Best of our wild blogs: 10 Oct 17

Seagrasses taking over artificial lagoon at Seringat-Kias!
wild shores of singapore

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Scientists in Singapore help to discover new marine species

XIAOZHI LIM New York Times Today Online 10 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Thirteen thousand feet deep, on the cold, dark desert of the Pacific Ocean seafloor, scientists have discovered new sponges living on rock nodules targeted for deep-sea mining.

The tiny sponges, named Plenaster craigi partly for the multitude of stars that make up their backbones, belong in a genus of their own and are the most abundant organism found to date that live on the nodules.

"When I examined Plenaster for the first time, I was amazed by its unusual, simple skeleton," said Lim Swee-Cheng, a sponge taxonomist from National University of Singapore and lead author of a paper on the discovery, published in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity.

The sponges were collected on two expeditions, in 2013 and 2015, led by Craig Smith, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii, to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a chunk of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico that is the size of the continental United States. Mr Lim, in collaboration with another research team led by Adrian Glover at the Natural History Museum in Britain, characterised and classified the sponges based on both their appearance and genetics.

"They're living in a very food-limited environment," Mr Glover said. "It's quite remarkable that they can survive."

Stace Beaulieu, a deep-sea biological oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who was not involved in the study, said, "This is exciting because it is not only a new species but a new genus." That is akin to discovering not just dogs, but a larger group that includes wolves, coyotes and jackals.

For small organisms in the zone like Plenaster craigi, "pretty much everything collected is new," said Diva Amon, a deep-sea biologist who also participated in Smith's expeditions but was not involved in the study. Ms Amon has reported several new species from the expeditions. But this discovery is "incredibly important," she said. "This is one of the most abundant animals found living on the nodules, and we didn't even know it existed."

In the last 40 years, over 100 scientific expeditions have visited the zone where metal-containing nodules lie half-buried on the seafloor. The nodules are lumps of rock that contain various metals including iron, copper, nickel, manganese and cobalt. "They range in size from golf balls to big potatoes," said Mark Hannington, a marine geologist at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. "Because they are loose, you can just scoop them up with a grater."

The International Seabed Authority governs the seafloor outside of sovereign waters and has allocated 15 areas for exploration in the zone to several companies affiliated with nations that include China, Japan, Singapore, Tonga and those in the European Union. A few dozen exploration licenses have been granted, but none for actual mining yet.

The plenaster craigi — tiny, newly discovered sponges that live on rock nodules targeted for deep-sea mining on the Pacific Ocean seafloor. Thirteen thousand feet deep, on the cold, dark desert of the Pacific Ocean seafloor, scientists have discovered new sponges living on rock nodules targeted for deep-sea mining. Photo: National University of Singapore via The New York Times

Plenaster craigi grow on the nodules and are vulnerable if mining for nodules commences. "We have collected a few hundreds of this sponge species, and they were only found attached to the nodules," Lim said.

"The CCZ is a soft sediment habitat so the hard surfaces are limited," Ms Beaulieu said. While almost nothing is known of Plenaster craigi — what they eat, how they reproduce, where they are distributed — most sponge species, like corals, have to find hard surfaces to settle down on and grow while they are young, she said.

But the zone is so vast, Mr Glover believes that it is more likely large areas would be left undisturbed. The International Seabed Authority has already reserved wide swaths of seafloor for protection and commissioned large-scale exploration studies to establish life on the seafloor. "To get to the point where you can make informed decisions, you need to know what animals live there," Mr Glover said.

More pressing are the huge sediment plumes that mining activities will generate, said Ann Vanreusel, a marine biologist at Ghent University in Belgium. That's where Plenaster craigi could prove to be useful as an indicator species because of its abundance, she said. "Every animal you collect from the seafloor seems to be a different species," Ms Vanreusel said. An organism that will clearly be disturbed from the plumes and abundant enough to count such as Plenaster craigi could help researchers figure out the effects of deep-sea mining and perhaps even the possibilities for recovery, she said.

"They can almost act like a canary," Ms Amon said.

But the key, Mr Hannington said, is that deep-sea mining may not be economically viable. "Nobody has proved it can be done," he said. Many details, like whether the metals can be extracted from the marine ore, still need to be worked out, he said. "If it turns out that marine mining is not economically feasible, all of the other problems go out the window."

Mr Glover's team first noticed Plenaster craigi while on the 2013 expedition to the exploration area allocated to Britain. "For three years we were calling them sponge species A," Mr Glover said. Then in 2015, Mr Lim participated in the second expedition to the area allocated to Singapore and began working with Mr Glover to identify and classify the sponges. Now, Mr Lim has begun work on a second sponge species growing on the nodules, while Mr Glover is preparing an extensive study on deep sea mollusks.

The researchers are racing against time to study life on the seafloor while being limited not only by sample collection, but also a lack of scientists with the expertise to characterise and classify new species, Ms Beaulieu said. "It takes a lot of time, one by one by one, to describe a new species," she said, "and there are still so many to go." THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Bring Your Own campaign key in Singapore’s push to go green

DAVID LEO Today Online 9 Oct 17;

When a supermarket in Hong Kong charged for plastic bags in the ‘80s, it was perceived as a cost-cutting measure. Today this has become a global practice to save the environment. Some countries such as Bangladesh, China and South Africa have gone the full hog to banning completely the use of plastic bags. Those that have levied a fee include Taiwan, Indonesia, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and parts of the United States.

However, this has yet to make an appreciable impact in Singapore. If the four main supermarket chains – FairPrice, Dairy Farm Group, Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong – agree on levying a charge for plastic bags, possibly between five and 10 cents, this may become a more visible feature from the middle of next year.

One wonders why the need for consensus when the push to go green should be an overriding national consideration. The kind of culture we want filtered down to the population at large must be that it is the responsibility of every individual to do his part. Are the big retailers in Singapore concerned about competition if the implementation is not uniform?

In the absence of a national policy, some retailers in the US in eco-friendly states are taking the lead, and this initiative has spread over the years to other states. In Australia, the states of South Australia and Tasmania are setting the example.

It is an encouraging sign that some smaller retailers are responding to the Bring Your Own (BYO) campaign launched by environmental non-governmental organisation Zero Waste SG.

Besides discounts, some are offering free drinks as incentives, with a few of them already committing to continue the practice after the campaign.

The BYO concept is not restricted to just plastic bags. Cafe chains such as Starbucks, Joe & Dough, and PAUL are offering a 50-cent discount for those who bring their own mugs, setting an example for more retailers to follow.

Some people may remember the old days before the advent of disposable polystyrene bowls and plates when people would bring their own containers purchasing soup noodles from the hawkers.

Of the four big supermarket chains, NTUC FairPrice has been encouraging customers to bring their own bags and enjoy a 10-cent discount on a minimum purchase of S$10 since 2007.

According to it, its Green Rewards scheme saved 56.6 million plastic bags last year. This is still a meagre two per cent of the national volume of 2.5 billion plastic bags used in a year in Singapore.


Many countries have tried the soft approach of incentivising customers by offering a discount. Invariably they move on to imposing a charge as a deterrent or even completely banning the use of plastic bags.

The penalty, although unpopular, seems to be more effective, because people are less inclined to want to pay more but are less likely to feel any worse off if they do not get a discount. Even then, there will still be customers who do not mind the extra charge, but hopefully they number in the minority.

The answer lies in making a habit of bringing your own bags. The challenge then is how to facilitate that change of habit, which is not going to be easy. Supermarket chain Cold Storage is giving reusable bags during the BYO campaign to customers who bring their own bags on purchase of at least S$20. Other retailers could do the same, but perhaps set the bar lower.

In Canada, where most big chain supermarkets are already charging for plastic bags, many shoppers visit the stores with their own reusable bags. Such bags are often distributed free at corporate and community events and fairs. So it is not just retailers that can help promote the habit. Other companies too can contribute to the cause by offering reusable bags as corporate gifts as they might commonly do with thumb-drives or T-shirts.

To ready the population to embrace the transition, it is important that they understand why BYO is a necessary practice to save the environment, and why the environment needs to be saved.

The message may be promoted through community organisations and the media. Many people may appear uncaring about the environment, but it is likely that many of them too do not understand what happens to the disposable plastic articles including bags that they discard, the harm that these items may cause to the environment and in turn our health.

Like most good habits, it should be inculcated at a very young age, at home and in schools. We would have succeeded if we attained the kind of result achieved in the “Keep Singapore Clean” campaign in the ‘60s that discouraged littering, so much so that when Singaporeans travel overseas, they bring their habit with them.

For a small country like Singapore with limited landfill, going green and recycling where possible becomes even more imperative. Beyond BYO, there are a whole lot of things that may be recycled – aluminium cans, bottles, newsprint and cardboards, and garden trimmings and food waste among them.

There are already bins to collect most of these recyclables at HDB apartment blocks, shopping malls and other public places. The same question may be asked if consumers have been sufficiently conscientious about disposing them correctly, or that they mix them up with other trash.

In Canada, a number of these items carry an environmental or recycling fee. For example, when you buy a can of soda, you pay additionally a disposal fee as well as a deposit which is reimbursable when you return the used can at a recycling depot.

Singapore may have to go down that road if its citizens do not heed the correct recycling procedures.

It is never too soon to take the zero waste effort seriously. While it is desirable to recycle where possible, it is even better to reduce the need to recycle by making, for a start, BYO a habit.


David Leo is a published author who supports going green.

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Smart showers with colour codes or panel display for water usage levels picked for new flats

KELLY NG Today Online 10 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Smart showers coming up in about 10,000 new flats in the next two years will feature either a panel display of real-time water consumption in numbers or colour codes at the showerhead to indicate consumption level.

There will also be advanced interactive features that allow users to set their own water conservation goals and monitor their water consumption history, among other things.

Details of the smart showers to be installed in new Build-to-Order flats from next year and in 2019 were released by national water agency PUB on Monday (Oct 9).

The two proposed designs, by Amphiro AG, and Smart and Blue, respectively, were picked out of four submissions earlier this year for the Smart Shower Programme, which seeks to determine if such devices help encourage people to use less water in the shower.

“Showering typically comprises 29 per cent of a household’s monthly water consumption. To better manage water usage, PUB aims to provide information to customers to make informed decisions especially in areas of higher usage,” said Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s director of water supply (network), in a press release.

The authorities hopes to compare the results of the two products “with the intent for wider adoption and (providing) more options for customers”, Mr Toh said.

Households can save about five litres of water per person each day, when occupants are provided with real-time feedback while taking their showers, according to a behavioural study by the PUB and National University of Singapore (NUS). The study conducted in 2015, which involved 550 households, also showed that successful use of such devices can help households shave about 3 per cent of their monthly water bills.

“Initiatives such as the use of smart shower devices that provide real-time information can motivate behavioural change and complement traditional policy tools in achieving Singapore’s water conservation goals,” said the NUS’ deputy president for research and technology Professor Ho Teck Hua.

In calling for proposals for the supply of smart showers in April, the PUB said it hopes to tap on innovative ideas from the industry to improve the features of shower devices currently available in the market.

To help Singaporeans reduce water usage, the agency is also exploring ways of replcing toilet bowls in Housing Development Board flats with more water-efficient ones and to sync shower devices with smart phones, tablets or laptops so that users can download data and monitor their water consumption over time.

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Malaysia: Guideline on shark species needed

Cindy Lai Borneo Post 10 Oct 17;

MIRI: The authorities have been called to conduct research on the few types of sharks which have been listed by international bodies as endangered species.

The call was made by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri branch chairman Iqbal Abdollah after he came across a juvenile Zebra shark, also known as Indo-Pacific leopard shark, being put up for sale at a stall in a market near here on Sunday.

“The shark, whose scientific name is Stegostoma fasciatum and are usually found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific, with its sub-population found in Indian Ocean, Southeast Asian and Eastern Indonesian-Oceania, though not rare, has been listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post.

“The relevant authorities should draw a proper and stricter guideline on the types of fish that can be sold at the market to prevent endangered species from being served on the table,” Iqbal, who is an environmental activist, said.

Zebra shark is a species of carpet shark found in warmer coastal waters, frequenting coral reefs and sandy flats up to a depth of more than 60 metres. The nocturnal creature spends most of its day resting motionless on the sea floor, and actively hunts at night for molluscs, crustaceans and small fish.

According to the report by IUCN, zebra sharks are being driven to extinction due to great levels of exploitation and ongoing threats that occur in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand through to Indonesia.

Observation on the species saw a reduction of over 50 per cent of its population within three generations and hence, the species has been assessed globally as ‘endangered species’.

“They are, in fact, popular subjects of eco-tourism and aquariums. Usually when caught by foreign fishermen, they are actually sold as aquarium pets,” Iqbal added.

However, in Malaysia it is not listed as protected species by the Fisheries Act 1985 and Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, which appalled him.

Iqbal, who is a member of Special Interest Group on Marine in MNS and a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (Padi) dive master, stressed on the importance of protecting these species as they are valuable marine life in the recreational scuba diving industry.

“Divers are willing to pay several hundreds of ringgit in fees to get the thrill of seeing live sharks. It certainly is a very valuable experience,” he said.

Though it is understood that the shark was a by-catch after it was trapped in the net, Iqbal said he felt devastated that the fishmonger was selling it at RM20 per kilogramme.

Iqbal took to Facebook to vent his anger and disappointment over the ignorance amongst the community and relevant authorities on the importance of protecting marine life.

“Marine life plays a great part in Miri’s eco-tourism and I really hope the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Fisheries Department and others will conduct necessary research on the few types of shark species and to upgrade its status to protected species in Sarawak and Malaysia,” he said.

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Malaysia: Beached whale in Cherating rescued by members of the public

HIDIR REDUAN New Straits Times 9 Oct 17;

KUANTAN: A four-metre young whale found itself beached on the pristine sands of Cherating Beach near the private resort of Club Med Cherating here at 11am today.

Fortunately, a group of around 20 people, comprised of tourists, club members and the Pahang chapter of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) helped push the hapless marine mammal back into deeper waters.

According to a resort staff member who declined to be named, the mammal was discovered beached on the sands by his colleagues at 11am.

“When we examined the whale and found that it was still alive, we as a group (tourists, club members, resort staff and MNS members) made the decision to help it return to the sea.

“We suspect it lost its way before ending up on the beach," he said this afternoon.

Photos of the incident has since spread on social media.

During the effort to push the animal back into the sea, many people there took the opportunity to take pictures and record videos of the mammal, which is rarely seen in Malaysia.

The staff said the group of 20 spent around 30 minutes helping to pull and push the whale back into the waters before it swam farther into the sea.

“This is a rare occurrence and the first one I ever experienced while working here over the past eight years,” he said, adding that they had also relayed the matter to the beach ranger for further action.

State Malaysian Nature Society chairman Jehan Bakar confirmed that members of the environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) was at the beach to help push the whale back into the sea.

“On discovering that the whale was still alive, some of the MNS members there poured water on it to help it keep hydrated before helping push it back into the sea.

“It is not a full adult yet and is still in juvenile stage,” said the 47-year-old.

“However, it at first swam within the shallow waters of the beach in a confused state. Fortunately a short while later, it returned deeper into the sea by itself,” said Jehan.

The whale’s species remains unknown as of press time.

Jehan said the whale may have become separated from its mother due to unfamiliarity with its surroundings.

She noted that the close cooperation between those on the beach to help the animal return to the sea is testament to the innate compassion among the people for all forms of life.

“The people working together to push the whale back into the sea shows that compassion still exists among members of society. They could put aside their differences to save the whale.

“These values must constantly be inculcated especially for wildlife and its conservation," she said.

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Indonesia: Landslide, flood hit Central Bengkulu

Antara 9 Oct 17;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Incessant heavy rains since Sunday have triggered a landslide and flood in Central Bengkulu District, Bengkulu Province.

"Tanjung Raman village is being flooded, while Susup village, located in the border of Kepahiang, is being affected by a landslide," Tomi Marisi, head of the Central Bengkulu disaster mitigation office, stated here on Monday.

Kemumu River has spilled over its bank and has caused flooding in Tanjung Raman village, he added.

The only bridge connecting Tanjung Raman village and the capital city of the sub-district has collapsed after being hit by the river current.

"We are now in the location of the flood. The condition is quite bad because the only bridge connecting the village with the capital of the sub-district has collapsed," he noted.

Meanwhile, the landslide has cut off a main road in Susup village.

In West Sumatra Province, floods have hit Nagari Batahan Village, Ranah Batahan Sub-district, in West Pasaman District, and damaged 13 houses on Monday.

Relief aid was distributed to help the flood victims, Try Wahluyo, head of the West Pasaman disaster mitigation office, noted in West Sumatra on Monday.

Several rescuers were deployed to help move the flood victims to higher ground, he revealed.

The Batahan River overflowed its bank and triggered the flooding following incessant heavy rains since Sunday.

Several houses and rice fields were inundated, with floodwaters reaching a height of one meter.

The flood victims, whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the floods, were accommodated in emergency tents.(*)

Landslides hit Cilacap, Banyumas
Antara 12 Oct 17;

Cilacap, C Java (ANTARA News)- Landslides have hit several areas in the districts of Cilacap and Banyumas, Central Java, following incessant heavy rains since Wednesday.

In Calacap, landslides occurred in two locations in Grumbul Lewosari, Mandala village, Cimanggu sub-district, Tri Komara Sidhy, head of the Cilacap disaster mitigation office, said here, Thursday.

In addition to landslides, the downpours also damaged Cimindi bridge in Cisalak village, Cimanggu sub-district.

A house located near a hill, was buried by a landslide in Grumbul Renggong, Gumelar sub-district, Banyumas District, on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. local time.

The landslide was also triggered by incessant downpours that had fallen since Wednesday morning.

Local rescuers comprising among others police and military officers, cleared mud and rocks that buried the house. (*)

Landslide buries four homes and mosque in Lebak, Banten Province
Antara 12 Oct 17;

Lebak, Banten (ANTARA News) - A landslide buried four homes and one mosque in Cimandiri village, Panggarangan sub-district, Lebak District, Banten Province, on Wednesday at 7:30 pm. local time.

The buildings were seriously damaged due to the landslide, Kaprawi, head of the Lebak disaster mitigation office, said here, Thursday.

There were no reports of casualties in the landslide which was triggered by incessant heavy rains.

Lebak is considered prone to landslides because the region has several hills and rivers. (*)

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Indonesia: Ministries, police uncover illegal fishing network, seize bombs and seeds

Antara 9 Oct 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has uncovered an illegal fishing network that had been operating in the country for the past years, following the confiscation of fishing bombs and unreported imported seeds, an official said here on Monday.

The organized crime network was uncovered as a result of the operations of Maritime and Fishery Ministry, Finance Ministry, Transportation Ministry, the airport operators, Angkasa Pura (AP) I and II, and the Crime and Investigation Unit of Indonesian Police.

"The Indonesian government has foiled the distribution of bombs used for the illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing," the ministrys head of quarantine, quality control, and fish safety (BKIPM), Rina, stated in Jakarta on Monday.

Apart from the bombs, the police and quarantine office have also traced the distribution of key materials, such as ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, and detonators, to detect some destructive fishing activities.

Following the confiscation, the quarantine office further found some "toxic" dory fish fillet in some shops in Jakarta.

Jakarta BKIPM chairman, Riza Priyatna, noted that the office, along with the Finance Ministrys Custom Office, has seized 22,198 kilograms of illegal frozen fish, imported overseas on Aug 16.

The products were initially planned to be distributed from Telaga Punggur port in Batam, Riau islands province, to Tembilahan port, Riau province.

According to the probe, the illegal fish imports would cause Rp7 billion of potential income loss to the state.

Besides the fish export, the authority has also foiled 1.87 million lobster seeds exports, worth Rp281,41 billion, at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, and Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara province.

Following the operation, some 45 suspects were detained, and most of them have been convicted guilty after trials in the districts of Tangerang, Central Lombok, Denpasar, Pangkal Pinang, Lampung, Sleman, Kendari, Banten, Bekasi, and Bogor.

Indonesian government, moreover, also has foiled the smuggling attempt of about 57 coral reefs, worth Rp35.38 billion.

According to the joint operation of Kediri, East Java, and Denpasar Police, along with the quarantine offices, the coral reef confiscation has also pointed out to the organized crime network operating in the country. (*)

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Italy's high-rise forests take root around the world

CĂ©line CORNU AFP Yahoo News 8 Oct 17;

Milan (AFP) - As balconies bristle with tree branches and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants, two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan have almost disappeared under lush forest.

The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom – a project now being exported all over the world, from China to the Netherlands.

The two original leafy towers dominate the skyline in the northern Italian city, giving residents -- including celebrities like footballer Ivan Perisic -- an enviable view over the new district of Porta Nuova and beyond.

Cherry, apple and olive trees spill over balconies alongside beeches and larches, selected and positioned according to their resistance to wind and preference for sunlight or humidity.

Boeri said the idea came from his obsession with trees and determination to make them "an essential component of architecture," particularly as a weapon to combat climate change.

"I was in Dubai in 2007 and I watched this city growing in the middle of the desert, with more than 200 glass towers multiplying the effect of heat," he recalls.

He wanted instead to create something that "as well as welcoming life, can contribute to reducing pollution, because trees absorb microparticles and CO2".

"Cities now produce about 75 percent of the CO2 present in the atmosphere. Bringing more trees into the city means fighting the enemy on the spot," he said.

- 'Best Tall Building Worldwide' -

Opened in 2014, the Vertical Forest won the prestigious Frankfurt International Highrise Award, and the Chicago Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named it Best Tall Building Worldwide.

"It's a unique thing to live here, we're in direct contact with the plants while being in the city centre and in a super modern skyscraper," says Simona Pizzi, who can see the mountains from her 14th floor apartment.

"The plants have developed a lot over the past three years, and we see them changing with the seasons," adds the proud owner of an apple tree, where the white flowers contrast magnificently with the green foliage.

Boeri worked closely with botanists to create a nursery of a thousand trees that have been trained to grow under specific conditions.

The team faced numerous challenges, from how the balconies should be structured to take the weight of the plants, to how to secure the tree roots and what needed to go into the soil.

They even carried out resistance tests at a hurricane centre in Miami.

"For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants," Boeri said.

- The future of housing? -

The vegetation soon transformed into a veritable wildlife park: 9,000 ladybirds brought over from Germany to eat parasites -- to leave the plants pesticide free -- multiplied over the space of a few weeks.

"The extraordinary thing that we did not expect was the incredible amount of birds that nested here. We have small hawks on the roofs, and swifts that had previously disappeared from Milan," Boeri said.

The architect and his team are now working on a dozen or so Vertical Forest projects around the world, including Lausanne in Switzerland, Utrecht in the Netherlands, Sao Paolo in Brazil and Tirana in Albania.

The aim in Eindhoven in the Netherlands is to swap the sort of luxury pads seen in the Milan project -- which go for some 11,000 euros ($12,900) per square metre -- for social housing, a project Boeri says he's particularly keen on.

And because the cost of the trees is low, it's not an unreasonable ambition, he says.

He is also thinking big in China, where not only are two towers under construction in Nanjing and a hotel in the works in Shanghai, but there are plans for a "Forest City" of some 200 buildings in Liuzhou.

"China is now realising it faces the dramatic problem of air pollution, but also of uncontrolled urbanisation, with cities growing out of suburbs, creating megacities," he said.

"Every year fifteen million peasants abandon the countryside to come to the city, we have to come up with some answers, with new green cities," says Boeri, who took part in the COP21 conference on climate change in Paris in 2015.

The architect has not patented the Vertical Forest and has even written a book revealing the secrets and techniques behind it, which he hopes will encourage a new, greener way of developing cities.

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High Temperature Damages Persian Gulf Coral Species

Financial Tribune Iran 10 Oct 17;

An unprecedented rise in seawater temperature in the summer has caused the extensive bleaching of coral species on several Persian Gulf islands.

According to the latest remote sensing images, water temperature has reached a record high level.

"For the first time in 35 years, the temperature of Kish Island waters has reached 35 degrees Celsius, while it exceeded this figure and hit a record high of 36 degrees Celsius in Kharg and Kharku islands," Keivan Kabiri, a faculty member at the Iranian National Institute of Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, IRNA reported.

To assess the resilience of corals to the recent rise in water temperature, a research team at the institute, measured the index of Degree Heating Weeks for the summer.

Degree Heating Weeks show how much heat stress has accumulated in an area over the past 12 weeks by adding up any temperature exceeding the bleaching threshold (5-5.3) during that time period. The result showed that the DHW index hit an unprecedented high of 12, exceeding the previous high of 10 in 1998.

"We expected irreversible bleaching among most Persian Gulf coral species this summer and the field study and direct observations of corals at the site lent credence to our prediction," Kabiri said. The sudden increase in water temperature over recent years, driven by global warming, has caused the extensive bleaching of Persian Gulf corals, which threatens the unique biodiversity of the region.

Hot Weather Threatens Most Asalouyeh Corals
While coral bleaching usually reverses after summer when temperatures drop, consistently high temperatures in recent years have ensured corals receive no respite
Financial Tribune Iran 22 Aug 17;

An environment official has warned that over 95% of corals off the coast of Asalouyeh in Bushehr Province will most likely die by the end of summer due to high temperatures.

Speaking to Mana, Davoud Mirshekar, the head of Marine Ecosystems Office at the Department of Environment, said, "Like previous years, soaring temperatures have led to mass coral bleaching in large areas of the Persian Gulf."

While it is too soon to determine the precise scale of the damage, the official said the exact figure will be announced after an assessment that has been scheduled for October. Last year, 40% of corals off Kish and Kharkoo islands were damaged by heat, whereas the figure stood at 90% for corals in Asalouyeh.

Mirshekar added that higher temperatures this summer will likely have a greater impact than last year, with about 95% of corals expected to suffer heat-caused damage.

"More corals in Kish and Kharkoo will be bleached too," he said, adding that coral studies near other islands in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman are underway.

"Hopefully the damage is not permanent and most corals will recover in fall, as temperatures drop."

While coral bleaching usually reverses after summer when temperatures drop, consistently high temperatures in recent years have ensured corals receive no respite.

Sudden increase in water temperature over recent years, driven by global warming, has caused extensive bleaching among corals in the region. Vulnerability to bleaching differs among coral species. Corals located in deep waters, where temperatures are cooler, are less vulnerable to bleaching.

Coral reefs are among the most distinctive marine environments and ideal habitats for a great number of sea animals that sometimes take up to 500 years to be restored.

They also act as natural breakwaters preventing strong water waves in coastal areas. Their extinction can have a serious impact both on the environment and human life in coastal areas.

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