Best of our wild blogs: 24 Mar 18

3 Apr (Tue): Action Against Plastic Workshop for Educators and Students
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson
The Entomologist Lounge

Read more!

Secrets of the deep: Scientists from NUS, Indonesia set sail to explore marine life in West Java

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 23 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE — It is not your typical “cruise”, but that is what one professor is calling it.

On Friday (March 23), a team of 30 researchers and support crew from Singapore and Indonesia set off on a quest to find out what crabs, prawns, fishes and other marine life dwell in the seas off western and southern Java.

Over 14 days on board the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, the team will use dredges, beam trawls and other gadgets to sample the range of organisms at depths of 500m to 2,000m in the largely unexplored waters.

The average depth of the ocean is about 3,800m but based on the researchers’ experience, depths of 500m to 2,000m display the greatest biodiversity.

The route that researchers will take for the South Java Deep-Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018, from March 23 to April 5, 2018. Photo: NUS

Led by Professor Peter Ng, head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Dr Dwi Listyo Rahayu, senior research scientist at the Research Centre for Oceanography of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, this will be the first deep-sea biodiversity expedition that Singapore and Indonesia are organising together.

Departing from Muara Baru in Jakarta, they will sail anti-clockwise towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, returning to land on April 5.

The “cruise” — as Prof Ng dubbed the expedition — will also mark the first time the scientists will provide daily updates to their colleagues in Singapore on interesting creatures hauled up, if Wi-Fi on the vessel permits.

“The science will come first, but if (Iffah Iesa, a team member) sees a really cool fish, she’ll take pictures and get scientists on board to give her snippets, and she’ll write it up to send to you,” Prof Ng told reporters last week. “I think it’s important that the public knows what (we’re) doing, why (we’re doing) it.”

The two-week expedition will cost more than S$400,000, which will be shared by both sides.

Prof Ng rubbished the notion that there is no life to be found in the deep sea, which has been called no man’s land.

Past expeditions elsewhere have unearthed sea cockroaches resembling Darth Vader, bloated oil-filled fishes with poorly developed eyes as well as spectacularly coloured lobsters, he said.

During a deep-sea expedition in central Philippines organised by the Philippines, France, Taiwan and Singapore in 2005, for instance, researchers found more than 1,500 species of crabs, shrimps and lobsters, and more than 150 of these were new to science, Prof Ng said.


“Deep-sea animals generally have a long life because of the high pressure and cold temperatures. Most of the animals generally live five to 10 times longer than things in shallow waters,” he said.

Deep-sea expeditions have traditionally been organised by the French, Americans, Australians, and English, and Prof Ng said that the experience would stand Singapore and Indonesia in good stead.

In 2015, Ocean Mineral Singapore, a unit of Singapore conglomerate Keppel Corporation, signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority to explore how metal-rich rocks could be harvested in an area in the Pacific Ocean about 80 times the size of Singapore.

Prof Ng noted: “More and more organisations are starting to look at deep sea as a resource for fisheries, for oil, gas, mining and so on… How do you use it in a sustainable way?”

While the researchers will collect animal specimens during their journey, there will be “limited damage” to the environment, Prof Ng said. There is no other way, he added, to obtain definitive data needed to confirm that a species is rare or new to science, for example.

On why the team is not sending a submersible down into the deep sea, he explained that it would have been expensive and they would only be able to sample a small area. These vessels are good for detailed studies, but not for a first-cut study of a largely unknown area.

The team, which includes other members from Singapore such as fish scientist Dr Tan Heok Hui and the Tropical Marine Science Institute’s Dr Tan Koh Siang, plan to survey 29 sites during the fortnight.

The sea creatures collected will be sorted, photographed, preserved and labelled on the vessel, and some will be kept alive for short periods in chilled tanks so they can be observed, studied and filmed.

Thereafter, the scientists expect to take about two years to study the samples and plan to share the results at a special workshop in Indonesia in 2020.

The project is part of RISING50, a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia.

NUS researchers embark on first deep sea expedition in West Java
Cheryl Goh Channel NewsAsia 23 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: It’s not quite 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but close.

A team of Singapore and Indonesia scientists are venturing into the deep unknown of the West Java sea, where their goal is to uncover the vast array of marine life that, till now, has been unexplored.

This first-of-its-kind 14-day expedition from Friday (Mar 23) till Apr 5 takes place on board the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, which will carry a team of 30 researchers and support staff from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

The vessel will depart from Muara Baru, Jakarta in Indonesia, where the scientists will spend the next two weeks working in the vicinity of the Sunda Strait Trough off Cilacap, digging deep into the dredges to take samples from the seabed.

Based on the team’s experience, the depth of 500m to 2,000m usually displays the greatest diversity with the most interesting species, but the scientists also have a particular wish list they hope to document, ranging from crabs and prawns, shells, fish, urchins and even worms.

Each day, the research team plans to conduct sampling at three to four sites, covering a total of 29 sites. Each sampling exercise will take at least three to four hours to complete due to the depths involved and the time it takes to deploy the equipment.

Important biological samples will be sorted, photographed, preserved and labelled on board the research vessel. Some will even be kept alive for short periods in special, chilled aquariums so that they can be observed, studied and filmed.

Head of the NUS’ Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and one of the expedition leaders, Professor Peter Ng, said there is a wealth of biodiversity waiting to be uncovered.

"People always forget that the deep sea holds a huge number of different species of animals, many of them new to science, that we don't even know they are there," he said. "So I think it's important to find out what are the kinds of animals living there, what are the species there, and this increase of knowledge will be very good as far as the conservation, use of resources in the future is concerned."

Prof Ng also recounted past expeditions, which had “unearthed bizarre Darth Vader-like sea cockroaches, bloated oil-filled fishes with poorly developed eyes, eerie wraith-like crabs as well as spectacularly-coloured lobsters.”

Dr Dwi Listyo Rahayu, who is the chief scientist for the Indonesian team, said: “This deep-sea expedition will reveal the diversity of demersal organisms on the southwestern part of Java Island, the area where almost no exploration has ever been conducted. It will certainly incite a strong maritime spirit among young Indonesian scientists participating in the expedition to go forth and seek the many interesting animals that live in the deep waters of their country.”

The expedition is also significant because it has been 15 years in the making, and is the first time Singapore and Indonesia are teaming up on such a large-scale quest. Prof Ng said an immense amount of preparation and forward planning has taken place.

“So typically, we will plan for logistics, what we need. To feed 30 scientists on board, not counting the crew, the water, the equipment they need, the photographic equipment, and out at sea, you cannot replenish your supplies, you cannot just call somebody and somebody delivers, no such thing," he said.

"You plan for worst case scenario, medical accidents, what do you do? So a lot of planning has to take place when you do a deep sea expedition out in open sea to ensure the risks are the minimum, the science can be maximised, and the results are useful for scientists to come.”

At the end of the expedition, the samples collected will be studied by scientists from both countries. This is anticipated to take up to two years, and the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a workshop to be held in Indonesia in 2020.

The output will then be collated and published in the Museum’s science-citation journal, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Source: CNA/ng

Indonesia, Singapore lead deep-sea expedition to West Java
Team will give daily dredging updates in effort to discover new species
Samantha Boh Straits Times 23 Mar 18;

A team of explorers set off on a pioneering deep-sea expedition yesterday afternoon, hoping for a glimpse of an area where no man has ventured.

Over the next 14 days, they will sail from Jakarta to the Sunda Strait and waters off the Indonesian port of Cilacap. Off the southern coast of West Java, they will mine the rich seascape for living treasures living 500m to 2km under the sea, at 29 separate sites.

Led by Professor Peter Ng from Singapore and Dr Dwi Listyo Rahayu from Indonesia, the multinational team of 30 researchers, scientists and support staff will give daily updates of the dredging - a first for any expedition - as they scour through depths that hold the greatest diversity of animals.

Their focus will be on crabs, prawns, shells, sponges, jellyfish, worms, starfish, urchins and fishes.

They hope to discover new species in a bid to expand on existing knowledge of the Earth's biodiversity.

But with countries looking to deep-sea activities such as deep-sea mining to meet their mineral demands, such research is also crucial in providing information that will ensure such activities are carried out without severely damaging the environment, according to Prof Ng, head of the National University of Singapore's Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Singapore is among nations poised to venture into deep-sea mining, with a unit of rig builder Keppel Corporation, Ocean Mineral Singapore, securing a 15-year contract in 2015 to explore how metal-rich rocks can be harvested from the bottom of the Pacific.

"As we progress into the deep sea to use its resources, there is increased pressure to understand the deep sea," Prof Ng said. "You need to know what is there."

He said that the team will also hone skills to allow them to conduct deep-sea environmental impact studies.

This is the first time Singapore and Indonesia have organised a deep-sea biodiversity expedition together, reaffirming the strong diplomatic ties between the two nations, he added.

The team was met with much fanfare yesterday morning at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, as the voyage was officially launched. Among those present were Indonesia's Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education H. Mohamad Nasir and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

The expedition, the largest to be organised by South-east Asian scientists, will cost both countries about $400,000 in total.

The team is sailing on the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, and will collect samples at three or four sites each day. Each sampling exercise will last at least three or four hours.

Once the animals are brought on board, they will be photographed, preserved and labelled. Some will be kept in special chilled aquariums for short periods, so they can be observed and filmed.

Past expeditions have been rewarded richly. One in central Philippines organised by the Philippines, France, Taiwan and Singapore in 2005, for instance, yielded more than 1,500 species of crabs, shrimps and lobsters, 150 of which were new to science.

"You want the eureka moment, the discovery that you have seen something that has been on Earth for millions of years but no one has realised it," said Prof Ng.

Dr Rahayu, senior research scientist at the Research Centre for Oceanography of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said: "This deep-sea expedition will reveal the diversity of demersal organisms on the south-western part of Java island, an area where almost no exploration has ever been conducted." Demersal organisms are those which live close to the seabed.

Prof Ng admitted that there will be some damage to the environment as the animals are being taken from their homes.

"But since this area has not been sampled before, we decided the damage is acceptable, and it is minimal. You have to take those risks," he said. "We are not defending it, we are explaining it."

After the expedition, the samples will be studied, and the findings will be shared and discussed at a workshop slated to be held in Indonesia in 2020, and later published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Creatures of the deep sea

Deep sea carrier crab (Homologenus exilis)
This crab was discovered on an expedition to Tungsha Islands in the South China Sea in 2015 by Professor Peter Ng and French marine biologist Bertrand Richer de Forges. PHOTO: PETER NG

Saudade six-legged crab (Hexaplax saudade)
This crab is found in various parts of the South China Sea, as well as the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. It was discovered by Professor Peter Ng and Dr Dwi Listyo Rahayu, who named it in 2014. It has large glowing red eyes, and unlike other crabs, has six instead of eight legs.PHOTO: PETER NG

Blind lobster (Polycheles typhlops)
This lobster was collected by scientists during an expedition to the Philippine Sea, east of Luzon Island. This species is known to inhabit areas near coral banks on soft muddy substrates. PHOTO: CHAN TIN-YAM

Giant sea cockroach (Bathynomus kensleyi)
A Darth Vader lookalike, this Isopod was caught during an expedition to the Bohol Sea in the central Philippines. They live close to the seabed, between depths of 300m and 2.5km. PHOTO: PETER NG

NUS and RCO-LIPI scientists embark on deep-sea biodiversity expedition in West Java

A team of 30 researchers and support staff led by scientists from Singapore and Indonesia will embark on a 14-day scientific expedition to study deep-sea marine life in the area off the southern coast of West Java. Through the "South Java Deep-Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018", this is the first time that a concerted deep-sea biological exploration will be conducted in this largely unexplored part of Indonesian seas.

This unprecedented project is a reflection of the bold and collaborative spirit embodied in RISING50 -- a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. This joint initiative reaffirms the depth and diversity of the long-standing collaboration between the academic and scientific communities of Singapore and Indonesia.

The research team will depart Muara Baru, Jakarta in Indonesia, on 23 March 2018 and return on 5 April 2018. Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII will be used to sample the seabed at depths between 500 metres and 2,000 metres from the vicinity of the Sunda Strait Trough off Cilacap. Based on the team's experience, the depth of 500 metres to 2,000 metres usually displays the greatest diversity with the most interesting species.

The expedition will be led by Professor Peter Ng, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Dr Dwi Listyo Rahayu, Senior Research Scientist at the Research Center for Oceanography (RCO) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

"This is the culmination of 15 years of discussions and explorations of possibilities," said Prof Ng, chief scientist for the Singapore team. "This is the first time that Singapore and Indonesia are organising a deep-sea biodiversity expedition together and we are all very excited to find out what animals are present in an area that is practically unexplored by any biologist. There is certainly a wealth of biodiversity still to be discovered - much of it poorly known and new to science. We cannot conserve what we do not know."

Dr Rahayu, who is the chief scientist for the Indonesian team, adds, "This deep-sea expedition will reveal the diversity of demersal organisms on the southwestern part of Java Island, the area where almost no exploration has ever conducted. It will certainly incite a strong maritime spirit among young Indonesian scientists participating in the expedition to go forth and seek the many interesting animals that live in the deep-waters of their country!"

The NUS research team comprises scientists from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and the Tropical Marine Science Institute, together with researchers from the Research Center for Oceanography of Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

The Voyage

Over the 14-day expedition, scientists plan to collect numerous samples of deep-sea marine creatures which are hard to obtain and rarely accessible, from depths up to 2,000 metres with various equipment. The expedition will focus on a variety of organisms -- Crustacea (crabs and prawns), Mollusca (shells), Porifera (sponges), Cnidaria (jellyfish), Polychaeta (worms), Echinodermata (starfish and urchins), and fishes.

Prof Ng and Dr Rahayu have participated in many deep-sea expeditions in the region and they have also been involved in the discoveries of hundreds of new and rare species of deep-sea crustaceans. As the area that the team is visiting has hardly been surveyed over the centuries, they are expecting many interesting new records and rare animals, as well as new species.

Prof Ng recounted, "Our past expeditions had unearth bizarre Darth Vader like sea cockroaches, bloated oil-filled fishes with poorly developed eyes, eerie wraith-like crabs as well as spectacularly coloured lobsters. For example, during a deep sea expedition in central Philippines organised by Philippines, France, Taiwan and Singapore in 2005, we found over 1,500 species of crabs, shrimps and lobsters of all kinds, with over 150 of them new to science!"

Scientists to survey 29 sites in 14 days

This latest expedition will involve the use of various deep-sea sampling methods for qualitative and quantitative determination of benthic biodiversity. These will include dredges and beam trawls as well as a box core and a multicorer to sample the animal life in mud. Each day, the research team plans to conduct sampling at three to four sites, covering a total of 29 sites. Each sampling exercise will take at least 3 to 4 hours to complete due to the depths involved and the time it takes to deploy the equipment. Important biological samples will be sorted out, photographed, preserved and labelled on board the research vessel. Some will even be kept alive for short periods in special chilled aquariums so that they can be observed, studied and filmed.

At the end of the expedition, the samples collected will be studied by scientists from both countries. This is anticipated to take up to two years and the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a special workshop that will be held in Indonesia in 2020. The outputs will then be collated and published in the museum's science-citation journal, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

For more information about the expedition, please visit:

Related links
Get daily updates!
The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum facebook page
Their microsite

Read more!

How flies and maggots are being bred to eat your food waste and keep Singapore clean

Jack Board Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: Imagine a packet of char kway teow which has seen better days. It’s a gloomy colour and is literally crawling. There are maggots devouring what is a perennial Singapore dish.

The messy result of this invasion resembles some kind of scientific experiment. And actually that is precisely what it is.

A research team at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is digging into some of the country’s biggest challenges – food security and wastage – by taking a novel approach involving black soldier flies and their larvae.

Black soldier flies are not a typical pesky type of insect buzzing around garbage and spreading germs as one might expect. They are clean and helpful when it comes to eradicating waste and will be mobilised on the front line of keeping Singapore spotless by helping decompose food, and acting as feed themselves.

“The adults are not carriers of diseases, they don’t bite, they’re harmless, I actually think they’re pretty cute, but that’s just me,” said Associate Professor Nalini Puniamoorthy from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences.

According to the National Environment Agency, nearly 800,000 tonnes of food was wasted in Singapore in 2016, a figure that has been on the rise. The vast majority of it is not recycled.

“Imagine going to a food court, ordering a bowl of fish ball noodles or bak chor mee, and then throwing it right out. Every day. So that’s the level of food waste that we’re talking about,” Assoc Prof Puniamoorthy said.

The NUS team is using research and development to not only better understand the functions and fundamental biology of the black soldier fly, but modify its behaviour to better suit the country’s urban space.

“Nature often times has the best engineering solutions,” said Professor Rudolf Meier from the same research team, explaining how flies can actually deal with food waste.

“These particular black soldier flies, they don’t feed as adults, so all they do is they mate, they lay eggs, and then the larvae will feed,” he said.

“So you have a small facility where you breed the flies and where they’re laying the eggs, that’s a secure facility. And then you use the eggs for the recycling, the maggots come out, they feed on the food and then you kill them.”

“They eat just about anything actually. It’s a bit scary, you can put in anything and they will convert it into feed.” That includes the plate of char kway teow placed by one of Prof Meier’s colleagues, as well as other organic food waste the team is trialling.

The goal is to make the flies breed as quickly and efficiently as possible and increase the number of maggots, which act as insect vacuum cleaners on any type of food needed to be dispensed with. The maggots themselves can then be fed to chicken or fish in Singapore’s small farm operations.

“What we’re trying to do is select traits that make them efficient decomposers in the Singaporean context,” Assoc Prof Puniamoorthy said.

“You would think it’s meddling with nature but this actually occurs in nature. It’s not necessarily completely altering nature, it’s tweaking it here and there.”


Away from the laboratories buzzing with hundreds of “romantic” flies and their crawling offspring, the experiment is being rolled out for real at Citizen Farm in Queenstown.

The expansive 7,000 square metre green space is surrounded by Singapore’s high rises on land formerly occupied by a prison, Jalan Penjara, and is an area that has been transformed from a dilapidated space to a functioning urban farm.

Citizen Farm grows a variety of leafy and micro greens, edible flowers, mushrooms and insects, driven by the increasingly popular concept of “farm to table”. Most of its customers are high-end restaurants looking to prepare sustainable and locally sourced produce to their customers in Singapore.

“We wanted to use this as a test bed to see how an urban farm can be integrated into Singapore so that when this is a successful model we can replicate it all over Jurong or even Kranji, and even in the Bukit Timah area,” said the farm’s head Darren Ho.

“We have a commercial agenda. Our main source of revenue is to grow the crops and to sell the crops, whether to restaurants or consumers. But our social pillar is also very strong. We are able to rebuild that relationship between the food and the people, which is very lacking today in Singapore’s society.”

The compost the farm uses to grow its vegetables is generated with the help of the black soldier fly larvae. Ho explains that food waste like brewery grains and coffee grounds from other companies is collected each week instead of being thrown away. It can then be broken down and transformed into fertiliser.

It is all part of an effort to make Singaporeans more aware of the source of their food and make the country more self-sufficient when it comes to feeding the population.

“It’s quite amazing how reliant we are on our political friendship with our neighbouring countries. That’s where most of our food comes from, without which I think we will be eating grass,” he said.

“Urban farming provides that backdrop to be a self-sufficient city. Sure we may not be able to grow a lot of protein like pigs or cattle or chicken in the city, but there’s insects to think about. Sure we may not be able to grow fruits, but we have flowers that provide the nutrients similar to fruits.

“At the end of the day, we are still in early stages of this but I believe that in the coming years, a lot more answers will surface.”

The NUS team is looking to further optimise the agricultural processes around the black soldier fly to create what they call a closed-loop system. That essentially means recycling waste to produce more food in Singapore, negating the need to use energy to destroy it or the cost and logistics of imports.

The research and development is specifically looking at efficiency in a highly urbanised environment where agricultural manpower and space is lacking. But there are lessons that can be shared with other countries within Southeast Asia too, Prof Meier says.

“Singapore is highly relevant to all the urban centres all over the world, because once you move into a city with millions of citizens you also have space problems. That applies to vertical farming, it also applies to what we’re doing with black soldier flies,” he said.

And whether that means more people will be eating insects in the future, just like the ones being bred in the lab, he thinks it is actually likely.

“It is very clean food. It’s free of the bacteria that we normally would have to be worried about,” he said, adding a little reluctantly that “he’s not a big fan of eating insects”.

“Some people get a kick out of it. But not me.”

For more on this and other projects around Southeast Asia, tune in to Tapestry: The Heart of ASEAN on Channel NewsAsia every Tuesday from Feb 27 to Mar 27 at 11pm.

Source: CNA/jb

Read more!

From floating solar farms, to HDB rooftops: Where Singapore's sun-powered future lies

Different ways of harnessing it are being explored, as the programme Powering the Future finds out. But how realistic is the goal of having solar energy meet a far larger share of electricity demand, given the constraints?
Derrick A Paulo and Daniel Heng Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: It might seem obvious that in sunny Singapore, there's an abundance of a natural resource to be tapped for our energy needs, and a more sustainable future.

So one might wonder: Why does the island currently draw only about 2 per cent of its electricity from solar energy?

Tapping the sun's energy is more complex an issue than it might seem, beginning with at least two constraints that Singapore faces: Limited land, for solar energy generation requires large areas for photovoltaic panels to be laid; and intermittent sunshine, because of cloud movements and rain.

But a push is underway to overcome or at least mitigate these constraints, with the goal of one day having solar energy meet 15 per cent of peak electricity demand during the day.

Several projects and innovative programmes are in the works – ranging from an initiative since 2008 to install solar panels on Housing and Development Board rooftops, to floating solar 'farms' on our reservoirs.


Before the current solar power output of 140 megawatt-peak (MWp) can be bumped up to the eventual target, the plan is to reach 350 MWp by 2020. This will be about 5 per cent of Singapore’s projected peak electricity demand.

And the HDB has a role to play as the largest housing developer here. It has about 10,000 residential blocks, providing "ample" roof space.

“Aspirationally, we want to install solar panels in every block that we can,” HDB deputy director (Energy Research) Ng Bingrong told Channel NewsAsia’s two-part special, Powering The Future.

But retrofitting rooftops with a solar energy system can be a tall order, and can take up to 40 days on each block.

“We’ve to take into consideration the block configuration and how to place the panels, to maximise solar generation; and looking at the existing roof structure design, how to lay the structural support and the trunking of the wiring,” he said.

In 2014, the HDB and the Economic Development Board launched the SolarNova programme to accelerate the deployment of solar panels across government agencies. It will have an estimated capacity sufficient to power 88,000 four-room flats annually.

In housing estates, this electricity generated can be used to power the gamut of services needed, from water pumps to corridor lights to lifts.

Across the island, there are over 2,000 solar panel installations on commercial and residential buildings. That number is rising. But since solar energy generation is dependent on surface area, Singapore’s land constraints remain a challenge.

One solution is to tap water surfaces.

This is being done at Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas, home to the world’s largest floating solar-cell test bed. It measures 1.5 times the size of a football field.

Here, 10 different systems are being assessed, so that “we learn as much as possible before we go into a larger deployment”, said Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris) deputy chief executive officer Thomas Reindl.

In principle, a floating solar farm is not that different from traditional ones on land. “You can put solar panels wherever they face the sun,” noted Dr Reindl. And in this case, the panels are placed on pontoons.

But Singapore must first test the techniques and economic feasibility of using this “interesting option” for enhancing its solar power capacity.

The EDB and national water agency PUB built the S$11-million test bed in 2016. And it generates one MWp of energy - enough to power 250 four-room flats for a year.

More importantly, the floating panels have performed 5 to 15 per cent better than Singapore’s rooftop installations.

PUB chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen said: “This is mainly due to the cooler temperature of the reservoir environment.

Also, we have found no significant impact on water quality and biodiversity.

Based on these results, the PUB is exploring how to scale up the deployment of floating panels. For example, it is doing engineering and environmental studies at both Tengeh Reservoir and Upper Peirce Reservoir.

With 17 reservoirs dotted around the island, there is the potential to add “a few hundred” megawatts of power, reckoned Dr Reindl.

There is, however, another consideration: Many of the reservoirs are designated for water activities. Said Mr Tan: “We would then have to plan together how we can allocate space for the solar panels and the water activities.”


To install panels on more surface areas, Singapore is also turning to building facades. This requires special panels known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs), which can be placed on buildings in many ways.

“BIPVs can be structurally integrated into balconies. They can be used as a window facade, as cladding … and as a prefabricated system that can be easily plugged into the facade,” said Seris research fellow Veronika Shabunko.

Last year, a Seris team installed solar panels on the side of a building at the National University of Singapore to see how they would fare in different weather conditions.

It is important to do such tests also because the panels must comply with Singapore’s building codes. And apart from the regulators, BIPVs must meet the standards of another group: Architects.

Dr Shabunko explained: “The aesthetic of building-integrated photovoltaics is also very important because architects have to accept them. And engineers have to work with architects in order to integrate such systems into the building facades.”

So, for instance, BIPVs can be blue, golden, black, white or semi-transparent. “There are lots of newly developed BIPV modules that are flexible and can be placed on any curved surface,” she added.


For all these efforts to mitigate land constraints, one fact will not change: Even in tropical Singapore, it is not always sunny. On average, the city state enjoys 5.5 hours of sunshine daily.

There are cloud movements. There is heavy rainfall up to five months in a year. And haze from forest fires in the region can reduce solar energy yield by up to a quarter.

All these cause an occurrence called solar intermittency and thus the energy produced would fluctuate. Hence, a team of researchers are developing solar storage technologies that will smooth out the fluctuations.

And they are doing it on Pulau Semakau.

“Semakau Island is not inhabited, and this allows us to test various kinds of technologies and different scenarios before we can deploy them in a more densely populated area,” said Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator director Choo Fook Hoong.

The microgrid being tested integrates renewable energy sources with battery storage. Such a system can supply electricity to urban consumers or to remote communities, which means it could also be an affordable energy solution within the region.

Currently in its first phase, the project features over 4,500 square metres of solar panels, lithium batteries and a hydrogen refuelling station for electric cars.

It is also harnessing another element that Singapore benefits from even at night: Wind. Noted Professor Choo,

The combined effect (of wind and solar energy) is that you have electricity supply during the day and night.

When fully completed in five years’ time, the system will cover the size of eight to nine football fields.


On Pulau Ubin, another microgrid is already being put through its paces, benefiting some 30 businesses.

Before the Energy Market Authority implemented this project in 2013, diesel generators were the only source of fuel on the island, which is not on the national power grid.

And it was “quite difficult” to rely on the generators because if one malfunctioned, there had to be another on standby, said Ubin resident Koh Bee Choo, who runs a bicycle rental shop there.

“Now the solar-powered system is excellent. There’s no power cut, no problem at all,” said Ms Koh, who saves S$100 to S$200 a month from the switch.

While integrating such a solar grid into a small community may be straightforward, a more complex solution will be needed for the mainland.

As Dr Reindl noted, solar energy must be added to Singapore’s power grid without jeopardising its stability.

That is why a control system is also being tested to forecast solar intermittency across the country. It measures the sunlight intensity at any given solar installation site, and how well the system is converting sunlight into electricity.

Any deviation from the projected numbers should trigger an alert, and action can be taken to ensure an even power supply.

To increase predictive accuracy, more cameras are now being added to aid in the understanding of cloud movements.

“Our vision going forward is to use this real-time monitoring system and eventually make it into an autopilot,” said Dr Reindl.


Even as all these technologies are being developed, the country’s size is still a factor limiting their application. So the Republic is looking to become a solar hub for the region - where cutting-edge ideas can originate and take flight.

Singapore will need an ecosystem of solar energy players. And so far, more than 50 companies, local and global, have set up base here, across the manufacturing, project development and financing segments. is one example. The local start-up is building a peer-to-peer energy trading platform ahead of the full liberalisation of the energy market later this year.

This platform will allow owners of solar panels to sell the surplus power produced in the daytime to other owners and consumers. If it takes off, this trading platform might be the first of its kind in the world. co-founder and CEO Julius Tan said: “We hope that we can encourage a livelier community of both consumers and producers. They can possibly discuss how best they can optimise their solar energy systems.”

Meanwhile, Norwegian manufacturer REC Solar has already won an international award for the performance and reliability of its TwinPeak 2 Series solar panels – whose research and development, design and launch were all done here.

The company has also been inspired by Singapore’s land scarcity to develop more flexible solar installations.

“We’re working with the Singapore government on movable solutions so we can deploy solar PVs on vacant land until it’s ready for development,” said CEO Steve O’Neil.

“It’s this kind of ecosystem where so many people are working together to bring clean energy to Singapore and to the world.”

Reducing the nation’s carbon footprint remains a big undertaking, but people like him and Mr Tan are optimistic that at least the future of solar energy here looks bright.

Watch the first episode of the Channel NewsAsia special Powering The Future here. Catch the second episode which is about solar energy on Tuesday, March 27, 9.30pm.

Source: CNA/dp

Read more!

Maximum temperatures in Singapore's cool months rising faster than warmer months: MSS

Channel NewsAsia 23 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: December and January, traditionally the cooler months in Singapore, experienced the highest rate of increase in extreme warm temperatures between 1984 and 2017, according to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

In its 2017 Annual Climate Assessment Report released on Friday (Mar 23), MSS said during the two months of December and January, there has been the strongest rate of increase in warm days and decrease in the number of cool days.

Between 1984 and 2017, the mean daily maximum temperatures for December and January increased by 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade, while the highest daily maximum temperatures increased by 0.31 degrees Celsius per decade.

Along with the warmer weather, there has also been an increase in rainfall during these two months, which are the wet phase of the Northeast Monsoon season. This is consistent with a warmer atmosphere being able to hold more moisture, which can then lead to higher rainfall from more severe rain events when they do occur, according to MSS.

In comparison, the maximum temperatures in the typically hotter months of April and May saw a more moderate rate of change over the same period.

"These trends indicate that the gap in extreme warm temperatures between the cooler and warmer months of the year is narrowing," it said, adding that the reasons for these trends require further studies and research.

The annual mean temperature over Singapore has risen from 1984 to 2017, at an average rate of around 0.26 degrees Celsius per decade.

Monthly temperatures in 2017 were mostly slightly above the monthly 30-year average, with December 2017 differing most from the long-term monthly average with temperatures that were 0.6 degrees Celsius higher.

In January, MSS had announced that 2017 was the warmest year on record for Singapore that was not influenced by an El Nino event, with a mean annual temperature 27.7 degrees Celsius.

The report on Friday showed that the warmest month in 2017 was in June, with an average temperature of 29.4 degrees Celsius across all stations, while the coolest month was in February, with an average temperature of 26.1 degrees Celsius.

2017 marks hottest year for Singapore without El Nino’s influence
Today Online 23 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE – The mercury level hit the highest mark in Singapore in 2017, marking it the warmest year on record over the past few decades that was not influenced by an El Nino event, according to the Annual Climate Assessment 2017 released by the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) on Friday (March 23).

This is indicative of the long-term temperature rise that Singapore has been experiencing "due to factors such as global warming and urbanisation", said the MSS on its annual report on Singapore's climate trends.

The year 2017 was Singapore's warmest on record "that was not influenced by an El Nino event, which is indicative of the long-term warming that Singapore has been experiencing," said the MSS.

According to the report, the annual mean temperature for 2017 was 27.7°C, 0.2°C higher than the 1981-2010 long-term average.

The last year without El Nino was in 2011, which saw an annual mean temperature of 27.6°C. The coolest year without El Nino was in 1985 at 27.1°C. In comparison, the annual mean temperature in 2016 was 28.4°C.

The MSS said the annual mean temperature has risen at an average rate of around 0.26°C per decade from 1984 to 2017.

The report also noted that the typically cooler months of December and January have experienced the highest rate of increase in extreme warm temperatures over the past few decades in Singapore.

The trends indicated that the "gap in extreme warm temperatures between the cooler and warmer months of the year is narrowing", it added.

However, the MSS said there is no current explanation for its findings and that it is "an area that requires further studies and research".

Highlighting the temperature extremes for 2017, the MSS said that Jurong West saw the highest temperature recorded on March 15, 2017 at 35.7°C.

Meanwhile, residents living at Tai Seng and Pulau Ubin experienced a balmy 21.7°C on the night of Jan 11, 2017, while those in Tuas got their turn on Aug 15 night.

The warmest month was recorded in June last year at an average temperature of 29.4°C, while the coolest was in February at an average of 26.1°C.

Read more!

Malaysia: International bird-watchers congregating at Kenyir

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 23 Mar 18;

HULU TERENGGANU: From tomorrow, Terengganu’s Tasik Kenyir will be a meeting point for international bird and nature lovers for the sixth annual Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest.

The two-day event organised by Tourism Terengganu, hopes to create environmental awareness and popularise bird-watching activities.

Event organising chairman Alex Lee said that the international field of 80 would include bird-watching specialists from the United States, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Nigeria, Palestine, Pakistan and Canada.

He said they would be joined by participants from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin and the Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah).

Lee added that the quest would include lectures, workshops, jungle-trekking, a speed-boat cruise to the National Park for bird-count, canopy walk and bird-watching at Sungai Petang and Sungai Buweh ‘Kenyir Hornbill Valley’, catch-and-release of fly-fishing, a visit to the Kelah Sanctuary and an overnight stay at the boathouse.

“The public are welcome to join in this unique event to enjoy the wealth of nature and wildlife in Terengganu.

“Even National Geographic recently featured the importance of birds, highlighting two species found at Tasik Kenyir,” said Lee, who is also Ping Anchorage Travel and Tours managing director.

He added that the event was also aimed at getting commitment among the community to conserve the environment, especially flora and fauna, to tourism industry players.

“We are confident that the event will offer participants and visitors a deeper experience, raising awareness of Terengganu’s environmental heritage,” said Lee, who is also Terengganu Tourist Association deputy chairman and the annual Terengganu International Eco and Marine Tourism Conference organising chairman.

Kenyir, he added, was one of the main places for birdwatching activities in Malaysia.

“Based on studies, there are 296 different bird species, including that of nine hornbills, and resident and migratory birds in Tasik Kenyir.

“The larger birds include nine hornbill species and 20 species of prey-birds or raptors.

“Birds of various colours and sizes play an important role in the ecosystem.

“Most of the birds are easily seen and found not far from the lake’s Gawi Jetty,” said Lee.

The hornbill species at Tasik Kenyir are ‘oriental pied, great, rhinocerous, white-crowned, wrinkled, helmeted, bushy-crested, wreathed and black’.

More importantly, Lee said that Kenyir was surrounded by unspoilt natural flora and fauna, which made it a suitable location for research and adventure.

The lectures will be conducted by Terengganu MNS committee member and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin lecturer Anuar McAfee on ‘Why Birds?’; MNS president Henry Goh on ‘MNS, Birdlife International and Environmental Conservation through the Protection of Birds and their Habitat’;

American flyfishing angler Chris McIIravy on ‘Economic and Environmental Benefits of Flyfishing in Terengganu’; conservation science research group Rimba representative John Mathis on ‘Tasik Kenyir, Wildlife and Future State Park’; and Bird Group Taman Negara representative Abdul Jalil Abdul Rahman on ‘‘Bird Watching: Benefits for People and the Environment’.

Read more!

Indonesia successful in peatland management: UN

Antara 24 Mar 18;

Illustration. Residents tried to wet the peat so that land fire did not spread to the pineapple garden area in Pekanbaru, Riau, last month. The provincial government of Riau establishes the emergency alert status of forest and land fires from 19 February to 31 May 2018. (ANTARA PHOTO/Rony Muharrman)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Erik Solheim, praised Indonesia`s efforts in restoring its peat ecosystems, saying it should serve as an example for other countries.

"The destruction of peatlands around the world will be a major blow to the Paris Treaty and for younger generations," Solheim said in a press release issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) on Friday.

Solheim says the international community is paying attention to Indonesia as one of the world`s largest peatlands with over 15 million hectares (ha).

After the great forest and land fires in 2015, particularly peatland fires which are highly difficult to put out, the Administration of President Joko Widodo made peat improvement and governance a national priority.

After a meeting on Thursday of the Peatland Global Initiative Partners (GPI) in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, Solheim requested the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo to learn from Indonesia`s experience in the recovery of peat ecosystems. "The Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo must learn from Indonesia," he said.

Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar was the event`s keynote speaker. Also present was Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo, Clement Mouamba, Minister of Environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo and Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Congo, Arlette Soudan-Nonau.

Bakar explained the great land and forest fire in 2015, especially the peat fire, was a valuable lesson for the Indonesian Government which it responded to through policies to improve peat governance and prevention of peat fires.

"Indonesia managed to reduce the fires as much as 93.6 percent. This success is a testament to the seriousness of President Joko Widodo to make the most common land and forest fire prevention in peatlands as a national priority," Bakar said.

One of the key successes of Indonesia is the ability to effectively engage all parties across the board, including encouraging the involvement of the private sector to meet its legal obligation on peatland management.

The real efforts of President Joko Widodo in managing the peatland saved millions of Indonesians from forest and land fires in the 2016-2017 period, after occurring annually for almost two decades.

Strong and thorough peat governance undertaken by the Indonesian government is an exact example for all countries in the world who have similar problems.

This achievement is in line with President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla`s instructions in November 2015 which should be recognised internationally.

"Because the majority of land and forest fire problems in peatlands are universally applicable," Bakar said, during her visit to the 3rd Peatland Initiative Global Partner (GPI) meeting in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo.

In the future, two countries with the largest peat in the world, the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo will soon undertake a study in Indonesia. "Indonesia will lead south-south cooperation to tackle the Congo Basin peat for the world," Bakar said.

The Congo Basin covers three countries that have the second largest peatland in the world. The three countries are Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. In addition to Indonesia and the two Congos, the other largest peat country in the world is Peru.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

Read more!

Indonesia: Samarinda on emergency status after flooding

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 23 Mar 18;

The Samarinda administration on Friday declared emergency status following severe floods that had hit the city the day before.

Along with the emergency status, the administration will have to set aside funds to assist more than 9,000 residents affected by the floods. The affected residents, who lived in Loa Bakung subdistrict and Sungai Kunjang and Loa Janan Ilir districts, were forced to leave their homes.

“The amount of the budget will be determined later,” said Samarinda city secretary Sugeng Chairuddin on Friday.

Torrential rains that had showered Samarinca since Wednesday night triggered the floods.

Acting Mayor Zairin Zain said Loa Janan Ilir and Loa Bakung, areas surrounding Mahakam river, had never been flooded before. The areas were home to shipping and warehouse industries.

“I have instructed relevant agencies to check [business] permits and site plans in those areas to check their compliance,” Zairin said.

Read more!

Australia: More than 130 whales die in mass stranding in Western Australia

Rescue operation under way to save 15 beached whales in Hamelin Bay near Augusta on state’s south-west coast
The Guardian 23 Mar 18;

One hundred and thirty-five whales have died after being washed ashore in Western Australia.

A rescue operation began on Friday morning in Hamelin Bay, on the state’s south-western tip, to save the remaining 15, with volunteers and vets trying to keep the surviving short-finned pilot whales alive before deciding when to herd them out to sea.

One witness described trying to steer one of the animals out to sea, only to watch it beach itself again.

Jeremy Chick, who is controlling the rescue attempt near the town of Augusta, said the main priorities were to ensure the welfare of the remaining live whales and the safety of everyone involved in the operation before any rescue attempt was made to herd the whales back out to sea.

“The strength of the animals and the windy and possibly wet weather conditions will affect when and where we attempt to move them out to sea,” he said.

People were asked to avoid the area because rescuers had enough staff there.

Authorities warned the public to take care near the water because the dead and dying animals could bring sharks closer to shore. A three-metre shark was seen in the bay within a few hours.

Hamelin beach is closed from Hamelin Caravan Park to North Point including Grace Road and Reserve Road, and a shark alert has been issued for the area.

The largest mass stranding of whales in WA happened in 1996 when 320 long-finned pilot whales stranded themselves in Dunsborough.

Short-finned pilot whales inhabit tropical and subtropical waters and may be seen in the hundreds but groups usually number fewer than 100.

On Friday, the whales were first spotted by a commercial fisherman at 6am on Friday.

Read more!

Destruction of nature as dangerous as climate change, scientists warn

Unsustainable exploitation of the natural world threatens food and water security of billions of people, major UN-backed biodiversity study reveals
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 23 Mar 18;

Human destruction of nature is rapidly eroding the world’s capacity to provide food, water and security to billions of people, according to the most comprehensive biodiversity study in more than a decade.

Such is the rate of decline that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change, noted the authors of the UN-backed report, which was released in Medellin, Colombia on Friday.

Among the standout findings are that exploitable fisheries in the world’s most populous region – the Asia-Pacific – are on course to decline to zero by 2048; that freshwater availability in the Americas has halved since the 1950s and that 42% of land species in Europe have declined in the past decade.

Underscoring the grim trends, this report was released in the week that the decimation of French bird populations was revealed, as well as the death of the last male northern white rhinoceros, leaving the species only two females from extinction.

“The time for action was yesterday or the day before,” said Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which compiled the research. “Governments recognise we have a problem. Now we need action, but unfortunately the action we have now is not at the level we need.”

“We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature or risk not only the future we want but even the lives we currently lead,” he added.

Divided into four regional reports, the study of studies has been written by more than 550 experts from over 100 countries and taken three years to complete. Approved by the governments of 129 members nations, the IPBES reports aim to provide a knowledge base for global action on biodiversity in much the same way that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is used by policymakers to set carbon emission targets.

Although poaching often grabs the headlines for the demise of the rhino and other animals, worldwide the biggest threats to nature are from habitat loss, , chemicals .

Conversion of forests to croplands and wetlands to shrimp farms has fed a human population that has more than doubled since the 1960s, but at a devastating cost to other species – such as pollinating insects and oxygen-producing plants – on which our climate, economy and well-being depend.

In the Americas, more than 95% of high-grass prairies have been transformed into farms, along with 72% of dry forests and 88% of the Atlantic forests, notes the report. The Amazon rainforest is still mostly intact, but it is rapidly diminishing and degrading along with an even faster disappearing cerrado (tropical savannah). Between 2003 to 2013, the area under cultivation in Brazil’s northeast agricultural frontier more than doubled to 2.5m hectares, according to the report.

“The world has lost over 130m hectares of rainforests since 1990 and we lose dozens of species every day, pushing the Earth’s ecological system to its limit,” said Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Programme. “Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are not only the foundation for our life on Earth, but critical to the livelihoods and well-being of people everywhere.”

The rate of decline is moreover accelerating. In the Americas – which has about 40% of the world’s remaining biodiversity – the regional population is gobbling up resources at twice the rate of the global average. Despite having 13% of the people on the planet, it is using a quarter of the resources, said Jake Rice, a co-chair of the Americas assessment.

Since the start of colonisation by Europeans 500 years ago, he said 30% of biodiversity has been lost in the region. This will rise to 40% in the next 10 years unless policies and behaviours are transformed.

“It will take fundamental change in how we live as individuals, communities and corporations,” he said. “We keep making choices to borrow from the future to live well today. We need a different way of thinking about economics with a higher accountability of the costs in the future to the benefits we take today,” Rice said.

“It’s because of us,” added Mark Rounsevell, co-chair of the European assessment. “We are responsible for all of the declines of biodiversity. We need to decouple economic growth from degradation of nature. We need to measure wealth beyond economic indicators. GDP only goes so far.”

The authors stressed the close connection between climate change and biodiversity loss, which are adversely affecting each other. By 2050, they believe climate change could replace land-conversion as the main driver of extinction.

In many regions, the report says current biodiversity trends are jeopardising UN global development goals to provide food, water, clothing and housing. They also weaken natural defences against extreme weather events, which will become more common due to climate change.

Although the number of conservation areas has increased, most governments are failing to achieve the biodiversity targets set at the 2010 UN conference in Aichi, Japan. In the Americas, only 20% of key biodiversity areas are protected.

The authors urged an end to subsidies for agriculture and energy that are encouraging unsustainable production. The European Union’s support for fishing was among those cited for criticism. Watson also urged people to switch to a more sustainable diet (less beef, more chicken and vegetables) and to waste less food, water and energy.

There are glimmers of hope. In northern Asia, forest cover has increased by more than 22% as a result of tree-planting programs, mostly in China. But this was from a very low base and with far fewer species than in the past. In Africa, there has been a partial recovery of some species, though there is still a long way to go.

Watson – a former chair of the IPCC and a leading figure in the largely successful campaign to reduce the gases that were causing a hole in the ozone layer – said the biodiversity report was the most comprehensive since 2005 and the first of its type that involved not just scientists, but governments and other stakeholders.

Despite the grim outlook, he said there was cause for hope. The report outlines several different future paths, depending on the policies adopted by governments and the choices made by consumers. None completely halt biodiversity loss, but the worst-case scenarios can be avoided with greater conservation efforts. The missing link is to involve policymakers across government and to accept that biodiversity affects every area of the economy. Currently, these concerns are widely accepted by foreign and environment ministries; the challenge is to move the debate to incorporate this in other areas of government, such as agriculture, energy and water. Businesses and individual consumers also need to play a more responsible role, said Watson.

“We don’t make recommendations because governments don’t like being told what to do. So, instead, we give them options,” he said.

The IPBES report will be used to inform decision-makers at a major UN conference later this year. Signatories to the Convention for Biodiversity will meet in Sharm El-Sheikh in November to discuss ways to raise targets and strengthen compliance. But there have been more than 140 scientific reports since 1977, almost all of which have warned of deterioration of the climate or natural world. Without more pressure from civil society, media and voters, governments have been reluctant to sacrifice short-term economic goals to meet the longer-term environmental challenge to human wellbeing.

“Biodiversity is under serious threat in many regions of the world and it is time for policymakers to take action at national, regional and global levels,” said José Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Others have put the crisis in starker terms. Biologist Paul Ehrlich, has warned that civilisational collapse is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to the destruction of the natural world.

IPBES: Keeping its finger on the pulse of biodiversity
AFP Yahoo News 24 Mar 18;

Medellín (Colombia) (AFP) - The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which published a major assessment on the health of the world's species Friday, is an independent body created by more than 100 countries in 2012.

-- Its mission is to gather all the available science on the state of biodiversity, to project future changes, and advise governments on policies to better protect nature's bounty.

-- The IPBES has 128 signed-up country members. Its secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.

-- It is not a UN body, but was modelled on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose monumental reports helped alert the world to the dangers of global warming and paved the way for a 2015 global plan of action dubbed the Paris Agreement.

-- The IPBES brought out its maiden analysis, on the sorry state of bees and other pollinating animals, in 2016.

-- On Friday, it released four assessments on the state of biodiversity in four world regions -- the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia. Another, about the health of soil, will follow on March 26.

-- Each report takes three years to complete at a cost of about $1 million (about 806,000 euros) apiece.

-- The IPBES gets money from a trust fund replenished by voluntary contributions from member states.

-- The hundreds of scientists who work on each report are volunteers.

-- The experts do not conduct their own research, but pull together data from thousands of scientific publications and condense them into a manageable summary for government policymakers -- who sign off on their content.

-- The body was hit with conflict of interest claims when it emerged that two of the authors of its 2016 pollinator report worked for agrochemical companies Bayer and Syngenta, producers of neonicotinoid pesticides suspected of being involved in a mysterious surge in bee deaths. The IPBES insisted there was no conflict, and said multiple points of view are needed for a balanced analysis.

Biodiversity and nature's contributions continue dangerous decline, scientists warn
Human well-being at risk. Landmark reports highlight options to protect and restore nature and its vital contributions to people
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Science Daily 23 Mar 18;

Biodiversity -- the essential variety of life forms on Earth -- continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature's capacity to contribute to people's well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four landmark science reports released today, written by more than 550 leading experts, from over 100 countries.

The result of three years of work, the four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services cover the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, as well as Europe and Central Asia -- the entire planet except the poles and the open oceans. The assessment reports were approved by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), in Medellín, Colombia, at the 6th session of its Plenary. IPBES has 129 State Members.

"Biodiversity and nature's contributions to people sound, to many people, academic and far removed from our daily lives," said the Chair of IPBES, Sir Robert Watson, "Nothing could be further from the truth -- they are the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life. The best available evidence, gathered by the world's leading experts, points us now to a single conclusion: we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature -- or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead. Fortunately, the evidence also shows that we know how to protect and partially restore our vital natural assets."

The extensively peer-reviewed IPBES assessment reports focus on providing answers to key questions for each of the four regions, including: why is biodiversity important, where are we making progress, what are the main threats and opportunities for biodiversity and how can we adjust our policies and institutions for a more sustainable future?

In every region, with the exception of a number of positive examples where lessons can be learned, biodiversity and nature's capacity to contribute to people are being degraded, reduced and lost due to a number of common pressures -- habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species and climate change, among others.

Declining Biodiversity -- Now and in the Future

The Americas

"In the Americas, rich biodiversity makes an immense contribution to the quality of life, helping to reduce poverty while strengthening economies and livelihoods," said Dr. Jake Rice (Canada), co-chair of the Americas assessment with Dr. Cristiana Simão Seixas (Brazil) and Prof. Maria Elena Zaccagnini (Argentina).

"The economic value of the Americas' land-based nature's contributions to people is estimated to be more than US$24 trillion per year -- equivalent to the region's GDP, yet almost two-thirds -- 65% -- of these contributions are in decline, with 21% declining strongly. Human-induced climate change, which affects temperature, precipitation and the nature of extreme events, is increasingly driving biodiversity loss and the reduction of nature's contributions to people, worsening the impact of habitat degradation, pollution, invasive species and the overexploitation of natural resources."

According to the report, under a 'business as usual' scenario, climate change will be the fastest growing driver negatively impacting biodiversity by 2050 in the Americas, becoming comparable to the pressures imposed by land use change. On average today, the populations of species in an area are about 31% smaller than was the case at the time of European settlement. With the growing effects of climate change added to the other drivers, this loss is projected to reach 40% by 2050.

The report highlights the fact that indigenous people and local communities have created a diversity of polyculture and agroforestry systems, which have increased biodiversity and shaped landscapes. However, the decoupling of lifestyles from the local environment has eroded, for many, their sense of place, language and indigenous local knowledge. More than 60% of the languages in the Americas, and the cultures associated with them, are troubled or dying out.


"Africa's immense natural resources and its diverse cultural heritage are among its most important strategic assets for both human development and well-being," said Dr. Emma Archer (South Africa), co-chair of the African assessment with Dr. Kalemani Jo Mulongoy (DRC) and Dr. Luthando Dziba (South Africa). "Africa is the last place on Earth with a wide range of large mammals, yet today there are more African plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and large mammals threatened than ever before by a range of both human-induced and natural causes."

"Africa is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and this is going to have severe consequences for economically marginalized populations. By 2100, climate change could also result in the loss of more than half of African bird and mammal species, a 20-30% decline in the productivity of Africa's lakes and significant loss of African plant species."

The report adds that approximately 500,000 square kilometres of African land is already estimated to have been degraded by overexploitation of natural resources, erosion, salinization and pollution, resulting in significant loss of nature's contributions to people. Even greater pressure will be placed on the continent's biodiversity as the current African population of 1.25 billion people is set to double to 2.5 billion by 2050.

Marine and coastal environments make significant economic, social and cultural contributions to the people of Africa. Damage to coral reef systems, mostly due to pollution and climate change, has far-reaching implications for fisheries, food security, tourism and overall marine biodiversity.


"Biodiversity and ecosystem services contributed to rapid average annual economic growth of 7.6% from 1990 to 2010 in the Asia-Pacific region, benefitting its more than 4.5 billion people. This growth, in turn, has had varying impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services," said Dr. Madhav Karki (Nepal), co-chair of the Asia-Pacific assessment with Dr. Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu (Sri Lanka). "The region's biodiversity faces unprecedented threats, from extreme weather events and sea level rise, to invasive alien species, agricultural intensification and increasing waste and pollution."

The report says that although there has been an overall decline in biodiversity, there have also been some important biodiversity successes including, for example, increases in protected areas. Over the past 25 years, marine protected areas in the region increased by almost 14% and terrestrial protected area increased by 0.3%. Forest cover increased by 2.5%, with the highest increases in North East Asia (22.9%) and by South Asia (5.8%).

There are concerns, however, that these efforts are insufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity and the decline in the value of nature's contributions to people in the region. Unsustainable aquaculture practices, overfishing and destructive harvesting threaten coastal and marine ecosystems, with projections that, if current fishing practices continue, there will be no exploitable fish stocks in the region by 2048. Intertidal zones are also rapidly deteriorating due to human activities, with coral reefs of critical ecological, cultural and economic importance, already under serious threat, and some reefs having already been lost, especially in South and South-East Asia. According to the report, up to 90% of corals will suffer severe degradation by 2050, even under conservative climate change scenarios.

The report emphasizes that climate change and associated extreme events pose great threats, especially to coastal ecosystems, low-lying coastal areas and islands. Climate change is also impacting species distributions, population sizes, and the timing of reproduction and migration. Increased frequencies of pest and disease outbreaks resulting from these changes may have additional negative effects on agricultural production and human well-being, with impacts projected to worsen.

Forests, alpine ecosystems, inland freshwater and wetlands, as well as coastal systems are identified as the most threatened Asia-Pacific ecosystems. The increasing variety and abundance of invasive alien species is highlighted as one of the region's most serious drivers of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss.

Europe and Central Asia

A major trend is the increasing intensity of conventional agriculture and forestry, which leads to biodiversity decline. There are also examples of sustainable agricultural and forestry practices that are beneficial to biodiversity and nature's contributions to people in the region. Nature's material contributions to people, such as food and energy, have been promoted at the expense of both regulating contributions, such as pollination and soil formation, and non-material contributions, such as cultural experiences or opportunities to develop a sense of place.

"The people of the region consume more renewable natural resources than the region produces," said Prof. Markus Fischer (Switzerland), co-chair of the Europe and Central Asia assessment with Prof. Mark Rounsevell (UK), "Although this is somewhat off-set by higher biocapacities in Eastern Europe and northern parts of Western and Central Europe."

In the European Union, among assessments of the conservation status of species and habitat types of conservation interest, only 7% of marine species and 9% of marine habitat types show a 'favourable conservation status'. Moreover 27% of species assessments and 66% of habitat types assessments show an 'unfavourable conservation status', with the others categorised as 'unknown'.

The authors find that further economic growth can facilitate sustainable development only if it is decoupled from the degradation of biodiversity and nature's capacity to contribute to people. Such decoupling, however, has not yet happened, and would require far-reaching change in policies and tax reforms at the global and national levels.

Abandonment of traditional land-use systems, and loss of associated indigenous and local knowledge and practices, has been widespread in Europe and Central Asia, the report finds. Production-based subsidies driving growth in agricultural, forestry and natural resource extraction sectors tend to exacerbate conflicting land-use issues, often impinging on available territory for traditional users. Maintenance of traditional land use and lifestyles in Europe and Central Asia is strongly related to institutional adequacy and economic viability.

Global Development Goals in Jeopardy

"One of the most important findings across the four IPBES regional assessments is that failure to prioritize policies and actions to stop and reverse biodiversity loss, and the continued degradation of nature's contributions to people, seriously jeopardises the chances of any region, and almost every country, meeting their global development targets," said Dr. Anne Larigauderie, the Executive Secretary of IPBES.

"Achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Paris Agreement on climate change, all depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity. Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human wellbeing as is the fight against global climate change."

"Richer, more diverse ecosystems are better able to cope with disturbances -- such as extreme events and the emergence of diseases. They are our 'insurance policy' against unforeseen disasters and, used sustainably, they also offer many of the best solutions to our most pressing challenges."

The assessment of the Americas concludes that continued biodiversity loss could undermine the achievement of some of the SDGs as well as some of the international climate-related goals, targets and aspirations.

All the plausible future scenarios explored in the Africa assessment highlight that the drivers of biodiversity loss will increase, with associated negative impacts on nature's contributions to people and human well-being. Achieving the African Union's Agenda 2063, the SDGs and the Aichi Targets is unlikely in three out of five scenarios explored.

The experts of the Asia-Pacific assessment point to the value of ecosystem based approaches and identify, among others, lack of solid waste management, as well as air, water and land pollution as factors undermining gains in a number of the Aichi Targets and SDGs for many countries (e.g. extinction of plant and animal species due to deforestation, rising temperature and water pollution).

There has been some progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Europe and Central Asia, e.g. in terms of the area under protection or in mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society. However, the pressures on biodiversity from direct drivers of change are unlikely to be reduced and so progress has been negative for indigenous and local knowledge, the equitable distribution of nature's contributions and water security.

Looking beyond the 2030 timescale of the SDGs, scenario analysis highlights that continuation of past and current trends in drivers of change will inhibit the contribution of the region to the widespread achievement of the SDGs, while scenarios which focus on achieving a balanced supply of nature's contributions to people and incorporate a diversity of values are more likely to contribute to achieving the majority of the SDGs.

Promising Policy Options Available

Accompanying the stark concerns of the IPBES experts, however, are messages of hope: promising policy options do exist and have been found to work in protecting and restoring biodiversity and nature's contributions to people, where they have been effectively applied.

In the Americas, protection of key biodiversity areas increased 17% between 1970 and 2010, yet fewer than 20% of key biodiversity areas are protected and coverage varies significantly. The report makes it clear that protected areas and restoration projects are only some of the possible interventions -- with a need to also focus on strategies to make human-dominated landscapes more supportive of biodiversity and nature's contributions to people.

It also makes the point that biodiversity and nature's contributions to people are better protected when integrated into a broad array of economic and sectoral policies, such as payment for ecosystem services and voluntary eco-certification. Appropriate combinations of, for example, behavioural change, improved technology, research, adequate levels of finance, improved education and public awareness programs are among other options.

Measures taken by African Governments to protect biodiversity and nature's contributions to people, have contributed to some recovery of threatened species, especially in key biodiversity areas, and these efforts could be enhanced. Such measures include the establishment and effective management of protected areas and networks of wildlife corridors; restoration of degraded ecosystems; control of invasive alien species and reintroduction of wild animals. Despite the African Union's priorities of poverty alleviation, inclusive growth and sustainable development, especially in the context of global climate change, the report finds that the continent is greatly undervaluing its natural resources.

In addition to enhancing biodiversity conservation through appropriate governance, policies and national implementation, the authors emphasize the need for better integration of indigenous and local knowledge and greater use of scenarios in African decision-making. Of the five possible scenarios they explore, two (regional sustainability and local sustainability) are identified as the most likely paths to meet Africa's economic, social and environmental development aspirations, but the authors point to the need for capacity building on the use of scenarios in decision-making.

For Asia and the Pacific, the IPBES experts point to the success of countries that achieved rapid economic growth in gradually restoring and expanding protected areas -- especially forests. They emphasize that, while assisting these countries in their efforts to meet some of the SDGs and Aichi Targets, this alone will not be sufficient to reduce biodiversity loss caused by the negative impacts of monoculture. For instance, the region registered a growth of 0.3% in terrestrial protected areas and 13.8% in marine protected areas -- putting many countries on track to meet Aichi Target 11 -- but most of the important bird areas and key biodiversity areas remain unprotected."

Better application of science and technology, empowerment of local communities in decision making, integrating biodiversity conservation into other key sectors, scenario planning that is sensitive to economic and cultural diversity, private sector partnerships in financing biodiversity protection, as well as better cross-border regional collaboration, are some of the many important approaches the report identifies.

A range of governance options, policies and management practices is available in Europe and Central Asia to safeguard biodiversity and ensure nature's contributions to people. Some progress has already been made in mainstreaming biodiversity and nature's contributions to people into public and private decision-making.

The assessment report highlights integrated approaches. These include measuring national welfare beyond GDP. Governance could become more effective by using well-designed mixes of policy instruments to motivate changes in behaviour to support sustainable development. The authors also emphasize the relevance of reconciling biodiversity conservation and human rights standards through rights-based instruments, as well as capacity building for indigenous peoples and local communities. Sufficient funding is also needed to support research, monitoring, education and training.

Speaking about the policy options emerging from the four regional assessments, Watson said: "Although there are no 'silver bullets' or 'one-size-fits all' answers, the best options in all four regional assessments are found in better governance, integrating biodiversity concerns into sectoral policies and practices (e.g. agriculture and energy), the application of scientific knowledge and technology, increased awareness and behavioural changes."

"It is also clear that indigenous and local knowledge can be an invaluable asset, and biodiversity issues need to receive much higher priority in policy making and development planning at every level. Cross-border collaboration is also essential, given that biodiversity challenges recognize no national boundaries."

By the numbers

The Americas

Trends / data

13%: the Americas' share of world's human population
40%: share of world ecosystems' capacity to produce nature-based materials consumed by people, and to assimilate by-products from their consumption
65%: the proportion of nature's contributions to people, across all units of analysis, in decline (with 21% declining strongly)
>50%: share of the Americas' population with a water security problem
61%: languages and associated cultures, in trouble or dying out
>95%: North American tall grass prairie grasslands transformed into human-dominated landscapes since pre-European settlement
72% and 66% respectively: of tropical dry forest in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean have been transformed into human-dominated landscapes since pre-European settlement
88%: Atlantic tropical forest transformed into human-dominated landscapes since pre-European settlement
17%: Amazon forest transformed into human-dominated landscapes since pre-European settlement
50%: decrease in renewable freshwater available per person since the 1960s
200-300%: Increase in humanity's ecological footprint in each subregion of the Americas since the 1960s
9.5% and 25%: Forest areas lost in South America and Mesoamerica respectively since the 1960s
0.4% and 43.4%: net gains in forest areas in North America and the Caribbean respectively since the 1960s
1.5 million: approximate number of Great Plains grassland hectares loss from 2014 to 2015
2.5 million: hectares under cultivation in Brazil's northeast agricultural frontier in 2013, up from 1.2 million ha in 2003, with 74% of these new croplands taken from intact cerrado (tropical savanna) in that region
15-60%: North American drylands habitat lost between 2000 and 2009
>50%: US wetlands lost since European settlement (up to 90% lost in agricultural regions)
>50%: decline in coral reef cover by the 1970s; only 10% remained by 2003
Economic value of nature's contributions to people

$24.3 trillion: estimated value per year of terrestrial nature's contributions to people in the Americas (equivalent to the region's gross domestic product)
$6.8, $5.3 and $3.6 trillion per year: nature's contributions to people valued as ecosystem services in Brazil, USA and Canada respectively
>$500 million: annual cost of managing the impacts of invasive alien zebra mussels on infrastructure for power, water supply and transportation in the Great Lakes

20%: expected regional population increase (to 1.2 billion) by 2050
+/-100%: expected growth in region's GDP by 2050, intensifying many drivers of biodiversity loss if 'business as usual' continues
40%: expected loss by 2050 of the region's original biodiversity under a 'business as usual' scenario for climate change (with loss of 35-36% expected under the three "pathways to sustainability")
By the numbers


Trends / data

+/- 500,000: km2 of land is degraded due to factors such as deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining activities, invasive alien species and climate change, leading to soil erosion, salinization, pollution, and loss of vegetation or soil fertility
+/- 62%: rural population directly dependent on wild nature and its services for survival (the most of any continent)
+/- 2 million: km2 of land designated as protected (including 6% of biodiversity-rich tropical evergreen broadleaf forests and 2.5% of Africa's seas
25%: people having faced hunger and malnutrition (2011-2013) in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's most food-deficient region
Economic values of nature's contributions to people

West Africa

$4 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)
$40,000: water purification services (per km2, per year)
$4,500: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)
$2,800: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)
Central Africa

$2 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)
$0.8 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)
$14,000: forest carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)
$3,500: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)
$3,000: timber value added (per km2, per year)
Southern Africa

$0.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)
$0.3 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)
$9,000: recreation value (per km2, per year)
North Africa

$0.6 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)
$0.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)
$300: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)
$2,000: timber production (per km2, per year)
East Africa and adjacent islands

$2.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)
$1.2 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)
$16,000: food production (per km2, per year)
$12,000: forest carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)
$11,000: erosion control (average per km2, per year)
$7,800: forest bioprospecting (per km2, per year)
$5,000: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)
$2,200: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)

>50% of African bird and mammal species could be lost to climate change by 2100
20 -- 30%: expected decline in productivity of lakes by 2100
2.5 billion: predicted population of Africa in 2050 (double the current figure)
54%: Africans expected to live in urban and peri-urban areas by 2030 (up from 39% in 2003) By the numbers

Trends / data

Zero: exploitable fish stocks in the region by 2048 if current fishing practices continue
Up to 90%: percentage of corals expected to suffer severe degradation by 2050, even under conservative climate change scenarios
1%-2%: annual estimated coral loss even for the most managed reefs
4.5 billion: people that benefit from the region's biodiversity and ecosystem services, including food, water, energy, and health security, as well as cultural and spiritual fulfilment
400 million: region's share of people below the poverty line (out of 767 million worldwide) -- defined as $1.90 per person per day, using 2011 purchasing power parity
7.6%: regions' average annual economic growth (1990-2010) compared to 3.4% global average
2-3%: region's annual urbanization rate (among the fastest in the world)
Nearly 200 million: people in the region that directly depend on the forest for their non-timber forest products, medicine, food, fuel as well as other subsistence needs
$33.5 billion: estimated annual economic loss due to invasive alien species in South-East Asia
12.9%: reduction in forest cover in South-East Asia due largely to an increase in timber extraction, large-scale bio-fuel plantations and the expansion of intensive agriculture and shrimp farms (1990 to 2015)
22.9% and 5.8%: respective increase in forest cover in North-East Asia and South Asia (1990 to 2015), through policies and instruments such as joint participatory management, payment for ecosystem services and the restoration of degraded forests
37%: share of aquatic and semi-aquatic species in the region's freshwater ecosystems threatened by, among others, climate change, overfishing, pollution, infrastructure development and invasive alien species
60%: grasslands degraded due to overgrazing by livestock, invasion by alien species, or conversion to agriculture, resulting in a rapid decline of native flora and fauna
8 out of 10: top most plastic-polluted rivers in the world are in Asia -- accounting for up to 95% of global load of plastics in the oceans
Nearly 25%: proportion of region's endemic species that are threatened

24% and 29%: mammal and bird species likely to go extinct in lowland forests of Sundaland in South-East Asia in coming decades if forest loss continues at the present rate
+/-45%: anticipated loss of habitats and species by 2050 if business continues as usual
By the numbers

Europe and Central Asia

Trends / data

>50%: share of nature's regulating and some non-material contributions to people that declined from 1960 to 2016
42%: terrestrial animal and plant species with known trends that have declined in population size the last decade
5.1 hectares: per capita ecological footprint in Western Europe (subregion's biocapacity: 2.2 hectares, meaning Western Europeans depend on net imports of renewable natural resources and material contributions of nature to people)
3.6 hectares: per capita ecological footprint in Central Europe (biocapacity: 2.1 hectares)
4.8 hectares: per capita ecological footprint in Eastern Europe (biocapacity: 5.3 hectares)
3.4 hectares: per capita ecological footprint in Central Asia (biocapacity: 1.7 hectares)
15%: per capita decrease in water availability (since 1990)
25%: agricultural land in the EU affected by soil erosion (23% in Central Asia), which, combined with a decline in soil organic matter, might compromise food production
20%: increase in erosion control on arable land in Western and Central Europe
7%: of the assessments of EU marine species of conservation interest have shown favourable conservation status; 27% have shown unfavourable conservation status
9%: of the assessment of EU marine habitats of conservation interest have shown favourable conservation status; 66% have shown unfavourable conservation status
26.6%: estimated proportion of marine fish species (for which trend data exist) that have declining populations, due to unsustainable fishing, habitat degradation, invasive alien species, eutrophication and climate change
1.6%: estimated proportion of marine fish species (for which trend data exist) with increasing populations, due to improved conditions including better fishing management and decreased eutrophication
20%: diversity of arable crop species that have declined since 1950 in Western and Central Europe
73%: percentage of assessments of EU freshwater habitats of conservation interest indicating unfavourable conservation status
51%: extent of decline of wetlands in Western and Central Europe, and western parts of Eastern Europe, since 1970
16 -- 65%: threatened species of crabs (bivalves 23 -- 49%; crayfish 24 -- 47%; gastropods 33 -- 68%; dragonflies, 9 -- 44%) in Western and Central Europe, and western parts of Eastern Europe v71%: fish populations in decline in past decade
60%: amphibian populations in decline in past decade
37%: freshwater fish species threatened with extinction (amphibians: 23%) in Western and Central Europe and western parts of Eastern Europe
Economic value of nature's contributions to people

$765 / hectare / year: estimated median value (mid-range) of value (2017) of nature's habitat maintenance in the region
$1,965: estimated median value (mid-range) of the economic value per hectare per year of nature's regulation of freshwater and coastal water quality (2017)
$1,117: estimated median value (mid-range) of the economic value per hectare per year of nature's non-material contributions to people, including physical and psychological experiences linked to tourism and recreation (2017)
$464 estimated median value (mid-range) of the economic value per hectare per year of nature's regulation of climate

Read more!