Best of our wild blogs: 24-25 Jun 18

7 July (Sat) - Free guided walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Fun with R.U.M. on Ubin Day 2018
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Bringing back the giants – The True Giant Clam
Mei Lin NEO

World Oceans Day Singapore – A Plastic Nightmare
Hantu Blog

Beach Cleanup #1 & #2
Urban Forest

Cyclophorus perdix aquila @ Mandai
Monday Morgue

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Five new species of fauna recorded in Pulau Ubin

SIAU MING EN Today online 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE – A pair of white-and-greyish brown Little Stints, a species of shorebirds usually seen in South Asia which migrate southwards from the Arctic to escape harsh winter, were among five new species of fauna spotted in Pulau Ubin for the first time in the past year, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Sunday (June 24).

Shorebird experts had identified the pair among some 300 birds by their white-and-greyish brown patterned feathers and their upright posture during a survey at the Chek Jawa wetlands.

Along with a number of migratory birds that are regularly found at Chek Jawa, this suggests that the island off eastern Singapore is a possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, said NParks group director of conservation Adrian Loo during the annual Ubin Day.

Dr Loo said the new records could mean that the recent scientific surveys conducted by various group had helped identify species that were already present on the island, but had yet to be identified and recorded.

Likewise, it also suggests that Pulau Ubin is conducive enough for biodiversity to stop by or find a home here, he noted.

The new records include the sightings of two species of bats – the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle – that were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa last December. The bats, which feed on insects, are usually found in the region.

An NParks staff also discovered the Arrow Emperor dragonfly last October when the insects flew into their office on the island. About 11cm long, this species has a distinct T-shaped mark on the area between the insect’s eyes.

The last new record on Ubin was the Racoon Pseudo-orb Weaver, which was discovered by NParks and the research community in a young secondary forest on the island last year. The long-legged spider, which has been seen in Indonesia and Malaysia, has patterns that resemble that of a raccoon tail.

Mr Joseph Koh, NParks Honorary Research Associate at the National Biodiversity Centre, said there are about 140 species of spiders on Pulau Ubin alone, compared to an estimated 800 species of spiders in Singapore.

The thriving community of spiders on the island also shows that there is a healthy biodiversity on the island, he added.

To date, the island is home to 730 native plant species, more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

In his speech at Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said some progress has been made in enhancing the facilities and services on the island since NParks became the central managing agency two years ago.

This includes improving the earth tracks and drains on the island and the board is in the process of setting up compact water treatment units to treat water from the taps at all public toilets, added Mr Lee, who is also the Minister for Social and Family Development.

NParks also completed the mangrove arboretum and nursery at the Ubin Living Lab, a learning facility set up two years ago for education and research. The lab will also host new outreach activities for the public.

A carpentry working space was also added to the lab to let community groups carry out preparation work for the various restoration projects.

For instance, students from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture are using the facility as they help rebuild a 23-year-old kampong drink stall on the island.

5 new species of fauna recorded at Pulau Ubin
Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Sunday (Jun 24).

NParks discovered the species together with the research community during field surveys at Pulau Ubin last year. They include two types of bats, an insect, a bird and a spider.

Speaking at the opening address of the seventh Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the discoveries are significant as they add to the diverse biodiversity at Pulau Ubin and "remind us of our role as stewards and guardians of our natural heritage".

The discovery of a migratory bird species called Little Stints is of particular significance, said NParks. The birds were spotted at Pulau Ubin’s Chek Jawa wetlands last September when they flew in to feed after the tide receded.

While Chek Jawa is no stranger to migratory shorebirds, NParks said that bird monitoring data collected in the past year has shown that certain species of migratory birds prefer the wetlands at Ubin over Sungei Buloh - Singapore’s other wetlands on the mainland.

“These are significant observations as they suggest that Pulau Ubin complements Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as another possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian - Australasian Flyway,” NParks said.

The flyway - among the world’s most important - stretches from the arctic parts of Siberia to as far south as New Zealand.

The other species recorded include insectivorous bats like the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle, which have previously been found in Southeast Asia.

The Arrow Emperor dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, along with the Raccoon Pseudo-orb Weaver spider, were also newly added to the Singapore records.

Ubin Day is part of Pesta Ubin, an annual month-long festival to celebrate the islands rustic charm, heritage and natural environment.

Source: CNA/hs

Five new species of fauna recorded for Singapore in Pulau Ubin
Calvin Yang Straits Times 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, after they were uncovered during surveys done by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the research community in Pulau Ubin last year.

The new species recorded are the little stint shorebird, long-winged tomb bat, big-eared pipistrelle bat, arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider.

These add to Pulau Ubin's diverse biodiversity, said Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Sunday (June 24).

"They are testament to the biodiversity Ubin contributes to Singapore, and remind us of our role as stewards, custodians and guardians of our natural heritage," added Mr Lee, who was on the island to mark Ubin Day. The event had a myriad of activities such as kampung games and educational booths put together to celebrate the different facets of Pulau Ubin.

Of special significance is the identification of the little stint shorebird, which is a rare sighting in South-east Asia. Two little stints were identified by experts following a survey of shorebirds at the Chek Jawa Wetlands in September last year.

Two species of bats, which can only be found on Pulau Ubin, were also recorded for Singapore.

The long-winged tomb bat has wings that are long and narrow, while the big-eared pipistrelle has large, broad ears and whitish, translucent wings. Both insectivorous bat species were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa in December last year.

The other newly recorded species - the arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider - were discovered last year. The dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, has a distinct T-mark on the front area of its head while the long-legged, medium-sized spider has patterns that resemble a raccoon tail.

Dr Adrian Loo, group director of conservation at NParks, said ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts may have had a part to play in the discovery of these species here.

He added that the next step will be to conduct studies to find out the species' population and distribution, among other things, to help conserve their habitats.

New plans to restore Pulau Ubin's north shoreline and support biodiversity on the island
On Sunday, Mr Lee, together with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, toured the improved facilities at the Ubin Living Lab, which supports various field studies and environmental education on the island.

A new working space, equipped with a work bench and wood-working equipment, will allow restoration work to be done onsite rather than having to bring completed pieces from the mainland. Water treatment systems, toilet and shower amenities will also make it more conducive for students and researchers to stay over at Pulau Ubin for various activities.

Throughout the island, earth tracks and drains have been improved to offer better accessibility. Fire extinguishers and litter bins have also been distributed to every household, so residents can enjoy a safer and cleaner environment.

Mr Lee said: "These small, little enhancements mean a lot to the people living on this island, and the people who work on projects on Ubin.

"We will continue to enhance Pulau Ubin in a way that respects the character and integrity of its built heritage, while ensuring that our residents can continue their way of life."

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Going green: HDB closer to 2020 solar power target as it awards tender to Sembcorp

SIAU MING EN Today Online 25 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE – More Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will be solar powered as the agency ramps up efforts to reduce Singapore’s carbon emissions and move closer to its target of having solar panels installed in 5,500 blocks by 2020.

The HDB has awarded its third solar leasing contract to Sembcorp Solar Singapore – subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Sembcorp Industries – and its appointed engineering, procurement and construction player, Kurihara Kogyo Co.

The project will see the company installing solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of 848 HDB blocks in West Coast and Choa Chu Kang, and 27 government sites by the second quarter of 2020, said the HDB in a press release on Sunday (June 24).

The government sites include two sites under the Institute of Technical Education, the Building and Construction Authority Academy, the Heritage Conservation Centre under the National Heritage Board, and a field under Sport Singapore.

This latest tender falls under the SolarNova programme, which aims to spur the growth of Singapore’s solar industry by encouraging government agencies to use solar power.

When completed, the total number of HDB blocks with solar panels will exceed 2,400, which will bring it closer to achieving its goal of having panels in 5,500 blocks by 2020.

The solar power generated from these rooftops can be used to power common services such as lifts, pumps and lighting in common areas in the daytime.

Singapore plans to achieve 350 MWp of solar capacity by 2020, and more than 60 per cent of that will come from HDB’s solar initiatives and programmes.

By that time, the solar panels at HDB blocks are expected to have a capacity of 220MWp, which can generate the equivalent energy to power some 55,000 four-room flats and reduce carbon emissions by 132,500 tonnes a year.


While this is a step in Singapore’s efforts to go green, Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said more can be done, particularly if developers and large industrial estates join in the initiatives.

He noted that the Government's efforts at raising the adoption of solar energy has been picking up, and said it will be on track to meet the 2020 target capacity of 350 MWp.

For instance, national water agency Public Utilities Board had put up a tender in April to conduct engineering studies for the deployment of floating solar panels in Bedok Reservoir and Lower Seletar Reservoir.

However, Prof Subodh said there is still a big gap between the 2020 SolarNova target and Singapore's potential to generate two gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar power – or 25 per cent of Singapore’s energy demands – by 2025.

"The next opportunity is for other large industrial estates or developers (with large rooftops) to join in... if we really are ambitious in putting up 2 GWp (of solar capacity)," he said.

Going forward, Prof Subodh expects more from the private sector to install solar panels on their rooftops as the cost of these systems continue to go down, along with the costs of batteries or energy storage solutions.

Mr Koh Chiap Khiong, Head of Singapore, South-east Asia & China (Energy), Sembcorp, acknowledged that Singapore’s solar energy market still has “a fair bit of room to grow”.

He said: “We have seen good momentum in recent years, with quite a few companies and industrial facilities exploring rooftop solar solutions. As a company, we’ve moved into this space aggressively.”

Mr Koh added that the Government’s push towards solar energy and its programmes to work with companies to install solar panels in HDB blocks and government facilities will “go a long way to accelerating even wider application of the technology here.”


The HDB’s contract with Sembcorp Solar Singapore and Kurihara Kogyo Co. is the third solar leasing tender under the SolarNova programme.

Sembcorp Solar and Kurihara Kogyo were picked from nine local and foreign companies.

A Sembcorp spokesperson said that the deal will make the firm a “major solar player in Singapore”.

“Sembcorp’s combined solar energy portfolio in Singapore now extends to 104 megawatts of capacity situated across more than 1,500 sites in the country. This is enough to power around 27,400 four-room HDB flats in Singapore per year,” said its spokesperson.

This project will be internally funded and is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings per share and net asset per share of Sembcorp for the financial year ending December 31 this year, said Sembcorp.

With the third tender, HDB will be able to harness 190 MWp of solar capacity from 2,400 HDB blocks – which already makes up more than 85 per cent of HDB’s commitment under the SolarNova programme.

The first was awarded to Sunseap Leasing in December 2015 to install solar panels with a capacity of 76 MWp on the rooftops of some 800 HDB blocks.

The second tender was awarded to Million Lighting Co in June last year, where solar panels with a capacity of 40MWp will be installed at 636 HDB blocks and 31 government sites.

On average, HDB blocks that are installed with solar panels are able to achieve net-zero energy consumption, where the excess solar energy is channelled back into the grid. About 4.1 GWh of solar energy harnessed from HDB blocks is currently exported to the grid each month.

HDB chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean said the board is making steady progress in its solar initiatives.

To date, solar panels have been installed or fitted in close to a quarter of 10,000 HDB residential blocks. In two years, more than half of these blocks will be fitted or identified for solar installation, added Dr Cheong.

HDB is expected to call for a fourth tender in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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Malaysia: NGOs calls for actions to save Ulu Muda forests without further delay

Audrey Dermawan New Straits Times 24 Jun 18;

GEORGE TOWN: Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have joined in the chorus against logging in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve (UMFR) and for the Federal government to compensate Kedah for the loss of revenue caused by the logging ban.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) also welcomed the move by the Penang government to initiate a top-level meeting between the Federal government and the state governments involved, to find an amicable solution to the logging activities so that the water catchment forests in the UMFR and its surrounding areas (known as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest) are well protected.

SAM and CAP president S M Mohamed Idris said, under the previous government, logging had damaged areas in the UMFR.

“There should be no logging permitted in the area, which extends to extractive activities such as mining or quarrying.

“We are deeply concerned by the statement of Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa, that at the rate of logging in Ulu Muda, the forests would be finished in about 12 to 15 years and that we would face a serious water crisis.

“We therefore urge the newly-elected Kedah state government to urgently gazette the Ulu Muda Forests as water catchment forests and immediately review and revoke any logging licenses that have been approved by the previous government and halt all such activities within the forests area which threaten its life-supporting functions,” he said today.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang would initiate a top-level meeting between Putrajaya and the northern states to find an amicable solution to logging in Ulu Muda, which threatened the most important water catchment area in the north.

He had said that it was a serious matter as continuous logging in Ulu Muda would affect the water catchment area, triggering a potential regional water crisis involving four million people in the three states and thousands of businesses.

Chow had also said that they would work together with Kedah to request for Federal compensation in lieu of ‘forest premiums’ for logging as well as Federal assistance to gazette, manage and protect Ulu Muda as a regional water catchment area.

Idris said he agreed that measures must be taken to compensate the Kedah state government for keeping its forests intact for the larger public good, in exchange for the loss of revenue from logging or other activities.

“Apart from making available national resources for compensating Kedah, there are also funds available internationally such as from the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility for the protection and conservation of our precious forests.

“The Federal and state governments must avail themselves of these resources urgently,” he said.

Idris also stressed that the Ulu Muda forests were critical in meeting the water needs of Perlis, Kedah and Penang.

He added that raw water originating from Ulu Muda was also essential for double cropping in the rice fields of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, which included the nation’s rice bowl.

“The forests also play a major role as a ‘carbon sink’ critical for addressing climate change.

“We call for no further delay acting to saving and protecting the Ulu Muda forests,” he noted.

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Malaysia: Terengganu's beautiful beaches littered with rubbish

Bernama New Straits Times 23 Jun 18;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu is famous for its beautiful beaches that has turned the state into a favourite holiday destination for both local and foreign tourists alike.

However, due to poor civic-mindedness among the visitors, the stretch of beach is often littered with garbage despite rubbish bins being provided.

Bernama checks at the Kuala Ibai beach revealed that there were visitors who intentionally left their rubbish including disposable diapers indiscriminately around even though there were bins provided.

One of the visitors, Nor Akhmar Mohd Dagang, 37, said the lack of concern for maintaining the cleanliness and the environment among local visitors were seen as main contributors for such incidents.

“People come to the beach then leave their rubbish – water bottles, plastic and disposable diapers – indiscriminately, regardless how many more bins will be provided it will make no difference due to poor civic-mindedness,” said Nor Akhmar, a civil servant, when met by Bernama.

Elsewhere, trader Asrol Hisyam Mohd Alias, 37, said that it would be useless if the government provided various facilities and campaigns should parents fail to educate their family members about the responsibility of maintaining cleanliness in public places.

Meanwhile, Kuala Terengganu Member of Parliament Ahmad Amzad Mohamed @Hashim said the culture of garbage disposal on the beach should be rectified as it had not been addressed for a long time.

Hence, he and two state assemblymen, namely, Ahmad Shah Mohamed (Bandar) and Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah (Wakaf Mempelam), took the initiative to collect rubbish with members of the public at the beach as a way to foster civic-mindedness among visitors. --Bernama

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Indonesia taking steps to prevent haze during Asian Games

Andi Abdussalam Antara 24 Jun 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia, which will host the 18th Asian Games, has since recently been making efforts to prevent forest fires, in order to prevent haze from hindering the major sporting events.

The Asian Games will be held in the capital city Jakarta and South Sumatra`s provincial capital Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept 2. Therefore, many of the efforts to fight haze are being made in South Sumatra.

The provincial government of South Sumatra continues to maximize the efforts to prevent forest and land fires by preventing the occurrence of hotspots, especially in flammable areas, ahead of the 2018 Asian Games.

Head of South Sumatra`s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Iriansyah, stated in Palembang on Friday that it regularly monitors the possibility of the emergence of hotspots by maximizing patrols in the hope that the Asian Games would not be disrupted.

Land and air patrols continue to be maximized, so that hotspots would not occur, he noted.

He added that that if hotspots arise, especially in the peatlands, it would be difficult to prevent fires.

Moreover, if the peatlands are burnt, it would be difficult to extinguish fires. Hence, prevention must be maximized, he remarked.

In this regard, the disaster management agency continues to monitoring the development of hotspots, so that haze, similar to that in 2015, would not happen.

Moreover, participants from various countries must experience a pollution-free atmosphere, he explained.

He added that the impact of haze not only disrupts health but also tarnishes the image of the nation.

In addition to monitoring the hotspots, it also regularly carries out weather modification, such as modifying the weather by dispersing salt into the air to induce rain, he elaborated.

Therefore, more efforts continue to be made to prevent forest and land fires during the 2018 Asian Games.

The BPBD is conducting weather modification by dispersing one ton of salt over the clouds every day to prevent forest and field fires. The efforts have been made since mid-May. The agency has continued to disperse one ton of salt on an average.

Salt is dispersed over the clouds to create potential rain clouds that are more effective, he stated. This step is part of the precautionary measures against forest and land fires.

Iriansyah could not specify the exact quantity of salt used for conducting cloud seeding, although it is about a ton per operation. Dispersing salt is, at times, conducted twice a day, so that the amount cannot be calculated in detail.

Indeed, the agency is currently maximizing the efforts to prevent forest, garden, and land fires since South Sumatra will receive thousands of guests, who will attend the international sporting event, in August.

Moreover, the Governor of South Sumatra, Alex Noerdin, revealed that there was no smoke haze similar to 2015. Therefore, fire must be prevented early.

Besides that, water-bombing helicopters have also been deployed. Two additional water-bombing helicopters have been sent to Palembang, South Sumatra Province, for anticipating wildfires during the 18th Asian Games. The two units of water-bombing helicopters are now being assembled in Palembang City.

The helicopters, with a capacity of 600 liters and 500 liters, respectively, will be operated to extinguish the wildfires and to conduct patrols in the fire-prone areas in South Sumatra.

These two units of water-bombing helicopters are part of the 10 additional units that will be used during the Asian Games. Besides the two units, four other helicopters have completely been assembled to be ready for operation. The choppers will play a critical role in putting out fires in isolated areas, mainly in peatlands and forests.

According to Iriansyah, his office is committed to preventing the wildfires and hazes from occurring, in accordance with the instruction from Noerdin.

Additionally, the Ogan Komering Ulu district fire department of South Sumatra has readied 10 fire trucks ahead of the Asian Games to fight any forest fires or other blazes that may break out.

"The step was taken as we are entering the dry season, which may trigger forest and land fires," the chief of the fire department, Himda Faruzal, remarked.

Six of the fire trucks would be deployed in sub-districts that have a fire fighting command post, namely Kecamatan Ulu Ogan, Pengandonan, Peninjauan, Lubuk Raja, Semidang Aji, and Lengkiti. "The other four fire trucks would be deployed in a command post in Baturaja city," he noted.

To support the fire trucks, the fire department had also prepared four tank cars and 12 floating machines and stationed 21 fire fighters in each of the command posts. "The officers will work in three shifts, and each shift will have two drivers," he pointed out.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

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