Parliament: Singapore adopts three-pronged approach to deal with wildlife trafficking

Audrey Tan Straits Times 28 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - The Government has a three-pronged strategy to deter wildlife trafficking at Singapore's border checkpoints.

This includes subjecting passengers and shipments to a risk assessment, conducting multiple layers of checks at the checkpoints, and adopting a coordinated enforcement approach among the agencies involved, such as the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Singapore Customs, as well as Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

"Taken together, these measures have led to several successful seizures of illegal wildlife in Singapore," said Senior Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon in Parliament on Wednesday (Feb 28).

Dr Koh was responding to a question raised by Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) on what measures are in place at Singapore's border checkpoints to deter wildlife trafficking.

On the importance of risk assessment, Dr Koh said that the framework helps flag passengers and shipments that require more detailed checks. Passengers and cargo are also screened by officers and a variety of other tools, such as x-ray machines.

Singapore's agencies also work together to take quick action "after receiving credible and actionable intelligence or tip-offs from the public and from our international partners," Dr Koh said.

He warned that traffickers are subject to heavy penalties if caught with wildlife parts, facing fines of up to $500,000, up to two years' jail, or both.

Even though demand for illegal wildlife parts, such as rhino horn, ivory or pangolin scales, is not as high in Singapore compared to other countries in the region, the Republic has long been flagged by international environmental organisations as being a transit point for these items.

Mr Ng also asked if Singapore will consider deploying sniffer dogs to detect wildlife on passengers or in cargo, as the country does for narcotics.

Dr Koh said that the Government uses scanning technologies for this purpose.

"More studies are needed to determine if sniffer dogs can be more effective than our current methods," Dr Koh said.

But he added that the AVA - which falls under the purview of his ministry - is continually studying the efficacy of different tools and techniques to detect illegal wildlife at the border checkpoints.

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Malaysia: 45 tunnels to save pristine forests

mazwin nik anis The Star 28 Feb 18;

PUTRAJAYA: Only 216ha of forest will be cleared to make way for the 688km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) alignment, with efforts being made to further reduce the size of the affected area.

This is only 10% of the 2,000ha of forest originally estimated to be lost in the course of the project, said Dr G. Balamurugan, managing director of ERE Consulting Group Sdn Bhd, which conducted the social impact assessment of the project.

This was made possible through the redesign and realignment of the ECRL, he added.

“ECRL is a project of great importance for the country. What we want is to ensure it causes minimal damage to the environment and impact on wildlife while meeting its economic and social objectives,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of agreement between China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) on the implementation of a wildlife management plan.

CCCC was represented by its executive managing director Bai Yinzhan while director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Hashim signed on behalf of Perhilitan.

The signing was witnessed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian.

Dr Balamurugan said the ECRL alignment runs close to 25 different forest reserves, home to animals such as elephants, tapir, tigers, barking deer and sun bears.

To minimise the impact on the environment, 45 tunnels will be built to keep the forest intact.

For wildlife to be able to roam freely and safely, 27 crossings and 100km of viaducts will also be constructed, he said.

“In areas that can’t be avoided, expeditions will be held to check for rare species of flora which will be replanted at unaffected forest areas,” he said.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the RM10mil contribution from the CCCC for a period of seven years would enable Perhilitan to take crucial measures to ensure the rail project complies with environmental requirements.

“The wildlife management plan will, among other things, minimise and monitor the impact on wildlife and their habitats along key stretches of the ECRL,” he said in his speech.

Describing this as a milestone agreement, the minister lauded the project for its environment-friendly initiatives.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he had informed the Cabinet that the ministry wanted to be consulted from the start of the project so that any concerns and impact on the environment could be addressed.

“With the agreement on the implementation of a dedicated wildlife management plan for ECRL, this key catalytic rail project will proceed with adequate safeguards.

“This is a win-win situation as the ministry strongly believes that development and the environment must always go hand in hand.

“I am glad to see that CCCC is proving to be a good and responsible partner for the ECRL by focusing on protecting the environment.

“This collaboration will ensure the project incurs minimal damage to the environment and protects the welfare of wildlife,” he said.

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Indonesia: Bears handed over to Riau conservation authority

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 27 Feb 18;

Worried about the legal sanctions he might face for keeping a protected species, Adi, 28, a resident of Sungai Buluh village in Bunut district, Pelalawan regency, Riau, handed over a pair of sun bears to the Riau chapter of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency.

Agency spokesperson Dian Indriati said Adi had voluntarily handed over the sun bears that he had kept for three years.

“The agency’s ranger team led by Murmaiddin Putraper fetched the bears in Bunut on Monday evening. The bears are now in Pekanbaru and are undergoing a medical assessment by a medical team,” Dian said on Tuesday.

She said that the two bears, a male and a female, were about 4 years old and in good condition. Information collected by the agency revealed that the bears were found by Adi when he was working on an oil palm plantation in Bunut about three years ago.

“When they were found, the bears were still very young and had been abandoned by their mother. Adi later decided to take care of them until he was made aware that under the prevailing laws, it is prohibited to keep protected wildlife and this might lead to legal sanctions,” said Dian.

Law No.5/1990 on the conservation of biodiversity and its ecosystem stipulates that anyone found guilty of hunting, keeping and trading in wildlife may face a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp 100 million (US$7,310). (ebf)

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North Atlantic right whales may face extinction after no new births recorded

Declining fertility and rising mortality, exacerbated by fishing industry, prompts experts to warn whales could be extinct by 2040
Joanna Walters The Guardian 26 Feb 18;

The dwindling North Atlantic right whale population is on track to finish its breeding season without any new births, prompting experts to warn again that without human intervention, the species will face extinction.

Scientists observing the whale community off the US east coast have not recorded a single mother-calf pair this winter. Last year saw a record number of deaths in the population. Threats to the whales include entanglement in lobster fishing ropes and an increasing struggle to find food in abnormally warm waters.

The combination of rising mortality and declining fertility is now seen as potentially catastrophic. There are estimated to be as few as 430 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, including just 100 potential mothers.

“At the rate we are killing them off, this 100 females will be gone in 20 years,” said Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Without action, he warned, North Atlantic right whales will be functionally extinct by 2040.

A 10-year-old female was found dead off the Virginia coast in January, entangled in fishing gear, in the first recorded death of 2018. That followed a record 18 premature deaths in 2017, Baumgartner said.

Woods Hole and other groups, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been tracing right whale numbers in earnest since the mid-1980s.

Federal research suggests 82% of premature deaths are caused by entanglement in fishing line. The prime culprit is the New England lobster industry. Crab fishing in Canadian waters is another cause of such deaths.

Baumgartner said that until about seven years ago, the population of North Atlantic right whales was healthy. But then lobster fishermen began greatly increasing the strength of ropes used to attach lobster pots to marker buoys.

Whales becoming entangled are now far less able to break free, Baumgartner said. Some are killed outright, others cannot swim properly, causing them to starve or to lose so much blubber that females become infertile.

“Lobster and crab fishing and whales are able to comfortably co-exist,” Baumgartner said. “We are trying to propose solutions, it’s urgent.”

Baumgartner said the US government should intervene to regulate fishing gear. He also said the industry should explore technology enabling fishermen to track and gather lobster pots without using roped buoys.

The whales migrate seasonally between New England and Florida, calving off Florida and Georgia from November to February. They primarily feed on phytoplankton. Scientists believe rapid warming of the Gulf of Maine, linked to climate change, is drastically depleting that food source.

Past measures to prevent ship collisions and to safeguard feeding areas have helped. Several environmental groups have sued the federal government, demanding greater protection for right whales.

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More than 100 cities now mostly powered by renewable energy, data shows

The number of cities getting at least 70% of their total electricity supply from renewable energy has more than doubled since 2015
Elle Hunt The Guardian 27 Feb 18;

The number of cities reporting they are predominantly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015, as momentum builds for cities around the world to switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

Data published on Tuesday by the not-for-profit environmental impact researcher CDP found that 101 of the more than 570 cities on its books sourced at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, compared to 42 in 2015.

Nicolette Bartlett, CDP’s director of climate change, attributed the increase to both more cities reporting to CDP as well as a global shift towards renewable energy.

The data was a “comprehensive picture of what cities are doing with regards to renewable energy,” she told Guardian Cities.

That large urban centres as disparate as Auckland, Nairobi, Oslo and Brasília were successfully moving away from fossil fuels was held up as evidence of a changing tide by Kyra Appleby, CDP’s director of cities.

“Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition,” she said in a statement. “Cities not only want to shift to renewably energy, but, most importantly – they can.”

Much of the drive for climate action at city level in the past year has been spurred on by the global covenant of more than 7,400 mayors that formed in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord.

Burlington, Vermont, was the only US city reporting to CDP that sourced all of its power from renewable sources after having fully transitioned in 2015. Research from the Sierra Club states there are five such cities in the US in total.

Burlington is now exploring how to become zero-carbon.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said to CDP that its shift to a diverse mix of biomass, hydro, wind and solar power had boosted the local economy, and encouraged other cities to follow suit. Across the US 58 towns and cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, have set a target of 100% renewable energy.

In Britain, 14 more cities and towns had signed up to the UK100 local government network’s target of 100% clean energy by 2050, bringing the total to 84. Among the recent local authority recruits were Liverpool City Region, Barking and Dagenham, Bristol, Bury, Peterborough, Redcar and Cleveland.

But the CDP data showed 43 cities worldwide were already entirely powered by clean energy, with the vast majority (30) in Latin America, where more cities reported to CDP and hydropower is more widespread.

In the six months to July, Latin American cities reported having instigated $183m of renewable energy projects – less than Europe ($1.7bn) or Africa ($236m). Europe topped the list for projects open for investment, but laid claim to just 20% of the 101 cities to be predominantly powered by clean energy.

The Icelandic capital Reyjkavik, sourcing all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, was among them. It is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040.

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Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by 'crazy' temperature rises

Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 27 Feb 18;

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 - more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station - Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south. Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average. Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny. Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool. As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass. According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

Some scientists speak of a hypothesis known as “warm Arctic, cold continents” as the polar vortex becomes less stable - sucking in more warm air and expelling more cold fronts, such as those currently being experienced in the UK and northern Europe. Rohde notes that this theory remains controversial and is not evident in all climate models, but this year’s temperature patterns have been consistent with that forecast.

Longer term, Rohde expects more variation. “As we rapidly warm the Arctic, we can expect that future years will bring us even more examples of unprecedented weather.”

Jesper Theilgaard, a meteorologist with 40 years’ experience and founder of website Climate Dissemination, said the recent trends are outside previous warming events. “No doubt these warming events bring trouble to the people and the nature. Shifting rain and snow – melt and frost make the surface icy and therefore difficult for animals to find anything to eat. Living conditions in such shifting weather types are very difficult.”

Others caution that it is premature to see this as a major shift away from forecasts. “The current excursions of 20C or more above average experienced in the Arctic are almost certainly mostly due to natural variability,” said Zeke Hausfather of Berkeley Earth. “While they have been boosted by the underlying warming trend, we don’t have any strong evidence that the factors driving short-term Arctic variability will increase in a warming world. If anything, climate models suggest the opposite is true, that high-latitude winters will be slightly less variable as the world warms.”

Although it is too soon to know whether overall projections for Arctic warming should be changed, the recent temperatures add to uncertainty and raises the possibility of knock-on effects accelerating climate change.

“This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”

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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Feb 18

International Year of the Reef: Corsola the.. Coral

19 Mar (Sun): Ubin 2Rivers Trail (with a hike to the tallest one!)
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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17 F&B businesses in Singapore commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil

Audrey Tan Straits Times 26 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has been free from the scourge of haze for the past two years, but at least 17 food and beverage companies here are not taking the clear skies for granted.

The 17 - including major brands such as Crystal Jade, F&N and TungLok, as well as smaller businesses such as Veganburg in Eunos and NomVNom in Tai Seng - have recently committed to sourcing for sustainable palm oil.

Of these, 10 of them made the commitment to do so this year. They include TungLok Group and Commonwealth Capital, whose portfolio includes brands like PastaMania and Baker and Cook.

On Monday (Feb 26), they officially joined the South-east Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (Saspo) - an initiative led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore.

The alliance, formed since 2016, champions the use of sustainable palm oil in business supply chains, and now has a total of 15 member companies.

The other two F&B businesses that use sustainable palm oil are Veganburg and NomVNom. They are not part of the alliance but told The Straits Times that they have committed to sourcing for sustainable palm oil since last August and September respectively.

Ms Elaine Tan, WWF Singapore's chief executive, said Saspo is the first private sector-led initiative in the region to address the need for sustainable palm oil, in relation to the haze.

She added: "The addition of the 10 companies to Saspo raises the bar for corporate responsibility to the environment and puts the Singapore business community ahead of the region."

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, who was guest of honour at Monday's Saspo event, said that with demand for palm oil projected to grow by another 50 per cent by 2020, sustainable production must take root in the industry.

"This underscores the significance of Saspo... Being the first of its kind, this industry-led initiative provides a platform for localised insights and shared resources for companies that source for sustainable palm oil," said Mr Masagos.


The cultivation of oil palm in countries such as Indonesia has long been pointed out as a major contributor of air pollution in the region, due to drainage of carbon-rich peatland, deforestation and slash-and-burn tactics used by plantation companies and farmers to prepare land for crops.

But as palm oil is found in many products, from food items to cosmetics, banning it is a near impossible task.

Environmental groups are touting sustainable palm oil as an alternative. This refers to palm oil from plantations which adhere to strict standards set out by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Among other things, certified plantations are not allowed to burn to clear land, and the rights of local communities must be respected.

Ms Zhang Wen of volunteer group the People's Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze) said that other important criteria under RSPO include not planting new crops on extensive areas of peat soil, maintaining water levels in existing plantations on peat, and conserving primary forests, as well as secondary forests, with high conservation value.


Companies said the added costs of sourcing for sustainable palm oil were manageable, although an obstacle to more firms making the switch is a lack of awareness on the issue.

Dr Ng Wai Lek, founder of vegetarian company NomVNom, told ST that the price difference between sustainable and unsustainable palm oil is about $3 per tin.

Members of Saspo - such as TungLok Group, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Commonwealth Capital - said during Monday's event that sustainable palm oil adds just less than 10 per cent to total operating costs.

Commonwealth Capital's group managing director Andrew Kwan said that there are audit costs involved, which can be reduced if more companies come on board and the use of sustainable palm oil is made the norm.

Businesses are also divided on whether or not to pass on the extra costs to consumers. Some, such as Veganburg and NomVNom, said they would not. "We strive to keep our food prices as reasonable as possible so we can make our sustainable and plant-based burgers accessible to everyone," said Veganburg's founder Alex Tan.

TungLok's chief executive Andrew Tjioe said it has not increased the selling price of its products even after using more expensive sustainable palm oil, although he suggested that consumers here would be willing to pay for sustainable products. "In the same way as people are willing to pay more for organic products... this (added cost) is not a problem in Singapore."

WWF's Ms Tan said that Saspo's 15 members, being prominent businesses in Singapore, could prompt smaller businesses to come on board. The alliance also plans to conduct outreach efforts to raise awareness of palm oil here.


The latest additions to Saspo follows a campaign launched by WWF last year pressuring firms here to use sustainable palm oil. WWF surveyed 27 Singapore firms from April to June using a global Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard that the group does each year to track what companies are doing to prevent the negative impacts of palm oil production.

Among the 27 Singapore organisations contacted were Ayam Brand and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Only 10 companies responded.

Following the release of the score card, four of the 17 companies which did not respond earlier - TungLok, Commonwealth Capital, Super Group and Bee Cheng Hiang - pledged that they would work towards using sustainable palm oil.

But there are some eateries flagged in the report that have yet to respond to WWF's latest call to switch to sustainable palm oil, including BreadTalk and Polar Puffs and Cakes.

Mr Andrew Kwan, Commonwealth Capital's group managing director, said on Monday that his company was surprised by the results of the scorecard when it was first made public, citing the lack of awareness of sustainable palm oil in Singapore.

"The lack of awareness could have contributed to the poorer take-up rate... Events like these and the press could help get more industry players on board," he said. "In this regard, we count it a privilege to help raise awareness among consumers and (those) in the market on the importance of growing businesses sustainably," he said.

Crystal Jade, Bee Cheng Hiang among Singapore firms pledging switch to sustainable palm oil
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 26 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: Ten more Singapore food and beverage (F&B) businesses have joined the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO), tripling the number of members since its launch in 2016.

These 10 businesses include Crystal Jade, Bee Cheng Hiang, Tung Lok,F&N and the parent company of PastaMania and Udders Ice Cream.

The addition of these 10 companies take the total number of local businesses that have publicly committed to 100 per cent sustainable palm oil to 15, accounting for more than 80 brands and 200 F&B outlets across the country.

SASPO is the first private sector-led initiative in the Southeast Asia region to address the importance of sourcing for sustainable palm oil in a bid to tackle the haze issue, which has crippled the region in the past.

It was launched by WWF and five founding companies comprising Ayam Brand (Denis Asia Pacific), Danone, IKEA, Unilever and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

“For a business, changing palm oil sourcing is always a commitment, a joint effort and a journey. But every step taken shows other businesses in Singapore and the region that it can be done. Over time, this pushes the industry towards using a hundred per cent sustainably-sourced palm oil,” said Mr Hervé Simon, Group Marketing Director of Denis Asia Pacific, which produces Ayam Brand.


TungLok Restaurants president and CEO Andrew Tijioe said sourcing for palm oil from plantations approved by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil was not costly.

Members of the global certification body have to comply with stringent rules, like not using the slash-and-burn technique to clear forests.

“It’s a very small difference that we don’t even care about it. It’s within 10 per cent (more than regular palm oil)”, Mr Tjioe said.

A bigger issue, he said, is a lack of awareness.

“There are many products in the restaurant that contain palm oil, like sauces. Many of them are produced in other countries like Hong Kong or China," he said.

"We have sent out a circular to them (manufacturers), asking them to declare whether their products contain sustainable palm oil. But the result is still quite lukewarm. Many of them say 'we use very little (palm oil)', or they don’t even know if their products contain sustainable or non-sustainable palm oil," he added.

WWF-Singapore CEO Elaine Tan echoed this, saying that "general awareness is pretty low in this part of the world" compared with Europe.

However, Ms Tan said the addition of the new restaurants was “testament that companies and businesses are ready, and they also want to be responsible to consumers demanding right now for sustainable palm oil”.

"I think it’s the beginning of a real ground swell," she said.

As for consumers’ buy-in, the businesses said the response has been encouraging, and people are willing to pay the premium. Mr Andrew Kwan, Group Managing Director of Common Wealth Capital - which owns brands like PastaMania, The Soup Spoon and Udders Ice Cream - likened the momentum to organic food.

"I’m hopeful and I’m quite confident that consumers will be discerning, and that they will pay just a little bit more if they know that companies that offer food are also getting products that are sustainably sourced," he said.


In 2015, raging forest fires in Indonesia caused by a combination of dry weather and slash-and-burn techniques to clear land sparked one of the worst haze crisis on record.

The haze caused the air quality in Singapore to turn hazardous, forcing the closure of schools and costing the economy an estimated S$700 million.

As a result, Singapore authorities in 2015 took action against companies believed to be behind the polluting fires, under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.

“We cannot resolve this issue without addressing the production of palm oil”, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli at the announcement of SASPO’s new members on Monday (Feb 26).

But it is not about turning away from palm oil completely.

Out of the world's palm oil production, 85 per cent is produced in this region.

The palm oil industry not only contributes about up to 2.5 per cent to Indonesia’s gross national product (GNP), but also is the fourth-largest GNP contributor in Malaysia.

“The palm oil industry also supports the transition of many communities out of poverty, and significantly improves the livelihood of farmers”, Mr Masagos added.

He said that this is why Singapore supports the growth and success of a sustainable palm oil industry in the region, particularly as the demand for palm oil is expected to grow by 50 per cent by 2020.

The public has also sent signals to companies to use sustainable palm oil.

Most recently, a petition launched by two students to get food companies to make the switch garnered more than 8,000 signatures.

In 2017, a campaign led by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Singapore) saw people in Singapore sending 60,000 emails to local brands to show their support for responsibly-sourced palm oil.

Source: CNA/ad

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Wolbachia-carrying male mozzies to get a leg-up in second field study

SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — A fresh round of field studies taking male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to greater heights – literally – will kick off in April.

This, after the previous study found that insufficient numbers of them reached the higher floors of housing blocks, hampering efforts to control the population.

In Phase Two of the field study, the authorities will release the male mosquitoes – both adults and pupae – from high floors in addition to the ground floor, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Monday (Feb 26).

The NEA will also use X-ray or other technologies to render infertile the 0.3 per cent of small female pupae that get mistaken for male pupae when they are sorted by size. Female pupae are generally bigger and 99.7 per cent of them are successfully sifted out by a device.

Only male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are selected for release at study sites because when they mate with females, the eggs do not hatch. This leads to a smaller population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes over time. Male mosquitoes also do not bite.

If female Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are inadvertently released and mate with the males, the eggs hatch, which may hamper population suppression efforts.

The Phase Two field study will be conducted over nine months, said the NEA.

Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacterium found in more than 60 per cent of insect species, but not the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads dreaded diseases like dengue and chikungunya. In addition to longstanding measures such as the destruction of breeding sites, it is a potential way to curb the mosquito population such that dengue transmission cannot be sustained.

The earlier field study, conducted between October 2016 and last December, took place at three sites: Braddell Heights, Tampines West and Nee Soon East.

This time round, the mosquitoes will be let loose in the latter two sites, but with redrawn boundaries. A total of 76 blocks with about 7,000 households will be covered – 40 more blocks than before.

Both the adult mosquitoes and and pupae will be released twice a week at the test sites, more frequently than the earlier study. More male Wolbachia mosquitoes will be released this time – one to six mosquitoes per person, instead of the one to three mosquitoes per human in the earlier study.

This is to counter the general increase in the Aedes aegypti population and compensate for any possible reduced virility of the male Wolbachia-Aedes from the X-ray treatment, said the NEA.

The mosquitoes are given low doses of X-ray and research shows they pose no harm to humans or the environment. Animals that eat or come into contact with these mosquitoes will not be affected.

They are not radioactive as they do not come into physical contact with a radioactive source, said the NEA.

X-ray technology has been used elsewhere for years without adverse effects, said chairman of the Dengue Expert Advisory Panel, Professor Duane Gubler of Duke-NUS Medical School.

For example, it is used to control or eradicate agricultural pests such as the melon fly in parts of Japan, said the NEA.

Professor Gubler does not think the Wolbachia study has been taking too long. “It is best to get this right the first time rather than rush ahead without adequate data,” he said.

A larger suppression trial was supposed to have started last year, but no date has now been set.

The new field study was called after Phase One threw up unexpected challenges. The impact of release of male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes was found to be limited by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from surrounding areas moving into the release sites.

Half of the Aedes mosquito eggs collected from the release sites did not hatch, but a larger reduction of hatched eggs and the adult population is needed.

And to better distribute the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes, they will need to be released from higher floors of apartment blocks.

The NEA appealed for support from residents and other stakeholders at the study sites and said it will provide more information to them. It urged residents to continue mosquito-control measures.

Phase 2 of dengue control study kicks off in April
More Wolbachia-carrying male mosquitoes to be released into Tampines West, Nee Soon East
Samantha Boh Straits Times 27 Feb 18;

There will be an added buzz in Tampines West and Nee Soon East come April with the release of male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes into the estates.

It is part of phase two of an ongoing field study into a novel method to curb dengue transmissions in Singapore which has delivered promising results.

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which neither bite humans nor transmit disease, have been artificially infected with Wolbachia bacteria. When they mate with uninfected females, the resulting eggs will not hatch.

Phase two will involve more housing blocks in the two sites and even X-ray treatment. About one to six mosquitoes will be released per person each week, up from one to three mosquitoes previously.

Braddell Heights, which was part of the first phase, will not be involved this time as it does not have high-rise buildings - a focus of phase two.

These estates represent a cross-section of typical housing estates and have seen dengue outbreaks previously.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been monitoring the mosquito population in these sites for years, providing a baseline for comparative studies.

In phase one conducted from October 2016 to December last year, NEA found mosquito populations in the study sites were reduced by half.

The phase two study will run till January next year and aims to overcome challenges that cropped up in the earlier study, NEA said yesterday.

The agency said the plan was to embark on a larger suppression trial after phase one. But the first trial threw up unexpected hurdles.

Only 6 per cent of the adult male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes released on the ground floor were later found on the ninth-floor level and higher. So in phase two, the mosquitoes will be released on higher floors, in addition to being released on the ground floor.

They will also be released twice a week instead of once a week previously, in order to keep the population up for longer. The earlier study had found that only half of the mosquitoes released lived up to four days.

Containers holding male Wolbachia-carrying mosquito pupae will also be placed at the study sites this time, as the NEA wants to study if they will adapt better to the site conditions.

During phase one, the NEA noted that a small percentage of female Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were inadvertently released, as they had slipped through the sorting process which is about 99.7 per cent accurate.

While normal female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that mate with male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes lay eggs which do not hatch, female Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes still go on to have offspring.

These offspring cannot transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika, but in the long term, they would affect the ability of male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes to suppress the urban mosquito population, said NEA.

Hence all batches of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes, adult and pupae, will undergo X-ray treatment to ensure that any females present will be made infertile.

Studies show the X-ray treatment does not affect the virility of males.

The chairman of the Dengue Expert Advisory Panel, Professor Duane Gubler of Duke-NUS Medical School, said:"The phase one studies were very successful in helping us understand this ecology. Phase two will build on this knowledge and, hopefully, increase the efficacy of the male release method."

As for the use of X-ray, NEA said it does not harm humans or the environment, and is currently used in a field study in Guangzhou, China.

"Irradiation has been successfully used to sterile other insect species and should increase the efficacy of the trial," added Prof Gubler.

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Man gets 15 months’ jail for smuggling rhino horns, horn shavings

Today Online 26 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — A smuggler who was found with eight pieces of cut rhino horns and a bag of rhino horn shavings at Changi Airport was sentenced to 15 months’ jail on Monday (Feb 26).

Nguyen Vinh Hai, 29, was flying from Dubai to Laos on Aug 31, 2017, when he was caught during his transit in Singapore.

The arrest was made after a joint effort by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), Singapore Customs, and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority “to investigate an attempt to smuggle illegal wildlife products through Singapore”, the agencies said in a joint statement on Monday.

DNA analysis conducted on the seized horns and shavings confirmed that they were derived from the rhinoceros, a critically endangered animal protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES).

Singapore is a signatory of CITES. If convicted, offenders face a fine of up to S$500,000 and/or up to two years’ jail.

Nguyen’s sentence will be backdated to Sept 6, 2017.

“The Singapore Government adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives,” the statement read.

Noting that tackling illegal wildlife trade requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including the public, AVA noted that demand fuels the wildlife trade.

“The public can help reduce demand by not buying wildlife parts and products,” the authority said.

“AVA will take stern enforcement actions against any illegal wildlife smugglers.”

Members of the public can alert AVA of any suspected cases of illegal wildlife trade, and provide information through the agency’s online feedback form or at 6805 2992.

All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Feb 18

24 Mar (Sat): Reefs 101 - FREE workshop at St John's Island
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

10 Mar (Sat): Marine Open House at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

NSS Blue and Green Survey 22 Feb 2018
Singapore Bird Group

Balik Kampung and RUMblings in January and February!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

World Pangolin Day 2018

From Booted & Striped to Snakes & Ladders
Winging It

Mangrove Horseshoe Crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) @ Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)
Monday Morgue

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Angler filmed throwing stones at otters in Punggol Waterfront

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 25 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - An angler was filmed throwing stones at a family of otters next to the Marina Country Club in Punggol Waterfront on Saturday evening (Feb 24).

A housewife, who wanted to be known only as Ms Chong, told The Straits Times on Sunday that she was in the area at about 6.30pm when she spotted the family of eight otters swimming away.

Ms Chong was filming the sight when she noticed that a man had started throwing stones at one of the pups.

"Obviously, I was shocked. He did it not once, but twice, at two of the pups," said Ms Chong, who declined to give her age.

A video of the incident was shared on the OtterWatch Facebook page on Saturday night.

Mr Jeffrey Teo, who is a member of the OtterWatch community, told The Straits Times that this particular family of otters have been spotted frequently in the Punggol stretch since about two months ago.

They comprise of parents, a sub-adult and five pups.

He said that a few otter watchers have since alerted the authorities to the incident.

Ms Chong, who was alone, said that there was a fence separating her and the man, who was part of a group of six male anglers.

While there were other groups of anglers in the area at the time, none of them did anything to stop the man, she added.

To ensure that the otters were unhurt, she stood at the location for a few minutes to monitor them.

"I was glad to see the pups were okay and that they were all accounted for," she said, adding that she hopes the video would help to raise the public's awareness of wild animals in Singapore.

"I hope that people will be more tolerant of wild animals and share some of their space with them. The otters were there for only about five minutes and they went away. There's no need to be cruel," she added.

A spokesman for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it is investigating the incident. Members of the public who have information on the case or witnessed the incident can contact AVA at 1800-476-1600.

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Malaysia elephant sanctuary trumpets effort to cut human-animal conflict

M Jegathesan AFP Yahoo News 26 Feb 18;

A herd of elephants tramp through jungle before lumbering into a river under the watchful gaze of their keepers, training at a Malaysian sanctuary for their vital work in reducing human-animal conflict.

The sanctuary in Kuala Gandah, central Malaysia, is an area of secluded rainforest where "mahouts" -- as the keepers are known -- care for a 26-strong group of endangered Asian elephants.

A handful were rescued after suffering injuries or being orphaned, but most of them have been domesticated and trained to aid the National Elephant Conservation Centre's effort to help elephants who become embroiled in conflicts with humans.

They accompany a highly-trained team on their missions to find and subdue fellow pachyderms whose habitats have been encroached on, and are putting themselves and villagers at risk.

Since the centre started operations about 30 years ago, its staff have relocated more than 700 wild elephants, taking them away from inhabited areas and deep into the jungle.

Malaysia is home to vast tracts of rainforest and a kaleidoscope of exotic wildlife, from elephants to orangutans and tigers, but the numbers of many rare species have fallen dramatically in recent decades.

Some have been hunted for their body parts that are then sold on the black market, but a growing number are falling victim to human-animal conflict -- which happens when rapid expansion of plantations or development of settlements encroaches on animals' natural habitats.

Many elephants in Malaysia have been injured or killed after coming into contact with humans when they wander onto the country's ubiquitous palm oil plantations, or enter settlements and eat crops.

Villagers and plantation workers sometimes target them, viewing them as pests and not realising they are endangered and protected by law.

One elephant among the herd at the 30-acre (12-hectare) sanctuary, Selendang, lost part of its leg after it was caught in a snare trap, and has been fitted with a prosthetic limb.

On a recent visit to the centre, a dozen of the resident elephants marched in single file with their trunks swinging as their mahouts put them through the paces during a morning workout.

They emitted trumpeting sounds before splashing into a river, where the mahouts scrubbed their bellies and trunks.

There are believed to be some 1,200 wild Asian elephants in peninsular Malaysia, down from as many as 1,700 in 2011.

"If their remaining habitat faces rapid deforestation, I think before the end of the century, there will be no more wild elephants left," warned Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, a Malaysia-based elephant expert.

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Can a tourist ban save DiCaprio’s coral paradise from destruction?

South-east Asian idylls – from Philippine islands to the Thai bay made famous in The Beach – plan to turn tourists away so that devastated coral reefs have some time to recover. Will it be enough?
Hannah Ellis-Petersen The Guardian 25 Feb 18;

Our Thai tour guide, Spicey, takes a drag on her cigarette and gestures sadly towards the beach. “The problem with people is that they are too greedy. They see a beautiful place and they want it. They take, take, take from nature. And then they destroy it.”

The golden sands of Maya Bay where Spicey stands are some of the most famous in the world. This once-idyllic cove, on the tiny Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, was the paradise location of The Beach, Danny Boyle’s 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was then pushed by tourism officials in advertising campaigns to entice more wealthy visitors to Thailand.

But mass tourism has since taken a vast toll on the fragile coral reefs here: 80% of the coral around the bay has been destroyed, the result of millions of boats dropping anchor on it, tourists treading on and picking it, or poisoning by rubbish and suncream.

It is a sad tale replicated across the once-unspoilt bays and beaches of south-east Asia. It was here that the world’s greatest diversity of coral and marine life used to occur, but the reefs are now the most threatened on the planet, with 80% of what remains at high risk. Human pollution has combined with overfishing and the lucrative tourist trade to deliver appalling environmental destruction.

“What we are seeing now with coastal tourism in Boracay [in the Philippines], Maya Bay and Koh Phi Phi Leh is not new, but what is surprising is that this story is still very real today,” said Dr Loke Ming Chou, a tropical marine science professor at the University of Singapore, who said that “frenetic, makeshift and ad-hoc development driven only by profit” was a curse for these pristine beaches.

“After so many lessons of overwhelmed beach locations, the rush to make money still ignores the environment, which is what attracts tourists in the first place. This is not sustainable and such places will collapse when tourists stay away to avoid swimming in their own muck.”

This month it seems that governments are finally paying attention to a situation that is spiralling out of control. According to recent announcements, both Maya Bay and Boracay could be shut down for up to six months to give the environment a chance to recover.

In the Philippines, the president, Rodrigo Duterte, has called for Boracay’s temporary closure, comparing it to a “cesspool”. “You go into the water, it’s smelly,” said Duterte. “Of what? Shit. Because everything that goes out in Boracay … it’s destroying the environment of the Philippines and creating a disaster.”

In Thailand, where the ministry of environment has already banned smoking and littering in beachside locations, the mooted June-to-September shutdown of Maya Bay would be the most far-reaching attempt yet to get a grip on an industry that is both a money-spinner for the nation and an environmental menace.

In the high season, Maya Bay, just 200 metres long, receives up to 5,000 visitors a day. About 300 speedboat trips are made here every day. Larger boats sailing round the islands also stop by the cove.

Although the beauty of the place is still evident, the atmosphere resembles a busy industrial port more than a paradise beach, with the endless roar of engines and the smell of petrol in the air. By 9am, as the speedboats continually pull up, the beach is so tightly packed with people that it resembles a mass game of sardines. Every patch of sand is fought for, especially by the optimistic few who risk lying down for a spot of sunbathing. People visibly duck to avoid the selfie sticks and umbrellas that fill the air like strange antennae.

Three uniformed national park police stand on the shore, blowing their whistles at the boats that park directly on the beach, obstructing the view of the bay. If tourists want to swim in the sea, there is a small area on the left side of the beach, where they are packed in as tightly as on the sand, many in orange life jackets.

Paradise? American tourist Chad Roberts certainly thinks so. “It’s amazing, better even than the pictures, I can’t believe how blue the water is,” he said. “I don’t mind all the people. Look, I come from the middle of America and we don’t have anywhere like this at home. Most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.”

But Spicey, who was born in Phuket and has been a tour guide for almost seven years, said she hoped the Thai government followed through on its pledge to close Maya Bay, even for a few months. “It needs just a small break to heal.” She spoke sadly of the destructive behaviour she has witnessed from the millions of tourists who come through Maya Bay on the island-hopping tours. The corals and fish that used to be visible when snorkelling have all but disappeared, she said, yet tourists still insist on taking bits of coral to feed the fish, which is illegal as it stops the fish cleaning the coral, causing it to die.

“Most people don’t care – they want to see the fish, so they feed them anyway,” she said. “All the tourists will try to take everything and see everything they possibly can in the short time, and they don’t really care about the cost to nature. I have had so many arguments with tourists, asking them not to take the coral.”

According to Spicey, most tour guides just let the tourists do what they want. “There is no respect, and the attitude of most tour guides is ‘it’s illegal but I will close my eyes’. It happens usually when the tour guides are foreign. We Thai tourist guides love our home. We want to protect it. But for foreign tourist guides, when they’ve earned enough they fly back to their home, what is left for us? Nothing.”

The local environmental authority has laws in place to protect Maya Bay and the surrounding national park, but the fines are so low – often only 500baht (£12) – that the rules are routinely flouted. A year and a half ago, a law was put in place that prevented boats throwing down anchors, and possibly destroying 10 years’ worth of coral growth in a single second. But Kezia, a diver who has spent the past year in Koh Phi Phi Don (the largest inhabited island on the Thai archipelago), said it still happens. “In low season last year we had this one big fancy boat that came to the national park every day for diving, and they just didn’t care about throwing down the anchor because the fine is not very much,” she said. “They just paid it every day and still used the anchor.”

There is still a reluctance by local authorities to prioritise the environment over profit. Maya Bay is a massive money earner. Every visitor has to pay 400baht (£10) simply to access the island, which can add up to a daily revenue of £50,000. According to another tour guide, Yass, temporarily closing Maya Bay is not enough. People must be taught to look after it if the place is to remain a beautiful tourist destination rather than become a ruined paradise. “I see the guys in the speedboats fix the oil and change the engine on top of the reef in the morning, and you can’t say anything to them,” he said. “It makes me so angry that they have all this beautiful landscape and they don’t educate people how to look after it.”

More than 1,600 miles away, Boracay – which, like Maya Bay, features on every list of paradise destinations – is grappling with the same problems. More than 2 million tourists flock to this five-mile-long island every year. Unregulated development has seen the rise of hotels, restaurants and food chains along the entire shoreline of its famed White Beach, which runs the length of the island. Inland is also covered with huge hotels. Everywhere, new construction projects are visible.

The sea is suffering as a result. An endless flow of sewage is pumped into the ocean, as well as detritus from the construction work. The sparkling clear waters seem pristine, but the huge destruction of coral over the past few years tells a very different story.

Jojo Rodriguez works for Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative, an NGO that has been monitoring the state of Boracay’s reef since 2012. He believes the authorities “purposefully turned a blind eye” when it came to environmental issues that could threaten the tourist trade.

After a massive die-off of coral in 2015, local authorities threatened to declare Rodriguez persona non grata after he publicly linked the disaster to the sewage being pumped into the sea. He said intimidation tactics and threats have since been used against reporters and campaigners who have tried to speak out about the environmental damage. “All these huge profit makers don’t want anyone to get in the way – everybody is afraid to lose the tourism money,” he said, “and so we’re slowly losing Boracay.”

Many living on the island said that while there were technically rules in place to save the environment, bribes meant these were rarely upheld. “It’s really corrupt. If you have money, you can do what you want, build what you want here,” said Simone, the owner of a kite-surfing shop.

As in Maya Bay, boats are the great destroyers. On White Beach the entire horizon is filled with sailing boats, speedboats, jet-skis, yachts and traditional fishing boats, and a steady hum of boat engines fills the air. Fertiliser from the island’s vast golf course (built purely for tourists) is also a major pollutant of the coral, as are the mounting piles of rubbish that end up in the sea. Angie, a diver from Worcester in the UK who moved to Boracay five years ago, said they often came back from dives with bags of rubbish they have picked up off the coral.

Michael Martillano, president of the diving association on the island, is conflicted over Duterte’s declaration that he might shut down the island. “Boracay definitely needs some help,” he said, “but we shouldn’t all be punished for the few who are breaking the rules and causing the problems to the environment.”

He conceded that the marine life of Boracay is nowhere near as rich as it used to be. “The reef is now totally different from when I first started diving here in 1994,” he said. “You used to see a lot of sharks and barracudas, all the big stuff. Now you’ll see one, maybe two sharks if you’re lucky, nothing like before.

“And there used to be a lot of crustaceans, like lobsters, but now I see more in the market because there’s a real tourist demand to eat them. The island really needs help.”

Is there still hope for the island? “Boracay will never be the same again,” said Rodriguez. “The president said close down Boracay, but it’s not going to be solved in six months. For the island to heal itself? Maybe 60 years if we are lucky.”

In both Maya Bay and Boracay, a six-month tourist ban may not be nearly enough to solve an ecological crisis. That is certainly the view of environmental campaigners. But as the coral reefs of south-east Asia continue to die, it would be a start.

What is coral?
Coral is made up of layers of skeletons of tiny animals called polyps. Over many years, these colonies form banks that are known as reefs. Only the living surface of the coral is coloured – the layers of dead matter beneath are white.

Where are reefs found?
Coral reefs are located in tropical oceans. The world’s largest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The second-largest is off the coast of Belize, in central America. Other reefs are found in Hawaii, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Because they need sunlight to survive, the reefs form in waters that are usually no deeper than 45 metres.

Why are they important?
They protect coastlines from damaging wave action and tropical storms; provide habitats for thousands of species of marine organisms; and generate essential nutrients for food chains. They are also a critically important source of revenue. It is estimated that the Great Barrier Reef alone supports a tourism market worth more than A$1.5bn (£842m) a year to the Australian economy.

Why are the reefs dying?
The temperature of our oceans is rising as global warming grips our planet. When the water temperature gets too warm, corals expel the algae that thrive in their tissue and provide them with nutrition. Coral without the algae quickly die of starvation. Tourism is also taking its toll. When boats carrying visitors drop anchor, they smash into reefs and spill oil into once-pristine waters. Hotels also pump sewage on to the reefs, as our report points out.

How bad is the threat?
Marine biologists estimate that roughly 75% of the world’s coral reefs face danger. Local threats include destructive fishing, uncontrolled coastal development, tourism and pollution. Global threats include climate change and ocean acidification.

How many reefs will die out?
We have already lost about half of all the world’s coral reefs, most them having disappeared over the past 30 years. Scientists warn that even if we could halt global warming today, more than 90% of the reefs will die by 2050.

Robin McKie
, Science Editor

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Philippines: Reduce threats to coral reefs

Jonathan L. Mayuga Business Mirror 25 Feb 18;

The Philippine coral-reef system is the second largest in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. It is estimated at 26,000 square kilometers (sq km). However, a recent coral-reef survey revealed that they are in a bad state.

Amid this situation, the Philippines is joining the global celebration of the third International Year of the Reef (Iyor) with the call to strengthen the protection of the country’s precious marine and coastal ecosystems.

As a strategy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is taking the path of reducing, if not totally eliminating, the various threats to the country’s network of marine ecosystems, including its vast coral-reef areas.

New coral-reef areas

The Philippines’s estimated 26,000-sq-km coral-reef system does not include newly discovered coral-reef areas based on the results of explorations conducted in the last two years, and the Benham Rise is the shallowest portion of the 13-million hectare Philippine Rise is 250 km off the waters of Aurora province in the eastern part of Central Luzon.

The Philippine Rise officially became part of the country’s territory in 2012 by virtue of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas (Unclos).

Since the allotment of a P500-million budget for the rehabilitation of damaged coral reefs in 2016, DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim told the BusinessMirror last week in a telephone interview that new coral-reef areas were discovered which will add spice to the challenge of protecting the country’s reefs.

ICRI founding member

The Philippines is one of the founding members of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), a partnership between nations and organizations, which strive to conserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world.

The partnership was founded in 1994 by eight governments: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is currently supported by 60 countries.

In the Philippines Lim said the DENR-BMB will take it as an opportune time to add to its database of coral reef around 4,000 sq km of newly discovered coral-reef areas as a result of a nationwide survey in the last two years.

This would bring the country’s total coral-reef system to 30,000 sq km, still excluding Benham Bank, which has a perfect, or 100-percent coral cover, she added.

Alarming status

However, despite the discovery of new coral-reef areas, the country’s reefs are not getting any better.

At a news conference on February 14 held at the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior docked in Pier 15 in Manila, scientists, environmental activists, conservation advocates and other stakeholders sounded the alarm on the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans, starting with the country’s coral reefs.

The nationwide Philippine coral-reef survey revealed they are in bad state.

Conducted from 2015 to 2017, the survey covered 166 coral sampling stations (108 in Luzon, 31 in the Visayas and 27 in Mindanao) in 31 provinces.

None of the coral stations were classified in the excellent category. Ninety percent were either “poor” or “fair”.

Scientists explained that increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere drives the rise in atmospheric temperatures, resulting in extreme weather events, changes in rainfall patterns and warming of oceans.

This lead to mass coral bleaching and sea-level rise from ice melt and expansion.

“Increase in CO2 in the atmosphere also means higher dissolution of carbon dioxide in the oceans, causing ocean acidification,” the Greenpeace statement said.

Massive coral bleaching

According to the group Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch, it has documented the impacts of mass coral bleaching at least three times in the last 20 years—in 1997 to 1998, 2010 and 2016 to 2017.

“Coral-bleaching impact was sporadic across the country. The degree of bleaching severity was varied and occurred at different months. What we are not certain about is whether or not our [Philippine] coral reefs still have the capacity to recover from such acute events amid more chronic stressors, such as pollution, overfishing and sedimentation,” said Mags Quibilan, coordinator for Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch, at the same news conference.

The combined effects of human activities on marine coastal ecosystems and impacts of climate change will cause significant degradation and impede, or further delay the corals’ natural recovery.

The group said that highly degraded marine coastal ecosystems would be compromised from delivering essential ecosystem goods and services to Filipinos, which are now valued at $966 billion.

Pollution, illegal fishing

Already troubled by pollution, illegal fishing and destructive fishing have made the fisherfolk sector the poorest of the poor.

“Now, as we face the devastating effects of climate change, we can see that this will aggravate the plight of our poor fishers, including fellow Filipinos reliant on a healthy sea for food, tourism and other forms of livelihood,” said Ruperto Aleroza, national chairman of Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, a national coalition of fishers and farmers in the Philippines, at the news conference.

However, according to the group, despite all the threats on coral-reef ecosystems and on the plants and animals associated with them, the oceans still protect the people from the impacts of global warming.

Climate-change effects

Over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been stored in the ocean. But the environmental groups warned that man-made pressure coupled with climate change are pushing ocean ecosystems to its limits.

“The impact of climate change is far-reaching, and we need to address it at the root cause and extract accountability from carbon majors. Our reefs, seagrass, mangroves and other organisms in our seas are feeling the heat. A healthy ocean is a solution to climate change, and we need to keep it that way by creating a large network of no-take marine-protected areas,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, at the news conference.

The establishment of an effective management of a network of marine-protected areas and ocean sanctuaries including not only coral reefs but also seagrass and mangrove areas are needed to safeguard and strengthen their natural climate-mitigation and adaptation capacity.

This, coupled with better enforcement of fishery laws and the implementation of coastal, land- and water-use plans, will help save the day for the country’s dying coral-reef system, they added.

Being the epicenter of global marine biodiversity and the apex of the coral triangle, the Philippines is crucial to a healthy and resilient world ocean, said Dr. Perry Aliño, professor at the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute.

“Even though massive bleaching has happened across the country, we can remain hopeful since there are coral-reef areas that did not bleach and are showing signs of recovery. While we need to better understand the factors that make our coral reefs resilient, it is imperative that we improve our protection efforts and mitigation measures,” he said at the news conference.

Rich marine biodiversity

According to the DENR, the vast expanse of the country’s coral-reef system makes the Philippines, which sits at the apex of the Coral Triangle, the center of the center of marine biodiversity.

The country’s coral-reef system sits within 240 million hectares of water, which is home to some 468 species of scelactinian corals, also called stony or hard, over 50 soft corals, 1,755 reef-associated fishes, 648 mollusks and 27 marine mammals.

Important roles

Lim said this year’s Iyor celebration aims to ensure the protection of the country’s coral reef ecosystem, underscoring its significance in ensuring not only for food security and food self-sufficiency, but its role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Coral reef is a spawning ground of commercially viable fish. On top of that, it acts as buffer to waves from the Pacific,” she explains, referring to the Philippine Rise.

Raising awareness

Lim said that during the yearlong event, the DENR-BMB will step up the information drive to highlight the importance of corals and amplify the call for cooperation among stakeholders.

She added that the agency would take the opportunity as it takes part in international events as part of the Coral Triangle Initiative and the East Asian Seas Congress.

“This year [of Iyor] offers opportunities to raise awareness and appreciation for our coral-reef areas. Also, the campaign for ridge-to-reef protection, which highlights direct and indirect threats to coral reefs, will be stronger,” she added.

In launching the third Iyor on February 12 at a hotel in Mandaluyong City, the DENR-BMB kicks off the year long campaign to promote conservation action and strengthen long-term collaborations for coral reef conservation.

In a statement issued on February 15, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said: “We have to recognize the fact that there is an urgent need to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs and other associated ecosystems. Being an archipelagic nation, our coral reefs can be considered one of the lifelines of thousands of communities all over the region.”

Through this celebration and the succeeding initiatives with our conservation partners, he added, “We hope more Filipinos will have a better appreciation of the benefits—both social and economic—the coral reefs provide to the people.”

Titon Mitra, country director of United Nations Development Programme, said in a statement last week: “The Philippines is known to harbor more diversity of life per hectare than any other country in the world. This immense natural wealth—and this is a remarkable asset—however, faces significant risk.”

Mitra added: “Over exploitation and unsustainable practices, pollution, overfishing, poor land management and natural disasters exacerbated by climate change are contributing significantly to an alarming rate of biodiversity loss, particularly with coral reefs.”

Underscoring this year’s theme in celebrating Iyor, “Together in Protecting Our Reef,” Lim said getting the acts together to protect our coral reefs is imperative.

“One of the main issues that we want to highlight is the reduction of threats on marine biodiversity,” she said.

“No matter what we do, as long as the threats are not reduced or eliminated, our reefs will always be at risk, and so are the communities who rely solely in our marine resources,” Lim added.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 25 Feb 18

Morning Walk At Punggol Promenade Nature Walk (24 Feb 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Seasonal Butterfly Appearances
Butterflies of Singapore

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Singapore must ensure adequate supply of water to meet growing needs 'by the 2050s'

Today Online 24 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — The Republic must make sure it has an adequate supply of water to meet the growing needs of households and industries by the 2050s, before the expiry of the second water agreement with Malaysia, Minister in Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said on Saturday (Feb 24).

Mr Chan was speaking at a Chinese New Year dinner for the Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas constituencies, where he laid out the Government's long-term investments in infrastructure among other things.

Apart from major projects in the pipeline previously announced – such as the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR), the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rail Transit System (RTS) Link and the Tuas mega port for example – Mr Chan also revealed that beyond the 2050s, Singapore will be "in full swing to redevelop the next generation of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats".

This will ensure that every public housing estate is a "microcosm of Singapore with diverse age profiles and flat types to cater to the evolving needs of Singaporeans", he said. "We will overcome the current situation where we have an age gradient in our towns; from Tanjong Pagar on average, having the oldest flats; to Punggol in the north having the newest," he added.

The Government has previously said the country aims to be self-sufficient in water by 2060, and the issue has been described by national leaders as a strategic priority.

Stressing the need to be prepared, Mr Chan – who is among the front runners to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he steps down – said: "This is why we are building the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) Phase 2 to recycle as much water as we can, and we will continue to explore collecting every drop of water that falls on Singapore soil," Mr Chan said.

Construction work for the second stage of the DTSS began last November. Estimated to cost S$6.5 billion, the work comprises the creation of a 100km underground "superhighway" to transport used water to water reclamation plants.

This will serve the western part of Singapore, including the downtown area and upcoming major developments such as Tengah Town and Jurong Lake District. When completed in 2025, the system allows 83ha of land to be freed up.

Mr Chan stressed that the Government is not making plans "just for the next few years in the short-term". "Instead, we have exciting plans for the next few decades," he said.

The HSR project is expected to be completed in the 2020s, along with the Johor-Singapore RTS Link and the Cross Island Line, he noted.

In the 2030s, the Paya Lebar Airbase will be relocated to Changi and Tengah, which in turn frees up the airspace restriction on the development of the entire eastern Singapore. The new Changi Airport Terminal 5 will also be up and running,and Singapore can think about redeveloping Terminals 1, 2 and 3 after which The Punggol Digital District and Tengah New Town will be completed as well.

Come the 2040s, the Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang ports will be moved to the Tuas mega port, with operations being integrated. "Our status as air and sea hubs has enabled us to generate at least 10 per cent of our gross domestic product directly, creating many good jobs for Singaporeans. This is over and beyond the indirect benefits that our airport and sea port bring to the rest of the economy," Mr Chan said.

Further over the horizon, the Government is building "for the next 100 years" with investments in an underground electricity distribution network to "replace the ageing electricity network left to us by the British. Even as we speak now, we are reclaiming land to make sure that our reclamation can withstand the effects of global warming and the related rise in sea levels", he added.

"All these are plans for our future generations of Singaporeans," Mr Chan reiterated. "It is a testimony to our determination as a nation to continue to defy the odds of history to stay as an independent, sovereign and thriving country that will make Singaporeans proud to call home and welcome foreigners who wish to partner us."

Singapore must ensure adequate water supply to meet growing needs by 2050s: Chan Chun Sing
Channel NewsAsia 24 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore must ensure it has an adequate supply of water for households and industries by the 2050s, before the water agreement with Malaysia expires in 2061, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (Feb 24).

“This is why we are building the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 to recycle as much water as we can, and we will continue to explore collecting every drop of water that falls on Singapore soil,” he added.

The deep tunnel sewerage system is the nation’s way of collecting and transporting used water from across Singapore to three water reclamation plants - Changi, Kranji and Tuas – for treatment.

The water is then purified to become NEWater, or discharged into the sea.

Under national water agency PUB’s masterplan, NEWater and desalination will meet 85 per cent of Singapore’s water demand by 2060. That is also when the total water demand is expected to double.

The water issue was among the infrastructural plans Mr Chan touched on during his speech at the annual Chinese New Year dinner attended by grassroots advisers and residents of Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas constituencies.

He stressed that Singapore must continue to invest in infrastructure to make the country attractive for companies and create “good jobs for our people”.

“We are building for the next 100 years with investments in an underground electricity distribution network to replace the ageing network left to us by the British … (We are) making sure that our land reclamation can withstand global warming and the predicted rise in sea levels,” he said.

The minister cited developments such as the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail in the 2020s; Changi Airport Terminal 5 which is expected to be completed around 2030; the Tuas mega port which is scheduled for completion in 2040; and the need to have an adequate supply of water by the 2050s.

“Beyond the 2050s, we will be in full swing to redevelop the next generation of HDB flats and towns to ensure that every HDB estate is a microcosm of Singapore, with diverse age profiles and flat types to cater to the evolving needs of Singaporeans,” said Mr Chan.

“We will overcome the current situation where we have an age gradient in our towns - from Tanjong Pagar on average, having the oldest flats, to Punggol having the newest.”

On investment in education, Mr Chan said it must continue to be “the linchpin” in Singapore’s economic strategy, stressing the need for lifelong learning and early childhood education.

Nearly a week after Budget 2018 was announced, he also reiterated why the use of Singapore’s reserves should not be taken lightly, drawing a link between the reserves and the strength of the currency.

Concluding, Mr Chan said Singapore has strong fundamentals but the country must continue to maintain its edge.

“The next lap of our economic growth story will depend more than ever on our ability to innovate and tap the global markets for our growth,” he said.

“So long as we stay united, be clear eyed about our challenges, and face them squarely together, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot celebrate SG100 with even greater pride and confidence.”

Source: CNA/gs

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Singapore still lags in global urban farming push

Walter Sim Straits Times 24 Feb 18;

Even as the trend of urban farming has taken root in major city centres around the world, Singapore has lagged behind in this global push.

Paris, for example, has gone big on urban farming with Mayor Anne Hidalgo setting ambitious targets last September for over 1 million sq m of rooftop gardens and planted walls by 2020 - of which a third is to be dedicated to agriculture.

The first tranche of projects will involve 32 sites across the French capital, including a 900 sq m space on the rooftop of the French Post Office building. This is expected to yield 425 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. As well, 8,000 litres of beer and 95kg of honey are expected to be produced.

But in the Garden City that is Singapore, where vertical greenery is increasingly commonplace, the authorities have acknowledged that city-based agricultural practices are still nascent.

Last November, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said: "While there is growing interest from companies to develop edible rooftop gardens as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts, the concept of rooftop farming in Singapore is still new and limited to small-scale community-based farming."

Urban farming typically utilises high-tech systems that tap much less water, power and space than that required on traditional farms, and has been touted as an environmentally sustainable boost to food security in congested cities.

Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority is making a bigger push for commercial urban farms, which are large-scale, high-productivity and high-intensity, to boost food security. Some commercial city farms include Comcrop's 600 sq m space at *Scape in Somerset, and a rooftop farm at CapitaLand's Raffles City, with the Spa Esprit Group using the produce to make beauty products. Community farms include one atop a tower at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and students at Singapore Management University's upcoming Prinsep Street Residences will also be able to grow their own produce.

Walter Sim

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Malaysia: Catching wild jumbos a mammoth task

The Star 25 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: An operation to catch two bull pygmy elephants, while preventing another 17 from damaging the property and crops of villagers in Sabah’s central Telupid district, is proving to be a mammoth task.

Rangers from the state’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) have been chased by the animals, which have resisted efforts to push them back into the jungle.

“It is a big group of elephants – around 20 of them are wandering into small farms and plantations.

“The elephants sometimes break up into smaller groups of four to five, making it difficult for the team to control them or push them back into the forest,” WRU acting manager Diana Raminez said yesterday.

“An aggressive cow elephant, which even chased a ranger, was captured around midnight on Feb 21 and the team is now targeting two bull elephants,” said Rami­nez.

The cow elephant was translocated to the Imbak forest reserve.

The team of 10 rangers has been working round the clock to prevent the elephants from causing more damage.

Over the past month, villagers have been terrorised by several aggressive elephants.

The herd includes four calves.

The translocation cost of about RM30,000 per elephant is being funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Among the villages affected are Kg Gambaron 1, Kg Gambaron 2, Kg Batu 4, Kg Bintang-Mas, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Kg Gaab, Kg Lubang Batu and Kg Maliau.

Wildlife rangers working to resolve elephant-human conflict in Telupid
stephanie lee The Star 26 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers are a step closer towards solving the month-long elephant-human conflict in Sabah’s Telupid district with the capture of three elephants.

According to a statement issued by the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) on Monday (Feb 26), their rangers were busy trying to capture several of the elephants which have been acting aggressively towards villagers.

The rangers have so far captured three elephants, one of which is an aggressive one, and will be translocating them away from the affected areas soon.

The three - a bull, a cow (female) and a calf - are among the over 20 elephants that have been going into villages and damaging crops to search for food.

The adults have been fitted with satellite collars provided by the Danau Girang Field Centre and this will allow the Wildlife Department to tract and monitor their movements.

Meanwhile, wildlife rangers are still trying to get the herd out of the area and push them back into the forest.

The WRU is funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and has been assisting the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on the capture and translocation of aggressive elephants.

The SWD and WRU together with other agencies such as the Orangutan Appeal UK and Belia Gambaron will continue their operations to get the rest of the elephants out of the villages.

Elephants attack Telupid police station
HAZSYAH ABDUL RAHMAN New Straits Times 28 Feb 18;

TELUPID: The human-elephant conflict here escalated with the latest episode of a herd encroaching the district police station.

During the 9am incident yesterday, about 10 elephants including three baby elephants entered the station and chased after its personnel.

District police chief Superintendent V Shivananthan said the female elephants had acted aggressively by destroying the fence at the station.

"Before the incident, the elephants had already destroyed a portion of the they are able to come in freely.

“We were also chased by the elephants but managed to escape from them,” he said when contacted, adding no one was injured and no other properties damaged except the fence.

Shivananthan said the presence of the herd of elephants was worrying and becoming more serious.

“The elephants have been roaming around at the station almost everyday.

"Besides the station, the elephants are also present outside the hostels of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Telupid,” he said adding the police had met with the Sabah Wildlife Department officer here to discuss the issue.

"The outcome of the meeting is to create a special area behind the school and police station for the elephants,” he said, adding the area, which can be turned into eco-tourism, should also have electric fencing.

He said relevant authority should also obtain land for the elephants and gazette it.

Sabah Wildlife Dept tracks pygmy elephants with satellite collars
POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM New Straits Times 28 Feb 18;

TELUPID: Sabah Wildlife Department has fitted two Borneo pygmy elephants with satellite collars in order to monitor the movement of the herd.

The two elephants are a part of a herd of 20 found roaming around the villages here.

The department’s director Augustine Tuuga said the exercise is meant to monitor the movement of the herd.

Apart from that, the department he said, has thus far captured five elephants including a jumbo at Kampung Gambaron here.

A female elephant has also been translocated to the Imbak Forest Reserve on Monday.

“A mother and a baby elephant are being kept at an enclosure and will be sent to the Imbak Forest Reserve here today.

“Two other male elephants will also be sent to the reserve,” he said.

The New Straits Times Press previously reported villagers in six locations – Kampung Liningkung, Kampung Bauto, Kampung Gambaron, Kampung Telupid, Pekan Telupid and SMK Telupid – were facing conflict with a wild herd of elephants, which are behaving aggressively as they forage for food.

Augustine added that the department is planning to capture another five aggressive, problematic and injured elephants at Kampung Bauto here.

He added the department and wildlife rescue unit are working hard to monitor the animals’ movement to prevent further disturbances to the villagers and damages to the villages.

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Indonesian communities help government to curb ocean waste

I Made Surya Antara 24 Feb 18;

Kuta, Bali (ANTARA News) - Thousands of Indonesian communities across the nation have been helping the government to curb ocean waste to 70 percent by 2025, an official stated.

Deputy leader of Science and Technology Desk at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime, Safri Burhanudin, stated here on Saturday that nearly 10 thousand communities, with 100 to 200 members in each community, are continuing to clean plastic wastes from local beaches and coastal areas.

"One of the areas which have been regularly removing plastic waste from beaches is Bali," he noted.

Bali is the most popular tourism destination in Indonesia that is famous for its beautiful beaches, but it has been affected by plastic waste and other products that have been polluting the coastal areas for years.

Indonesia has committed to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products that pollute its water to 70 percent by 2025, as an effort to support the United Nation's new Clean Seas Campaign.

Earlier, during the 2017 World Ocean Summit in Bali, the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs, Luhut Panjaitan, announced that Indonesia had pledged up to US1 billion a year to reduce the ocean waste.

Panjaitan also proposed some measures to achieve the 70 percent reduction target by using biodegradable materials to produce environmentally friendly plastic, regulating a nationwide tax on plastic bags, as well as developing a sustained public education campaign.

The commitment was also stressed by President Joko Widodo during the G20 Summit last year in Hamburg, Germany, highlighting that Indonesia would be free from plastic waste by 2025.

In order to achieve the target, Burhanudin revealed that the ministry has been carrying out measures, such as clean beaches campaign involving communities and research, to recycle the waste.

According to the ministry`s data, Indonesia produces 5.6 million tons of plastic waste per year, comprising 3.3 million tons that can be reused as fertilizers and 1.6 million tons are recyclable wastes.

Burhanudin lauded some research conducted by University of Udayana, Bali, to recycle plastic waste as a material for asphalt.

The ministry also supports the construction of waste-to-energy power plant in Bali in 2018.
Editor: Ade P Marboen

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Indonesia Raises $1.25b in First Asian Sovereign Green Gond Sale

Jennifer Hughes, Fransiska Nangoy & Maikel Jefriando Jakarta Globe 23 Feb 18;

Hong Kong/Jakarta. Indonesia has become the first Asian country to sell "green" bonds internationally in a $1.25 billion deal as one of the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters tapped into investor interest in climate-friendly investments.

Globally, $155.5 billion of so-called green bonds were sold last year, according to the London-based Climate Bonds Initiative. But only a handful of governments have themselves sold such deals, where the proceeds are earmarked for investment in environmentally friendly projects.

Indonesia on Friday (23/02) sold $1.25 billion in five-year green Sukuk bonds -- which means the deal conforms to Islamic finance norms as well. The deal carried a coupon of 3.75 percent compared with the 4.05 percent rate that bankers initially used as guidance for investors.

Indonesia is considered one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, particularly due to its regular devastating forest fires blamed on clearing land for agriculture. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has committed to cut emissions by at least 29 percent by 2030 and approved a two-year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest.

Indonesia has also set targets to cut the use of dirty coal in energy and aims for renewables to make up nearly one-quarter of its energy mix by 2025 from around 12 percent at present, with around 1,800 MW of wind projects targeted for completion.

But despite such commitments environmentalists say more needs to be done to meet its targets and prevent repeats of the massive forest fires in 2015, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for crops such as palm oil.

Documentation for the new bonds said Indonesia had confirmed no financing would go to fossil-fuel based infrastructure, nor projects involving the burning of peat. But it did warn that some projects may still include "an element of deforestation."

Global green bond issuance hit a record for the fifth consecutive year in 2017 and bankers expect further growth in the market this year.

In Asia, Chinese and Indian companies have led the way in tapping the green market to finance environmentally friendly projects but governments had until now stayed away. Worldwide, countries to have sold sizeable amounts of green bonds include Poland -- the first-ever -- and France.

Luky Alfirman, head of the Budget Financing and Risk Management office at the Ministry of Finance told reporters on Friday the proceeds from its green bonds would be used to finance projects such as renewable energy, green tourism and waste management.

The government has also said it will take up more projects to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, which requires alternative financing.

CIMB, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC, HSBC and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank were bookrunners on the deal.

Indonesia also on Friday raised $1.75 billion selling a 10-year sukuk bond at the same time as the green deal. The longer-dated paper sold with a coupon of 4.4 percent, down from initial guidance of 4.7 percent.


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