in the said area.

Shariffa said the team has been tasked to check on the validity of the information, including taking photographs of the area.

"If it is true (resumption of logging activities), we will issue a statement on the matter. They (loggers) should not be touching Fraser's Hill at all," added the 55-year-old, who established the environmental group in 2010.

Shariffa said legal action will be taken if there was evidence that loggers have violated the temporary cease order issued by Pahang Forestry Department on Sept 8.

The order, which covered the removal of logs and construction of roads to logging sites, was issued pursuant to objections by Peka to logging activities in the area that measured 106.78 hectares.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said that the plot belonged to the Pahang state government with mining lots within the Batu Talam Forest Reserve, located about 15km from Fraser's Hill.

Meanwhile, unhappy with the Forestry Department's handling of the matter, Shariffa claimed that there were no patrols being conducted by the authorities at the disputed area.

"There are no patrols at all," she said, pointing out that the department should upholsd its responsibility to safeguard the pristine state and ecosystem in Fraser's Hill and the surrounding forest.

Meanwhile, a Raub Forestry officer denied that logging-related activities have resumed at the Batu Talam Forest Reserve or any area near Fraser's Hill.

He also refuted Shariffa's claim that the department had failed to carry out patrols in the area.

"I have not heard (of resumption of logging activities). I myself went there (for patrols) around midday (today). I did not see any signs of lorries. It is still closed," said the officer, who declined to be named.

He added that since the Sept 8 order, all heavy machinery have been removed from the area and that the entrance into the area blocked to prevent entry and exit of vehicles.

Pahang Forestry director Datuk Indera Mohd Paiz Kamaruzaman also refuted Shariffa's claim on lack of patrols, stating that the Raub Forestry officers were constantly monitoring the area to ensure compliance with the order.

"We always conduct patrols in the area," he said, warning that his officers would not hesitate to detain those found trying to transport logs out of the area.

The New Straits Times reported on Sept 26 on logging activities near the Fraser's Hill area, which had been gazetted as primary forest reserve and water catchment area.

Death of logging operator revealed logging activities near Fraser's Hill
TN Alagesh New Straits Times 6 Oct 17;

KUANTAN: It was the tragic death of a logging operator which eventually exposed logging activities at Fraser’s Hill in Raub, which could pose a threat to the fragile ecosystem at one of the country’s popular highland retreats.

Seow Ah Kiat, 63, was awarded the contract to conduct logging works at the site, located not far from Kampung Bukit Telaga, an Orang Asli settlement.

He was killed in an incident on Aug 21 when a huge rock along with soil had landed on him while his son, who was with him, escaped unhurt.

It was reported that the duo were inspecting the road near the site which was said to have only started land clearing works just several weeks earlier. Both were on foot when boulders and loose soil suddenly came crashing down from a slope.

News of the incident prompted the Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka), who has been against logging in the area since 2012, to send their team to inspect the site.

Upon noticing the extent of the damage, Peka wrote to the state Forestry Department before a stop order on all logging activities at the site was issued on Sept 8.

Kampung Bukit Telaga village headman Asai Enjak said prior to the incident, he met Seow in early August when huge machines arrived to clear the trees to build roads to the logging site.

“The villagers have been always against land clearing at the site which is located at the base of Fraser’s Hill and when Seow told me had received the approval from the state government, there was nothing we could do.

“After the tragedy, I noticed that huge groups of people including Forestry officers frequenting the site before villagers were informed that works have been told to stop. Land clearing works have stopped since early last month and all the machines were removed from the site,” he said when contacted today.

Asai said he did not notice any vehicle movements at the logging site since all activities were halted last month and furthermore the main entrance to the site has been blocked.

“We have not spotted anything suspicious and Forestry officers were also seen occasionally inspecting the area. The site which was once in a mess with huge machines has returned to its usual self and I hope the situation will remain,” he said, adding that his concern now is the possibility of mudslides should heavy rain lash the exposed soil.

Asai said the stop work order has also spared the main road connecting their settlement and the nearby Tras town where their children attend schools. If the logging activities were to resume, the narrow stretch will be further damaged.

Meanwhile, a Peka spokesman said the non-governmental organisation has been always against the idea to approve logging activities in the area since 2012 and the then district forestry officer has never issued any approval for land clearing works.

“Only after the accident (which killed Seow), Peka realised that logging works had begun at the site and we immediately wrote to the Forestry Department before a stop order covering the removal of logs and the construction of roads to logging sites was issued.

“The earth in the respective section is fragile and land clearing activities could trigger soil movements which could result in disasters. Peka will be visiting the site again next week to check on its condition and if there were irresponsible parties trying their luck to remove the logs,” said the spokesman.

It was reported that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the plot was state government land with mining lots within the Batu Talam Forest Reserve, which was about 15km from Fraser’s Hill and the Pahang Forestry Department had issued a licence for the plot effective July 15 to Jan 14 next year.

The New Straits Times reported on Sept 26 on logging activities near the Fraser’s Hill area, which had been gazetted as primary forest reserve and water catchment area.

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Malaysia: Two more predator fish species identified in Timah Tasoh dam

ILI SHAZWANI New Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

PADANG BESAR: The state Fisheries Department has identified two more species of predator fish lurking in the Timah Tasoh dam.

State Agriculture and Agro-based committee chairman Ahmad Bakri Ali said the presence of Geophagus and Melanocitus Johnsonii, both of which are imported species, is a cause for concern especially for freshwater fishermen in the area.

He feared that the ruthless predators would feed on the native fish including the newly released fry, in the man-made lake.

This would give a negative impact to the ecosystem as well as the livelihood of the freshwater fishermen who are dependant on the native fish as source of income.

"It is hoped that the department could take swift actions to overcome the predator problem soon for the sake of the ecosystem at the Timah Tasoh dam and for the welfare of the fishermen," he said in a press conference after releasing 54,647 'lampam' and 'puyu' fry at the Timah Tasoh freshwater fish sanctuary.

The programme was held simultaneously across the country in conjunction with the pre-launch of the 'Gelombang Nelayan Nasional' (GNN) programme.

This year alone, the department has released 405,000 freshwater fish seedings such as 'baung', 'terbul' and 'jelawat' in Timah Tasoh dam, aimed at increasing the native fish population while in turn improving the livelihood of the fishermen.

He also expressed hope that the initiative would draw more tourists especially anglers into the state.

Meanwhile, state Fisheries Department director Ismail Ibrahim said measures have been taken to curb the growth of the predator fish population in the lake including conducting a series of awareness programmes to fishermen and which would be extended to the public in near future.

The department is also working on controlling the growth of the predator fish population by allowing avid anglers to fish in the lake.

" We have yet to identify how the imported predator species ended up in our lake but it is believed there were cases where the fishes was released by owners who could no longer afford to rear their fish in the aquarium.

"For the time being we are stressing on proactive awareness campaigns to educate the fishermen and villagers on the negative impact of the predators in our lake," he said when met.

In April, it was reported that a number of freshwater fishermen raised their concern over the increasing numbers of the Brazil origin Peacock Bass, which is popular among anglers but has no commercial value due to its tasteless flesh, in the lake.

Some claimed that the number of local fish caught has dropped by almost 20 to 30 per cent, while the number of the predator fish is increasing tremendously.

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Malaysia: Cancel reclamation projects, save our coastal fishermen's livelihood, SAM tells Penang govt

AUDREY DERMAWAN New Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

GEORGE TOWN: Environmental group, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), has renewed calls to the Penang goverment to cancel the decision to implement reclamation projects in the state.

This follows numerous incidents which it claimed had threatened the lives of fishermen at existing reclamation sites, such as Pantai Jerejak.

SAM research officer S. Mageswari said the group was worried over continous threats the projects posed to the livelihood of more than 4,000 coastal fishermen in the state.

She said despite objections by affected coastal fishermen and non-governmental organisations including SAM and Consumers' Association of Penang, the Penang government has yet to assure that the projects would not threaten the environment and fishermen's livelihood.

"The July 23 incident proves that the responsible parties failed to pay due attention to defending the fate and livelihood of fishermen, now and in the future.

"Taking into consideration the adverse impacts of reclamation to the coastal and marine ecosystem, and subsequently the fisheries sector, SAM urges the state government to immediately cancel the decision to implement reclamation projects in the state, especially the proposed Penang South Reclamation project involving more than 4,000 acres," she said.

Mageswari said SAM has received numerous complaints from affected fishermen on the decline of their catches and income arising from reclamation projects that have been implemented in several areas in the state.

"Marine water pollution and ever decreasing fishing zones due to reclamation at the coastal areas have caused dwindling fisheries resources and thus catches, at times deteriorating to 70 per cent of their daily income.

"Among areas affected by reclamation projects on the island are Tanjung Tokong, Sungai Gelugor, Jelutong, Batu Uban, Persiaran Gurney and Queensbay," she added.

On the massive Penang South Reclamation at the southern coastline of the island, which involves the creation of three man-made islands, Mageswari said the environmental impact assessment of the project stated that in 2015, a total of 2,757 licensed fishermen operated within the impact zone of the project.

The wholesale value of fish landed at the area was estimated at RM42.09 million, which amounted to 12.4 per cent of the total wholesale value of fish landings from the island, she added.

She said SAM has been consistent against land reclamation projects that damaged the environment.

On July 23, fishermen Mohd Maidin Abd Hamid, 63, crashed his boat into a buoy at a recmalation site in Pantai Jerejak while returning from sea about 1.30am.

He said his boat nearly overturned due to the impact, causing part of the fiber to dent. He also had to cut 10 pieces of his fishing nets which got stuck in the sand bank.

"There was no beacon lights whatsoever to serve as a safety precaution, which is clearly against the maritime law.

"I lodged complaints with the Marine Department and representatives the Penang government but none of them were of any help," he said when met near the reclamation site in Pantai Jerejak here today.

He estimated his losses to be at RM2,500, not including loss of income. Maidin said he has not been going to sea for more than two months now.

"I used to be able to fish for priced white pomfret (bawal) and four-fingered threadfin (senangin). They are all gone now after the reclamation." he added.

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Malaysia: TNB prepares for monsoon; keeping eye on Sultan Mahmud dam's water level

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is keeping a close watch on the water level at the Sultan Mahmud hydroelectric dam, in view of an impending monsoon set to lash the east coast states of Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang.

The Meteorogical Department had recently issued a public warning of torrential rain, strong winds and adverse weather beginning tomorrow (Oct 6).

The department said the weather was the first phase of the monsoon season that will last till early next month.

A TNB spokesperson said the current water level at the dam stood at 138.7 metres.

“This is a normal level with adequate reservoir capacity to contain the expected monsoon rainfalls, upstream.

“The dam’s maximum safe level is 145 metres,” said the utility corporation representative.

The spokesperson added that for the past eight months, TNB has taken proactive measures to reduce the water level in preparation of the upcoming monsoon season.

“To date, the Meteorological Department has forecast the upcoming monsoon to be in the ‘normal monsoon’ category.

“Nevertheless, we have our technical crew keeping a close watch for any untoward incidents,” she said.

Residents of the three states have repeatedly expressed concern of sudden overflow from the dam which had resulted in flash floods the past few years.

However, TNB and several other government agencies have blamed illegal logging in the Main Range of the peninsula as one of the chief reasons for uncontrolled flooding of low lands surrounding Tasik Kenyir.

A Forestry Department official said illegal and unscrupulous rapid deforestation had resulted in mass rapid, surface rain-water flow which exceeded the drainage capacity at catchment areas, lakes and the South China Sea.

“This resulted in large amount of water overflowing into low-lying areas, causing flash floods,” he said.

Deforestation has been blamed for the massive flooding of Manik Urai, Kuala Krai and Kota Baru in Kelantan, as well as Kemaman in Terengganu two years ago.

Meanwhile, Terengganu state secretary Datuk Wan Nawawi Wan Ismail said several mitigation initiatives, including the recent installation of the RM550 million National Flood Forecasting and Warning System, have helped minimise loss of lives and property.

He said the system had been set up at four locations, namely Stewong Jatuh in Hulu Setiu, Peng Gawai in Hulu Terengganu, Kenyir Dam in Hulu Terengganu and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu in Gong Badak here.

It is learnt that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has set aside RM30.6 million for the system to be established in Terengganu and neighbouring Kelantan.

“A total of RM5.7 million has been channelled to Terengganu so far, with more funds to be allocated in the project's next phase.

“Phase One of the project was developed over two years following the north-east monsoon floods that inundated several states between Dec 14, 2014 and Jan 10, 2015,” he said.

The major floods that year, described as the worst in decades, had caused extensive loss of property in Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. More than 200,000 people were affected while 21 were killed.

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Philippines: DENR to press for protection of migratory species

Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz Manila Bulletin 4 Oct 17;

The Philippines is expected to push for major initiatives in an international wildlife conference in Manila this month that will protect migratory species in ecotourism sites.

“The Philippines, as an important host to a number of migratory species in its coastal, marine, wetland and forest ecosystems, will prove to the rest of the world that human development should not be at the cost of our natural resources and the ecosystem services that they provide,” Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

The DENR chief pointed out that the country has already submitted its draft “Resolution on Sustainable Tourism and Migratory Species” to the United Nations Environment Programme in time for the 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), to be held in Manila from October 23 to 28.

“The resolution aims to bring forth how wildlife interaction in tourism affects migratory species and how tourism activities should be managed to ensure that these do not negatively impact the said species,” Cimatu said.

Through the conference, he explained that the Philippines will have the opportunity to share its experiences in terms of migratory species conservation for other countries to follow.

“Global resources are shared resources. As a global resource, the preservation of migratory species should be a collective responsibility of all nations,” he pointed out.

Migratory species that pass by the Philippines on different times of the year contribute as wildlife tourist attractions and have led to the rise in ecotourism.

These species include the whale shark or ‘butanding’ that migrates to Legazpi City in Albay, Donsol in Sorsogon, and Oslob in Cebu; the sea cow or ‘dugong’ that frequents Busuanga in Palawan and Mati City in Davao Oriental; and marine turtle or ‘pawikan’ that visits the provinces of Bataan, Palawan and Tawi-Tawi.

As part of the East Asian-Austrasian Migratory Flyway, the Philippines also hosts a number of migratory birds in protected areas, such as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

Cimatu explained that the proposed resolution aims to regulate ecotourism areas frequented by migratory species and ensure that their natural migration patterns, habitats, population are not distorted or harmed.

“It is important for the Philippines and all countries that are parties to the CMS to maintain migratory sites as viable habitats so that these species will continue to come back,” he said.

“We can do tourism using biodiversity, but we have to preserve it. There should be a balance between man and nature in pursuit of economic development,” he added.

He expressed hope that the CMS party states will adopt the resolution.

It is the first time the CMS conference will be held in Asia since the international treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1985.

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Carbon emissions from warming soils could trigger disastrous feedback loop

26-year study reveals natural biological factors kick in once warming reaches certain point, leading to potentially unstoppable increase in temperatures
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 5 Oct 17;

Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism whereby increases in global temperatures will trigger massive new carbon releases in a cycle that may be impossible to break.

The increased production of carbon comes from the microbes within soils, according to a report in the peer-review journal Science, published on Friday.

The 26-year study is one of the biggest of its kind, and is a groundbreaking addition to our scant knowledge of exactly how warming will affect natural systems.

Potential feedback loops, or tipping points, have long been suspected to exist by scientists, and there is some evidence for them in the geological record. What appears to happen is that once warming reaches a certain point, these natural biological factors kick in and can lead to a runaway, and potentially unstoppable, increase in warming.

Other tipping points posited by scientists include the disappearance of ice in the Arctic, which creates areas of dark water that absorb more heat, and the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from thawing permafrost.

In the Science study, researchers examined plots of soil in the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, a mixed hardwood forest in the US. They experimented by heating some of the plots with underground cables to 5C above normal levels, leaving others as a control.

The long-term study revealed that in the first 10 years there was a strong increase in the carbon released from the heated plots, then a period of about seven years when the carbon release abated. But after this second calmer period, which the scientists attribute to the adjustment of the soil microbes to the warmer conditions, the release of carbon resumed its upward path.

In the last three years, the release of carbon has once again dropped back, which scientists attribute to another reorganisation of the microbes present. They suggest an increase in the number of microbes that can feast on the hard-to-digest organic matter, such as plant-based lignin, which gives clues to the possible cyclical nature of the process.

From 1991, when the experiment began, the plots subjected to 5C warming lost about 17% of the carbon that had been stored in the top 60cm of the soil, where the greatest concentration of organic matter is to be found.

Scientific understanding of the complexities of soil microbial activity is still limited, but the long-term nature of the study provides valuable insights into what might be happening, and is likely to happen in future, to vast swaths of forest soils across the world.

While deforestation has been the focus of most research into forests’ effects on climate change, with a recent study suggesting tropical forests are turning into carbon sources rather than carbon stores as a result, the impact of warming soils has remained much of a mystery. Soils are one of the world’s biggest natural carbon sinks, along with trees and the oceans.

Daniel Metcalfe, of Sweden’s Lund University, said: “If these findings hold more widely across major terrestrial ecosystems, then a much greater portion of the global soil carbon store could be vulnerable to decomposition and release of carbon dioxide under global warming than previously thought.”

Ultimate bogs: how saving peatlands could help save the planet
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The study was carried out by scientists at the US Marine Biological Laboratory, led by Jerry Melillo, with contributions from the universities of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Melillo, who holds the position of distinguished scientist at the MBL, said: “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10bn metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The world’s soils contain about 3,500bn tons of carbon. If a significant amount of that is added to the atmosphere, due to microbial activity, that will accelerate the global warming process. Once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off. There is no switch to flip.”


He added: “The future is warmer. How much warmer is the issue.” While emissions from fossil fuels can be cut back, the reactions of the natural world to a warming climate may be impossible to control.

Some recent work has suggested that the warming of the globe may be progressing at a slightly slower rate than the upper range of previous studies estimated. However, feedback loops and tipping points have the potential to create sudden disruptions that are hard to take account of in standard climate modelling, and these could mean much greater changes and far higher rates of warming in the future.

Separately, research from Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and other institutions, published in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, and Global Change Biology, called for more work on how soil could be used as a carbon store. When agricultural soils are well-managed, they can store more carbon than they emit, which would allow them to be used as potential carbon sinks.

But the scientists warn that “we still don’t have a strong understanding of the interactions among biological, chemical and physical processes regulating carbon in soils”. They say much more research is needed, particularly as there are dangers in soils in Siberia that are rapidly warning, and could release vast quantities of carbon. They also warn that there may be 25-30% less organic matter in some soils than previously estimated.

“Soil has changed under our feet,” said Jennifer Harden, a visiting scholar at Stanford. “We can’t use the soil maps made 80 years ago and expect to find the same answers.”

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Food and farming policies 'need total rethink'

Claire Marshall BBC News 5 Oct 17;

Can farming and food production be made less damaging to the planet?

A big meeting in London will look at how reforms could help halt species extinction, meet climate goals, limit the spread of antibiotic resistance and improve animal welfare.

The organisers of the Extinction and Livestock Conference say diverse interests will be represented.

They include multinational food corporations, native breed farmers, neurologists and naturalists.

McDonalds, Tesco and Compass will be rubbing shoulders with those from the Sustainable Food Trust, Quorn and WWF. The 500 delegates come from more than 30 countries.

Their wide interests illustrate the complex and difficult issues arising from global livestock production.

'Catastrophic impacts'

The two-day conference is being organised by Compassion in World Farming (CiWF).

The campaigning organisation warns that "there will be catastrophic impacts for life on Earth unless there is a global move away from intensive farming".

The world is on track to lose two-thirds of its wildlife by the end of this decade, largely because habitats have been destroyed to produce food for humans.

There has been a rise in so-called "superbugs" linked to the use of antibiotics in farmed animals. And methane emissions from livestock have made a significant contribution to climate change.

CiWF CEO Philip Lymbery said: "Livestock production, the environment, wildlife conservation and human health are all interlinked, so it's vital that experts from each of these fields work together to come up with practical solutions to stop this before it's too late."

CiWF believes that there should be a total rethink of food and farming policies, enshrined in the framework of a UN Convention.

The aim would be to properly integrate objectives such as food security, climate change, animal welfare and human health - so one isn't pursued at the expense of the other.

Mr Lymbery added: "Many people are aware that wild animals such as penguins, elephants and jaguars are threatened by extinction. However, few know that livestock production, fuelled by consumer demand for cheap meat, is one of the biggest drivers of species extinction and biodiversity loss on the planet."

Award-winning writer and activist Raj Patel from the University of Texas is speaking at the conference.
He said: "The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture, and that means it is responsible for species loss.

"We're losing species we have never heard of, those we've yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that. Conferences are for forging the alliances and building the movement that will change the world."

Also attending is Martin Palmer, secretary-general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation.
He said: "Our current food system is not about a healthy, sustainable world of food but about excess, greed and foolishness disguised as 'market forces'.

"It treats the natural world not as something we are part of and therefore should treasure, but as a larder we can raid and somehow hope it gets filled again.

"But the truth is, it won't! As a result of this conference I would hope that all the key players - including the great faiths - would find a place at the table and together, each in their own distinctive way, will be able to inspire and guide us towards a better, fairer world."

Farm animals can eat insects and algae to prevent deforestation
WWF says alternatives to industrially farmed animal feed must be developed to stop biodiversity loss
Bibi van der Zee The Guardian 5 Oct 17;

Farm animals could be fed on insects and algae, potentially preventing significant amounts of deforestation and water and energy waste, according to environmental campaigners.

“We’re a bit squeamish about eating insects in the UK,” said WWF’s food policy manager Duncan Williamson at the Extinction and Livestock conference in London. “But we can feed them to our animals. We are going to need animal feed for the foreseeable future, but algae and insects are an alternative to the current system.”

Growing and capturing feed for industrially farmed animals – soy, maize, fish – is an inefficient use of the world’s resources, according to a WWF report released for the conference. According to scientist Katherine Richardson, one of 15 experts commissioned by the UN to report on their sustainability goals, we have now broken through four out of nine of the planetary boundaries defined as a precondition to sustainable development “because of agriculture”.

Many corporations believe the public don’t care or know about the problem with feed, said Williamson. “I have lost count of the times I have gone to companies who have said our customers don’t care about feed – it’s so far from what they’re eating. They don’t care about the impacts on biodiversity – they think the fields of England are biodiverse.” But, he pointed out, “the intensive system has a global impact on biodiversity … it’s the number one cause of biodiversity loss.”

Using insects and algae for animal feed would require far less land and resources. One company, Entocycle, makes feed of black soldier flies fed on waste food, while algae can be grown in far smaller areas to a comparative amount of soy and is nutritionally superior.

Work on alternative materials for feeds has been happening for a number of years now, according to Kate Wolfenden of Project X, a WWF offshoot, and alternative feeds are still significantly more expensive than grains and soys and not yet at the volumes required to shift entire industries. But the market is now maturing, and Project X’s Feed-X programme aims to enable 10% of the global industry to be able to commit to procuring alternative sustainable feeds, at scale, by 2020.

But the truth is that a transformation of the entire food system will be necessary, says Richardson. “We are living what might be the most exciting time of human history – a time of great transition,” she told the conference, pointing out that there have been times in the past when we have realised that we are going to have to create rules for dealing with our waste at local, regional and national levels. “We, as a society, are now recognising that we need to manage our resources at the global level.”

Philip Lymbery, the head of Compassion in World Farming, one of the organisers of the conference, had called earlier for a UN convention on food and farming. “Our intention is that this conference will be the start of a global conversation. Scientists warn we are facing a mass extinction event not seen since the dinosaurs. Much of the current biodiversity loss is driven by the way we produce food.”

The conference was partly, he said, held to celebrate the 50th birthday of CIWF. “We do not intend to celebrate our 100th. We intend to end factory farming long before that comes.”

Vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying planet
WWF report finds 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets which put huge strain on Earth’s resources
Rebecca Smithers The Guardian 5 Oct 17;

The ongoing global appetite for meat is having a devastating impact on the environment driven by the production of crop-based feed for animals, a new report has warned.

The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study from the conservation charity WWF.

Intensive and industrial animal farming also results in less nutritious food, it reveals, highlighting that six intensively reared chickens today have the same amount of omega-3 as found in just one chicken in the 1970s.

The study entitled Appetite for Destruction launches on Thursday at the 2017 Extinction and Livestock Conference in London, in conjunction with Compassion in World Farming (CIFW), and warns of the vast amount of land needed to grow the crops used for animal feed and cites some of the world’s most vulnerable areas such as the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas.

The report and conference come against a backdrop of alarming revelations of industrial farming. Last week a Guardian/ITV investigation showed chicken factory staff in the UK changing crucial food safety information.

Protein-rich soy is now produced in such huge quantities that the average European consumes approximately 61kg each year, largely indirectly by eating animal products such as chicken, pork, salmon, cheese, milk and eggs.

In 2010, the British livestock industry needed an area the size of Yorkshire to produce the soy used in feed. But if global demand for meat grows as expected, the report says, soy production would need to increase by nearly 80% by 2050.

“The world is consuming more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife,” said Duncan Williamson, WWF food policy manager. “A staggering 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat. We know a lot of people are aware that a meat-based diet has an impact on water and land, as well as causing greenhouse gas emissions, but few know the biggest issue of all comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat.”

With 23bn chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and guinea fowl on the planet – more than three per person – the biggest user of crop-based feed globally is poultry. The second largest, with 30% of the world’s feed in 2009, is the pig industry.

In the UK, pork is the second favourite meat after chicken, with each person eating on average 25kg a year in 2015 – nearly the whole recommended yearly intake for all meats. UK nutritional guidelines recommend 45-55g of protein per day, but the average UK consumption is 64-88g, of which 37% is meat and meat products.

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