Best of our wild blogs: 31 Oct 18

Our Seas, Our Legacy - a visual storytelling platform for Singapore's shores
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Just In: 10 Threatened Species in Singapore
WWF Singapore Blog

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No more 'hum' in laksa? Why cockles are becoming costlier and harder to find

Pollution, smuggling and overharvesting have stacked the odds against blood cockles bouncing back from the huge fall in supply, although there is a hope – aquaculture. The series For Food’s Sake investigates.
Derrick A Paulo and Gosia Klimowicz Channel NewsAsia 31 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE and MALAYSIA: It has built its reputation on serving see-hum (blood cockles), and the star dish at the Two Chefs Eating House is still its garlic and chilli cockles. The restaurant in Commonwealth Crescent serves over 10 kilogrammes of these cockles daily.

In recent times, however, they have become even more precious to owner Lam Chan Wah. Five years ago, they cost him around S$1.50 to S$2 per kg, but that figure is now around S$4.50 because the supply has been dwindling.

In 2013, Singapore imported 2,720 tonnes of cockles from Malaysia, the source of more than 99 per cent of the Republic’s live cockles. That has now fallen to 1,700 tonnes a year. So what has happened?

With food prices rising by 2.1 per cent a year, on average, over the past five years, the series For Food’s Sake finds out what is behind the hikes in the prices of various foods, from rice to bananas to sugarcane.

It is not only about climate change or inflation caused by labour cost. The reasons are scandalous in some cases, such as chicken (price-fixing) and cockles being ruined by the direct impact of human development on the environment.

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Singapore's water success story to be repeated with energy: Chan Chun Sing

Jose Hong Straits Times 30 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - If the past 50 years have been about how Singapore has overcome water scarcity, the next 50 will be about how the country overcomes its energy challenges.

“Just like how Singapore has successfully diversified our supply of water over the years, our next ambitious goal is to enhance our energy resilience to ensure that we are never dependent on any single source of supply,” said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Oct 30) at the opening of Singapore International Energy Week at Marina Bay Sands.

To this end, the country is investing in infrastructure, tapping green energy and acting as a test-bed for innovative solutions here and abroad.

He announced new projects and initiatives ranging from ramped-up solar production to greater support for the energy storage systems – essentially gigantic rechargeable batteries – that will enable Singapore to better use solar production.

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Malaysia: Sultan of Johor wants quality of water in Johor to be improved

Junita Mat Rasid New Straits Times 30 Oct 18;

JOHOR BARU: Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar wants the quality of water in the state to be improved for the sake of the people’s prosperity.

The ruler said this after receiving an audience from Johor Department of Environment director Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh and Johor Forestry Department director Jeffri Abd Rasid at Istana Pasir Pelangi here today.

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Ocean Shock: Big aquaculture bulldozes Borneo

Matthew Green Reuters 30 Oct 18;

PURU NI TIMBUL, Malaysia, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Swinging his machete with an economy of movement that only the jungle can teach, Matakin Bondien lopped a stray branch from the path of his boat. He hopped barefoot from the prow, climbed a muddy slope and stared once more at what he'd lost.

Not long ago, the clearing had been home to mangroves, saltwater-loving trees that anchor a web of life stretching from fish larvae hatching in the cradle of their underwater roots to the hornbills squawking at their crown. Now the trees' benevolent presence was gone, in their place a swath of stripped soil littered with felled trunks as gray as fossils.

"Do you think we can find any food in this place now?" asked Bondien, a village leader of the Tombonuo people. "The company thinks it can do anything it wants — that we don't count."

The company is Sunlight Inno Seafood. Owned by Cedric Wong King Ti, a Malaysian businessman known as "King Wong," it has bulldozed swaths of mangroves in the Tombonuo's homeland in northern Borneo to make space for plastic-lined ponds filled with millions of king prawns. The shrimp are destined to be fattened for three months, scooped up in nets, quick frozen, packed into 40-foot refrigerated containers and loaded onto cargo ships bound for distant ports.

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Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

The huge loss is a tragedy in itself but also threatens the survival of civilisation, say the world’s leading scientists
Damian Carrington The Guardian 30 Oct 18;

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

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Indonesia: Marine protected areas increasing fish stocks

Maizura Ismail The ASEAN Post 30 Oct 18;

Fish swim over healthy coral in Indonesia's Wakatobi archipelago, a thriving marine paradise, packing a bewildering abundance of life that supports 100,000 people and contributes millions of dollars to Indonesia's economy. (Rod Salm / The Nature Conservancy / AFP Photo)

Surrounded by severely damaged coral reefs, the fishers of Indonesia’s Seraya Besar, off the west coast of Flores, struggle to make ends meet. Year-on-year fish stocks have shrivelled as the damaged reef can only support limited life. If these fishers want more, they would have to fish further out, increasing their costs and lowering profits.

Armed with memories of larger catches and bigger fish within their local waters, the fishers of Seraya Besar, in partnership with a French non-profit reef conservation organisation Coral Guardian, came together to set up a locally managed marine protected area (MPA). Manned by a 15-person team, the damaged coral reefs within the 1,550-acre MPA underwent small-scale coral restoration, under which more than 26,000 corals were planted.

According to a report by the Ocean Agency, the outcome resulted in boosted fish stocks including protected species with five-fold hauls described by fishers. Over the past two years, the coral plantings have grown to form a natural-like reef, with the steel structure barely visible. Bigger fish like groupers, trigger and butterflyfish have also been seen taking occupancy.

Within the MPA where corals have been planted, the numbers of fish have grown from 200 fish per 100 square metres to roughly 1,000 fish per 100 square metres. The impact spill-over on human livelihood can also be felt in much wider areas, including on the nearby Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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We desperately need to store more carbon – seagrass could be the answer

Marianne Holmer The Conversation 31 Oct 18;

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to avoid a climate change catastrophe. Although efforts are already being made to reduce the production of greenhouse gasses, they are by most estimations not enough.

It is therefore critical that we find ways to drastically reduce the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere. Ecosystems capable of absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide know as “carbon sinks” are ideal for this.

In principle, all living organisms – all animals, plants, algae and bacteria – consist of carbon and so function as a carbon sink. For example, as long as a tree lives it will absorb and store carbon. Given the sheer volume of all the trees contained in tropical forests, it’s no wonder most people imagine such forests when they think of a carbon sink.

However, once chopped down and turned into firewood, the carbon in those trees will be released and emitted back into the atmosphere as CO₂. So while a forest is a moderately efficient carbon sink, its capacity to retain carbon in the forest floor is limited.

In fact, new research by colleagues and I has found that such forests are actually only the fifth most efficient ecosystem in the carbon storage cycle behind salt marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and, best of all, tundra.

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Study tracks severe bleaching events on a Pacific coral reef over the past century

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 30 Oct 18;

As climate change causes ocean temperatures to rise, coral reefs worldwide are experiencing mass bleaching events and die-offs. For many, this is their first encounter with extreme heat. However for some reefs in the central Pacific, heatwaves caused by El Nino are a way of life. Exactly how these reefs deal with repeated episodes of extreme heat has been unclear. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has uncovered the history of bleaching on a reef in the epicenter of El Nino, revealing how some corals have been able to return after facing extreme conditions. The study was published October 26, 2018, in the journal Communications Biology.

"These huge marine heat waves, which are being exacerbated by global warming, are equivalent to an atomic bomb in terms of impact on coral reefs—they kill millions of corals across huge areas of ocean in a very short time" says WHOI scientist Anne Cohen, who was principal investigator on the work. "We've seen this play out now globally for the past 30-40 years, and bleaching events have become more frequent and more severe."

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Oct 18

11 Nov (Sun): Your help needed for village homecoming at Pulau Ubin
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Singapore’s Food System: Security x Waste
Green Drinks Singapore

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Coming soon: Households can buy ‘green credits’ to ensure their source of energy is renewable

JANICE LIM Today Online 29 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE — From the middle of next year, households can ensure that their energy is derived from green sources by buying "green credits" through a blockchain-powered online platform set up by power grid operator SP Group.

Calling it a world's first, SP Group launched the digital marketplace for renewable energy certificates (RECs) on Monday (Oct 29).

The RECs, or “green credits”, contain information on the source of the renewable energy, how much energy is being generated, and exported to the grid, and must be purchased at an additional cost.

Currently open only to businesses, the sale and purchase of RECs will be made available to general consumers from the mid-2019.

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Otters spotted swimming in Singapore's Central Business District

Elizabeth Khor Channel NewsAsia 29 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Three otters were spotted in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District on Sunday (Oct 28), swimming in a water feature outside office building One George Street in the Raffles Place area.

There have been more sightings of otters in recent years, as the animals venture beyond parks and canals.

According to Facebook user Nel Jason Sanson, who shared a video of the CBD otters, two of the animals were seen in a water feature at about 6pm before another jumped in from the bushes.

They appeared to tussle in the water before one jumped out, ran onto the streets and rejoined the pair shortly after. The three otters were later seen running into the bushes to hide from a crowd which had gathered.

Otter enthusiast and admin of interest group Ottercity, Marjorie Chong, said that the three otters live along a nearby stretch of the Singapore River. They have been spotted in different locations such as Robertson Quay.

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Monkey at Changi Airport Terminal 3 check-in hall captured

Channel NewsAsia 29 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Changi Airport received an unusual traveller on Monday morning (Oct 29) - a monkey was spotted roaming around the airport's Terminal 3 departure check-in hall.

It was eventually captured with the help of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), said Changi Airport Group in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.

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No more plastic straws at Resorts World Sentosa

Channel NewsAsia 29 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Since Oct 1, dining establishments and five themed attractions across Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) have stopped providing customers with plastic straws in a bid to reduce single-use plastics.

The latest move will save more than three million, or 1.2 tonnes of, plastic straws a year, RWS said in a press release on Monday (Oct 27).

The places that have stopped providing plastic straws include Universal Studios Singapore and the SEA Aquarium, as well as the resort's celebrity chef restaurants and the Malaysian Food Street food hall, RWS said.

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Malaysia: Two Filipinos fined and jailed for killing endangered turtles in Semporna

muguntan vanar The Star 29 Oct 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Two Filipinos were slapped with three years’ jail and fined RM100,000 each by the Tawau Sessions Court on Monday (Oct 29) for hunting and killing critically endangered green turtles in Semporna waters.

The two - Tambisan Pagal, 52 and Tambulang Tambisan, 38 - from the neighbouring southern Philippines’s Sitangkai Island – were ordered by Sessions Court judge Awang Kerisnada Mahmud to serve another year’s jail if they failed to pay the fine.

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Indonesia achieves target of 20 million hectares marine conservation areas

Antara 30 Oct 18;

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government, as part of its efforts to preserve the seas, has met the target of establishing 20 million hectares of new marine conservation areas.

At the Our Ocean Conference (OOC) 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Monday, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) highlighted that the policy to establish 20 million hectares of new conservation areas was part of the government`s commitment to encouraging marine conservation.

"Indonesia has prepared its maritime policies and action plans," the president stated.

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China permits limited trade of rhino, tiger goods

AFP Yahoo News 30 Oct 18;

Beijing (AFP) - China on Monday announced it was authorising the trade of rhinoceros and tiger parts for scientific, medical and cultural purposes, a move wildlife conservationists fear could have "devastating consequences" globally.

The trade of rhinos, tigers, and their related products will be allowed under "special" circumstances, the State Council, or cabinet, said in a statement.

Those include scientific research, sales of cultural relics, and "medical research or in healing".

The newly sanctioned areas of trade will be highly regulated.

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Worst-recorded bleaching wipes out 73 per cent of UAE’s coral reefs

NYUAD-EEA study uncovers massive destruction in UAE
Anjana Kumar Gulf News 29 Oct 18;

ABU DHABI: Over 73 per cent of coral reefs in the UAE have been wiped out due to bleaching, according to studies conducted by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in collaboration with Emirates Environmental Agency (EEA).

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon where coral reefs turn white due to exposure to high water temperature and other local impacts like sewage, overfishing, sedimentation, dredging and construction. Reefs located in warm, shallow water with low water flow are more prone to bleaching than those with higher water flow.

John Burt, associate professor of biology and head of the marine lab at NYUAD said the worst recorded coral bleaching event in the region took place last year, stretching over 200 kilometres across UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Nearly three fourths of our coral reefs were destroyed. But Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were the worst hit, losing 90 per cent of their reefs.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Oct 18

Pulau Hantu Intertidal walk
Sengkang Babies

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Wildlife rescue group ACRES to send 50 smuggled star tortoises home to India

Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: In about a month, 50 Indian star tortoises that were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade in Singapore will embark on their journey back home to India.

It is Singapore's biggest mass repatriation of rescued animals to date.

The tortoises are being cared for at a wildlife rescue centre run by animal welfare group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), which is closely monitoring them for any health abnormalities ahead of the long trip.

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First section of Lornie Highway, formerly Bukit Brown Road, opens to traffic

Janice Tai Straits Times 28 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - After repeated delays stretching more than two years, the first section of the Lornie Highway - previously known as the Bukit Brown Road - was finally opened to traffic on Sunday (Oct 28) at 3am.

The southbound section of the road, which runs parallel to Lornie Road, facilitates traffic flow from Thomson towards the Pan-Island Expressway as well as Adam and Farrer roads.

An underpass near the entrance of the highway allows motorists to access the residential area in Lornie Road, while a temporary road connection near Sime Road has been built to connect traffic from the existing southbound Lornie Road to southbound Lornie Highway.

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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Oct 18

Pulau Semakau (South) quickly
wild shores of singapore

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (26 Oct 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Butterfly Anatomy
Butterflies of Singapore

1-4 Nov: Singapore Eco Film Festival, The Conscious Festival and Clean & Green Singapore Carnival!
Green Drinks Singapore

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Singapore lowers 2030 water consumption target to 130 litres

Channel NewsAsia 27 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore is planning to further reduce water usage among households, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced on Saturday (Oct 27).

Singapore will get households to cut daily consumption of water to 130 litres per person by 2030, down from the previous target of 140 litres, Mr Teo said at a celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the Marina Barrage.

"Generations of Singaporeans understand our neverending search to assure our own future and are prepared to pay the price, so that we can have water security and no one can ever threaten our survival through water," he said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Oct 18

10 Nov (Sat): R.U.M. mangroves and coastal cleanup
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Rainy romp around Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

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Bishan otters defeat Marina rivals again in Kallang Basin clash

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 24 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - The two most well-known otter families here have clashed again, more than a year after a fight that resulted in the death of at least one otter pup.

The Marina otter family clashed with its Bishan rival at the Kallang Basin on Wednesday (Oct 24), in an hour-long confrontation documented by otter watchers.

In a video uploaded on the Ottercity Facebook page, the two groups of otters are seen charging towards each other, baring their teeth and squeaking loudly.

But just as the two sides seemed set for a physical fight, the Marina otters retreated at the last minute. The Marina family was eventually split up and pursued by the Bishan family.

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Energy inefficient light bulbs to be phased out as part of NEA measures to go green

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 26 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - From 2023, all light bulbs sold in Singapore are likely to be as energy efficient as a light emitting diode (LED) bulb.

The move is part of the Republic's efforts to go green.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it is making the first step towards this target by raising the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) of lamps from Nov 1 next year in order to phase out those with low energy efficiency, such as halogen lamps.

The move will save households about $3.5 million in energy costs annually, the NEA said in a statement on Friday (Oct 26).

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Malaysia issues permanent ban on import of plastic waste

joseph kaos jr The Star 26 Oct 18;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has issued a permanent ban on the import of plastic waste effective Friday (Oct 26), says Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The Housing and Local Government Minister said the country would also be phasing out the import of other types of plastic within three years.

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Indonesia: BMKG monitoring four hot spots in Aceh

Antara 27 Oct 18;

Banda Aceh, Oct 26 (ANTARA News) - The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) is monitoring four hot spots detected by sensors using satellites in Aceh.

"This afternoon, there are four hotspots in Aceh," said BMKG Head of Data and Information Section of the Blang Bintang Meteorology Station, Aceh, Zakaria Ahmad, in Aceh Besar on Friday.

He noted that these four hotspots were spread across three districts in the West and South in Aceh, namely West Aceh, Aceh Jaya, and Aceh Singkil.

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Great Barrier Reef forecast warns entire system at risk of bleaching and coral death this summer

US oceanographic agency forecasts 60% chance of extreme heat stress and bleaching
Lisa Cox The Guardian 26 Oct 18;

Mass bleaching and coral death could be likely along the entire Great Barrier Reef this summer, according to a long-range forecast that coral experts say is “a wake-up call” for the Australian government.

The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has forecast a 60% chance that the entire Great Barrier Reef will reach alert level one, which signals extreme heat stress and bleaching are likely.

The forecast period covers November 2018 to February 2019 and the risk extends to the southern Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the mass mortality seen in the middle and northern parts of the reef in 2016 and 2017.

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Swamped with plastic waste - Malaysia struggles as global scrap piles up

A. Ananthalakshmi, Emily Chow Reuters 25 Oct 18;

PULAU INDAH, Malaysia (Reuters) - Hundreds of sacks filled with plastic waste from the United States, Britain, South Korea and Spain spill onto the streets of an industrial zone in Pulau Indah, an island town just an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur and home to Malaysia’s biggest port.

The stench of burning plastic and fumes from nearly a dozen recycling factories wafts through the neighbourhood, even as more container-loads of plastic waste are unloaded.

Pulau Indah - ironically, the name means “beautiful island” in Malay - is one of many towns in Malaysia where illegal plastic recycling factories have popped up in recent months as the Southeast Asian nation became the top choice for plastic waste exporters from around the world.

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SP Group to double electric vehicle charging points to 1,000 by 2020

Channel NewsAsia 25 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: SP Group announced on Thursday (Oct 25) that it will build 1,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2020, double the initial target it made in June.

In addition, one-quarter of the 1,000 charging points will be extra high-powered, to support upcoming electric vehicle models with bigger battery capacities and longer driving ranges. These chargers will have power ratings of as high as 350kW, said SP in a news release.

The company previously said that it will build 50kW DC chargers which can fully charge a car in 30 minutes.

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Malaysia: Moving marine parks dept to ministry that maximises fisheries is wrong, say conservationists

mei mei chu and rashvinjeet s. bedi The Star 25 Oct 18;

PETALING JAYA: It's not right to move a government department in charge of conservation to a ministry in charge of extracting resources, say conservationists.

They say that moving the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM) to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (MOA) will harm rather than protect the marine environment.

A source from the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS) confirmed that the move from that ministry to MOA had been proposed to the Cabinet.

But how can MOA, which oversees the Department of Fisheries, be in charge of marine park conservation as well, asked the source.

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Malaysia: Chopping forests to plant durians like killing goose that lays golden eggs

mei mei chu The Star 25 Oct 18;

PETALING JAYA: Durian farmers are "shooting themselves in the foot" if they continue to clear the forest for durian plantations, conservation groups said.

A total of 36 conservationists co-signed a statement on Thursday (Oct 25) said destroying wildlife habitats will reduce the number of durian fruit pollinators, which will directly influence the quantity and quality of durian fruit yields.

They are raising concerns over durians as the new monoculture crop driving further deforestation and biodiversity loss in Malaysia.

Rimba president Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz said the durian tree cannot self-pollinate, and is thus dependent on wild animal pollinators to cross-pollinate with other plants of the same species.

These bats are essential to the sustainability of the durian industry.

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EU parliament approves ban on single-use plastics

Clément ZAMPA AFP Yahoo News 25 Oct 18;

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU's executive arm, proposed banning such items that it said account for 70 percent of the waste in the oceans and beaches.

"Today we are one step closer to eliminating the most problematic single-use plastic products in Europe," the EU's environment commissioner Karmenu Vella said.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted for the ban on single-use plastic by 571 votes for, 53 against and 34 abstentions.

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Climate change: Five cheap ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Matt McGrath BBC 25 Oct 18;

As well as rapidly reducing the carbon dioxide that we humans are pumping into the atmosphere in huge amounts, recent scientific assessments of climate change have all suggested that cutting emissions alone will not be enough to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 or 2 degrees C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others have all stated that extracting CO2 from the air will be needed if we are to bend the rising temperature curve before the end of this century.

These ideas are controversial with some seeing them as a distraction from the pressing business of limiting emissions of CO2.

But a new assessment from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that some of these "negative emissions technologies" are ready to be deployed, on a large scale, right now.

The authors point to the fact that the US Congress has recently passed the 45Q tax rule, which gives a $50 tax credit for every tonne of CO2 that's captured and stored. So their study highlights some technologies that are available at between $20 and $100 per tonne.

1- Coastal blue carbon

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Best of our wild blogs: 25 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: St Jonh's Island
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Singapore Raptor Report, Early Autumn Migration, July-September 2018
Singapore Bird Group

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Electric buses to serve Singapore commuters from 2020

Channel NewsAsia 24 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Electric public buses will hit the roads from 2020, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (Oct 24) as it announced the award of S$50 million worth of contracts to three suppliers.

Sixty buses, of which 10 are double-deck, will provide commuters with quieter and smoother rides, said LTA.

It added that the buses will progressively arrive in Singapore from next year, with the final batch due in 2020.

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More than 303,300 people and groups sign climate action pledge to reduce carbon footprint

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 24 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - Over 300 individuals attending an environment-themed event made a pledge on Wednesday (Oct 24) to make a difference in the fight against climate change.

More than 303,300 individuals, schools and organisations so far have committed to the climate action pledge, which includes making a commitment to recycle, use energy efficient devices and conserve water, so as to reduce one's carbon footprint.

Among those who signed the pledge on Wednesday was Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, who delivered the keynote address at the RHT Asean Summit 2018 at Suntec City Convention Centre.

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Philippines to re-open 'cesspool' Boracay after clean up

AFP Yahoo News 24 Oct 18;

The Philippines re-opens its crown jewel resort island Boracay to holidaymakers on Friday, after a six-month clean up aimed at repairing the damage inflicted by years of unrestrained mass tourism.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the island shuttered in April for a major effort to fortify weak infrastructure and crack down on the rampant overdevelopment that had left it, what he termed, a "cesspool".

When the government throws open the doors, Boracay will have fewer hotels and restaurants, a cap on the number of visitors and anti-beach boozing rules aimed at taming its party-hard reputation.

All of this is intended to protect the bruised beauty of the island's turquoise waters and expanses of white sand beaches which were being loved to death by two million tourists per year.

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Plastics have entered human food chain, study shows

Marlowe HOOD AFP Yahoo News 23 Oct 18;

Paris (AFP) - Bits of plastic have been detected in the faeces of people in Europe, Russia and Japan, according to research claiming to show for the first time the widespread presence of plastics in the human food chain.

All eight volunteers in a small pilot study were found to have passed several types of plastic, with an average of 20 micro-particles per 10 grams of stool, researchers reported Tuesday at a gastroenterology congress in Vienna.

The scientists speculated that the tiny specks -- ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometres -- may been ingested via seafood, food wrapping, dust or plastic bottles.

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Hawaiian island erased by powerful hurricane: ‘The loss is a huge blow’

East Island has vanished after coming into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that hit Hawaii earlier this month
Oliver Milman The Guardian 24 Oct 18;

A piece of the United States has been dramatically wiped off the map after an island in Hawaii was washed away by a powerful hurricane.

East Island, a remote spit of gravel and sand that sat atop a coral reef, has vanished after having this misfortune to come into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that surged past Hawaii earlier this month.

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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Jong
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the birds?
Singapore Bird Group

Singapore’s Plastics Story: Part 1

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British technology company Dyson to build electric car in Singapore

Channel NewsAsia 23 Oct 18

LONDON: British technology company Dyson said on Tuesday (Oct 23) it would build its electric car in Singapore, with a new automotive manufacturing facility set for completion in 2020 ahead of the first vehicle launch a year later.

The electric car plant is part of Dyson's £2.5 billion (US$3.3 billion) global investment drive in new technology.

Dyson, founded by the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner James Dyson, announced its plans to build an electric car a little over a year ago - a sector in which the company will face stiff competition from established players.

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Gardening plots in Ang Mo Kio and Jurong open for registration on Nov 9

Derek Wong Straits Times 23 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - Wish to have your own gardening space? Public registration for gardening plots at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West and Jurong Lake Gardens West will begin on Nov 9, with applications available online for the first time.

Previously, those interested had to register at the parks for the popular community gardening scheme.

There will be 50 plots available in Ang Mo Kio and 300 plots in Jurong for this round of applications, said the National Parks Board (NParks) in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 23).

In the previous exercise in February this year, all 220 plots at Bedok Town Park, Choa Chu Kang Park, Pasir Ris Park, Sengkang Riverside Park and Yishun Park were snapped up in about three hours.

Under the Edible Horticulture Masterplan announced in November last year, more than 1,000 allotment gardening plots in total will be available by next year in 11 parks. The existing 620 plots at nine parks have been fully subscribed, said NParks.

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Oct 18

1-4 Nov: Singapore Eco Film Festival 2018 celebrates IYOR and Singapore shores
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

2 Nov (Fri): Free screening of 'Ubin, Sayang' at the Singapore Eco Film Festival 2018
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

10 Nov (Sat): Coastal Clean Up at Sungei Seletar with Little Green Men
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Singapore’s First Guide For Rating F&B Retailers On Their Efforts To Reduce Plastic Disposables
Zero Waste Singapore

Full Speech: Towards a Plastic-Lite Singapore Adjournment Motion (Oct 1)
Your Voices in Parliament

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New service to help companies cut carbon emissions, generate savings

Brandon Tanoto Channel NewsAsia 22 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore companies can now subscribe to a service that will help them cut energy usage and carbon emissions by about 10 per cent, and in turn, generate savings.

The service – called the Co-Pilot Hub – was launched on Monday (Oct 22) and is offered by software and services provider KBC.

The hub is co-funded by Japanese electrical engineering and software firm Yokogawa Electric Corporation and through a grant from the Economic Development Board under the Research Incentive Scheme for Companies (RISC).

Companies can sign up and pay a subscription fee and pay the solutions provider, KBC, a portion of the energy savings that are achieved. KBC declined to disclose how much the subscription fee is.

KBC projects that a refinery, for example, will be able to save up to S$30 million a year through the service.

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Malaysia: Habitat of endangered Malayan tigers vanishing

The Star 23 Oct 18;

PETALING JAYA: The Hulu Sempam area which has been cleared for durian plantation is vital to the survival of the Malayan tiger, which is now considered critically endangered.

The area, said WWF’s Siti Zuraidah Abidin, had also been identified as an Expected Tiger Habitat under the National Tiger Action Plan for Malaysia 2008-2020 and its surrounding forests a confirmed tiger habitat.

“Land clearing at Hulu Sempam can cause the wider forests to be fragmented, which in turn can affect the wildlife movement,” she said.

In June 2015, the Malayan tiger was moved from the “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

However, with just two years to go before the plan’s end date, the number of tigers in the wild is believed to have dwindled to about 300.

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Malaysia: Sabah state govt mulls planting food for wild elephants

The Star 23 Oct 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is thinking of planting food for elephants in certain protected areas to prevent them from encroaching into plantations.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the move could help to reduce human-elephant conflict and prevent the extinction of the species in Sabah.

“Given the loss of habitat, the remaining 2,000-odd elephants need a home so that they don’t encroach into oil palm plantations and risk getting snared, maimed or killed,” she said in a statement.

Liew, who is also Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said the pygmy elephants are currently concentrated in three areas – Lower Kinabatangan Managed Elephant Range (MER), Tabin MER and Central Sabah MER in the Danum area.

“The aim is to create a sustainable food chain within the three MERs, a new corridor of life for the elephants and avert crop damage in the oil palm plantations and smallholdings,” she said.

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Malaysia: No information about elephant killings despite RM120,000 reward

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 Oct 18;

KOTA KINABALU: No one has come forward to furnish details on the killing of elephants in Sabah although RM120,000 reward was offered.

Sabah Wildlife Department offered the lucrative incentive in August following the death of more than 20 elephants in the state.

The department director Augustine Tuuga said the public either truly had no idea about the killings or were afraid to come forward to assist in investigations.

To date, the department had reported 27 elephant deaths either due to fighting, disease, injuries related to snare traps, poisoning or gunshots.

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UK: Plastic recycling industry's problems costing councils up to £500,000 a year

Chinese ban on waste imports is significantly affecting UK councils’ ability to collect and recycle plastic
Sandra Laville The Guardian 20 Oct 18;

Major problems in the plastic recycling industry are costing local councils in England up to £500,000 extra a year, as they struggle to deal with the continuing fallout from import bans imposed by countries who are no longer able to take the UK’s waste.

A survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed nearly half of councils who responded (52) say China’s ban is having a significant impact on their ability to collect and recycle plastic, due to rising costs. Fourteen councils across the country say their recycling costs have increased by an average of half a million pounds a year, in part because of rising processing charges per tonne.

“It’s clear that the ban by China on imported waste, which could soon be implemented by other countries, could have a marked impact on councils’ ability to recycle,” said Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the LGA. “It is essential that the government provide support to help councils offset the loss of income they face as a result of the ban. Councils want manufacturers to play their part to reduce the amount of material entering the environment which can’t be recycled.”

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Best of our wild blogs: 21- 22 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Satumu and Pulau Biola
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Wild Berembang overload!
wild shores of singapore

Lancers of Singapore
Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Lower Peirce Reservoir (19 Oct 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Kampongs Lost and Found
Wan's Ubin Journal

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Work begins to restore Rail Corridor’s native flora

Gwyneth Teo Channel NewsAsia 20 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: For decades, magnolia singapurensis, a flower native to and named after Singapore, had not been seen in the country.

Until National Parks Board (NParks) officials discovered the flower again at a swamp in Nee Soon a few years ago.

It took repeated trips back to the swamp to carefully collect the seeds of the flower, bring them to the nursery to cultivate, and study how best to grow the species elsewhere, said Ms Sharon Chan, director of the Central Nature Reserve at NParks.

There are only four known instances of magnolia singapurensis, which thrives in swampy areas, in the wild.

On Saturday (Oct 20), the native species was replanted elsewhere in Singapore for the first time.

The planting ceremony, led by Second Minister of National Development Desmond Lee and advisers from Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, marked the first phase of NParks' work to reintroduce native flora to the Rail Corridor stretch.

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Indonesia: Central Sulawesi quake, tsunami inflicted US$911 million in losses

Karina M. Tehusijarana The Jakarta Post 22 Oct 18;

The earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated Central Sulawesi resulted in at least Rp 13.82 trillion (US$911 million) in economic losses, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) data.

As of Sunday, 2,256 people have been killed, 4,612 injured and 223,751 displaced from their homes as a result of the disasters that hit the regions of Palu, Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong.

Around 68,451 houses, 327 places of worship, 265 schools, 78 offices and 362 shops were also damaged in the quake.

"We expect the losses and damage caused by the disasters to continue to increase, since the data we are using are temporary in nature," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Sunday.

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Indonesia: China-backed hydro dam threatens world's rarest orangutan

Harry PEARL AFP Yahoo News 21 Oct 18;

The Tapanuli orangutan is a newly discovered species that numbers just 800 individuals (AFP Photo/Nanang SUJANA)
Jakarta (AFP) - A billion-dollar hydroelectric dam development in Indonesia that threatens the habitat of the world's rarest great ape has sparked fresh concerns about the impact of China's globe-spanning infrastructure drive.

The site of the dam in the Batang Toru rainforest on Sumatra island is the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, a newly discovered species that numbers about 800 individuals in total.

The $1.6 billion project, which is expected to be operational by 2022, will cut through the heart of the critically endangered animal's habitat, which is also home to agile gibbons, siamangs and Sumatran tigers.

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Best of our wild blogs: 20 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Hantu
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia: Fungus killing sea turtles within the nest

jo timbuong The Star 20 Oct 18;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The local turtle population is not only threatened by predators and careless human behaviour. Researchers at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu have found a deadly microorganism silently working from inside the nest as well.

In a study spanning about 10 years, a team led by Dr Siti Nordahliawate Mohamed Sidique, senior lecturer of microbiology and plant pathology, found that an aggressive fungus of the Fusarium species has been infecting the eggs, ruining every chance of survival.

“We believe the fungus releases a micro-toxin that attacks the turtle embryo. We’re conducting more research on this,” said Dr Siti.

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Plastic piling up in Japan after China waste ban: survey

AFP Yahoo News 18 Oct 18;

Japan said Thursday it was facing a growing sea of plastic waste with limited capacity to process it after China stopped accepting foreign waste imports.

The environment ministry said about a quarter of major regional and municipal governments surveyed reported seeing accumulating plastic waste, sometimes going beyond sanitary standards.

The costs of processing waste plastic were rising, according to more than 100 local governments and 175 waste processing firms that responded to a ministry survey.

The world's developing nations are also scrambling for ways to process plastic refuse after China stopped accepting it.

Nearly three-quarters of all plastic waste produced globally since 1992 has ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances.

But since January, China has closed its borders to most paper and plastic waste in line with a new environmental policy pushed by Beijing.

Before the ban, Japan exported about 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, most of it to China.

The Japanese ministry said it will expand domestic capacity to process plastic waste, while also preventing illegal dumping.

The government also intends to boost efforts to encourage recycling, the survey added.

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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Oct 18

Singapore Bird Report – September 2018
Singapore Bird Group

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Two leopard geckos seized at Woodlands Checkpoint

Channel NewsAsia 18 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: A 31-year-old Malaysian man was found with a pair of live leopard geckos in his car at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Tuesday (Oct 16), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Thursday.

The geckos were found in two separate container boxes that had been wrapped in a towel and placed in a bag in the driver's Malaysian-registered car, ICA said in a Facebook post.

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Malaysia: No more mangrove lands for shrimp farming, says Sabah minister

stephanie lee The Star 18 Oct 18;

KOTA KINABALU: There will be no more mangrove lands approved for shrimp farming in Sabah, says Datuk Junz Wong.

The Sabah Agriculture and Food Industries Minister said mangrove destruction for whatever purposes must be stopped for conservation.

“The destruction of valuable natural environment assets are irreversible, therefore instead of destroying the environment for wealth, we should promote and encourage agricultural economic development,” he said during a visit to the Pitas Shrimp Farm at Sungai Telaga in Pitas.

Wong urged prawn farmers to go upstream to create hatcheries, as well as downstream for prawn export.

Wong had also rejected a 1,000 acre mangrove land application for prawn farming.

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Indonesia: Floods strike Sumatra as rainy season begins

Fardah Assegaf Antara 19 Oct 18;

Jakarta, (ANTARA News)- Rainy season has begun in some parts of Indonesia, particularly on Sumatra Island, but the dry season has continued in other regions, such as on Java Island and East Nusa Tenggara.

Such a weather phenomenon is quite normal in Indonesia, as the country is prone to hydrometeorological disasters, such as flooding in rainy season and wildfires or severe drought during the dry season.

In East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), for instance, 11 districts have been hit by the severe dry season. The districts, which include East Manggarai, Nagekeo, Ende, Lembata, East Sumba, Rote Ndao, Kupang, North Timor Tengah, Malaka, and Belu, have received no rains for more than two months.

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Indonesia: Prolonged drought triggers wildfires on mountains in Java

Fardah Antara 18 Oct 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Some parts of Indonesia`s regions have entered the rainy season, while several others, such as Java and Nusa Tenggara Islands, are experiencing prolonged severe dry season, causing drought, water shortages, and also wildfires.

On Java Island, the prolonged dry season has triggered wildfires in forest areas located on the slopes of several mountains in Central, East, and West Java Provinces.

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Indonesia: BRG claims less hot spots detected in intervened peatland

Antara 18 Oct 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia`s Peat land Restoration Agency (BRG) has claimed that fewer hot spots were found in the peat land area under its restoration program through the 3Rs approach (rewetting, revegetation, livelihood revitalization).

"Similar to what Mr Haris (BRG`s Deputy for Research and Development Haris Gunawan) has done, making fish ponds or sampling farms, we map out the coordinates, and then we observe within one kilometer. If there are hot spots detected, it was not much, and located more than 2 km from the intervened area," BRG chief Nazir Foead said here on Wednesday.

He noted the intervention that included peat land rewetting by establishing canal blocks, building artesian wells, and livelihood revitalization by making fish ponds and farms had successfully reduced the number of hot spots.

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Best of our wild blogs: 18 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Semakau
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Man fined S$7,600 for illegal import and possession of reptiles, another fined for abandoning cats

ASYRAF KAMIL Today Online 17 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE — A 28-year-old man was fined S$7,600 for the illegal import of a leopard tortoise, and possession of two endangered reptiles in his home.

In a statement on Wednesday (Oct 17), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said that Joey Law Swee Siang, 28, was fined S$4,000 for the illegal import of the tortoise, S$3,000 for possessing an African spurred tortoise, and S$600 for keeping a razor-back musk turtle.

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Malaysia to do away with single-use plastics

sim leoi leoi The Star 18 Oct 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no more drinking straws and plastic carrier bags by 2030 under an ambitious plan that will see local councils imposing a “pollution charge” and a “no straw by default” policy.

These measures will be introduced under Phase 1 of the Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics 2018-2030 from next year until 2021.

The roadmap will also eventually see the implementation of a circular economy for recycling as well as position Malaysia as a leader in biodegradable technology and industry within the region.

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Indonesia: Death toll of C Sulawesi earthquake reaches 2,102

Antara 15 Oct 18;

Palu, C Sulawesi (ANTARA News)- The death toll of a magnitude-7.4 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi on Sept 28, 2018, reached 2,102, following discovery of two more bodies by a marine team in Patoloan seaport area, here, Tuesday.

The bodies of a mother and a child were handed over to their family for funerals.

The total number of injured people was 4,612, while 680 people were still missing, and 152 others remained under the debris of buildings destroyed by the natural disaster.

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Climate change 'at point of no return': Ban

AFP Yahoo News 16 Oct 18;

The Hague (AFP) - Former UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warned Tuesday the world is at the "point of no return" on climate change as he launched an international commission on responses to global warming.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is endorsed by 17 countries including major economic powers China, Germany and India and will look at ways the world -- especially poor nations -- can shield themselves against the impact of rising temperatures.

"We are at the point of no return," Ban told an audience at the commission's launch in The Hague, where the Netherlands hosted its 28 commissioners.

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Best of our wild blogs: 17 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Kusu Island
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Sentosa Island, Pulau Brani development plans in the works

Channel NewsAsia 17 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: A comprehensive set of plans to reshape Sentosa Island is being developed, announced Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat on Wednesday (Oct 17) at the opening of travel trade show ITB Asia 2018.

Mr Chee spoke about Sentosa Island's status as a major tourism attraction in Singapore, and highlighted its need to remain competitive by constantly rejuvenating itself.

"We are currently developing a comprehensive set of plans to reshape the entire island and provide more scope for new attractions and investments on Sentosa," said Mr Chee.

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Singapore tops index measuring food security, but vulnerable to trade and climate-related risks

VICTOR LOH Today Online 17 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE — In a first for Singapore, the Republic has topped the Global Food Security Index, which measures the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food sources in 113 countries.

This is an improvement from its fourth position last year.

However, the index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) highlighted Singapore's vulnerability to climate-related and natural resource risks, which is not reflected in the overall ranking.

Taking risks such as exposure to climate change (temperature rise, drought, flooding, etc) and the health of land and water resources into account, Singapore ranks 16th among the 113 countries, with Switzerland at the top.

“Singapore’s strong food-security score is largely attributable to its status as a high-income economy,” said the report, noting that the country’s GDP per capita has risen by nearly 30 per cent since 2012, and the percentage of household expenditure that is spent on food is the second-lowest in the index.

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PUB takes contractor to task for polluting Bukit Timah canal with silt from construction site

Tee Zhuo Straits Times 16 oct 18;

SINGAPORE - A contractor will be taken to task for polluting a canal in Bukit Timah with silt, PUB said on Tuesday (Oct 16).

In its statement, Singapore's national water agency said that it had investigated and confirmed the material discharged into the canal after a heavy downpour last Wednesday was silt.

"We have traced the silty discharge to a nearby construction site that had failed to provide adequate earth control measures on site," PUB added.

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Burger King Singapore to stop providing plastic lids and straws for drinks

Channel NewsAsia 16 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Burger King announced that it will no longer provide dine-in customers plastic straws and lids for their cold drinks at its 42 outlets in Singapore.

The initiative began on Monday (Oct 15).

Replying to Channel NewsAsia's queries, Burger King said that customers can however still request for the plastic lids and straws at the counter.

"We understand that some guests with children will still require straws, so we are happy to accede to their request," said a spokesperson, adding that the lids and straws will still be provided for takeaways and deliveries.

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 Oct 18

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Management Assistant Officer, Visitor Services/Casual Visitor Services Officer
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

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World's largest rice science conference opens in Singapore, to discuss challenges facing rice production

Jose Hong Straits Times 15 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - The production of rice, one of the world’s most important crops, is facing major problems, such as slow growth and climate change, which could increase its price by more than 30 per cent by 2050.

“We need major changes to our rice and food production systems, to make them more resilient to weather disruptions, and also to reduce their emissions and their impact on the environment,” said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Monday (Oct 15).

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Indonesia: Floods affect 24,321 people in Aceh Singkil District

Antara 15 Oct 18;

Illustration. Farmers are drying the rice which is submerged by floods in the rice field area of Blang Leuah Village, Samatiga District, West Aceh, Aceh, Saturday (10/13/2018). (ANTARA PHOTO/Syifa Yulinnas/aww.)

Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA News) - The Aceh Singkil Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) reported that the floods that inundated 24 villages in the eight sub-districts of Aceh Singkil Districts, Aceh Province, affected 24,321 people.

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Protecting nature the best way to keep planet cool: report

Marlowe HOOD AFP Yahoo News 15 Oct 18;

Paris (AFP) - The best -- and fairest -- way to cap global warming is to empower indigenous forest peoples, reduce food waste and slash meat consumption, an alliance of 38 NGOs said Monday.

Restoring natural forest ecosystems, securing the land rights of local communities and revamping the global food system could cut greenhouse emissions 40 percent by mid-century and help humanity avoid climate catastrophe, they argued in a 50-page report based on recent science.

Approximately half of the reduced emissions would come from boosting the capacity of forests and wetlands to absorb CO2, and the other half from curtailing carbon-intensive forms of agriculture.

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Sekudu
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

4th November 2018 (Sunday): Herp Walk @ Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Herpetological Society of Singapore

16 Oct: Connecting the Dots between Haze and Palm Oil
Green Drinks Singapore

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Keeping Pulau Ubin alive

More needs to be done to ensure Singapore's last remaining offshore community - Ubin - goes on as a living kampung
Kok Yufeng The New Paper 15 Oct 18;

In 2014, the Ministry of National Development (MND) launched The Ubin Project to preserve the 10.2 sq km island's cultural and natural heritage and sustain its unique identity.

For the islanders though, Ubin's charms mask challenges.

Village chief Chu Yok Choon, 73, told The New Paper in Mandarin that while it would be best if the island was preserved, it does not take away the fact that daily life can be tough.

He said: "On this island, to get anything we want is difficult."

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Malaysia: Our rivers not healthy and need serious attention - Minister

vijenthi nair The Star 15 Oct 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Rivers in three states are the most affected by the effects of deforestation and opening up of new logging areas, says Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.

The Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister said the three states were Kelantan, Pahang and Kedah.

“The failure to have a proper integrated system for forest management has serious effects on rivers.

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Indonesia: Floods submerge 1,070 houses in Bengkalis, Riau

Antara 15 Oct 18;

Flooding in Riau - documentary photo. (ANTARA FOTO/Pandu Hari Santoso)

Bengkalis, Riau (ANTARA News)- Floods triggered by incessant heavy rains, have submerged 1,070 houses in Bantan and Bengkalis sub-districts, Bengkalis district, Riau Province, Sumatra Island.

In Bantan, some 360 homes were inundated, Jamaluddin, secretary of the Bengkalis disaster mitigation office, said here, Sunday.

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Indonesia: World Bank to provide US$1 billion for Lombok, Palu reconstruction

Antara 15 Oct 18;

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva while visiting earthquake-hit Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Oct 12, 2018. (M Arief Iskandar)

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - The World Bank is committed to providing US$1 billion for the reconstruction of demaged facilities in the earthqauake-affected Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara/NTB) and Palu (Central Sulawesi).

"The government`s efforts to restore affected areas have been very good. We provide this assistance to give support needed by Indonesia," said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday.

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Malaysia: Import quota needed on plastic waste, says MPMA

rashvinjeet s. bedi The Star 14 Oct 18;

PETALING JAYA: The government should set a quota on how much plastic waste can be imported into the country, says the Malaysian Manufacturers Plastic Association (MPMA).

MPMA recycling sub-committee chairman C.C. Cheah said that the local industry only needed sufficient imports that it could handle.

“We don't want to import the whole world's waste…We do not want limitless imports,” he told The Star Online in an interview.

In July, the Housing and Local Government Ministry revoked the Approved Permits (APs) for plastic waste imports, affecting 114 legal plastic waste factories nationwide for three months until Oct 23.

Cheah said that they agreed with the ban, although some legit local recycling operators faced a shortage of materials, affecting their operations.

“We regret that but unfortunately, it has to happen to protect the sustainability of the industry," he said.

“The plastic recycling industry should be allowed to go about in its activities provided that it is regulated,” added Cheah.

China banned plastic waste imports in 2018, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.

As a result, the waste from countries such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand was offloaded to places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to official statistics, the amount of plastic waste imported into the Malaysia almost doubled from RM274mil in 2016 to RM490mil in 2017.

Only those with APs can import plastic waste, but according to Cheah, there was a possibility that some operators sold the waste they imported to illegal ones.

The government has now made it compulsory for those wanting to import waste to get the ISO 14000 certification by June 2019.

The ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organisations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.

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Humanitarians see surge in climate-related disasters

Nina LARSON, AFP Yahoo News 12 Oct 18;

Geneva (AFP) - The number of climate-related disasters around the world is growing rapidly, humanitarians warned Friday, urging more efforts to prepare and build resilience to looming changes on a warming planet.

Climate shocks are already driving displacement, causing many to go hungry and are sparking or exacerbating conflicts around the globe, humanitarian workers said, cautioning that the situation is quickly deteriorating.

"With climate change, the shocks and hazards are multiplying," Elhadj As Sy, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told AFP in an interview.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Geneva on the impact of climate change on humanitarian situations around the globe, he cautioned that such "shocks" were "getting more frequent and more severe."

Friday's conference was aimed at unpacking the humanitarian implications of the findings in a landmark UN climate report this week, which warned drastic action was needed to prevent Earth from hurtling towards an unbearable rise in temperature.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) said the globe's surface has already warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) -- enough to lift oceans and unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, floods and droughts -- and is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise.

- 'Pressure cooker' -

Gernot Laganda, who heads the World Food Programme's climate and disaster risk reduction division, pointed out that climate shocks are already "significant drivers of displacement", forcing 22.5 million people to leave their homes each year.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, he also decried the "increasingly distractive interplay between conflict and climate disasters."

He pointed out that the world's 10 most conflict-affected countries, including Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are also impacted by extreme weather events, creating a so-called "pressure-cooker" effect.

Laganda pointed to projections that if the planet warms just 2C, 189 million more people than today will become food insecure.

"And if it is a four-degree warmer world ... we're looking beyond one billion more," he said, adding that this "is a very, very strong argument for early and decisive climate action."

Sy meanwhile said humanitarians had already seen a dramatic increase in climate and weather-related crises.

"In the 1970s, we used to be dealing with 80 to 100 severe weather-related shocks and hazards" each year, he said, contrasting that to last year, when the number was around 400 -- "four times more."

While acknowledging that climate-related shocks would likely keep climbing, Sy emphasised that it was not inevitable that such shocks and hazards should "become a disaster."

"We need to be better prepared with early warning and with early alert," he said, also stressing the importance for IFRC of continuously having volunteers on the ground in affected communities to help them to adapt to climate change.

The organisation counts some 70 million volunteers around the world, so when climate-linked shocks and hazards hit, they "find us already there," he said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 13 Oct 18

The Singapore Blue Plan 2018 is launched
Singapore Blue Plan 2018

Nov 2018 sampling events for NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme – 2nd last sampling @ Lim Chu Kang mangrove!
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Kusu Island pilgrimage 9 Oct to 7 Nov 2018
wild shores of singapore

Not the Right Cull – Monkey Culling vs Monkey Guarding
BES Drongos

‘Two-Face’: giant clams can be badass too!
Mei Lin NEO

Butterfly of the Month - October 2018
Butterflies of Singapore

Late Morning Walk At Chestnut Nature Park (06 Oct 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Conservation of Singapore’s marine ecosystems ‘starts at home’, say experts

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 13 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE — Many Singaporeans may not have heard of Pulau Satumu or Pulau Semakau, but these small southern islands boast a diverse marine ecosystem of coral reefs, coastal forests, mangroves and more.

They are part of three island groups that the Singapore Blue Plan has proposed to be designated as marine reserves, among a list of other recommendations in the third instalment of the proposal for the conservation of marine ecosystems.

The Southern island clusters are: Pulau Semakau-Hantu-Jong, Pulau Satumu-Biola, and Pulau Ubin.

The 230-page proposal, which is published every decade, was prepared by marine biologists and included contributions of more than 100 academics, environmental lawyers, and stakeholders. It presented six broad recommendations to manage and conserve the marine ecosystems in Singapore, and was submitted to the Government on Saturday (Oct 13).

Dr Zeehan Jaafar, Lead Editor of the Singapore Blue Plan, said these islands are important because they harbour a high diversity of marine life. They also represent the "little that remains of our natural areas", and serve as emblems of our national heritage, added Dr Zeehan, a lecturer at the National University of Singapore's Department of Biological Sciences.

For instance, the landfill island of Pulau Semakau boasts an ecosystem of coral reefs, patch reefs, coastal forests, intertidal sandflats, seagrass meadows, and mangrove areas.

Pulau Satumu, where the Raffles Lighthouse is located, and the adjacent islet of Pulau Biola comprise the highest percentage of coral cover in Singapore, and host a high diversity of corals and marine organisms.

"These are considered source reefs for the region and the sites can contribute to regional genetic diversity," said Dr Zeehan, who added that these reefs produce young that follow water currents and settle in coral reefs in Indonesia.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), coral reefs not only support enormous biodiversity, they also help prevent coastal erosion, and can even be a source for medical research.

Dr Zeehan said that protection for Pulau Satumu and Biola is more urgent as there have been signs that ship grounding has destroyed portions of these reefs.

She added: "We are not advocating for these areas to be closed off from members of the public. Instead, we are encouraging their protection through better management."

With larger protected areas, sensitive portions will be closed off to large groups, but other areas can continue to be utilised, said Dr Zeehan.

For example, including Pulau Hantu in the protection plan will mean that diving companies will have to be more careful about anchoring in the area, and divers have to take more care when diving to minimise harm to the coral reefs.

The proposal said that designating the islands as marine reserves will allow for better protection of marine biodiversity through better management, such as clearer agency roles and better legislation, as well as include community involvement and stakeholder participation.

Other recommendations in the Singapore Blue Plan include providing continued funding for research initiatives, and long-term monitoring programmes.

The proposal said that ensuring the "long-term sustainability of these related programmes" would be crucial to "the success of marine science in Singapore".

It also made a suggestion for the establishment of formal management systems for marine environments, including introducing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) law that requires projects to be subjected to impact assessments.

Existing legislation and administrative practices also need to be amended to fill gaps in regulation and detection of maritime offences, said the Blue Plan.

For instance, the Fisheries Act could be amended to incorporate the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act. This would make it illegal for fishing vessels to indiscriminately dispose their equipment in the sea, which could endanger marine life.


Dr Zeehan said the previous Singapore Blue Plan in 2009 resulted in a number of positive developments for marine conservation, including the 2010 Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey, and the establishment of the Sisters' Islands Marine Park.

Over 1,100 species, including several new ones, were discovered around Singapore's waters during the five-year Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the National University of Singapore.

Regarded as a conservation milestone by the community, the Sisters' Island Marine Park saw NParks initiating projects such as a coral nursery, and Singapore's first dive trail.

Singapore's first sea turtle hatchery was also opened on the island's Marine Park on Sept 29 this year.

Dr Zeehan said: "Due to (the sea's) vast nature, there is still so much that we do not know. But we do know that many human activities are causing harm to marine organisms and affecting natural marine processes."

"How can we even start fixing this seemingly insurmountable global problem? We start at home!"

New Blue Plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape
More than 100 people contributed to the third iteration of the Blue Plan, including biologists, geographers, environmental lawyers and representatives from non-governmental organisations.
Linette Lai Straits Times 13 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - Conservationists have drawn up an extensive new plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape - from mangroves and seagrass meadows to coastal forests and coral reefs.

The third iteration of the Blue Plan makes six recommendations, including improved laws to protect marine environments, formalised management systems for these areas, and sustained funding for long-term research and monitoring programmes.

It also advocates for better coordination between agencies and researchers, further measures to protect Singapore's remaining marine habitats and the inclusion of information about such habitats in the school curriculum.

More than 100 people contributed to this edition of the Blue Plan, including biologists, geographers, environmental lawyers and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

The 220-page plan was presented to Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Saturday morning (Oct 13) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Mr Lee is also Minister for Social and Family Development.

"The amazing marine biodiversity that thrives along our shores and in our waters is something we should treasure and be proud of," Mr Lee said, noting that progress has been made since the second Blue Plan was launched in 2009.

"We will approach the proposals in this Blue Plan with the same spirit of collaboration and openness," Mr Lee said. "The agencies will study the recommendations in detail and see how we can work with the marine community to realise some of the common goals."

Mr Lee said that apart from funding marine research, the Government will work to expand outreach and education efforts to help Singaporeans better appreciate the country's biodiversity. He said: "You cannot protect what you don't love, and you can't love what you don't know."

The first Blue Plan was drawn up in 2001, with a second one following eight years later. This year's instalment was led by five marine biologists, including Dr Zeehan Jaafar, a lecturer at the NUS department of biological sciences.

Dr Jaafar said that the previous iteration of the Blue Plan was much shorter and focused primarily on the protection of coral reefs.

A year after it was launched, the National Parks Board led a five-year effort to conduct the first Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey. In 2014, Sisters' Islands was designated a marine park as part of efforts to protect Singapore's coral reefs.

"But, in the past decade, there has been a shift in our research capabilities to look at other marine environments that are equally important, but not so front-and-centre as coral reefs," Dr Jaafar said. "As a result, we decided to relook some of the previous recommendations and fortify them."

One of those who worked on this year's Blue Plan is Ms Samantha Lai, a PhD candidate at NUS. The 29-year-old, who specialises in seagrass research, wants stronger legislation to protect the environment. For example, she hopes that Environmental Impact Assessments can be made legally mandatory for proposed developments.

"Marine habitats are part of our natural heritage," she said. "They are as much a part of our history as any building we have built, and we have so little left of it that we need to protect what there is."

Conservationists set out Blue Plan to preserve marine landscape
Govt will work with the marine community to realise common goals in ground-up initiative
Linette Lai Straits Times 14 Oct 18;

Conservationists have drawn up an extensive new plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape - from mangroves and seagrass meadows to coastal forests and coral reefs.

Responding to the ground-up initiative, the Government has said it will see how it can work with the marine community to realise common goals.

The third iteration of the Blue Plan makes six recommendations, including improved laws to protect marine environments, formalised management systems for these areas and sustained funding for long-term research and monitoring programmes.

It also advocates better coordination between agencies and researchers, further measures to protect Singapore's remaining marine habitats and the inclusion of information about such habitats in the school curriculum.

More than 100 people contributed to the latest edition of the Blue Plan, including biologists, geographers, environmental lawyers and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

The 220-page plan was presented to Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee yesterday at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Mr Lee is also Minister for Social and Family Development.

"The amazing marine biodiversity that thrives along our shores and in our waters is something we should treasure and be proud of," Mr Lee said, noting that progress has been made since the second Blue Plan was launched in 2009.


The amazing marine biodiversity that thrives along our shores and in our waters is something we should treasure and be proud of... You cannot protect what you don't love, and you can't love what you don't know.

SECOND MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT DESMOND LEE, who said outreach and education efforts will be expanded to help Singaporeans better appreciate the nation's biodiversity.

Coral reefs seen near Pulau Semakau. At low tide, one will find the island as well as the waters around it teeming with life, said marine biologist Huang Danwei.

"We will approach the proposals in this Blue Plan with the same spirit of collaboration and openness," he added. "The agencies will study the recommendations in detail and see how we can work with the marine community to realise some of the common goals."

Mr Lee said that apart from funding marine research, the Government will expand outreach and education efforts to help Singaporeans better appreciate the country's biodiversity. "You cannot protect what you don't love, and you can't love what you don't know," he said.

The first Blue Plan was drawn up in 2001, with the second one following eight years later. This year's instalment was led by five marine biologists, including Dr Zeehan Jaafar, a lecturer at the NUS department of biological sciences.

Dr Jaafar said that the previous iteration of the Blue Plan was much shorter and focused primarily on the protection of coral reefs.

A year after it was launched, the National Parks Board led a five-year effort to conduct the first Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey. In 2014, Sisters' Islands were designated a marine park as part of efforts to protect Singapore's coral reefs.

"But, in the past decade, there has been a shift in our research capabilities to look at other marine environments that are equally important, but not so front-and-centre as coral reefs," Dr Jaafar said. "As a result, we decided to relook some of the previous recommendations and fortify them."

One of those who worked on this year's Blue Plan was Ms Samantha Lai, 29, a PhD candidate at NUS specialising in seagrass research. She wants stronger legislation to protect the environment. "Marine habitats are part of our natural heritage," she said. "They are as much a part of our history as any building we have built, and we have so little left of it that we need to protect what there is."

Semakau - not just a landfill, but full of life
New Blue Plan by conservationists contains six recommendations to protect such habitats
Linette Lai Straits Times 14 Oct 18;

For many Singaporeans, Pulau Semakau is just an offshore landfill.

But at low tide, one will find the island as well as the waters around it teeming with life, said marine biologist Huang Danwei.

"You will see many mangrove trees and animals that live on these trees, and if you go seaward you will see a very luxurious growth of seagrasses," said Dr Huang, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore's biological sciences department. "If you go out even more, you will see a reef habitat with lots of corals."

Protecting marine habitats like Pulau Semakau is a goal of the third Blue Plan, which was drawn up by conservationists like Dr Huang, presented to Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee yesterday.

It contains six recommendations to protect such habitats in Singapore. Among them is a proposal that the coastal areas of certain islands be designated as marine reserves.

These include Pulau Semakau and its neighbours Pulau Hantu and Pulau Jong, as well as Pulau Satumu and Pulau Biola. It also includes Pulau Ubin, which is home to Chek Jawa, one of Singapore's richest ecosystems where a variety of different habitats can be found.

The plan also suggests that the waters around Lazarus, St John's and Kusu islands be made no-fishing areas as they are established sites for coral nurseries.

The latest Blue Plan states that: "Although marine habitats in Singapore are fragmented and small, these sites are each unique and host high diversity." For example, the tiny islands of Pulau Satumu and Pulau Biola have a wide variety of corals and other marine organisms.

The Blue Plan notes that protecting the waters around these islands is "urgent as there are signs ship grounding have destroyed portions of these reefs".

More than 100 people contributed to the third iteration of the Blue Plan, including biologists, geographers, environmental lawyers and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

The movement to protect marine habitats in Singapore has come a long way in the past few decades.

Speaking to the audience at yesterday's event, veteran marine biologist Leo Tan recounted his struggle to get Labrador Nature Reserve designated as a protected area many years ago. "I started on a lonely journey in the 1970s trying to save one 300m stretch of rocky beach in Labrador," Prof Tan said. "It took 30 years before it was legislated as a nature reserve."

In the 1980s and 1990s, non-governmental organisations initiated efforts to survey and conserve Singapore's coral reefs.

The first Blue Plan was produced in 2001 and the second in 2009.

This year's 220-page Blue Plan is the most extensive yet, with more than 100 contributors from various fields. Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, yesterday emphasised the importance of grounding such conservation efforts in science.

"Only by understanding the marine ecosystems and their complexities better, can we develop sustainable solutions to manage and maintain them," he said.

Three coastal areas proposed for conservation in Singapore Blue Plan
Nisha Abdul Rahim Channel NewsAsia 13 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: Three marine areas that include island clusters around Semakau and Satumu islands in southern Singapore have been proposed for immediate conservation.

This is one of six recommendations in the latest Singapore Blue Plan launched on Saturday (Oct 13).

The 220-page proposal by more than 100 environmentalists proposes ways to better protect marine ecosystems in Singapore.

The proposal, led by National University of Singapore marine biologists, with help from academics and environmental lawyers, took almost a year to develop.

One of the six recommendations include ways to conserve fragmented and small marine habitats more effectively in clusters or ecosystems.

Three such areas were proposed for "immediate conservation priority".

The first is a group of islands around Pulau Semakau, Pulau Hantu and Pulau Jong; another is the area around Pulau Satumu, where Raffles Lighthouse is located; and the third, Pulau Ubin's coastal areas including Chek Jawa.

The areas have significant biodiversity and integrate various habitats like seagrass meadows, reefs and coastal forests.

Elevated protection was also proposed for St John's Islands and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

There were also calls for stiffer laws to deter oil pollution from fishing vessels and illegal possession of protected aquatic and marine life.

The plan is based on the latest in marine conservation research, according to Dr Zeehan Jaafar, lead editor of the Singapore Blue Plan.

In the 2009 Blue Plan, they recommended areas that were mostly coral reefs.

And now, they have expanded studies on more habitat types such as mangrove areas and seagrass meadows.

"There were several key areas which we recommended for protection, most of the areas were coral reefs. In the past 10 years, we have increased our studies on other marine habitats," Dr Jaafar said.

The Sisters' Islands Marine Park, which houses a turtle hatchery was part of the previous 2009 Blue Plan.

The plan also suggests that information about biodiversity, Singapore's marine ecosystems and the natural environment be incorporated into Singapore schools' syllabus.

"The success Singapore has had with the 'Garden City' concept should be expanded to include the sea," the report said.

At the launch, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee stressed the need to involve the community.

"It is only when the broader community of Singaporeans learn about and marvel at about our biodiversity – both on land and in the water that we can better appreciate it and actively help to protect it," said Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development.

He added: "You cannot protect what you don't love, and you can't love what you don't know."

The plan will be submitted to the Government for consideration next week.

Source: CNA/hm

DOWNLOAD the Plan, SUPPORT the Plan at the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 site

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Smuggling of turtle eggs foiled in 22 instances at checkpoints since April: AVA

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 13 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - Twenty-two cases of smuggled marine turtle eggs have been detected at the checkpoints since April, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Saturday (Oct 13).

AVA said in a Facebook post that in these cases, the marine turtle eggs were meant for personal consumption.

Enforcement actions have been taken against the offenders, the authority said.

The eggs were packaged as snacks and were concealed in the baggage of travellers.

Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority detected the cases and referred them to AVA for investigation.

All marine turtles are endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which Singapore is a party of, AVA said.

Those convicted of importing, exporting, selling and displaying to the public any turtle-related parts and derivatives can be fined up to $500,000 and jailed for up to two years. They will also have to forfeit the animals and items, AVA added.

Members of the public with information on illegal wildlife trade can contact AVA on 6805-2992 or provide feedback online through AVA's website. All information will be kept in strict confidence, said the authority.

22 cases of attempted marine turtle egg smuggling foiled since April: AVA
Channel NewsAsia 13 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority has detected 22 cases of travellers trying to smuggle marine turtle eggs into Singapore since April this year, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a Facebook post on Saturday (Oct 13).

"The marine turtle eggs were packaged as snacks and concealed within the baggage of travellers. The cases were referred to AVA for investigation," AVA said.

AVA found that the marine turtle eggs were meant for personal consumption and "took enforcement actions" against the offenders.

Sea turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The import, export, sale and display of their parts and derivatives, such as turtle eggs, are prohibited under the Singapore Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act.

If found guilty, offenders may be fined up to S$500,000 and/or jailed for two years.

Anyone with information on illegal wildlife trade can contact AVA at 6805 2992 or provide information through the online feedback form on AVA's website.

Source: CNA/na(hm)

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Indonesia: 19 killed, dozens missing in floods striking N. Sumatra

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 13 Oct 18;

At least 11 students have died while another 10 are missing after a flash flood inundated a school building in Muara Saladi village in Mandailing Natal regency, North Sumatra, on Friday afternoon.

The deluge that was preceded by downpours since Thursday also damaged 22 houses and electricity poles in the province’s southern regency.

Mandailing Natal Disaster Management Agency head Yasir Nasution said the flood suddenly arrived at 4 p.m. while the students were in class at SD No. 235 state elementary school.

“Eleven students were found dead, while dozens are still missing,” Yasir told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said search and rescue teams were on site trying to find the missing students, but were hampered by disrupted telecommunications and access in the area.

It was also reported on Saturday morning that another two, a police officer and a bank official, died after a vehicle that carried them fell into the overflowing Aek Saladi River.

The heavy rain earlier caused floods on Thursday that inundated Sikara Kara village, cutting road and electricity access in the area. A bridge also collapsed because of flooding, but there were no casualties in the incident.

Another flash flood hit Sibolga, the city in the north of the province, on Thursday, killing a family of four. Their bodies were found under the rubble of their house in Sibolga Ilir subdistrict.

Sibolga mayor Syarfi Hutauruk sent his deepest condolences for the deaths of the four residents. He explained that rainstorms had occurred in several areas in Sibolga since Thursday at noon, prior to the flooding

Several areas in Sibolga, Syarfi went on to say, are prone to flooding and erosion when the rainy season comes, especially in Ketapang and Dolok Martimbang.

“Some areas here [in Sibolga] are prone to disaster, that’s why we always ask the public to be cautious, especially for those who live on the riverbanks or hill slopes,” Syarfi said on Friday.

In Simalungun, a severe flood killed a husband and wife who were dragged by the strong currents that struck their house. Their bodies were found 2 kilometers away from their house. (dpk/wit)

Five die in W. Sumatra floods
Dyaning Pangestika The Jakarta Post 13 Oct 18;

At least five people died and five people have been reported missing during flooding in West Sumatra on Thursday.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has confirmed that four people died in Tanah Datar regency. The deceased have been identified as Roni, 30, Yerinda, 56, Anis, 2, and Efendi, 10. They were all swept away by floodwater. Three other people, identified as Erizal, 55, Daswirman, 58, and Yusrizal, 45, had yet to be found as of Saturday morning.

Six people were injured and 10 buildings and two bridges severely damaged in the flood. BPBD Tanah Datar is cooperating with the Indonesian Military, the National Police and volunteers in search and rescue efforts.

Tanah Datar Regent Irdinansyah Tarmizi has declared a seven-day state of emergency from Oct. 12 to Oct. 18 in response to the disaster.

Severe flooding and erosion also occurred in West Pasaman regency. The affected districts are Pasaman, Ranah Batan, Koto Balingka, Sei Beremas, Lembah Melintang, Gunung Tuleh, Talamau, Sasak and Kinali.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said one person had died and two people had been reported missing in West Pasaman.

“At least 500 buildings are inundated, while three bridges collapsed and two houses were swept away by the flood,” Sutopo said in a statement on Saturday.

BPBD West Pasaman has started distributing relief aid to victims, but heavy equipment, staple food, blankets and clothes were still needed.

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