Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jan 18

Kranji Clamity Continues
wild shores of singapore

Some abandoned net at Kranji (Jan 2018)
Project Driftnet Singapore

Survey Chek Jawa!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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AVA's tender exercise for fish-farming land was fair

Straits Times 30 Jan 18;

Mr Chan Tzeh Wey highlighted that the recent Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) tender exercise for three land parcels for fish farming received lukewarm response, and suggested the AVA revise its scheme to encourage genuine farmers to participate in the tender (Encourage firms with farming experience to bid for tenders; Jan 25).

We, Opal Resources, were one of the bidders and would like to share our view as a fish-farming practitioner in Singapore.

We first thank the AVA for the new fixed-price scheme, instead of going by the highest-bidder model.

This helps keep land cost low and allows farmers a better chance to compete with imported farm produce.

The tender term of 20 years is also fair, as farmers need time to recoup the heavy capital investment.

In fact, we were hoping for an even longer term.

As for the lukewarm response, this could be because there are more marine-based fish farms in Singapore than land-based ones. Hence, naturally, the tender of land for land-based fish farms would attract less interest.

Another reason could also be the difficult conditions for fish farming in Singapore.

Farmers are often on their own due to the lack of strong aquaculture communities and supply chains like that in Thailand or Vietnam.

Important issues, such as the availability of quality fish fry, have plagued fish farmers here for years.

In our case, we saw this bottleneck early and have invested considerably to start our in-house hatchery, since without fish fry, there is no fish farming.

Mr Chan had also suggested extending the tender deadline.

However, this might not improve participation rate, as the AVA made the announcement of the tender back in May last year.

Eight months is a reasonable preparation time, even for new players.

Alex Siow Ching Hai

Managing Director
Opal Resources

Encourage firms with farming experience to bid for tenders
Straits Times 25 Jan 18;

In May last year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) announced that 36 plots of land for food farming on 20-year leases were up for tender, under the new fixed scheme to allow farmers to embrace technology with productivity (Land to be released for new farms to raise food supply; May 12, 2017).

That was a pleasant piece of news for Singaporeans and entrepreneurs alike, and showed the AVA's support towards the industry and building the country's food resilience capability.

However, it came as a surprise to me that it garnered a lukewarm response - only five proposals were received for the three land parcels at Neo Tiew Crescent for fish farming.

My cursory check on those who were successful in their bids showed that only one of the companies may have experience in fish farming.

The AVA should revise its scheme further so that it can encourage genuine farmers to participate in the tender, as 20 years is a very long time to see the results of improved food farming.

At a time when food security is important to Singapore, the way the tenders for these plots of land are awarded is worrisome.

Maybe a further extension of the tender deadline would encourage more companies to participate as well.

Chan Tzeh Wey

Farmland tender methods encourage innovation, technology
Straits Times 5 Feb 18;

We thank Mr Chan Tzeh Wey (Encourage firms with farming experience to bid for tenders; Jan 25), and Mr Alex Siow Ching Hai (AVA's tender exercise for fish-farming land was fair; Jan 30) for their views on the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) farmland tender launched in October last year.

Local production is important for Singapore's food security. Given our land constraints, we must maximise land usage to boost local supply. This is why the AVA adopted a new approach to the farmland tenders.

Instead of the conventional price method, a fixed-price method was adopted for most of the tenders. Tenderers compete based on the quality of concepts proposed, with a focus on productivity.

The AVA also ensured that the tender period was sufficient for those who were interested to participate in the tender exercise. The tender period of 10 weeks was longer than the six-to eight-week period usually given for land tender exercises.

To help farmers prepare for the tender, we briefed them in May last year, and our farm account managers actively followed up to engage the farmers and provide further support. The AVA also conducted advisory sessions on the drafting of tender proposals.

The AVA would like to clarify that the tender proposals received are currently being evaluated and the tender has not been awarded.

The proposals will be evaluated based on production capability, production track record, relevant experience and qualification, and innovation and sustainability.

Local production is important for Singapore's food security. Given our land constraints, we must maximise land usage to boost local supply. This is why the AVA adopted a new approach to the farmland tenders.

While the AVA continues to work closely with farmers and support their efforts in transforming our agriculture sector to bolster food security, we urge members of the public to play a part by choosing local produce.

This will help to support the business of our local farmers and spur our farms to raise their production levels to meet the increased demand.

Melvin Chow
Group Director, Food Supply Resilience Group
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority

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AVA advises Changi Golf Club on how to keep boars out after clip shows one on golf course

Lydia Lam Straits Times 30 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - There has not been any public feedback on wild boar sightings at Changi Golf Club, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 30).

AVA was responding to a video circulating online that shows a large wild boar apparently trotting about on a golf course.

The caption with the video says the animal was "spotted at Changi Golf Course Hole #3".

People in the video are heard calling out to other people in a golf buggy, who manage to drive towards the person taking the video before the boar reaches them.

"Hurry up, get away!" a woman shouts in Mandarin. A man is heard exclaiming at the end: "Whoa, scared me to death."

Even though there were no reported sightings, AVA said it has advised the management of the golf club on measures they can take to prevent wild boars from entering the premises.

These include erecting barriers to block off possible access points and removing food sources.

In its response to The Straits Times, AVA advised the public not to approach, disturb, feed or try to catch any wildlife.

"We urge the public to keep a safe distance from all wild boars and avoid confronting or cornering the animals," said AVA. "Do not interact with the animal and ensure that young children and pets are kept away as they may be curious and approach it."

Wild boars, which are native to Singapore, have been in the news in previous months for causing accidents.

In November last year, the police shot a tusked wild boar on a road in Punggol as it was rampaging.

The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) subsequently euthanised it as it was in great distress.

For more information on wild boars, refer to AVA's advisory on its website or contact AVA on 18000-476-1600 to provide feedback or request for assistance.

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Hail, flash floods, fallen trees reported in Yishun after thunderstorm

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 30 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE – A thunderstorm on Tuesday (Jan 30) afternoon not only flooded roads, but rained hail and toppled several trees in the northeastern part of the island.

PUB said in a statement late Tuesday night that the flash floods, which ocurred at 5.17pm, were caused by "overland flow from the storm (which) exceeded the capacity of the roadside drains".

The flood subsided around 30 minutes later at 5.45pm.

Earlier in the day, the agency had issued a flood alert for Seletar North Link at around 5.30pm, advising motorists to avoid the area as both lanes of the two-lane stretch was flooded by heavy rain.

According to the PUB, Seletar North Link had experienced a similar flash flood last December.

They agency added that it is in the process of constructing two temporary drains in the area to alleviate flooding. "One such drain will be completed shortly in mid February. The other should be done by May 2018. More permanent drainage is planned in tandem with upcoming developments in the area," it said.

Nearby along Yishun Avenue 1, footage emerged showing several trees lying strewn across the road.

The footage, which was uploaded onto Facebook by Mr Faizal Fila with a caption advising drivers to avoid Seletar Dam, showed large tree branches that appeared to have been snapped off.

The 38-year-old taxi driver told TODAY he was driving home through the affected stretch with his wife at 4.45pm when the video was taken.

"It started at the Seletar West Link CTE exit," said Mr Faizal. He said some of the fallen trees were uprooted, while others had snapped into half. He added that the trail of tree debris went all the way to Yishun Avenue 1 and to Avenue 11.

"Even the Yishun Avenue signboard was smashed to the ground," he said.

Mr Faizal described visibility as being "extremely poor, even when driving really slowly". He added that he did not notice any vehicles that had been damaged by the fallen debris.

Tuesday's storm had also caused collateral damage at a farm at Bah Soon Pah Road.

Ms Ore Huiying shared on her Facebook page damage caused by the storm at Oh Farms. Photos showed broken hydroponic sets littering a portion of the farm, with protective nets and metal frames blown out of place.

The 36-year-old freelance photographer, who helps out at the family farm, told TODAY that strong gusts of wind had also blown off one of the zinc roof structures at the farm.

"It lasted very briefly, but the damages caused were the most serious we've ever seen since operating the farm!" she said.

According to Ms Ore, a neighbouring farm was not spared as well. The strong winds had toppled some of its wooden structures and sent pieces of broken wood flying over to her side.

“Everyone was scrambling for shelter,” she said.

While no one was injured, she estimates that the damage caused by the storm would put production at the hydroponics farm on hold for at least a week.

Social media users also reported witnessing hail during the storm. Footage from videos showed ice pellets the size of grapes falling onto grass patches at a nearby golf course and the balcony of a condominium.

TODAY has reached out to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for comments

According to a description on the NEA website, hailstones are quite rare in the tropics because they usually melt as they fall from the clouds, before reaching the ground. On average, public sightings of hailstones in Singapore occur every one to two years.

The last time Singapore experienced hail was in October 2014.

Elsewhere, other social media users had uploaded their experience commuting through Tuesday's storm. Twitter user The Snapped Fork said she was stuck in traffic on the way from Yishun to Yio Chu Kang.

She wrote that there were more than "20 trees over the road, thick traffic, snapped road barriers, bent signage."

A worker who was clearing the road of fallen trees told TODAY that at least 50 trees had fallen along Seletar North during the storm.

Last week, flash floods were also reported in the Western and Central parts of Singapore, after an afternoon of heavy rain on Wednesday (Jan 24).

The floods were reported at Jalan Boon Lay/International Road, Craig Road and Outram Road.

The PUB says it expects the ongoing Northeast Monsoon season to continue till March.

Thunder, lightning - and hailstones as well
Lydia Lam Straits Times 31 Jan 18;

Stormy weather led to downpours across the island yesterday, causing flash floods in Seletar, felling trees and even raining hailstones.

Some readers reported seeing the tiny balls of ice falling with the rain around 4.30pm.

Ms Junawati Ashak told The Straits Times that it "rained ice" at Seletar Airport at around 4.30pm.

The 45-year-old receptionist at Jet Aviation Singapore said she was in the lobby when she saw the sky darkening outside.

"It rained very heavily and there was a storm with very strong wind. Then the rain came down with ice."

Another reader, who gave her name only as Madam Lee M.L., said she was in her Yishun home at about 4.45pm when she heard a clattering sound.

"The rain came quite suddenly, there was very loud thunder and lightning as well," said the 47-year-old who lives on the fourth floor of a condominium. "When I looked out, I saw some white cubes hitting the glass door of the balcony. I thought they looked like ice cubes."

Madam Lee said there were about five hailstones the size of 5-and 10-cent coins. "It's so amazing to see this on my balcony. I've seen snow before but not hail."

Hail is rare in Singapore but not unheard of. In 2014, hailstones were reportedly seen in Turf Club Road during a heavy downpour. In 2013, a rare hailstorm uprooted trees and disrupted traffic.

The last reported incidence of hail before that was in 2009.

According to the National Environment Agency's website, hail is produced only by cumulonimbus or thunderstorm clouds.

Yesterday's heavy rain caused flash floods on both lanes of Seletar North Link Road at about 5.15pm. The floods subsided about half an hour later.

PUB said in a statement yesterday that it is in the process of constructing two temporary drains in the area to alleviate flooding.

The first drain will be completed in mid-February, while the other is slated for completion by May. More permanent drainage solutions are being planned along with upcoming developments in the area.

The stormy weather also felled a few trees in Yishun and Yio Chu Kang yesterday. At 5.10pm, the Yio Chu Kang Road exit from the Tampines Expressway to the Seletar Expressway was closed due to a tree that blocked the road.

More than 200 incidents of fallen small trees, snapped branches in Tuesday's storms: NParks
Channel NewsAsia 31 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: There were more than 200 reported incidents of small trees falling and snapped branches after Tuesday's heavy rain and thunderstorms, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Wednesday (Jan 31).

In an email to Channel NewsAsia, group director of Streetscape, NParks, Mr Oh Cheow Sheng said that Tuesday's event was an example of "extreme storms" in recent years, which consisted of strong winds up to 70km/h or more coupled with heavy rains.

The reported "intense rain and strong winds" during the late afternoon were observed in the north and northeastern parts of Singapore such as Yishun, Sembawang, Seletar, Mandai and Gambas, he said.

"By late evening, NParks had received reports of more than 200 tree incidents comprising mainly small trees and snapped branches, most of which were cleared by 8pm yesterday."

Mr Oh added that NParks staff were on the ground on Wednesday morning to inspect trees in the affected areas and clear remaining debris.

This is not the first time that intense weather events have damaged trees in Singapore. In 2011, 10,000 forest trees were lost at the Mandai area while in 2012 around 100 trees fell in a wooded area at Changi Beach Park.

To prepare for such weather events, NParks has replaced storm-vulnerable trees and carried out targeted pruning and crown reduction prior to the monsoon season, said Mr Oh.

He added that NParks has had in place a "comprehensive tree management programme" since the early 2000s.

Further measures were also implemented in May 2016 to refine crown reduction and pruning processes, said Mr Oh, adding that that these were carried out prior to periods of "more severe weather conditions".

Regular inspection and pruning are key components of NParks’ tree management regime, said Mr Oh. These are based on the tree care guidelines of the International Society of Arboriculture.

"During inspections, NParks’ certified arborists assess the condition of each tree based on their location and site factors," he said.

"Where necessary, diagnostic equipment is used to ascertain the trees’ internal conditions. The frequency of tree inspection and pruning varies according to location, species, age and tree condition."

Mr Oh added that NParks is currently developing modelling techniques to "better understand" the behaviour of trees under varying environmental conditions.

Source: CNA/ad

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jan 18

Ubin Comprehensive Biodiversity Survey - marine survey!
wild shores of singapore

Mud lobsters: 'Condo Developers' in the Mangroves
wild shores of singapore

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Protect our environmental reserves like fiscal reserves

Geh Min Straits Times 20 Jan 18;

Man-made, short-term economic gain is sometimes behind so-called 'natural' disasters. Singapore can play its part by recognising the value of its environmental reserves.

Last year saw its share of natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes volcanic eruptions, floods, wildfires and so on. If we feel a sense of disaster fatigue on reading about them, imagine how the victims must feel - especially when informed to expect worse in the coming years!

But how natural are natural disasters? Is this term a convenient tag for sloppy thinking or an easy way to blame Mother Nature? Or even a deliberate ploy by politicians or corporations to absolve themselves from blame?

On closer examination, many "natural" disasters have a degree of human culpability; some are, in fact, wholly man-made.

Take the haze from which we have been spared last year and were suitably grateful. (Malaysia has even gone to the extent of publicly thanking the Indonesians.) For several decades, it was believed that the seasonal air pollution over Singapore and our neighbours was a result of "natural" forest fires despite environmentalists and scientists explaining that tropical forests do not naturally combust, unlike those in drier zones.

This myth was a convenient smokescreen for both companies and politicians who lacked the economic incentive or political will to prevent them. It was only after the huge conflagration in 1997, with estimated losses to Singapore of over $100 million in health, tourism and the airline industry alone, that the general public woke up to the fact that the culprits were not Mother Nature or even traditional slash-and-burn farmers but oil palm and paper companies clearing land for replanting. In fact, nature was not the culprit; but the cure - a good shower of rain - was more effective than any amount of on-the-ground firefighting or water-bombing from the air in stopping the conflagration.

The reason for distinguishing natural from man-made disasters is prevention or at least mitigation.

The number of people killed, displaced or injured, and the economic losses sustained are what distinguishes a natural phenomenon from a disaster. So while we cannot prevent earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, we can prevent them from becoming disasters by prediction and precautionary measures.

Unfortunately, although science and technology have given us a far better understanding of natural phenomenon than our ancestors, who could see them only as acts of God or nature, we are also hampered by the fact that our global population has increased to the point that not only is it impossible to live in disaster-free areas, but we are also contributing to their severity, climate change being the prime example.

Our ability to prevent or reduce the severity of disasters depends on several basic precepts.


Several decades ago, I was travelling in one of the East African countries through endless, dusty, semi-arid savannah, when we saw what looked like a huge rocky outcrop.

Getting closer, it turned out to be a hotel for several hundred guests which would not have been out of place in any tourist resort but was totally incongruous in a region of single-storey mud huts or small, tented camps - even these were few and far between. The eerie thing was that, although completed, it was totally deserted and I remember vividly the sight of wild grasses growing through cracks in the otherwise pristine but empty Olympic-sized pool.

This had been an ambitious joint project by the World Bank and the government to boost tourism and the country's economy. Unfortunately, the planners had been so fixated with the economic bottom line that they had neglected to factor in the project's environmental sustainability.

A hotel of that size would have needed far more water than was available in that area and to pipe in the necessary water from a distant source required a doubling of the many millions that had already been poured into the project.

So the whole place had been abandoned.

This illustrates dramatically what is often played out: a failure to realise that the big picture is the environment. All human activity, including economic activity - which so engrosses planners, politicians and captains of industry - must occur in the natural environment which supplies us with air, water, land, food and all the other resources we need to stay alive and economically active. These have always been plentiful and self-renewing in the past when human activity was a small blip in the natural landscape, but now that humans and their impact have grown exponentially to become a dominant force, we can no longer treat the environment as a self-sustaining "externality".

The natural environment we live in is our life-support system and is now severely overstretched and degraded by thoughtless, irresponsible and ignorant "business as usual" assumptions.


The link between some human actions and resulting environmental problems should be obvious.

Haze arising from forest fires caused by deliberate or uncontrolled land clearing by burning is one - but even that took a long time for us to join the dots. Even now, it is not possible to get a clear picture of all parties responsible because of the number and complexity of the players and motives.

But many more disasters have a far more remote and complicated connection with human activity, compounded by historical or geographical distance.

Many countries are suffering from water shortages today as a result of overambitious and inappropriate industries and agriculture. While the mistakes are now recognised, it is not a simple matter to rectify practices which are both a mainstay of the economy and a major source of environmental degradation.

The tragic drying up of the Aral Sea, recently one of the world's four largest lakes and now described as one of the planet's greatest environmental disasters, was caused by massive irrigation projects by the Soviets in the 1960s piping water into the desert for growing cotton. Within living memory, it is now shrunken to less than a tenth of its original size and has a salinity higher than the Dead Sea.

Fishing boats ,which used to serve a flourishing industry and supply essential protein to the millions in land-locked countries around it, now rust on dry beds of salt, sand and toxic chemicals which in a sand storm spread wind-borne toxic dust to a huge area already deprived of fresh water. Unfortunately, efforts to reverse this involve gargantuan injections of money and transnational cooperation with no guarantee of success.

We have made the link between overfishing and rapidly depleting fisheries or deforestation resulting in flooding and landslides. That is well and good - but what about deforestation causing depletion of our fisheries as a result of excessive runoff and erosion which smothers coral and mangroves, the nurseries of much of our seafood; or deforestation resulting in degradation and depletion of drinking water; and of course climate change which will accelerate and exacerbate all these other problems?

The list is so endless and interconnected that, not surprisingly, most people, including or perhaps especially, policymakers, don't want to know, because to recognise the problem means having to take action. It is so much easier to live from day to day and think of floods, pollution, fire or other environmental events as natural disasters.


Thinking more moves ahead gives competitive advantage to both chess players and countries.

Singapore has been very fortunate in having Mr Lee Kuan Yew as our founding prime minister. Described as visionary, he was astute enough to take the long view and act on it. Singaporeans can thank him and the first generation of leaders for our clean air, adequate drinking water and much more. But even he recognised that this millennium brings far more global environmental challenges than the past.

United States President Donald Trump has repeatedly trumpeted his "America first" slogan but is rapidly eroding rather than strengthening US supremacy, as seen by his stance on climate change.

Russia, more than any other major power, stands to benefit economically and geopolitically from global warming as it will open up important shipping routes and ports in the Arctic as well as access to huge reserves of minerals, oil and gas, not to mention enormous tracts of agricultural land. It would be ironic if the US should speed up this process through their carbon emissions.

Whether Mr Trump is aware of this is questionable but the Chinese certainly are and have been preparing the ground for greater engagement in the Arctic, including acquiring observer status in the Arctic Council. So has Singapore, despite our being even more geographically remote.


We have seen how misguided thinking, based on insufficient knowledge and for short-term economic gains, has had long-term socio-economic costs, many of them almost impossible to reverse.

Singapore should continue the legacy of thinking ahead on environmental issues and retain our competitive edge by more careful and informed environmental decisions.

For example, the proposed Cross Island Line of the MRT through our central catchment and largest nature reserve may have serious repercussion on our water supply and the sustainability of our forest and the valuable ecosystem services they provide.

Do we really want to risk all this for an estimated few minutes less of travelling time and some relatively minor cost-saving?

The decision should not be taken without very serious consideration by not just the Land Transport Authority, but by the whole of government with extensive consultation with Singaporeans.

In fact, to prevent future disaster, we should be guarding our environmental reserves as carefully as we do our fiscal and social reserves.

•The writer, an environmentalist and former Nominated MP, is the immediate past president of the Nature Society (Singapore).

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Malaysia: Sabah Fisheries may propose export ban on fresh sea products

The Star 30 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Fisheries Department will recommend a ban on the export of fresh marine products from the state if a shortage arises ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations.

The department’s director Dr Ahemad Sade said the move is to protect the interest of locals and to ensure sufficient local supply.

“We will recommend to the state government to order a temporary ban if there is a need. This will help lower the prices of fresh sea products,” he said.

The Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boat Owners Association claimed fish prices are increasing due to the drop in fish landings.

The department will also suggest that all fishing vessels land their catches at the Sabah Fish Marketing jetty here and stop any dealing of high value fish at sea, which is against the Fisheries Act.

Dr Ahemad said claims that the prices of fish have increased by 50% is not true.

Based on the department’s monitoring, he said, there is enough fresh fish stock in the market and the prices are still under control.

“For example, ikan tulai (sardine) cost RM6 a kg based on our checks,” he said on Sunday.

Consumers have complained that sardines were being sold from RM8 to RM12 per kg at times in the Kota Kinabalu Fish Market.

Dr Ahemad also dismissed claims that there was a 50% drop on fish landing in west coast of Sabah.

Based on its statistics, he said, there is a slight increase in landings from 159,773 metric tonnes (valued at RM938.3mil) in 2016 to 161,424 metric tonnes(RM820mil) in 2017.

“Our fishery landings has been consistent,” he added.

On issues of local operators using foreign fishing boats with cloned fishing permits, he said that since 2015 the Government had barred foreign fishing trawlers from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philip­pines and Brunei from operating in the state.

Seafood exports to be halted?
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 31 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: THE Sabah Fisheries Department will submit a request to the state government to temporarily halt the export of seafood ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Its director, Dr Ahemad Sade, said the move was aimed at preventing the supply of seafood from depleting and to prevent food prices from ballooning.

Ahemad was responding to claims by Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boat Owners Association chairman Simon Hong that fish catches had declined by half compared with 2015.

“It is not true that the number of fish caught had gone down. Based on our statistics, fishermen in the state caught a consistent amount of fish.

“Last year, we recorded landings of 161,424 metric tonnes, valued at RM938.3 million, compared with 159,773 metric tonnes of fish in 2016,” he said in a statement.

Ahemad added that there was still an abundant supply of seafood in Sabah, based on the department’s recent checks at local markets.

He said since 2015, the state government had restricted the use of foreign fishing vessels by local fishermen in Sabah waters.

“However, existing fishing vessels can still be used, provided they comply with regulations.

“The government has set strict conditions for the application of deep sea fishing licenses,” he added.

Deep sea fishing permits, he said, could only be issued to Malaysian citizens to catch fish in Sabah waters.

“For deep sea fishing, the area of operations should be at least 30 nautical miles from the shore and they should not use trawlers to catch fish.”

Ahemad said all vessels must drop their catch at the designated fish landing jetties provided by the government.

“Each vessel has to install a Mobile Transceiver Unit (MTU) and special marking plate for monitoring and authentication purposes.

“The department has also been working with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to address the issue of vessel cloning.”

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Malaysia: 'No environmental impact from logging in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve' - Kedah Forestry

EMBUN MAJID New Straits Times 29 Jan 18;

ALOR STAR: Kedah Forestry Department has completed a study on the impact of logging on the environment in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

The report carried out last week followed claims that the activities had polluted water sources in the area.

A spokesman from the department told New Straits Times today that the findings from the study had been submitted to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the state government.

Without giving details of the findings, the spokesman said it showed that the logging activities did not cause any environmental impact including land erosion or water pollution.

He said tests on water samples from a river in the forest reserve showed that there was no pollution.

“We have one water quality station in Ulu Muda forest reserve and each time logging activity is carried out, we will conduct a test on the water quality to check for pollution.

“We are planning to open two new water stations in the forest reserve to carry out more tests in future to detect for any pollution,” he said.

The spokesman said the department was not compromising with any offences under the National Forestry Act including illegal logging, logging in buffer zone and encroachment.

He said from January until December last year, the department recorded 30 cases of illegal logging activities in the state.

“We issued many compounds to loggers who had breached their licence including felling trees close to the buffer zone.

“Last year, we collected a total of RM1.3 million in compounds,” he said.

Between 2008 and 2016, he said the size of land that was allowed to be logged in the state decreased from 184,831ha to 134,370ha.

The department also increased the size of protected forest by 31 per cent from 157,781ha in 2008 to 207,606ha in 2016.

“So far we have gazetted 27 per cent of the 110,000ha proposed as a catchment area and the remaining areas will be gazetted in stages.

“The process is time consuming because it involves various procedure but the catchment area that we have is protected from any encroahment,” he said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Jan 18

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 10 Feb 2018 (Sat)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Discover Sungei Buloh!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Favourite Nectaring Plants #15
Butterflies of Singapore

Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) @ Lorong Halus
Monday Morgue

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Collision into buildings cause of many birds' deaths: Study

Audrey Tan Straits Times 29 Jan 18;

Birds here are dying from encounters with an unexpected "predator".

A new study by scientists here has shown that almost a third of resident birds found dead in Singapore over a four-year period were killed because of collisions with buildings.

Between November 2013 and last October, a total of 362 bird carcasses were picked up by ornithologists from institutions such as the National University of Singapore (NUS), non-profit body BirdLife International and Nature Society (Singapore). They were alerted to the carcasses by members of the public.

The study's lead author from NUS, Mr David Tan, said 104 of the carcasses were found at the base of buildings and exhibited forms of facial injury or head trauma, confirming that their deaths were the result of building collisions.

It was not possible to pinpoint the causes of deaths for most of the carcasses - 225 of them - although the remainder were killed by, among other things, vehicular collision and attacks by animals such as cats.

The rise in bird-building collision rates is not unique to Singapore. In North America, estimates of bird deaths from collisions range from 100 million to one billion a year.

The Singapore study, published last November in The International Journal of Tropical Veterinary and Biomedical Research, also found some species of resident birds were more susceptible to building collisions. Pink-necked green pigeons, Asian glossy starlings and Asian emerald doves seemed exceptionally vulnerable, making up 64 out of the 104 carcasses found.

The fact that all three species are forest-edge fruit-eaters suggests that both feeding patterns and habitat affect a species' susceptibility to collision, the study said. "Given the patchy distribution of parks and forest fragments in Singapore, it is likely these nomadic forest-edge frugivores pass through urban areas as part of their foraging movements, which increases the likelihood of building collisions occurring," the scientists wrote in the paper.

Dr Yong Ding Li from Nature Society (Singapore) said this suggests that buildings near nature areas could incorporate wildlife-friendly measures in their designs, such as reducing the use of huge glass panes which birds tend to crash into.

The findings of the recent study mirror the results of an earlier one focusing on causes of death for migratory birds in Singapore, done by the same group of researchers. That study, published last June, found that between 1998 and 2016, 237 migratory birds collided with buildings and 157 of them died.

On the need to differentiate between migratory birds and resident birds, Mr Tan said: "Migratory birds are pass-through species, not long-term residents, so the factors that result in collisions may be different.

"For example, why is Jurong West a death hot spot for migratory birds, but not for resident birds?"

But the latest study found two regions where resident and migratory collision hot spots overlap: in the Clementi area, near the NUS campus, and in the Central Business District. Finding out the reasons for this - such as whether it was due to light pollution-is what the scientists hope to do next.

In New York, a growing number of building owners are switching off non-essential lights after becoming aware of the fatal attraction birds have to lights. Since 2005, over 90 buildings in the city, including the Rockefeller Centre, have joined the Lights Out scheme, which encourages buildings to take a lights-off approach to keep birds safe.

Here in Singapore, scientists are hopeful that more can be done to reduce bird-building collisions. Mr Tan is in touch with owners of buildings where dead birds have been found, such as at Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) on Pulau Ubin.

An OBS spokesman said a staff member has found three bird carcasses over the past two years. "As part of our efforts to better understand and appreciate the biodiversity of our flora and fauna on Pulau Ubin, we welcome the opportunity to work with Mr David Tan on his research efforts."

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NSS wants public to snap and upload photos of wildlife on app

Audrey Tan Straits Times 29 Jan 18;

See a bird, butterfly or squirrel outside your window?

The Nature Society (Singapore), or NSS, wants to know all about it: How it looks, where you spotted it and at what time.

All that is needed is a free mobile phone application called iNaturalist. With it, people can simply snap a photograph of the animal or plant encountered, then upload it onto the app along with details such as the date, time and location it was spotted.

The data will be publicly available, and would be useful for researchers learning more about the biodiversity in an area, said Dr Anuj Jain, part of the NSS team spearheading this effort.

"We will also be able to identify the changes in flowering and fruiting patterns of garden plants and understand the impacts of climate change better," he said.

The effort is part of NSS' new citizen science programme, Every Singaporean a Naturalist, which aims to get people to document the wildlife they encounter at work, school or play.

"We hope that by getting people to document the wildlife they encounter on a daily basis, it would help them be aware of the biodiversity that thrives even in the city. That is the first step towards greater appreciation of wildlife," said Dr Anuj.

NSS is starting the programme with a pilot involving six organisations - four primary and secondary schools including Queenstown Primary School and Unity Secondary School, as well as two university clubs from the Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore.

But the hope is that everyone in Singapore will join the programme, he added.

Audrey Tan

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NParks sets up first-aid room on Pulau Ubin

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 28 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE — With cycling accidents on Pulau Ubin showing no signs of a let-up, the authorities have set up a first-aid facility on the island, heeding public calls in recent years for a formal space to attend to the injured.

The National Parks Board (NParks) told TODAY in response to queries that the first-aid room at the Ubin Living Lab opened in February 2016.

The lab is situated in the southwest of the island for education and research, and other uses.

Dr Adrian Loo, NParks’ acting group director of conservation, said that the first-aid room is equipped with an examination couch, first-aid materials and equipment such as stretchers, wheelchairs and an automated external defibrillator.

Since it opened, it has provided services for about 50 walk-in cases. Most of the people needed treatment for cuts and abrasions.

The same first-aid materials and equipment are available at the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub — a one-stop centre several minutes by foot from the Ubin Jetty, Dr Loo added.

NParks staff members are at both spots to provide first aid during operation hours throughout the week.

The Ubin Living Lab opens from 9.30am to 4.30pm and the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub, from 8.30am to 5.30pm, on weekdays and weekends.

In January 2015, TODAY reported that NParks was considering having a first-aid facility on the island at the suggestion of residents and visitors.

After the report ran, the Singapore Red Cross expanded its First Aider on Wheels programme to Pulau Ubin, deploying personnel to the island on public holidays since July 2015, and the second Sunday of every month since March or April 2016.

They are stationed at a first-aid post in the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub.

Last year alone, Red Cross first-aiders attended to 100 to 120 casualties on the island, a spokesperson for the humanitarian agency told TODAY. At least half the cases were cycling-related, and common injuries included abrasions on the elbows and knees.

Less than 5 per cent of these casualties had to be evacuated by the Police Coast Guard to the mainland — some with head injuries from collisions or suspected heart attacks, the Red Cross spokesperson added.

Last year, the Police Coast Guard evacuated 52 casualties from Pulau Ubin to the mainland, up from 46 in 2016. Roughly 60 per cent of these cases last year were involved in cycling-related accidents, a police spokesperson said.

Besides the provision of first aid on the island, Dr Loo from NParks said that various measures have been in place to promote safe cycling.

These include notice boards at the jetty reminding visitors of safe cycling practices, and signs along the trails advising cyclists to dismount and push their bicycles, or to slow down at certain spots.

The island’s bicycle rental shops also offer protective gear, including helmets.

Dr Loo said: “We urge cyclists to exercise personal responsibility by wearing helmets and protective gear, observe signs that apprise them of the difficulty level of the trails and to adopt safe practices.

“Novice and younger cyclists should also be accompanied by experienced, adult cyclists.”

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Malaysia: Stranded baby whale rescued by marine cops, fire brigade and villagers in team effort

muguntan vanar The Star 28 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A baby whale that was stranded in shallow waters close to Sabah’s east Lahad Datu town was safely pushed back to open sea as firemen, marine policemen and ordinary folks got together in a collective effort to rescue it.

The whale weighing at least 400kg with a length of 4.5m was slowly pushed out of the shallow waters till it was brought out to deep sea about three-kilometres away.

“It just swam away from our view. I believe it is safe now,” Lahad Datu Fire and Rescue Services Station head of operations Mazran Mohammad Noh said.

He said the whole operation was completed about five hours after they received a call from the public at about 10.06am on Sunday (Jan 28) stating that the whale was stuck in knee deep waters near Lahad Datu POIC container port area.

“Eventually, we used a boat to trawl the whale into open sea,” he said, adding the operations involving five firemen and 10 marine policemen apart from members of the public ended by 2.17pm.

It’s a big fish, it’s a whale … nope, it’s a dolphin
stephanie lee The Star 29 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The “big fish” that was stranded along the coast of Lahad Datu on Sunday is actually a dolphin and not a baby whale as reported earlier.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the dolphin, which may have been mistaken as a baby whale by rescuers due to its size, has yet to return to the open sea.

“We tried bringing it further from the shore on Sunday after it was spotted but it returned (to the shore) not long after,” he said on Monday.

He said the dolphin was spotted early in the morning and rescuers, including marine police and firemen, tried to bring it out to the open sea.

“However, it returned late in the evening,” Tuuga said, adding they found some minor injuries on the dolphin but were not sure how it got them.

He said rescuers would try to return the stranded dolphin to the open sea again on Monday.

He said apart from the minor injuries, the dolphin looked healthy and that efforts were being undertaken to send it off again.

“We hope it will return to where it belongs and not come up near the shore again,” Tuuga said.

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Philippines: DENR to regulate tourism in El Nido, Palawan to prevent another ‘Boracay’

Jonathan L. Mayuga Business Mirror 28 Jan 18;

TO prevent the problems besetting Boracay from being repeated in El Nido, Palawan, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now taking a proactive approach before environmental problems become unmanageable.

In a press statement, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said he wants to implement policies to help minimize the negative impact of tourism in El Nido.

Reports showed El Nido is beset with problems of diminishing water quality, biodiversity loss, flooding and proliferation of informal settlers, business establishments and structures without a permit, and a host of other problems.

“I want people to experience the beauty of El Nido and other natural wonders of our country for as long as possible,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief added he had instructed all DENR personnel to address such priorities as clean water, clean air and solid-waste management hounding island tourist destinations like El Nido and Boracay.

Officials of DENR in Mimaropa have identified El Nido as a priority area. El Nido used to be known for promoting sustainable tourism. Situated within the province known as the country’s last ecological frontier, El Nido boasts of rich flora and fauna, breath-taking landscapes and small-island scenery, lagoons with pristine waters.

El Nido is also hosting unique bird species and is frequented by large marine wildlife like the sea or marine turtles, sea cow or dugong, dolphins, sharks and rays.

“We do not want El Nido to face the same problems of Boracay,” DENR Mimaropa Regional Director Natividad Bernardino said in the same press statement.

Bernardino was referring to the mounting garbage problem and water contamination due to unregulated activities in Boracay.

Big resorts in Boracay are facing closure if they are found violating environmental laws. The DENR is in the process of validating a list of resorts not connected to the existing sewer system on Boracay Island.

The House committee on tourism is currently conducting an investigation into the problems besetting Boracay Island, known for its white-sand beaches and pristine waters. Foremost of these problems is its mounting garbage problem.

Acting on the problem last year, Cimatu had immediately stepped in. Within 20 days in June and July last year, 1,906 tons of garbage were hauled from Boracay to Aklan.

Two weeks ago, Cimatu and Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo agreed to step up efforts to save Boracay, including penalizing establishments violating environmental and other laws.

“We value El Nido’s contribution to the economy of Palawan and of the country. We cannot help but worry that the magnitude of tourist activities in El Nido is already way beyond its carrying capacity,” Bernardino said.

The 2016 report of the El Nido Municipal Tourism Office said tourist arrival in the town increased by more than 30 percent annually in the last three years, with last year reaching almost 200,000.

This does not only mean increased revenue for the town, but also increased demand for fresh water, timber, and other construction materials, use of fuel and consumer goods, and activities in the islands, all of which exert tremendous pressure on the rich biodiversity of El Nido.

Bernardino said the Protected Area Management Board of El Nido-Taytay Protected Area already passed a resolution limiting tourist entry and activity in three of the most-visited places in El Nido.

In the Big Lagoon, only 60 guests will be allowed at any one time or a maximum of 720 guests per day. In the Small Lagoon, a maximum of 30 guests will be allowed at any one time or a total of 360 persons per day. For the Secret Beach, only 12 visitors will be allowed at any one time or a total of 144 a day.

Limits on the number of conveyances have also been set – maximum of five boats in the anchorage area and 30 kayaks inside the Big Lagoon, only 15 kayaks inside the Small Lagoon, and two boats in the anchorage area of Secret Beach.

Moreover, activities such as fishing, cliff jumping, grilling of food, and playing of loud music have been prohibited in the three spots.

In another resolution, PAMB identified the Strict Protection Zone, areas with high biodiversity value, that shall be closed to human activity except for scientific research and/or ceremonial use by indigenous communities. These include Helicopter Island, Balinaud Beach, Turtle Island, and Pacanayan Island.

In the coming months, the DENR also plans to conduct inspection of all establishments in El Nido and ensure compliance on the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, monitor air and water quality, validate tenurial instruments of business and residents, and monitor strict observance of environmental laws, and other measures that will help lessen the harmful impact of tourism activities on the environment, people’s livelihood, and tourism itself.

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Thailand: Ecologist rates Thai coral reef decay rate as alarming

Bangkok Post 29 Jan 18;

The total area experiencing coral reef damage in Thailand has increased from 30% to 77% in just one decade, according to marine ecologist Asst Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat.

Asst Prof Thon, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, said 77% or 140,000 out of total 107,800 rai of coral reef area in the Thai seas is in a sorry state, with unhealthy coral reefs expanding at an alarming rate.

In 2008, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said 42,000 rai (30%) of total 140,000 rai of corals was devastated.

Asst Prof Thon blamed tourism and polluted water released by beachfront hotels, resorts and residential houses as the main cause for the unhealthy coral reefs.

He added the situation was also exacerbated by plastic trash dumped in water, which can infect coral and cause them long-term harm.

Asst Prof Thon singled out water contamination as the largest contributor to the degeneration of coral reefs in the country, as only 30% of polluted water goes through waste water treatment process.

Besides, reefs were also being damaged by sediments from landfills along coastal areas, he said.

"All of this [the degeneration of corals] is a result of man-made pollution, especially the influx of tourists which is not being handled properly. Over the past two or three years, Thailand has had no problems about coral bleaching, but the degeneration has continued to this day," Asst Prof Thon said.

The marine ecologist also voiced his concern over the 77% damage to the country's coral reefs, which in his view is a considerable figure.

Meanwhile, Petch Manopawitr, a scientist of the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN, pointed out to plastic waste as a cause for coral diseases.

He said Thailand was ranked the fourth in the world among countries which produce the most amount of marine waste, according to an assessment by US-based non-profit marine conservation group, Ocean Conservacy, last year.

He said plastic waste in the Thai seas has worsened the health of corals and referred to a latest article in Science magazine about research which found out that coral reefs digest plastic garbage and suffer as a consequence.

Mr Petch added that previous research jointly conducted by Cornell University, James Cook University and Prince of Songkla University in 2014 showed coral reefs can be damaged by plastics.

The research was conducted on coral reefs on 159 locations in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Australia.

In related development, Worapot Lomlim, chief of Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park, said on Saturday the authorities would inspect coral reefs around Koh Bida Nok in Krabi today.

The move comes after a complaint from locals that a group of Japanese tourists brought vinyl boards to the water and took photos with corals there, which may have caused damage to the coral life.

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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jan 18

3 Feb (Sat): Talk on "Mangrove rehabilitation in South East Asia - the state of practice"
wild shores of singapore

How can we make Ubin's mangroves more appealing?
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Festival of Biodiversity 2018 in June – call for volunteers! (Signup by 9th February 2018)

Discover Sungei Buloh!
wild shores of singapore

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Sea nomads' Singapore roots go back centuries

Yuen Sin Straits Times 28 Jan 18;

Ask 62-year-old university lecturer Mohamed Nassir Ismail about his roots and he will proudly declare that he is a "native Singaporean".

Unlike other migrants who settled on these shores after Singapore's growth as a trade hub under colonial rule, Mr Nassir's great-grandfather and his family had already been residing here years before Sir Stamford Raffles' arrival in 1819.

His great-grandfather grew up on the Singapore River in a 31/2m long sampan in the 1800s, and was one of the Orang Selat, or People of the Straits.

They are one of the clans of Orang Laut in Singapore history - a general term referring to sea nomads who are believed to have sailed in Singapore's waters from the 16th century.

By the 19th century, there were more than 1,000 Orang Laut residing in Singapore. Pioneer generation minister Othman Wok, who died at age 92 last year, was a descendant of the Orang Laut.

Other clans include the Orang Seletar, who roamed the mangroves near Seletar River, and the Orang Biduanda Kallang, who lived in swampy areas along Kallang River.

Modernisation and rapid development in Singapore from the 1960s led the groups to find new settlements in the waters of Johor. But a number, such as Mr Nassir's family, intermarried and assimilated into Singapore society, and were resettled into Housing Board flats. Figures on how many later settled in Singapore are not available.

Today, more than 50 of Mr Nassir's relatives still live in the same HDB blocks in Upper Boon Keng Road. The location is a stone's throw away from their old water village of Kampung Kuchai off Lorong 3 Geylang, where Mr Nassir lived till he was 18, before it was demolished in 1976.

He recalls with nostalgia the gotong-royong spirit of the kampung, where close to 300 families lived. "If someone had a problem, the whole village chipped in to help."

Not far from Kampung Kuchai was Kampung Padang Terbakar, a coastal village off Somapah Road near Changi, where history teacher Mohamed Shahrom Mohamed Taha's late paternal grandmother, an Orang Biduanda Kallang, lived in the 1970s. It was acquired for industrial development in the mid-1980s.

Mr Shahrom, 39, was regaled with stories of their sea nomad heritage as a child. He said: "My grandmother was a medicine woman. When we fell sick, she would ask us to go to the sea. There was always this idea of returning to the sea."

Gone are the days of seafaring for his family of five, who live in an HDB flat in Tampines but they still observe practices which have been passed down in his family. He does not eat pomfret, and they are also warned against visiting Kota Tinggi in Johor, particularly the areas with higher altitude.

This arises from the fact that his late paternal grandfather was from the Bintan Penaung tribe of the Orang Laut, led by the Laksamana Bintan, a sea admiral of Sultan Mahmud Shah II, the 10th sultan of Johor.

At the height of the Johor Kingdom's power in the late 17th century, the Laksamana had collaborated in the assassination of the Sultan, whose tomb now lies near the Kota Tinggi town centre. The episode had been documented in historical texts such as the Malay Annals.

According to the oral tradition of the Orang Laut, the Laksamana had been instigated to do so, after a plot by a former palace officer. The Sultan then cast a curse on the descendants of the Laksamana, which said that they would die should they touch the grounds of Kota Tinggi.

It is also believed that a school of pomfret had saved the life of the Laksamana by patching up a hole in his boat when he was escaping from the Sultan, thus the tradition of abstaining from eating the fish.

Such stories prompted Mr Shahrom to find out more about the Orang Laut during his time as a history undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS). His thesis countered British misconceptions of the Orang Laut as pirates. Though there were piracy activities, they had also patrolled and protected the maritime trade routes under the control of the Sultan.

Mr Nassir is also working on a book with Dr Imran Tajudeen from the NUS department of architecture, which will feature a chapter on the Orang Selat settlement.

He said: "(Knowing my history) gives me a sense of belonging to this country. We have witnessed so much change, from the kampung days to the metropolitan city that it is today."

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India: Global coral bleaching hit three spots along India’s coast

Surveys revealed that a rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in sea-surface temperatures killed 16% of corals in GoM between March and October 2016.
Snehal Fernandes Hindustan Times 27 Jan 18;

Rising sea temperatures caused by climate change, which killed corals in different parts of the world during the third and longest global coral bleaching event between 2014 and 2017, also destroyed coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) and Konkan coast, new findings revealed.

The results of underwater surveys by the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI), Tuticorn, revealed that a rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in sea-surface temperatures killed 16% of corals in GoM between March and October 2016. An increase of one degree Celsius killed 8% corals around the Sindhudurg island fort in the Malvan Marine Sanctuary (MMS), in December 2015.

The extent of bleaching was more in MMS, with 70% corals affected in December 2015 — only 29% were found intact.

At GoM, about 23.92% corals bleached in April-June 2016. Another study earlier this month says in Lakshadweep, more than 30% corals were severely bleached between 1998 and 2016.

“The severe heat stress seen in 2014-17 caused widespread bleaching and mortality whether the reefs were locally stressed or highly protected. Reducing local stressers such as over fishing, destructive fishing, from pollutants such as fertilisers, sediments, and plastics, and from habitat destruction, increases the resilience of corals, increasing the odds they can recover from bleaching events,” said Mark Eakin, coordinator, US-based National Oceanic and Atmopheric Administration Coral Reef Watch.

Studies have shown that global temperatures in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were the warmest since instrumental record-keeping began in the 19th century.

Corals are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Their primary source of food is an algae living in their tissues, which converts sunlight into food, and also gives them their colour.

When sea-water temperatures rise by one or two degrees Celsius, corals expel these algae and as a result get bleached (or turn white) with a chance of recovery since they can survive for three months without food. However, if the temperature stress continues, corals die of starvation. The third global coral bleaching event was driven by climate change and El Nino, which was declared as the longest by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because of its occurrence across the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Global coral bleaching was also recorded in 1998 and 2010.

Although they occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor, reefs — they are referred to as the rainforests of the oceans — are home for a million species, which includes one-fourth of the world’s fish. Additionally, they protect coastlines from erosion during storms and act as barriers against sea-level rise.

Globally, around 500 million people benefit from coral reefs, through fishing, recreation and tourism. Because of their importance, the International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef.

“In addition to maintaining biodiversity, the mortality of corals directly affects fishing as they serve as breeding grounds and shelter for fishes. Their death will also affect tourism as tourists go scuba diving or snorkeling to see corals,” said JK Patterson Edward, director, SDMRI. The Malvan study was in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Bombay Natural History Society.

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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jan 18

Launch of the Year of Climate Action
Climate Action SG

Flora and Fauna of Singaporean Seas and Shores
Wild Drawings

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Rescued baby hawksbill turtle released back into the wild

Channel NewsAsia 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: A hawksbill sea turtle that was rescued from a broken, unhatched egg was released back into the waters of Sisters’ Island this week, the National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore said.

The healthy baby turtle has been also microchipped so that it can be identified if it returns to Singapore’s shores in the future, the agencies said in a media release on Friday (Jan 26).

The broken egg was part of a clutch of eggs found on one of the Southern Islands by NParks employees last September. The premature hatchling inside it was barely alive and severely dehydrated.

NParks handed the hatchling to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which started treatment for it immediately, providing it with the necessary fluids. It received critical care overnight, and by morning, the hatchling had completely emerged from its egg. It weighed just 10g when it hatched.

Raised on a diet of mussels, flower crab, shrimp, squid and fish, the hatchling tipped the scales at 500g four months later.

It was also provided with "live rocks", or ocean rock with algae and other micro-organisms, an essential part of a sea turtle’s diet.

A veterinary check on Jan 3 showed that the turtle was healthy and well, and the decision was made to return it to the wild as soon as possible.

The turtle was released on the beach at Sisters' Islands Marine Park, where it scurried into the sea and started swimming immediately.

It paddled around the shallow lagoon waters for a while before making its way slowly towards the mouth of the lagoon, and finally, out to the open sea.

"The knowledge gained from the rescue and rehabilitation of the hatchling will contribute to our understanding of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and help to guide conservation efforts," NParks and WRS said.


18 sightings of the hawksbill sea turtle were recorded on Singapore’s shores in 2017. The figure is nearly half the 43 sightings reported between 2011 and 2016.

In 2017 alone, there were more than 500 successful hatchlings from seven separate hawksbill turtle nests, NParks and WRS said.

Many sightings were reported by members of the public, NParks and WRS said, noting that the increased number of sightings was not only an encouraging sign for the species, but also reflected heightened public awareness of the turtles.

The agencies said those who encounter a turtle should speak softly and keep their distance from it. Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it, and one should not handle the eggs as it might damage them.

Source: CNA/da

Hawksbill turtle rescued from brink of death released back into the wild

SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE – It was barely alive and severely dehydrated when found inside a ruptured egg on one of the Southern Islands last September.

The premature Hawksbill Sea Turtle hatchling was handed by the National Parks Board (NParks) to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which provided it with critical care overnight and cared for it over four months.

From 10 grams when it hatched, the turtle has grown to 500 grams.

This week, it was released into the waters of Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, NParks and WRS announced on Friday (Jan 26).

The release comes as Singapore’s shores record more sightings of the critically endangered species. There were 18 sightings of Hawksbill Sea Turtles last year alone, compared to 43 sightings reported between 2011 and 2016.

The sightings include arrivals, nests and hatchlings. Last year, more than 500 successful hatchlings from seven separate nests were recorded.

The increased sightings follow the initiation of a systematic monitoring programme and an increase in reports from members of the public arising from heightened awareness, said NParks’ Dr Karenne Tun, director of the National Biodiversity Centre (Coastal & Marine).

The team from the Marine Turtle Working Group, which includes NParks and WRS, is cautiously optimistic about the rescued hatchling’s chances of survival but noted challenges it faces. Sea turtles, especially juveniles, face predation and other natural threats, as well as plastic debris and other impacts of human activity.

When NParks first found the recued hatchling, it was premature and still had its yolk sac attached to the body.

After it was given fluids and critical care by WRS staff, it emerged from the egg the next morning. Over the next few days, it was given fluid supplements until it had fully absorbed its yolk sac.

The turtle was later transferred to bigger tanks as it grew and readily ate a variety of solid foods, including mussel, flower crab, shrimp, squid and fish, said NParks and WRS. Live rocks, which have living organisms on them, were also provided as an essential part of the sea turtle’s diet.

After veterinary checks on Jan 3 indicated it was in the pink of health, the team decided to return it to the wild as soon as possible.

The turtle has also been microchipped, allowing it to be identified if it returns to Singapore’s shores in future.

When it was released on the beach, it scurried into the sea and swam around the shallow lagoon waters before making its way slowly towards the mouth of the lagoon.

After navigating past a ring of Sargassum seaweed fringing the reef outside the lagoon, the turtle descended to the shallow reef slope for a short rest before swimming out to sea, said NParks and WRS on Friday (Jan 26).

The knowledge gained from the rescue and rehabilitation of this hatchling will contribute to the team’s understanding of the species and help guide conservation efforts, added the spokesperson.

Singapore has two recorded species of turtles, the endangered Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, which is the more common species found in local waters.

Marine turtles have been sighted along East and West Coast Parks, Changi Beach and the offshore islands, said Dr Tun.

“We believe that turtles have always been nesting on our shores,” she added.

Members of the public who spot a turtle can contact the NParks helpline at 1800 471 7300.

Humans should keep their distance and speak softly. They should avoid touching the turtle to avoid scaring or provoking it. They should not handle the eggs to avoid damaging them.

More sightings of critically endangered hawksbill turtles in Singapore
Audrey Tan Straits Times 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - Hawksbill turtles are making a comeback on the Republic's urban beaches, a sign that things are looking up for these critically endangered reptiles.

Eighteen sightings of the hawksbill sea turtle native to Singapore were recorded here last year, almost half the total number of sightings for the preceding five-year period.

Between 2011 and 2016, 43 sightings of hawksbill turtles were recorded in Singapore's shores, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Friday (Jan 26).

"The increased number of recorded sightings and hatchlings in 2017 is not only an encouraging sign for the species... but also reflects heightened public awareness as many sightings were reported by members of the public," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine branch at NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre.

There were also over 500 successful hatchlings from seven separate nests last year, in places such as Singapore's offshore Southern Islands and on East Coast Park on the mainland.

They join another 106 baby turtles that on Jan 19 nosed their way out of shells and into the waters at Sentosa's Tanjong Beach, in an encouraging start to 2018, which is also the International Year of the Reef that is being celebrated by countries around the world, including Singapore.

NParks said on Friday that it had, together with the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), released a rescued and rehabilitated hawksbill sea turtle hatchling into the waters of Sisters' Islands Marine Park earlier this week.

NParks and WRS representatives both sit on the Marine Turtle Working Group, an expert panel that helps to assess and document turtle arrivals and hatchling success on our beaches, and shape marine turtle conservation and management plans.

The rescued hatchling was from a batch of eggs that NParks found on one of the Southern Islands in September last year. The hatchling was premature, with its yolk sac still visible when it was found.

NParks handed over the turtle, which was barely alive and severely dehydrated, to WRS. It was treated immediately, mainly with fluids. By morning, the hatchling had completely emerged from its egg, said NParks and WRS.

After four months of intensive care, the hatchling grew from its initial weight of 10g to 500g, and was released earlier this week.

Dr Sonja Luz, WRS director for conservation, research and veterinary services, said she was initially cautious about the turtle’s survival chances.

“As he grew in strength, the challenge was in making sure he received proper nutrition and would grow appropriately, especially after the first week... Luckily, the little guy was a curious one, and would try any food readily.”

The hatchling has been microchipped so that it can be identified if it returns to Singapore's shores in the future, said NParks.

The rescued and released hawksbill turtle has been microchipped so that it can be identified if it returns to Singapore's shores in the future. PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
"The knowledge gained from the rescue and rehabilitation of this hatchling will contribute to our understanding of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and help to guide conservation efforts," it added.

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Cambodia jails two environment activists for filming sand export activity

Today Online 26 Jan 18;

PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian court on Friday sentenced two environment activists to a year in jail, with a suspension of seven months each, after they were convicted of filming suspected illegal sand export activity.

The court in southewestern Koh Kong province sentenced Dem Kundy, 21, and Hun Vannak, 35, members of the conservation group Mother Nature, their defense lawyer, Sam Chamroeun, said. Each was also fined $250.

"They are innocent all along," he told Reuters of the two activists, whom rights group Amnesty International considers prisoners of conscience.

Dem Kundy and Hun Vannak were arrested on September 12 last year and convicted of violation of privacy and incitement to commit a felony when they filmed vessels suspected of illegally carrying sand for export.

Cambodia banned all sand exports last year, officially ending the sale of sand to the wealthy city state of Singapore which has for years used it to reclaim land along its coasts.

Skeptical about whether the ban was being properly enforced, Mother Nature and other groups pressed the government to stop the trade, saying the digging and dredging of sand has had a serious impact on coastal ecosystems and surrounding land.

The sentences came a day after their trial on Thursday.

But domestic rights group Licadho said there was insufficient evidence to convict.

"It's shocking that the two Mother Nature youths were convicted by the Koh Kong court for only trying to protect and preserve natural resources for the current and future generations in Cambodia," said Naly Pilorge, its director.

Cambodia expelled Spanish national and co-founder of Mother Nature, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, in February 2015. REUTERS

‘Lack of proof’ in Mother Nature activists’ hearing
Phak Seangly Phnom Penh Post 26 Jan 18;

Two activists from the conservation group Mother Nature were tried yesterday in Koh Kong for photographing a vessel at sea, with their lawyer asking the court to dismiss the charges due to a lack of evidence that they had committed any crime.

In September, activists Hun Vannak, 35, and Dem Kundy, 21, were charged with “incitement to commit a felony” and making unauthorised recordings of a person in “a private place”, for filming a suspected sand-bearing ship a kilometre away from a boat of their own in the open ocean.

Yesterday’s trial lasted around three and a half hours, and a verdict is expected today, a lightning-quick turnaround for Cambodia’s notoriously sluggish courts.

Defence lawyer Sam Chamroeun yesterday said the judge should throw out the case, as the witness accounts were weak and the prosecution lacked concrete evidence.

“Both I and [the defendants] suggested that the judge drop the charges because they are not guilty,” Chamroeun said in an interview after the trial.

“We hope [the decision] will be a positive verdict for our clients.”

Read more: How Mother Nature duo followed their principles into activism — and a trial

Chamroeun also took aim at LYP Group’s Chief of Staff Chan Nakry, who brought the initial complaint against the Mother Nature duo. Chamroeun said he was not a victim, was absent from the trial, and had no right to bring the case because there was no letter from the company confirming Nakry as their representative.

Reached yesterday, Nakry said he was too busy to attend the proceedings and referred questions to his lawyer, Chun Socheat. Socheat would only say that the location in the ocean where the two suspects were filming “belonged to the company”.

According to Phal Chamroeun, a volunteer trial monitor with rights group Adhoc, during the trial Socheat claimed the pair took photos, posted them to Facebook, and “incited” society by accusing the company of foul play. While Mother Nature activists have been prolific in sharing footage on social media, Vannak and Kundy were arrested before uploading the footage in question.

If found guilty, the pair could face up to two years for the “incitement” charge, and as much as an additional year for making unauthorised recordings.

Mother Nature has long campaigned against sand dredging in Koh Kong, and the industry has become a contentious issue in Cambodia – and not just for its environmental impacts.

In 2016, data revealed the amount of sand the Kingdom reported exporting to Singapore was a tiny fraction of what Singapore said it received, inviting speculation that corruption was the cause for the missing sand. Other data showed similar gaps in reported exports to India and Taiwan.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy last year “completely halted the export of all kinds of construction sand and mud sand from Koh Kong province to foreign countries”. Silica sand, which was suspected to be the type of sand on the ship filmed by the activists, was later said to be exempt from the foreign export ban.

Mother Nature co-founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who was expelled from the country in 2015, yesterday described the trial as a “joke”, and said he hoped the “nightmare that Vannak and Kundy are having will end soon”.

Dem Kundy’s mother, Duong Saktheary, said she was “suffering” through her son’s ordeal. “I would have accepted it if my son was guilty of doing something wrong, but he was just helping to protect the forest and the environment for everyone,” she said.

Adhoc’s Phal Chamroeun agreed with the pair’s defence lawyer that there was insufficient evidence to convict them.

“If the judge follows the procedures and thoroughly considers the case, we do hope that they will be released,” he said.

Hour In, a legal adviser from the rights group Licadho, said the complaint filed to the police was very short, simply accusing them of taking photos of the company’s vessel without permission. However, he said, when the case reached the court, the additional “incitement” charge was tacked on.

Simon Walker, country representative of the UN’s Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the body was monitoring the trial due to “the importance of consistency and fairness in trials, particularly in relation to criminal cases, and the need to apply the same evidentiary standards of proof”.

Environment activists jailed for filming sand export activities
The Star 29 Jan 18;

Sand dredging and exporting is serious business in Cambodia, and most of it has gone to enlarge Singapore.

But Cambodia had banned all sand exports as dredging has had a serious impact on coastal ecosystems and surrounding land said the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

However, when two environment activists filmed illegal suspected illegal sand exporting activities, they were recently sentenced to a year in jail.

The court in south-western Koh Kong province sentenced Dem Kundy, 21, and Hun Vannak, 35, members of the conservation group Mother Nature, their defence lawyer, Sam Chamroeun, said.

“They are innocent all along,” he told Reuters of the two activists, whom rights group Amnesty International considers prisoners of conscience.

Dem Kundy and Hun Vannak were arrested on September 12 last year and convicted of “violation of privacy” when they filmed vessels suspected of illegally carrying sand for export.

Cambodia banned all sand exports last July, officially ending the sale of this commodity to the wealthy city state of Singapore which has for years used it to reclaim land along its coasts.

Sceptical about whether the ban was being properly enforced, Mother Nature and other groups pressed the government to stop the trade, saying the digging and dredging of sand has had a serious impact on coastal ecosystems and surrounding land.

According to Mother Nature, the Cambodian government falsely claims that Koh Kong’s coastal estuaries naturally carry “too much sand”, and as such need dredging and deepening so that they can be “more navigable for local boats”, and to reduce riverbank erosion and floods in the area.

However, they say local fishing communities’ livelihoods have been ravaged by the sand mining.

A report in Mongabay recalled: “Now when we go fishing we don’t even catch one kilo. Before there was a lot more,” Ken Yut Theary, a woman living in Koh Sralav village on the banks of the Koh Kong estuary.

“Due to the fishery collapse a lot of the girls in the village have no choice but to go and work in factories in the special economic zone,” she said, referring to the new factory development between Koh Kong city and the Thai border.

Domestic rights group Licadho said there was insufficient evidence to convict the two journalists.

“It’s shocking that the two Mother Nature youths were convicted by the court for only trying to protect and preserve natural resources for the current and future generations in Cambodia,” its director, Naly Pilorge, told Reuters.

Cambodia expelled Spanish national and co-founder of Mother Nature, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, in February 2015.

“This NGO caused all kinds of trouble,” Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for over 30 years, was quoted as saying in The Khmer Times. He said Mother Nature had long undermined his plans to improve electricity supplies in Cambodia, where daily blackouts are common, via hydroelectric and nuclear power projects.

Before the “permanent ban” in July 2017, there had been a “temporary ban” in November 2016 yet groups had complained that sand was still being exported.

Singapore was Cambodia’s top market for sand until 2017 when the temporary ban came into force, and had exported some 16 million tonnes of it since 2007.

Yet, UN trade data released last year showed that Singapore had imported far more sand (72 million tonnes of sand, worth more than US$740 million (RM2.88bil) from Cambodia since 2007.

The Phnom Penh Post also reported in Jan 2017 that Cambodia had exported more than 108,000 tonnes of sand between 2013 and 2015, according to Indian customs data, contradicting Cambodian customs data that show no sand being sent there at all.

Mother Nature claims that tax evasion may be involved as official government documents show that the vast majority of the sand exported was “magically gone” from Cambodian government data on exports but still appeared on import data in Singapore, India and the UN.

Al Jazeera added that this means not only are local Cambodians suffering from the ecological impact of extensive sand mining, the country may not be getting the full benefits of tax collection on sand exports. – Agencies

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Everyone can be ‘Captain Planet’, as 2018 is earmarked Year of Climate Action

SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE – From monitoring paper usage in schools, setting up recycling corners at the workplace, to using reusable shopping bags, educational institutions, organisations and individuals can now pledge to commit to activities to tackle climate change.

As chair of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) this year, Singapore will also host a special ministerial meeting on climate change in July, announced Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Friday (Jan 26).

Speaking at the launch event for the Year of Climate Action held at the Singapore Sustainability Academy, Mr Masagos said Singapore’s journey to fight climate change is already “well-embedded” in its development policies. But it is just as important to raise the level of national consciousness, of the need for individual and collective action to fight climate change.

He said: “(It is) simply because the Government cannot do it alone. This is a year when we will join forces with all of you here, plus many other parties across Singapore and beyond, to rally everybody to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change.”

On why this year was specifically designated as the Year of Climate Action, Mr Masagos said climate change poses an existential threat. Rising sea levels and weather extremes, such as droughts and flash floods from intense rainfall, can have devastating consequences on lives and businesses.

Singapore is already feeling the heat from global warming and urbanisation, as last year was the warmest year on record that was not influenced by an El Nino event. The El Nino phenomenon leads to drier and warmer conditions, particularly between June and October across South-east Asia.

Mr Masagos also launched the Climate Action Pledge on Friday, where individuals, organisations and educational institutions can make a public declaration through the ministry’s website to show their readiness to take climate action, and influence others to do the same.

Individuals can pick from a list of actions to commit to, such as bringing their own reusable shopping bag, avoid using a straw, and setting their air-conditioner at 25 deg celsius. Organisations and educational institutions can also share their pledges, which can involve setting up recycling corners, switching off the lights after use, among other things.

There were more than 200 pledges as of Friday morning and Mr Masagos urged more Singaporeans and organisations to do so. More than half of these pledges came from corporations, and of those, about half were Small and Medium Enterprises.

“It is a positive action and will help us push forward collectively during this Year of Climate Action,” he added.

A blog has also been set up for members of the public to stay up-to-date on all climate-related matters in Singapore. Noting that this will be a “community-run effort”, he urged members of the public to contribute and share their climate action stories, events and photos on the site.

They can use the new red Climate Action logo, which incorporates the Singapore skyline, to brand their sustainability activities and events, as well as use the hashtag #ClimateActionSG for their social media posts.

With Singapore assuming the Asean chairmanship this year, Mr Masagos said the authorities look forward to leading discussions on climate action. A Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change will be held on July 10, and it will be an important meeting for Asean to “show leadership on climate action”, he said.

There will also be back-to-back expanded meetings between Asean and ministers from China, Japan, and South Korea, as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties’ respective president and president-designate, Fiji and Poland.

This will send a strong signal internationally that Asia remains fully committed to the Paris Agreement and will take collective action to tackle climate change, said Mr Masagos. Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, Singapore has committed to cutting emissions intensity by 36 per cent, from 2005 levels, by 2030.

The Year of Climate Action also supports the 2030 Development Agenda, a long term global development framework with a set of 17 goals, noted the minister. Singapore will be working with countries around the world to build capacity and help them achieve these goals.

Some companies here have already gotten a headstart when it comes to tackling climate change. In the last six years, property developer City Developments Limited, which has been doing its part to protect the environment since 1995, saved more than S$19 million from its energy efficient retrofitting and initiatives in eight of its office buildings. Local telco Singtel also has carbon reduction targets, and is committed to transparent disclosure of its climate-related risks.

Members of the public can make their pledge at and visit the blog at

• Some schools have pledged to reduce the use of paper and plastic disposables, designate “No Plastic Day”, start recycling corners, and set targets for collection of electronic waste.
• Some companies have promised to only purchase energy efficient or sustainably sourced products, raise air-conditioning temperatures by one to two deg celsius, among other things.
• Global Compact Network Singapore, the sustainability arm of the Singapore Business Federation, will organise a seminar for business leaders to manage their resources more efficiently.
• Singapore Youth for Climate Action will be organising a reading book club for people to read Singapore’s Climate Action Plan and discuss these initiatives. They also plan to partner with a private educational institution to expand their learning and leadership programme.
• Three-day Climate Action Forum and workshop in May organised by Green in Future and Sustain Ability Showcase Asia. It will cover areas such as the latest climate science findings, energy and food security, investment opportunities linked to climate change mitigation, among other things.

ASEAN can show leadership on climate action: Masagos
Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore will host a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change on Jul 10, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Friday (Jan 26).

Speaking at the official launch of the Year of Climate Action for Singapore, Mr Masagos said the meeting will be an important one for ASEAN to show leadership on climate action.

“It will send a strong signal internationally that we in Asia remain fully committed to the Paris Agreement and will take collective action to tackle climate change,” said Mr Masagos.

In addition, back-to-back expanded meetings will also be organised between ASEAN and Ministers from China, Japan, South Korea and the current President of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties as well as President-designate Fiji and Poland.


Within Singapore, efforts to raise awareness on the need to tackle climate change are also underway, with 2018 being officially declared the Year of Climate Action.

The year will see a series of key events such as the Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore as well as more ground up initiatives to encourage the public to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint.

Getting individuals to take positive action is important as climate change poses an existential threat, said Mr Masagos.

“The impact of rising sea levels, and weather extremes such as droughts and flash floods caused by intense rainfall, can have devastating consequences for lives and livelihoods,” he said.

Singapore’s commitment to tackling climate changes comes against a backdrop of extreme weather events, with 2017 being the hottest year on record that was not influenced by an El Nino event.

“Our world is warming at an unprecedented rate, caused by the excessive emission of greenhouse gases, in particular, carbon dioxide, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels,” said Mr Masagos.

To adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change, significant investments have been made in infrastructure, which includes the widening of drains as well as erecting flood barriers, the minister said.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030. In addition, it has also pledged to stop any increase to its greenhouse gas emissions around 2030.

However, the responsibility of tackling climate change should not fall on the government alone, said Mr Masagos, stressing that everybody needs to play a part.

To date, more than 150 individuals and organisations in Singapore have pledged to take climate action. At the event, Mr Masagos called on more to take part in fighting climate change.

“To fight global warming is both our moral obligation and commitment to ensure that future generations can inherit a sustainable planet,” he said.

Source: CNA/mz

Climate change: Many think they can't make a difference
Getting people and organisations to take Climate Action Pledge is part of effort to change mindset
Audrey Tan Straits Times 27 Jan 18;

Singapore is breaking new tem-perature records every year, the weather is getting increasingly erratic and the country is pun-ching above its weight when it comes to producing harmful carbon emissions.

Yet, while most people here are concerned about the effects of climate change, a significant portion do not believe their actions can make a difference to the country's carbon footprint.

The authorities are trying to change this attitude.

"We feel it is important to raise the level of national consciousness around the need to take individual and collective action to fight climate change," Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday at the launch of Singapore's Year of Climate Action.

As part of this effort, people and organisations will, for instance, be able to make a Climate Action Pledge, where they can declare publicly what they want to do to make Singapore greener.

Individuals can promise to recycle, take public transport, walk or cycle, while organisations can raise office temperatures by 1 deg C to 2 deg C, for example. More than 210 pledges have been made so far.

The effort is timely.

Singapore may contribute just 0.11 per cent of global emissions, but it ranks 26th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita, according to 2015 data from the International Energy Agency.

This means that each person here produces more carbon emissions than his counterpart in Britain, Switzerland or France, for instance.

Singapore may contribute just 0.11 per cent of global emissions, but it ranks 26th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita, according to 2015 data from the International Energy Agency.

But one in three respondents of a 2016 survey here believes that what he does will not have any impact on this figure. This is even though nine out of 10 were concerned about the effects of climate change on future generations.

Disagreeing, Mr Masagos said that tackling climate change cannot be the work of the Government alone.

"Taking action individually all adds up... towards making sure that climate change is not as adverse as predicted," Mr Masagos told reporters.

A climate action blog has also been launched at, which will be a resource for those looking for ways to cut their carbon footprint.

Asked if his ministry will consider punitive measures for individuals, whether through the implementation of pay-as-you-throw schemes or a plastic bag tax, Mr Masagos would say only that his ministry's focus for this year is the carbon tax, which will be levied on large emitters in 2019.

"This is a year when we will join forces with all of you here, plus many other parties across Singapore and beyond, to rally everybody to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change," Mr Masagos said yesterday, even as he reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris Agreement, an international effort to limit global warming.

Singapore will be hosting a Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in July, Mr Masagos said, and this will be an important meeting for Asean to show leadership on climate action.

On the ground, there are already encouraging initiatives. The Nature Society (Singapore) is planning to organise activities such as talks and forums to show how climate change affects biodiversity.

Environmental scientist Pui Cuifen, 36, is also on a personal campaign to urge marathon or-ganisers to become greener. This includes providing recycling bins along marathon routes to re-cycle cups, and collecting waste from bananas given out at events for composting.

Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, co-founder of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action, said the Government's effort was a good start.

"I thought it was good to designate this year as the Year of Climate Action, for some branding and emphasis at the national level. But whether or not the various movements are strategic enough to affect change at a national level - that remains to be seen."

Most Singaporeans worry about impact of climate change but few think their actions matter
Audrey Tan Straits Times 26 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - Singapore is not a big country by land size but each person here produces more carbon emissions than his counterpart in much bigger countries such as Britain, Switzerland or France.

But a National Climate Change Secretariat’s Climate Change Public Perception Survey in 2016 showed that over a third of respondents in Singapore believed that their individual actions would not make a difference to climate change.

This is even though nine out of 10 indicated that they were concerned about the effects of climate change on future generations.

With this in mind, tackling climate change cannot be the work of the Government alone.

That was the message Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, had for people and businesses on Friday morning (Jan 26), when he launched Singapore's Year of Climate Action - a year-long national initiative aimed at raising awareness of climate change - at City Square Mall.

To kickstart the year, he launched a Climate Action Pledge, which individuals and companies can make to publicly declare their readiness to take action against climate change.

For example, individuals can pledge to recycle, or opt to take public transport, walk or cycle; while organisations can pledge to raise office temperatures by 1 to 2 deg C. More than 210 pledges have been made so far.

2018: Year of Climate Action

A climate action blog is also up on the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) website at, which will serve as a resource portal for those looking for ways to cut their carbon footprint.

Urging individuals and companies to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint, Mr Masagos said: "We feel it is important to raise the level of national consciousness around the need to take individual and collective action to fight climate change for a sustainable Singapore. Because the Government cannot do it alone."

Climate change refers to the human-induced warming of the Earth, due to deforestation and the excessive consumption of resources that results in the production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Booths set up at the launch of Year of Climate Action at City Square Mall

Singapore contributes just 0.11 per cent of global emissions but ranks 26th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita, according to 2015 data from the International Energy Agency.

"This is a year when we will join forces with all of you here, plus many other parties across Singapore and beyond, to rally everybody to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change," Mr Masagos said on Friday, even as he reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris Agreement.

In conjunction with its Year of Climate Action, Singapore plans to tap its chairmanship of Asean to roll out regional initiatives on climate change, among other things.

Singapore will host a Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in July, said Mr Masagos, and this will be an important meeting for Asean to show leadership on climate action.

"It will send a strong signal internationally that we in Asia remain fully committed to the Paris Agreement and will take collective action to tackle climate change," Mr Masagos said.

In November last year, he had announced 2018 to be Singapore's Year of Climate Action at an international climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, to instil awareness among citizens and inspire them to act.

The outreach events undertaken as part of Singapore's Year of Climate Action will supplement the country's existing suite of strategies that affect mainly industries.

Masagos Zulkifli on why Singapore decided to designate 2018 as its Year of Climate Action

Amendments to the Energy Conservation Act made last year, for example, slap harsher punishments on large polluters for being energy inefficient. A carbon tax will also be implemented from next year to force large emitters to find ways to reduce emissions.

From the ground-up level, there are already encouraging initiatives.

For instance, National University of Singapore undergraduate Pamela Low, a member of a non-governmental organisation called Singapore Youth for Climate Action, has partnered the university to roll out a zero-waste roadshow which encourages people to eat-in, or to use their own takeaway containers if they have to eat out.

The Nature Society (Singapore) is also planning to organise activities such as talks and forums to show how climate change is linked to the conservation of biodiversity.

For example, rising sea surface temperatures led Singapore's corals to suffer from the longest bleaching incident on record in 2016.

Environmental scientist Pui Cuifen, 36, is on a personal campaign to urge marathon organisers to become greener. This includes measures such as providing recycling bins along marathon routes to recycle cups, and collecting bananas usually given out at such events for composting.

"I'm not a regular runner, but the amount of waste generated at these events - such as cups thrown everywhere and towels used for a few seconds - provides a visual reminder of how much resources are being used," said Ms Pui.

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