Best of our wild blogs: 27 Sep 18

30 Sep (Sun): Talk on sea turtles by NParks
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Sea turtles in Singapore! And how you can help them
wild shores of singapore

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 13 Oct 2018 (Sat)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

The Reopening of Ah Ma Drink Stall
Wan's Ubin Journal

Latest RUMblings: Jul-Sep 2018
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Malaysia: Call to ban import of plastic waste

wani muthiah The Star 27 Sep 18;

KLANG: The government should stop the import of plastic waste instead of imposing a RM15 levy for every tonne of the scrap brought into Malaysia, says the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).

“CAP calls for a total ban on the import of plastic waste to protect public health and our environment.

“CAP is very frustrated with the Malaysian government because it does not recognise the scale of the problem,” association president S.M. Mohamed Idris said in a statement yesterday.

On Tuesday, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamarudin said a RM15 levy would be imposed when the freeze on approved permits (APs) on plastic waste import ends on Oct 23.

The imported garbage, mostly plastic, is believed to be imported from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Malaysia is slowly becoming a recycling hub for foreign trash material since China banned the import of plastic waste.

Mohamed Idris said CAP had anticipated such issues arising in Malaysia after the China ban and had written to several ministries and the National Solid Waste Man­agement Department about its concerns.

According to him, the department had talked about a ruling to control plastic waste import and imposing stringent requirements on premises and import licences.

“However, the control measures and enforcement have proven inadequate, based on the pollution and mushrooming of illegal recycling factories in many parts of Malay­sia,” he said.

Fomca president Datuk N. Mari­muthu said Malaysia already had problems with domestic garbage disposal and should not take on additional trash from other countries.

“We have a clear food wastage issue in our country with people dumping it all over the place. This is threatening to contaminate our water sources,” he said.

Marimuthu said the government must take a clear stand and do what was right for the nation.

“Why talk about imposing the RM15 levy? Just stop importing garbage. Malaysia cannot be a dumping ground as we already have far too much of our own trash,” he said.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia honorary secretary Meenakshi Raman concurred, saying: “It is not about imposing levies; it is about not allowing the waste to come into the country at all.”

If other countries banned garbage import, she added, there was no reason for Malaysia to become an importer of waste.

The government’s priority should be protecting the environment and public health, she said.

Levy for plastic waste imports
wani muthiah, arnold loh, fatimah zainal, and rashvinjeet s. bedi The Star 26 Sep 18;

KUALA LANGAT: Malaysia, which is becoming a dumping ground for plastic waste by other countries, will slap a levy on such imports to halt the growing environmental problem.

The situation became critical after China banned plastic imports, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.

Countries such as Britain have begun to look to other places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to offload such wastes.

Here in Kuala Langat for example, which is a town about 60km away from Kuala Lumpur, it has emerged as a hotbed of plastic waste with about 40 unlicensed factories processing imported plastic.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who made a spot check here yesterday, announced that a levy would be imposed at RM15 per tonne of plastic waste after Oct 23, when the freeze on approved permits (AP) on plastic waste import ends.

(On July 23, the ministry revoked the AP on plastic waste import of 114 plastic waste companies and factories all over Malaysia for three months in order to allow the authorities to look into the plastic waste issue.)

“Malaysian factories are currently able to import plastic for free. So now we are going to put a levy on them,” she said.

Furthermore, the requirements for factories to obtain permits to import plastic waste would also be tightened, she told reporters yesterday.

The process to obtain an AP on plastic waste imports will also be made more stringent with the addition of new criteria that must be met before permits are issued to plastic waste factories.

“The names of companies that import and export plastic must be listed to show the legitimacy of the business. Applicants must also get the approval of Mida (Malaysian Investment Development Authority) in order to get the AP,” she said.

Zuraida said that the number of APs issued would be cross-checked with the Customs Department’s capacity to receive plastic waste at the ports. The monitoring process would also be tightened with the ministry looking out for illegal activities linked to this, she added.

Zuraida noted that laws were already in place to regulate plastic waste factories.

“However, unlicensed factories did not adhere to them,” she said.

Zuraida said that the ministry would be closing down 24 unlicensed factories in Kuala Langat.

“By principle we have agreed to close them down but what we want is to discuss with them to find a way on how to get rid of their plastic waste, which could be sold to licensed factories.

“We also need to set a time frame for when they should start and end the process,” she said.

'Halt plastic waste processing activities at illegal factories immediately'
Dawn Chan New Straits Times 28 Sep 18;

SHAH ALAM: A Kuala Langat-based environmental group has called for a concerted effort by the authorities to immediately halt all plastic waste processing activities in the district which are causing air pollution and endangering the lives of the local community.

A spokesperson of the Kuala Langat Action Group, which was set up to highlight the issue to the authorities, said little has changed since the recent visit by the Housing and Local Government minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin, who had addressed the issue and ordered a meeting to be called in a weeks’ time.

The spokesperson, who declined to be named, said Zuraida’s visit on Tuesday to several illegal factories processing the plastic waste sourced from overseas and unauthorised sites where the materials were dumped did nothing to put fear in the operators.

“Our observation showed that there are still illegal factories processing the plastic waste and there are still containers being sent to the premises. The factory operators know we are watching them and they have also changed their operating hours.

“It is high time that the authorities such as the Kuala Langat Municipal Council (MDKL), the Department of Environment and the district and land office take stern action against the illegal operators. I think there is a lack of supervision here and the culprits should not be given just a slap on the wrist.

“The district office should seal the illegal premises immediately and penalise the land owners for allowing such activities to take place on the property,” he told the New Straits Times Press today.

He added that members of the group were actively monitoring the activities taking place at the illegal factories in a bid to build a strong case with hopes that the authorities will put a stop to it the soonest possible.

Proof such as photographic and video evidences were being collected to show that illegal factory operators did not fear the authorities, he said.

On Tuesday, Zuraida had called for a ministerial level meeting to be held with 54 factories processing plastic waste operating in MDKL’s jurisdiction, out of which 13 were licensed after they were legalised by the state government while 17 had been ordered to shut.

Following a coordination meeting at the municipal council, Zuraida ordered a meeting to be held with all parties on Oct 2 and it will be chaired by the National Solid Waste Management Department director-general Ismail Mokhtar.

Zuraida said in the Oct 2 meeting, discussions would revolve around finding ways to dispose the existing plastic waste at the illegal factories, taking over of the materials from unlicensed parties by licensed factories and the time frame of the actions.

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Malaysia: Jumbo problems for Sabah rangers

muguntan vanar The Star 27 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The frequent conflict between man and beast has stretched wildlife rangers so thin so that they are calling on plantation owners and farmers to take their own initiatives to protect their crops from elephants without hurting the animals.

“There are just so many plantations and smallholdings that an elephant can enter anytime. There is no way the department can cope and provide assistance to all,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said.

He said the government wanted to optimise its resources.

“The best is for all of them to be able to protect their own property without hurting or killing the elephants,” he said when contacted about a farmer’s cry for help after elephants destroyed his newly-planted oil palm, banana plants and coconut trees on a 1.6ha farm.

They remained there for three days, destroying the crops.

He estimated his losses at RM5,000.

Ghani said it was the second time that elephants had destroyed his crops, adding that there could be up to four “visits” in a year.

“We did not dare get out of the house because we were surrounded by elephants. We were lucky they did not turn aggressive and destroy our home,” he said.

Tuuga said his department received Ghani’s complaint but he was unable to send his officers there as they were busy attending to similar problems in Kampung Bobotong and Kampung Entilibon in central Sabah’s Tongod district.

“No staff were available because other districts were also facing same problem,” he said.

Tuuga urged oil palm plantation owners to put up electric fencing if their palms were still young (less than five years old) and susceptible to damage.

The department, he said, could also help to train them in protecting their property while awaiting for assistance “if we cannot attend im­­mediately to their request for help”.

Sabah has been grappling with human-elephant conflicts in the east coast with some 25 elephant deaths, either due to poaching or unidentified natural causes, reported in the wild so far this year.

Conservationists are pushing for the need to create forest corridors for the elephants to roam between fragmented forest reserves in the east coast as one of the quick solutions to reduce such conflicts.

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Malaysia: Kelantan claims 21% of its forests given extra protection as 'water catchments'

sira habibu The Star 26 Sep 18;

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan state government claims it has gazetted about 21% of permanent forest reserves (PFR) as "water catchment forests" to show its commitment towards forest conservation.

Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob (pic) announced that the state had on Wednesday (Sept 26) approved the gazetting of 92,697 ha of forest reserve as water catchment forest, bringing the total area gazetted so far to 128,595 ha.

"It (water catchment forest) now makes up 20.97% of the 613,275 ha of PFR.

"We are committed to safeguarding forest and ensuring environmental sustainability in Kelantan," Ahmad said in a statement.

Water catchment areas must be preserved to protect water resources and ensure continuous water supply, he said.

He said since 2008, the state government had gazetted 35,898 ha (5.85% of permanent forest reserves) as water catchment forest, and on Wednesday they expanded the gazetted zone by another 92,697 ha.

"It involves 70 compartments in 11 districts," he said.

The Star has previously reported that permanent forest reserves (PFR) are, in reality, not that "permanent" as they can be logged, supposedly in a "sustainable" way.

Even worse, a loophole in the law has been allowing such forests to be cut down totally and converted into plantations of rubber trees (and also durian, teak, acacia and mahogony), as seen in many interior areas of Kelantan.

This has caused conflicts with the orang asli, who claim these forests as ancestral home lands. In addition, environmentalists have pointed out that such single-species plantations have led to soil erosion, floods, loss of rich biodiversity and loss of habitats for wildlife.

However, classification of PFR as "water catchment forests" is better, as it gives an extra level of protection. However logging is still possible, supposedly under more stringent criteria.

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Indonesia: 80 hotspots detected across Sumatra Island

Antara 26 Sep 18;

Pekanbaru, Riau, (ANTARA News) - The number of hotspots detected across Sumatra Island increased to 80 on Wednesday, from 13 on the previous day.

Of the total 80 hotspots, 38 were found in Riau Province, according to data of the Pekanbaru meteorology station.

Some 21 hotspots were found in Lampung Province, 10 in South Sumatra, three each in Riau Islands and Jambi, two in Bangka Belitung, and one each in North Sumatra as well as West Sumatra.

In Riau Province, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 36 hotspots in Indragiri Hilir District and two in Pelalawan District.

"Some 32 hotspots were found in Indragiri Hilir, with above 70 percent accuracy of being fire spots, while only one was detected in Pelalawan," Sukisno, head of the Pekanbaru meteorology, climatology, and geophysics station, stated.

Indonesia is currently being hit by prolonged severe dry season that has triggered water shortages in regions, such as East Nusa Tenggara and parts of Java, and forest fires in Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Java.

Reporting by FB Anggoro
Editing by Fardah Assegaf
Editor: Sri Haryati

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Indonesia: Drought hits 11 districts in East Nusa Tenggara

Antara 26 Sep 18;

Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara, (ANTARA News) - A total of 11 districts in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have been hit by severe dry season, a local official stated.

No rainfall was received since long in NTT's 21 districts, of which 11 districts were experiencing severe dry season, Apolinaris Geru, head of the Kupang meteorology, climatology, and geophysics station, stated here, Wednesday.

The 11 affected districts include East Manggarai, Nagekeo, Ende, Lembata, East Sumba, Rote Ndao, Kupang, North Timor Tengah, Malaka, and Belu.

Those districts had received no rains for over 60 days, he remarked.

September is usually the transitional period during which rains begin to fall across the country. However, until Sept 26 this year, several regions remain dry, as rains have not been received for months.

Currently, drought has hit some regions in Indonesia, especially the islands of Java and Nusa Tenggara. The drought hit 4,053 villages in 888 sub-districts located in 111 districts and cities in 11 provinces.

Some 4.87 million people in the country were affected by this year's drought, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency stated recently.

Reporting by Bernadus Tokan
Editing by Fardag Assegaf
Editor: Sri Haryati

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