Best of our wild blogs: 20 Dec 17

Awesome year end 2017 at the Marine Park
Sisters' Island Marine Park

Lessons from IYOR outreach workshop
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Singapore's wild shores in WWF kids' magazine
wild shores of singapore

The varied diet of the Brown-throated Sunbird
Singapore Bird Group

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Dengue cases at lowest level since 2001

Straits Times 20 Dec 17;

Dengue infections here reached a 16-year low, with no deaths reported in the first nine months this year, compared with nine last year.

Some 2,629 people had dengue in the first 50 weeks this year. With two weeks left, the total number is likely to be lower than in any year since the 2,372 cases in 2001.

The dip in infections stems from the dominant viral strain this year being DENV-2, which was also the case last year as well as between 2007 and 2012.

As a result, many people previously infected with this strain are immune to it.

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Malaysia: Everyone’s job to protect our jungles

The Star 20 Dec 17;

THE Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) launched the Malaysian implementation of MY forest’s project titled “Strengthening Non-State Actor Involvement in Forest Governance in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.”

MY forest is a high-impact partnership, as it looks at Malaysia’s natural heritage, its forests, and how non-state actors – non-governmental organisations, civil societies, local communities, the private and public sectors – can inform and change policies towards better forest governance.

The project’s target forest areas are the peninsula’s Central Forest Spine, heart of Borneo and selected Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).

Under the five-year project (2017-2021) funded by the European Union, MNS is tasked with building the capacity of non-state actors nationwide to engage more effectively with the government in protecting Malaysia’s forests.

He said Malaysians have always looked to the governing authorities to protect the country’s resources, but the project sought to change this mindset by delivering non-governmental participation in protecting the forests.

“One of MNS’ tenets is the promotion of responsible environmental stewardship in Malaysia, and the society truly believes that each and every one of us has a role to play as stewards of our natural heritage,” he said.

Goh called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), environmental groups, local communities, the public and the media to come together to be part of changing the Malaysian forest landscape, to maintain the country’s green mountains and hills, its clean rivers, its home for tigers and elephants and tapirs.

“We want all Malaysians to be part of it, to look at our natural heritage and proclaim: MY forest, MY wildlife, MY responsibility,” he said.

MY forest was officially launched by former MNS president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor, who is currently MNS senior adviser and MY forest adviser.

The launch was followed by the MY forest National Stakeholder Committee inception meeting, which saw the participation of government agencies, 13 NGOs and 10 MNS state branches to plan the way forward for nationwide implementation of MY forest.

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Indonesia: Pulpwood firm April takes Jakarta to court over peatland

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja Straits Times 20 Dec 17;

Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), the operational unit of Singapore-based pulpwood company April, has taken Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry to court, after the ministry voided its 10-year business plan and told it to revise the plan.

The ministry said the plan for RAPP's Sumatra concession was voided because the company failed to comply with Indonesia's new peatland protection framework. The 2016 law aims to better protect fragile, flammable peatlands - a major source of choking annual haze that has blighted the region in the last two decades.

RAPP argued that it should be affected by the new law only after its concession contract expires. It said that any new law should not take effect retroactively.

The Jakarta state administrative court is set to rule on the case tomorrow. April, or Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, is Indonesia's second-largest pulp and paper company. It manages a plantation area of 480,000ha of fast-growing pulpwood trees, such as acacia in Sumatra's Riau province. More than half of this area is planted on peatlands, which the Indonesian government has been stepping up efforts to protect to prevent fires.

In October, the environment and forestry ministry urged April to meet the stricter rules, after rejecting the company's 10-year work plan covering the concession area that is more than five times the size of Singapore.

"The company had earlier stated they would revise the work plan to comply with the existing law, but then they asked not to do so, and then they filed a lawsuit," the ministry's spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi told The Straits Times by phone yesterday.

April denied what it filed was "a lawsuit", arguing that it was instead a petition to the court seeking fair treatment. It also claimed that the government's revocation of its work plan breached a law.

April denied what it filed was "a lawsuit", arguing that it was a petition to the court seeking fair treatment. It also claimed that the government's revocation of its work plan breached a law.

Plantation firms must submit a work plan that outlines their operations on their concessions, and the ministry must approve these or suggest revisions. For concessions with trees already planted, they are told not to replant after the next harvest.

Failure to get approval means shutting down operations on affected concessions.

April's head of international communications Charles Paul Hogan said it is supportive of the government's plans and is compliant with prevailing laws and regulations. But he also said the ministry must provide clarity for the substitute land that the company will get in exchange for those rezoned for protected peatland.

President Joko Widodo is getting tougher on protecting peatland. His administration issued a No. 57 decree last year, to supersede what was seen as a weaker 2014 regulation on the protection and management of peatland ecosystems.

With the 2016 decree, all pulpwood plantation companies are required to adjust their work plan, shifting their plantation off deep peat.

Observers have hailed the government's bold moves. Public policy expert Agus Pambagio said the government as a regulator has the right to regulate the public and the industries.

"If a policy is no longer conducive to provide what the public and industries need, then the government has to revise or revoke that policy and issue a new one. And any policy indeed cannot be discriminatory," Mr Agus, who served as an expert witness in the RAPP v government case, told the court.

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Indonesia: Government prepares grand design to prevent forest fire

Antara 19 Dec 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government has prepared a grand design to prevent land, forest, and plantation fires, which would summarize facts, images, the cause of the fires, and solution for the disaster.

"The grand design would focus on (prevention) activities and monitoring conducted by both the government and private sectors from 2017 to 2019," Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution said here on Tuesday.

The grand design is formulated by the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Environment, and Ministry of National Development Planning.

According to Nasution, the government has also prepared various financial instruments that would support the funding for forest fire prevention at village level.

"The financial instruments are needed to facilitate access to funding resources related to climate change," he noted.

Meanwhile, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya remarked that the grand design would stress on five key strategies to prevent land, forest, and plantation fires.

The five strategies are regulation on economic incentive and disincentive, reinforcement of villagers` role and social institutions, law enforcement, synchronization of law and licensing, infrastructure development, and reinforcement of early fire response.

Previously, head of National Development Planning Agency, Bambang Brodjonegoro, pointed out that the fires have caused at least Rp221 trillion in loss for the country in 2015 from flights cancellation, closure of offices, and other economic activities, which makes preventing fires more crucial than putting them out.

Reported by Agita Tarigan
Editor: Heru Purwanto

Minister Urges World to Stop Blaming Indonesia for Wildfire Cases
Tempo 19 Dec 17;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution asked the international community to stop blaming Indonesia for the wildfires that happen annually.

“Don’t just rant and [blame us] for it. We would rather work together [to solve the problem],” said Darmin during a meeting on wildfires and haze today. He added that wildfires and the haze it produces are a regional and global problem.

According to Darmin, Indonesia is currently finalizing a one map policy to overcome wildfires. The policy will enable the Indonesian Government to map-out the areas that are prone to wildfires.

Read: Singapore Lauds Indonesia's Efforts in Handling Forest Fires

“Therefore, we invite the participation of everyone either from the central and regional government, businesses, general public, institutions, and the international community,” he said.

Darmin revealed that the government is currently shifting its orientation from overcoming wildfires to preventing it from happening since it is much easier to do.

According to the Ministry’s records, from 2015 to 2017, wildfire and land fire hotspots have been significantly reduced. The data also suggests that there were 22,000 hotspots in 2015 and is currently down to 2,500 hotspots in 2017, which is an 89 percent reduction.

The area affected by wildfires has also been reduced from 2.6 million hectares in 2015 to just 146,000 hectares in 2016. Meanwhile, cases of wildfire hotspots in 2017 were successfully reduced to 125,000 hectares which are a mere 15 percent compared to that in 2016.

Syafiul Hadi

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Indonesia: Protected Malayan tapir suffers abuse in North Sumatra

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 19 Dec 17;

A Malayan tapir received treatment for wounds at the Barumun Nagari Wildlife Sanctuary in North Padang Lawas regency, North Sumatra, on Tuesday after being caught by local residents.

The 300-kilogram male tapir suffered severe wounds -- including peeled skin, wounded ankles and removed nails -- that were spread across its entire body when it was found by local authorities, said the head of the Padang Sidempuan branch of the Natural Resources Conservation Office (BKSDA), Gunawan Alza.

Locals of Kristen village in Kotapinang district, South Labuhan Batu, caught the large herbivorous mammal as it entered a residential area on Monday, then tied its four feet so that it could not escape.

“Perhaps the local people didn't know that the animal they caught was protected,” Gunawan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

BKSDA officials transported the tapir to the sanctuary, where doctors gave it several shots and vitamins to help it recover.

The tapir’s condition was improving, Gunawan said, adding that it would be released into the wild once it fully recovers.

The population of the Malayan tapir, he said, was on the decline. The protected species, which is endemic to Sumatra, is most commonly found in the southern parts of Tapanuli, such as South Labuhan Batu, Mandailing Natal, Barumun and Sipirok.

The animal’s habitat has mostly been destroyed because of deforestation, human interference and the conversion of its natural habitat into plantations, resulting in increased cases of the wild animal entering villages in search of food. (rin)

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Indonesia: Landslides damage 300 homes in Kulon Progo

Antara 19 Dec 17;

Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - At least 300 homes located in the Menoreh Hill area were damaged by landslides that hit the Kulon Progo District, Yogyakarta Province, recently.

The Yogyakarta authorities will provide assistance for renovation and reconstruction of the damaged houses, Gusdi Hartono, head of the Kulon Progo disaster mitigation office, stated here, Tuesday.

The assistance will be sourced from the natural disaster emergency funds allocated for Yogyakarta.

On Dec 1, the administration of Kulon Progo District had declared an emergency response status following floods and landslides that hit the region amid the extreme weather in late November of 2017.

The emergency status was effective from Nov 30 to Dec 27.

Swift and appropriate precautionary measures and response were deemed necessary, as the district had experienced rainy season and extreme weather.

At least 66 locations in Kulon Progo were hit by hydrological disasters, such as flooding and landslides.

Meanwhile, two residents went missing, while two others were injured, as a landslide hit Pedukuhan Ngroto, Pendoworejo Village, Girimulyo Sub-district, Kulon Progo District, recently.

Earlier, the Yogyakarta Special Autonomous Provincial Administration had declared an emergency alert status following natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds, which had hit the region.

The decision to declare the emergency status was taken during a coordination meeting on disaster mitigation attended by officials of the Yogyakarta disaster mitigation office on Nov 29.

Reported by Sutarmi

Landslides, flooding hit Cilacap, Central Java
Antara 20 Dec 17;

Cilacap, C Java (ANTARA News) - Floods and landslides have hit several regions in Cilacap District, Central Java, following incessant heavy rains that fell on Tuesday.

In Sindangraja village, two hilly areas were hit by landslides that damaged three homes and injured one person, Tri Komara Sidhy, an official of the Cilacap disaster mitigation office, said here, Wednesday.

A landslide also cut of a road connecting Karangpucung and Sidareja in Cinangsi village, Gandrungmangu sub-district. The road was covered by mudslide stretching 40 meters long.

Several inhabitants of Kertajaya village in Gandrungmangu sub-district, were taking refuge in higher grounds as their homes were submerged by a flood.

reported by Sumarwoto.
(f001/O001 )
Editor: Heru Purwanto

Thousands of villages in Pekanbaru isolated by flash floods
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 20 Dec 17;

Flash floods in Kampar, Riau, have isolated 16 other villages in the upstream side of the regency.

The Kampar Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD) flood mitigation operation command center head, Chandra, said the flooding had been occurring since Monday evening as the Lipai River had overflowed.

“The thigh-high floodwaters have inundated dozens of houses in Deras, Tanjung Karang and Batu Sasak villages in Kampar Hulu and Kampar Kiri district,” Chandra said on Wednesday.

“No fatalities have been reported. Data on material losses is still being collected.”

Chandra said flooding had also caused damage to a road that connected the flood-affected villages with Lipat Kain, a district capital.

“Parts of the road are severely damaged. Vehicles cannot pass the road, which has never been paved,” said Chandra.

“A bridge in Batu Sasak village has been destroyed by the floodwater, just like what happened in 2015.”

Nine of the 16 villages are located in Kampar Kiri while the others are in Kampar Kiri Hulu.

“Floodwaters started to recede on Tuesday afternoon, but the damaged road cannot be repaired yet. Construction material and equipment cannot be transported to the area,” said Chandra.

The flood-affected villages are located in the Rimbang Baling wildlife reserve, hampering the construction of a permanent transportation route. (vla/ebf)

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