Best of our wild blogs: 18 May 18

Amazing seagrass meadows of East Coast Park!
wild shores of singapore

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Green growth integral to Singapore's economic development, says Masagos Zulkifli

Audrey Tan and Luke Anthony Tan Straits Times 18 May 18;

SINGAPORE - There has been a paradigm shift when it comes to growing economies, from a "grow now, clean up later" approach to one that prioritises both growth and environmental concerns, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Friday morning (May 18).

"We have started viewing green growth as integral to, and not separate from, long-term economic development. Green growth is the foundation of real and sustainable prosperity," said Mr Masagos during a sustainability event held at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

Highlighting that the "grow now, clean up later" approach could lead to high costs for current and future generations, in terms of climate change, pollution or scarcity of resources, Mr Masagos said that Singapore has integrated sustainability in its long-term economic growth, and is now reaping the fruits of that foresight.

He added: "Singapore today enjoys the dividends of our early investment in green growth and environmental resilience." These dividends, he said, include a clean, safe and liveable Singapore that attracts talent and investment; as well as the creation of jobs and business opportunities.

One example, he said, was how Singapore managed to turn its water scarcity to business opportunity. In 2015, the water sector contributed $2.25 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product and 14,000 jobs, he said.

But Singapore's success did not come by chance, he said during the fifth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources organised by think-tank Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

Instead, it boiled down to three things: policies, partnerships and passion, Mr Masagos added.

Policies such as the upcoming carbon tax next year would not only help to curb earth-warming emissions, he said. It would also encourage large emitters to invest in energy-efficient technologies, with the tax revenue being ploughed into schemes that help firms achieve this, he added.

"The Government will spend more than the carbon tax collected in the initial years, to support green growth projects that deliver emissions reductions," said Mr Masagos.

It was also important to forge partnerships - with Asean and the international community, as well as with non-governmental groups and individuals, he added. Doing so could help identify new green growth areas, and allow Singapore start-ups in these areas to gain access to larger markets in the region, he also said.

But "to unleash the potential for green growth", Singapore must have a critical mass of people who are passionate about the environment, Mr Masagos said.

He cited accountant-turned-business owner Joline Tang as an example. Ms Tang set up The Sustainability Project, which sells items such as metal straws and beeswax wraps that can help people reduce their use of single-use plastics.

Said Mr Masagos: "As we look to the future, it is clear that green growth is the only sustainable path for development. It is the key that can unlock continuing prosperity and well-being for the current and future generations."

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Singapore to see 'most extensive urban transformation' as Govt aims to build better city

SIAU MING EN Today Online 17 May 18;

SINGAPORE — Cities must evolve and adapt to survive in an ever changing world and there is "no such thing as status quo", said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong during the Parliamentary debate on the President's Address on Thursday (May 17).

"We are either improving or we are declining and going backwards… So the choice for Singapore is simple – adapt or perish," said Mr Wong as he laid out the Government's blueprint to build a better city, one that is more innovative, inclusive and resilient.

Citing the various development projects spread across the island, Mr Wong said that the Government has a "single-minded commitment and mission to keep building and improving our city".

"I can confidently say that over the coming years and decades, Singapore will be undergoing its most extensive urban transformation yet," he added.

Major parts of Singapore will be transformed, including the east, where the area around the expanded Changi Airport is being reviewed to see how it can renewed and put to better use. The possibilities include developing new industries related to the aviation sector.

Over in the western part of Singapore, the authorities are looking at new industry clusters that can be located next to the new Tuas megaport and connected to other developments there, such as the Jurong Innovation District and Jurong Lake District.

Up north, the Government is bringing together multiple developments from Woodlands to Sembawang and Seletar, as well as the upcoming Punggol Digital District. This "Northern Corridor" can anchor new businesses and investments, said Mr Wong.

Residential estates are also part of the transformation, with the new Housing and Development Board (HDB) town in Tengah expected to be about the size of Bishan.

The city will also be extended further to the Greater Southern Waterfront, which will be three times the size of Marina Bay.

But Mr Wong noted that an outstanding city also needs to be socially inclusive, as he touched on the recurring theme of social mixing throughout the debate so far. It needs to be a place that embraces diversity, allows different groups to mix easily, and provides equal opportunities for people to participate.

This is not always the case in other cities, where the downtown areas are well-maintained but others are left to deteriorate and end up as urban slums. There is also a segregation of neighbourhoods elsewhere, between the rich and poor, between ethnic groups, as well as between the young and old, he added.

Mr Wong added that the Government has "worked very hard to avoid these problems in Singapore'. For instance, every HDB town has a balanced mix of residents across different ethnic groups and backgrounds. Every town also has a mix of public-private developments, as well as common spaces for residents of different backgrounds to socialise.

Mr Wong added: "Our housing and urban plans must continue to push back against the growing pressures of inequality and social stratification. We cannot just leave things to chance, but we must deliberately plan for a more equal and inclusive society."

To that end, HDB has been building more rental flats – with newer and better designs – alongside purchased flats in various towns to allow families to grow up in the same neighbourhood. Rental and sold units are also integrated within the same HDB block.

In Mr Wong's budget speech for his ministry earlier this year, he said HDB launched three Build-to-Order projects in Woodlands, Bukit Batok and Sengkang that contain both rental and sold units in the same block.

The authorities will also continually renew buildings and infrastructure to avoid ending up in a situation "where certain parts of Singapore are left to degrade and we end up with deteriorated neighbourhoods or towns, inhabited largely by lower-income or elderly residents".

But Mr Wong stressed that this is not just a government matter, and that it is a shared responsibility of the Town Councils and residents to take care of the neighbourhood.

Resilience is also required in Singapore's urban development, said Mr Wong, as the world faces climate change and other unpredictable threats.

This includes systems designed to counter any sea-level rises – such as the dike system in the polder development in Pulau Tekong – undertaking detailed modelling and engineering studies, and recommending appropriate protection strategies.

He added: "We want to build a city that reflects the aspirations, the values, and the spirit of our people. That's the work we have to do together over the next 50 years."

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Indonesia: Leopard trespasses local resident`s house in Sukabumi

Antara 18 May 18;

Sukabumi, W Java (ANTARA News) - A leopard (Panthera pardus) entered into a local resident`s house in Perbawati Village, Sukabumi District, West Java Province, and attacked the poultry.

"At first, I heard a noise from my chicken coop and thought that a stray dog may have entered. However, when I checked the space underneath my house, I found a leopard there," house owner Hendi noted here on Thursday.

Based on the information collected, a leopard trespassed into the settlement of the local residents in Perbawati Village, Sukabumi District, at around midnight local time.

Hendi then checked his house out of curiosity and concern that his cattle was being harassed by a stray dog. He was surprised to see several chicken feathers scattered across his yard.

He initially thought that a chicken was being devoured by a stray dog, but after checking under the house with a flashlight, he saw a leopard hiding.

"I ran into my house, as I am afraid that the leopard will attack me. Hence, I called my friend and neighbor at dawn. Two of my chickens were eaten by that leopard," he added.

The leopard allegedly trespassed into the settlement owing to hunger. Moreover, the settlement is quite close to a forest in the Great Hall of Mount Gede and the Pangrango National Park.

Assistance from the Center for Natural Resource Conservation of West Java is awaited to catch the leopard, as it is still hiding under the house and has evaded the trap.

Reported by Aditya A Rohman
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Climate change on track to cause major insect wipeout, scientists warn

Insects are vital to ecosystems but will lose almost half their habitat under current climate projections
Damian Carrington The Guardian 17 May 18;

Global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis.

Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.

However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C - the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement - the losses of insects are far lower.

The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less.

“We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain.”

“The disruption to our ecosystems if we were to lose that high proportion of our insects would be extremely far-reaching and widespread,” she said. “People should be concerned - humans depend on ecosystems functioning.” Pollination, fertile soils, clean water and more all depend on healthy ecosystems, Warren said.

In October, scientists warned of “ecological Armageddon” after discovering that the number of flying insects had plunged by three-quarters in the past 25 years in Germany and very likely elsewhere.

“We know that many insects are in rapid decline due to factors such as habitat loss and intensive farming methods,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, UK, and not part of the new analysis. “This new study shows that, in the future, these declines would be hugely accelerated by the impacts of climate change, under realistic climate projections. When we add in all the other adverse factors affecting wildlife, all likely to increase as the human population grows, the future for biodiversity on planet Earth looks bleak.”

In the new analysis, published in the journal Science, the researchers gathered data on the geographic ranges and current climate conditions of 31,000 insect species, 8,000 birds, 1,700 mammals, 1,800 reptiles, 1,000 amphibians and 71,000 plants.

They then calculated how the ranges change when global warming means some regions can no longer support particular species. For the first time in this type of study, they included the 1.5C Paris target, as well as 2C, the longstanding international target, and 3.2C, which is the rise the world will experience by 2100 unless action is taken beyond that already pledged.

The researchers measured the results in two ways. First, they counted the number of species that lose more than half their range and this was 49% of insect species at 3.2C, falling to 18% at 2C and 6% at 1.5C. Second, they combined the losses for each species group into a type of average measure.

“If you are a typical insect, you would be likely to lose 43% of your range at 3.2C,” Warren said. “We also found that the three major groups of insects responsible for pollination are particularly sensitive to warming.”

Guy Midgley, at University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and not part of the research team, said the new work built on previous studies but is far more comprehensive. He said major impacts on wildlife would be expected given the potential scale of climate change: “Global average surface temperatures in the past two million years have rarely approached the levels projected over the next few decades.”

Warren said the new work had taken account of the ability of species to migrate, but had not been able to include the impact of lost interactions between species as ranges contract, or of the impacts of more extreme weather events on wildlife. As both of those would increase the losses of range, Warren said the estimates of losses made were likely to be underestimates.

Warren said that the world’s nations were aware that more action on climate change is needed: “The question is to what extent greater reductions can be made and on what timescale. That is a decision society has to make.”

Another study published in Science on Thursday found that one third of the world’s protected areas, which cover 15% of all land, are now highly degraded by intense human pressure including road building, grazing, and urbanisation.

Kendall Jones, at the University of Queensland, Australia, who led the work, said: “A well-run protected area network is essential in saving species. If we allow our protected area network to be degraded there is a no doubt biodiversity losses will be exacerbated.”

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A third of world's nature reserves severely degraded by human activity

New study’s author says failure to protect biodiversity in places identified for that purpose is ‘staggering’
Lisa Cox The Guardian 17 May 18;

A third of global protected areas such as national parks have been severely degraded by human activities in what researchers say is a stunning reality check of efforts by nations to stall biodiversity loss.

A University of Queensland-led study, published on Friday in the prestigious academic journal Science, analysed human activity across 50,000 protected areas worldwide.

Researchers found more than 90% of conservation sites, such as national parks and nature reserves, showed some signs of degradation from human activities including logging, mining, tourism and urbanisation and a third – or 6m square kilometres of protected land – had been severely modified.

The worst damage was found in highly populated parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, but researchers said there was significant degradation in all nations, including wealthy and less-populated countries such as Australia.

James Watson, the paper’s senior author and a conservation scientist at the University of Queensland, said the results were alarming and showed countries were failing to protect biodiversity even in places specifically identified for that purpose.

“What we found was massive amounts of high-level human infrastructure, for example mining activity, industrial logging activity, industrial agriculture, townships, roads and energy,” he said.

“These are the places that nations have said they are setting aside for nature’s needs not human needs.

“So for us to find such a significant amount of human infrastructure in places governments have set aside for safe-guarding biodiversity is staggering.”

He said there were some glaring examples in Australia, such as Barrow Island off the Western Australian coast, a nature reserve that is home to 13 mammal species and the Gorgon gas plant.

“Some of these species are found nowhere else on the planet and yet we allow significant human infrastructure to occur inside these boundaries,” Watson said.

“Australia should be setting the standard that other nations should look to and yet we are one of the worst behaved of the lot.”

Martin Taylor, conservation scientist at WWF Australia, said the Turnbull government’s proposal to downgrade high-level protections in sensitive marine parks, including critical waters around the Great Barrier Reef, was another example of industry being given precedence over conservation.

He said there was also a low level of public awareness of the extent to which a range of industries had been able to encroach on protected areas.

“The public just aren’t aware that these kinds of things are going on and we hope this paper builds awareness of it,” he said.

“The community expects a national park to be reserved for wildlife.”

In Australia alone, more than 1,800 plants, animals and ecological communities are known to be at risk of extinction.

Conservationists and scientists have described the situation confronting Australia’s vulnerable wildlife as a “national disgrace” and the systems that are supposed to protect it as broken.

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