Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jan 19

Singapore Bird Report – December 2018
Singapore Bird Group

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Hotels, F&B businesses join Pact to cut back on plastic use

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 30 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Nine companies, including large hotel chains and popular food establishments, are teaming up to relook their plastic use under a new initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Through the initiative called Pact — short for Plastic ACTion — the businesses will set targets and take measures to reduce their plastic production and use by 2030.

These include taking long- and short-term measures to remove from their operations certain plastic items that are deemed unnecessary, WWF said at the project’s launch on Wednesday (Jan 30).

For a start, this may include removing plastic bags and straws, but the WWF stressed that the initiative will go further than just these measures.

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Wolbachia mosquito project expanded to larger area

Lek Wan Zhen Channel NewsAsia 31 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: More than 140 blocks of Housing Board flats in Nee Soon East and Tampines West will be participating in the next phase of a study by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to reduce the Aedes mosquito population and fight dengue.

Male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes, which have been infected with the Wolbachia bacterium, will be released into the expanded test sites at the two estates in phase three of the Project Wolbachia.

When they mate with female Aedes mosquitoes, the eggs the females lay will not hatch, said NEA.

The expansion in study sites follows the success of phase two of the study, which was conducted between April 2018 and January 2019, at smaller areas in Nee Soon East and Tampines West.

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NUS launches building with net-zero energy consumption

Alif Amsyar Channel NewsAsia 30 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) on Wednesday (Jan 30) unveiled a new building at the School of Design and Environment that has net-zero energy consumption.

This means the building consumes only as much energy as it produces on site, such as by harnessing solar energy. Named SDE4, it is said to be the first net-zero energy building in Singapore that was built from scratch.

The six-storey building features several sustainable designs such as solar roof installations, a hybrid cooling system and a large overhanging roof.

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Thailand: Hundreds of schools to shut as toxic smog chokes Bangkok

AFP 30 Jan 19;

Bangkok has been shrouded in murky haze for weeks, sparking social media criticism of the uneven response by the government
Toxic smog forced hundreds of Bangkok schools to close Wednesday, as authorities struggle to manage a pollution crisis that has stirred widespread health fears and taken on a political edge just weeks before elections.

The Thai capital has been shrouded in murky haze for weeks, sparking social media criticism of the uneven response by the government and prompting rare scenes of residents donning masks on streets and on public transport.

Reasons given for the lingering pall include exhaust from traffic, unfettered construction, the burning of crop stubble, and pollution from factories getting trapped in the city.

Authorities have seeded clouds to provoke rain, sprayed overpasses with water to catch micro-pollutants and even asked people not to burn incense sticks and paper during Chinese New Year celebrations.

The measures so far have drawn derision from many Bangkok residents, while stocks of pollution masks have run out in many shops.

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Indonesia: Rampant deforestation in Leuser triggers floods, landslides

Hotli Simanjuntak The Jakarta Post 30 Jan 19;

The rampant destruction of forests in the Leuser ecosystem, a major water source for Aceh, has led to frequent flooding in the province.

A team from the Leuser Conservation Forum (FKL) performed a ground check on damaged areas in the ecosystem and found that, in 2018, about 5,685 hectares of the ecosystem were deforested, with the most serious damage found in Gayo Lues with 1,063 ha of deforested area.

The ecosystem, located across several regencies in the province, also saw 889 ha damaged in Nagan Raya and another 863 ha in East Aceh. As of December 2018, 1.7 ha of forest remained in the Leuser ecosystem.

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Indonesia: Central Sulawesi disasters killed 4,340 people, final count reveals

Ruslan Sangadji The Jakarta Post 30 Jan 19;

Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola on Wednesday revealed the result of the administration’s final count of victims in recent deadly disasters in the province, noting that the powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami and soil liquefaction last September had claimed 4,340 lives.

According to the governor, the final count was specified in a gubernatorial decree on earthquakes, tsunami and liquefaction victims in September 2018 and in a letter forwarded to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) for the disbursement of financial assistance for survivors.

Almost half of the fatalities, namely 2,141, occurred in Palu, which was most affected by the earthquakes and tsunami, while 289 people died in Sigi regency, 212 in Donggala regency and 15 in Parigi Moutong regency. As many as 667 people have been declared missing, while another 1,016 bodies were unidentifiable.

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EU proposes ban on 90% of microplastic pollutants

European Chemicals Agency draft law aims to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution
Arthur Neslen The Guardian 30 Jan 19;

A wide-ranging ban on microplastics covering about 90% of pollutants has been proposed by the EU in an attempt to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in 20 years.

Every year, Europe releases a bulk amount of microplastics six times bigger than the “Great Pacific garbage patch” into the environment – the equivalent of 10bn plastic bottles.

The phasing out proposed by the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) would remove 36,000 tonnes a year of “intentionally added” microplastic fibres and fragments, starting in 2020.

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jan 19

The Turtle and the Parrotfish
The Hantu Bloggers

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PUB test-project that uses food waste to generate electricity to be expanded

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 29 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB plans to scale up its two-year pilot plan with the aim to eventually use food waste to generate electricity once Tuas Nexus opens in 2025.

Tuas Nexus comprises the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant and Integrated Waste Management Facility, which are located at the western tip of Singapore. They are expected to be able to process up to 400 tonnes of used water sludge and food waste — 10 times more than what is processed at the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant now.

This process creates biogas, which is rich in methane and can be converted to electricity.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Jan 19

29-30 Jan: Eco-fest at NUS UTown 2019
Green Drinks Singapore

CRL Phase One to open in 2029 with 12 stations – Channel NewsAsia
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Chinese New Year Resolution – Let’s ‘KonMari’ our lifestyle for the environment!
Mei Lin NEO

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Malaysia: Forest connectivity crucial to survival of Sunda clouded leopard, say experts

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 27 Jan 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Lack of forest connectivity in Sabah threatens the vulnerable Sunda clouded leopard.

Even though Sabah is a stronghold of the species, Dr Andrew Hearn of Oxford University’s wildlife research unit said it is found at very low population densities.

There are only one to five animals for every 100sq km of forest.

“Such rarity, coupled with the fact that their forest home is shrinking and becoming increasingly isolated may expose these beautiful cats to the negative effects of population isolation, as individual animals struggle to disperse across the landscape,” he said in a joint statement.

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Malaysia: 1,200 reef balls deployed to conserve marine life in Sarawak waters

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 28 Jan 19;

KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) placed 1,200 reef balls in the Belawai-Paloh waters and Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park last year to conserve the environment and marine resources.

SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said the flagship project was aimed at supporting turtle conservation and marine life protection.

“This year, we have identified an area in Kuala Lawas for the same purpose (reef ball deployment). However, we are still finalising the details,” he said at a media appreciation luncheon.

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Indonesia: Dozens killed as bad weather continues to loom across the country

The Jakarta Post 28 Jan 19;

Hydrometeorological disasters such as floods, landslides and strong winds have hit several areas across Indonesia. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands displaced in the last week.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned that according to rainfall patterns in the last 20 years, January and February were the peak months for hydrometeorological disasters.

“The rainy season has begun in almost all regions in Indonesia, with a tendency for extreme rain,” BMKG spokesman Taufan Maulana told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “There are also other factors, such as tropical cyclones, problems with urban spatial planning and the government’s readiness to minimize the impact of extreme weather.”

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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jan 19

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 9 February 2019 (Sat)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Return of the Angled Castor
Butterflies of Singapore

The less known tales of the web
Love our MacRitchie Forest

The Idyllic Days of Changi Creek and Villages
Remember Singapore

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Wild boar euthanised after accident with lorry in Bukit Batok West

Timothy Goh Straits Times 26 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - A wild boar was euthanised after suffering spinal injuries in an accident with a lorry in Bukit Batok West on Thursday night (Jan 24).

This is the second reported fatal accident between a lorry and a wild boar this month, with a similar incident less than two weeks ago in Punggol.

The wife of a motorist who witnessed Thursday's accident sent a video of the injured boar to citizen journalism website Stomp.

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Malaysia: Research centre restoring giant clams into the ocean

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 26 Jan 19;

KOTA KINABALU: A research centre here aspires to educate more people to leave natural filter species alone for sustainable marine ecosystem.

Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) ambassador Lizio Godfrey Mosigil was referring to giant clams which play a role in filtering the system, just like mangrove forests and other similar species.

“If Giant Clams are missing from the system, it will leave some impact or different chain reactions.

“That is why the centre has put focus on propagating and putting back giant clams into the ocean,” he said.

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Indonesia: 90 percent of orangutans live outside preserved forests - BKSDA

Antara 25 Jan 19;

Pontianak, (ANTARA News) - Some 90 percent of the orangutan population are living outside preserved forests and are exposed to conflicts with humans, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of West Kalimantan.

"To protect the orangutan population, we need a joint commitment to preserve its habitat," an official of the agency Lidia Lili stated here on Friday.

Orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of Kalimantan and Sumatra, and some in Malaysia, Lili pointed out.

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Indonesia: South Sulawesi hit by worst flooding in last decade

Fardah Assegaf Antara 26 Jan 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA News)- The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of possible flooding as the country is currently in the peak rainy season, but the devastation caused by widespread flooding and landslides hitting South Sulawesi has shocked the nation.

Flash floods believed to be the worst in the last decade affected 106 villages in 61 sub-districts in 13 districts and cities in South Sulawesi Province. The 13 districts and cities were Jeneponto, Maros, Gowa, Makassar, Soppeng, Wajo, Barru, Pangkep, Sidrap, Bantaeng, Takalar, Selayar and Sinjai.

So far, 59 were dead, 25 missing, 47 injured and 6.596 displaced due to flooding and landslides in the province. Besides, the natural disasters damaged 10 bridges, 79 homes, two traditional markets, 12 places of worship, 22 school buildings, and submerged 4,857 homes, as well as 11,876 hectares of rice fields.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Jan 19

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (25 Jan 2019)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Nature parks and reserves to receive boost against climate change

NICHOLAS KHONG Today Online 26 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — When Rifle Range Nature Park reopens to the public next year, visitors will return to a forest that is more resilient to climate change and caters better to native animals such as the Sunda Pangolin.

They will see a larger number of native plants such as Kumpang trees.

There may even be a chance for them to see the Common Palm Civet climbing new aerial rope bridges across Rifle Range Road, or the pangolin crossing beneath it using underground tunnels.

Rifle Range Nature Park is one of the eight nature parks buffering the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve that the National Parks Board (NParks) will restore over the next 10 years.

Announcing the Forest Restoration Action Plan on Friday (Jan 25), NParks said that it will also restore disturbed patches within the two nature reserves, which cover more than 3,000ha — around 4 per cent of Singapore’s land area — and are home to around 40 per cent of Singapore’s native flora and fauna.

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Turn trash into treasure, says Masagos

Generating new economic value from waste the way forward for Singapore, region: Minister
Chang Ai-Lien Straits Times 26 Jan 19;

Transforming trash into treasure is the way forward to safeguard the future of Singapore and the region, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli at a key environment meeting yesterday.

Countries need to embrace a new form of economic growth and adopt circular economy approaches, and not be purely reliant on resource exploitation, he said.

"By transforming waste into resources, we will generate new economic value from something that would have been thrown away," he said, pointing out that new industries can emerge where skilled workers design innovative products and manufacturing processes for waste.

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First phase of Cross Island Line to be completed by 2029

FARIS MOKHTAR Today Online 25 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE – Construction of the first phase of the new Cross Island Line (CRL), which will have 12 MRT stations starting from the Aviation Park in Changi to Bright Hill in Bishan, is expected to begin next year and completed by 2029.

The 29km long line will benefit more than 100,000 households and cut travelling time by 50 to 70 minutes, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Friday (Jan 25).

The stations on the first phase of the CRL will be located at: Bright Hill, Teck Ghee, Ang Mo Kio, Tavistock, Serangoon North, Hougang, Defu, Tampines North, Pasir Ris, Pasir Ris East, Loyang and the Aviation Park.

To support this MRT line, Mr Khaw said that a new 57-hectare depot at Changi East will be constructed to provide stabling and maintenance facilities for up to 80 trains.

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Listening to trees to care for them better: The work of an NParks arborist

About 200 National Parks Board (NParks) staff look after some two million trees in public places around Singapore, including along roads and streets, fields and over 300 parks. Here’s a look at how they carry out their work.
Fann Sim Channel NewsAsia 26 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: “A lot of trees hold stories that they can’t tell you,” said National Parks Board (NParks) arborist Robin Ong.

“For example, 'I’ve been hit by a car 20 years ago and therefore I have this defect at my feet',” he added.

The 33-year-old is one of 200 arborists or tree doctors employed by NParks to manage about two million trees growing in public spaces around Singapore.

“They can’t speak (so) we need to come in and speak on their behalf to ensure that they have all the care they require,” Mr Ong told Channel NewsAsia at a field along Evans Road where several towering rain trees are being checked.

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Malaysia: Wild orchids under threat

Nur Aqidah Azizi New Straits Times 25 Jan 19;

SEREMBAN: The Negri Sembilan Forestry Department is monitoring the illegal harvesting of wild orchids after receiving information from villagers and Orang Asli.

“Undoubtedly, wild orchids have high demand due to their unique and distinctive colours. They can also be cross-bred to produce new orchid varieties,” said director Salim Aman.

“The price of wild orchids can reach thousands of ringgit.

“The result from cross-breeding can be sold on the commercial market locally and internationally at a very high price.”

Salim said illegal harvesting could lead to the extinction of scarce wild orchid species.

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‘Worrying’ rise in global CO2 forecast for 2019

Levels of the climate-warming gas are set to rise by near-record amounts, Met Office predicts
Damian Carrington The Guardian 25 Jan 19;

The level of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019, according to the Met Office.

The increase is being fuelled by the continued burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests, and will be particularly high in 2019 due to an expected return towards El NiƱo-like conditions. This natural climate variation causes warm and dry conditions in the tropics, meaning the plant growth that removes CO2 from the air is restricted.

Levels of the greenhouse gas have not been as high as today for 3-5m years, when the global temperature was 2-3C warmer and the sea level was 10-20 metres higher. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C rise above pre-industrial levels that scientists advise, according to the UN. But the past four years have been the hottest on record and global emissions are rising again after a brief pause.

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Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jan 19

Seagrass meadows in Seringat-Kias artificial lagoon
wild shores of singapore

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Sembcorp, Singapore Polytechnic team up to develop pilot solar panel recycling plant

DARYL CHOO Today Online 23 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) have teamed up to commercialise the first-ever technology for recycling used solar panels and develop a pilot recycling plant.

The two parties signed a memorandum of collaboration on Wednesday (Jan 23) at SP which was witnessed by officials from the Singapore Economic Development Board, Energy Market Authority and National Environment Agency.

Photovoltaic recycling, a technology developed by a team of three SP researchers, recovers resources from used solar panels such as glass, silicon and metals. The partners will work together to bring this technology from the “laboratory to market” and speed up plans for its plant, said Sembcorp and SP in a joint press release.

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Indonesia: Overflowing dam kills at least 30 in South Sulawesi

REUTERS 24 Jan 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An overflowing dam has killed at least 30 people in Indonesia and forced thousands to flee their villages, authorities said on Thursday. Twenty-five people are missing.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency has set up temporary shelters and field kitchens for residents fleeing floodwaters over a meter high that inundated riverside settlements in South Sulawesi province, including in the provincial capital Makassar, on Wednesday and Thursday.

“So far we have found 30 people who drowned or were caught in landslides triggered by heavy rains and when the Bili-Bili dam started overflowing,” said agency official Hasriadi.

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2018 was fourth hottest year on record: researchers

AFP Yahoo News 25 Jan 19;

Washington (AFP) - The last four years have been the world's hottest since record-keeping began, with 2018 the fourth warmest on record, according to data published Thursday by US research group Berkeley Earth.

Temperatures in 2018 were around 1.16 degrees Celsius (2.09 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average temperature of the second half of the 19th century, from 1850-1900, often used as a pre-industrial baseline for global temperature targets.

"Global mean temperature in 2018 was colder than 2015, 2016, and 2017, but warmer than every previously observed year prior to 2015," the report said.

"Consequently, 2016 remains the warmest year in the period of historical observations. The slight decline in 2018 is likely to reflect short-term natural variability, but the overall pattern remains consistent with a long-term trend towards global warming."

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jan 19

Cyrene affected by nearby reclamation?
wild shores of singapore

Review of Beneath Tide, Running Forest: The Best and Worst of Singapore’s Marine Biodiversity

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S$2 million grant to encourage zero-waste living

Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 22 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: A new S$2 million grant has been launched to help people and organisations raise awareness of zero-waste living in Singapore.

The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) announced on Tuesday (Jan 22) that the Towards Zero Waste grant will be made available from Feb 1 as the country accelerates its efforts to become a zero-waste nation.

More than seven million tonnes of waste was generated in Singapore in 2017, according to the latest statistics from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Funding will be issued for initiatives that drive two components - waste reduction and recycling. They must focus on any of the three areas: packaging waste, food waste and electrical and electronic waste, or cover efforts that encourage right recycling in households.

Members of the public, interest groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), grassroots organisations and corporations are eligible to apply for the grant.

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Financial institutions key in directing funds towards green development: Masagos Zulkifli

Michelle Teo Channel NewsAsia 22 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Financial institutions play an important role in directing capital flows towards sustainable development, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Tuesday (22 Jan).

Speaking at a forum organised by Eco-Business and the United Nations Environment Programme, Mr Masagos added that the success of economies and businesses will depend on how well they manage the transition to a low carbon economy.

He added that he was encouraged to see growing numbers of investors who want to "do well" and "do good".

To date, more than S$2 billion of green bonds have been issued in Singapore by both local and foreign issuers.

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Thailand: Investigation finds Thai wild tigers targeted by foreign professional gangs

The Nation 22 Jan 19;

New findings from a three-month investigation have revealed that professional gangs were dispatched across Thailand’s borders to target the Kingdom’s wild tigers.

Freeland, a Bangkok-based international non-governmental organisation working in Asia on environmental conservation and human rights, on Tuesday congratulated Thai authorities for making this discovery and already arresting one of the gangs.

The investigation was initiated after the successful arrest of two Vietnamese men by Thai police in late October following a tip-off from a Thai driver-for-hire.

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Best of our wild blogs: 22 Jan 19

Chek Jawa with signs of dugong
wild shores of singapore

Chinese New Year Resolution – Let’s reduce plastic waste!
Mei Lin NEO

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SP Group announces first major location partner for electric vehicle charging network

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 21 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Energy provider SP Group has partnered with Ascendas-Singbridge Group (ASB) to install electric vehicle charging points in the latter's buildings, the two companies announced on Monday (Jan 21).

As part of the partnership, 24 high-speed chargers have been installed in six of ASB's buildings - Hyflux Innovation Centre, Corporation Place, Techlink, Techplace I, The Capricorn and The Kendall.

Half of the charging points are 43kW alternate current (AC) chargers and the other half comprises 50kW direct current (DC) chargers.

These can power up a mid-sized electric car within an hour, compared with six to eight hours via household chargers.

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New initiative launched to help financial sector be more sustainable

Sue-Ann Tan Straits Times 21 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Financial institutions, non-governmental organisations and academics will work together under a new initiative to help businesses be more sustainable.

The Asia Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI), which was launched on Monday (Jan 21) at the Parkroyal on Pickering hotel, aims to help shift the region's financial flows towards sustainable outcomes.

It will bring together the finance industry, academia and science-based organisations to help Singapore-based financial institutions operating in the region to deepen their expertise in sustainable finance.

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Giving food waste a new lease of life

Food wastage by households and the food industry in Singapore rose 40% in the past 10 years, to around 809,800 tonnes in 2017. It's time to clean up our act.
MICHAEL LONG Business Times 22 Jan 19;

THE world is gradually transitioning from a linear to a circular economy, as we move towards a new economic model of collaborative consumption.

Along with this paradigm shift, the "take-make-waste" linear consumption model of traditional industries is quickly falling out of favour with the proponents of a new circular economy globally wherein the traditional dynamics of supply and demand are fundamentally transformed. For good reason, a change is necessary. The world now produces in excess of a billion tonnes of garbage every year, much of which goes into landfill and incineration if not exported and recycled.

Ensuring that industries make their output restorative in design is now crucial to sustaining economic growth without putting our environment in jeopardy.


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Indonesia: Environment ministry to question NTT over plan to temporarily close Komodo park

The Jakarta Post 21 Jan 19;

The Environment and Forestry Ministry will summons representatives from the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration to explain its plan to temporarily close Komodo National Park to visitors for one year.

“We will invite the NTT administration [for a discussion on Komodo]. It is not quite wise to decide it unilaterally and everything has procedures,” Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Monday as quoted by Antara. “We need to listen to what the local administration wants. We also need to listen to [input from] the Tourism Ministry, while we are assessing how and when the proposal will be implemented.”

Siti also warned the NTT administration that decisions regarding conservation areas were in fact solely under the jurisdiction of the central government.

Komodo National Park is the only place in the world where people can see the endangered Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. The park is also an official UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Indonesia: Government drafts industrial change road map to reduce plastic waste

Kharishar Kahfi The Jakarta Post 21 Jan 19;

The government has been working on ways to engage the private sector in its waste reduction efforts, particularly plastic waste, by formulating a road map for businesses to reduce the amount of waste it produces.

Industry is one of the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s primary focuses in its plastic waste reduction plans this year, the ministry’s waste management director general Rosa Vivien Ratnawati has said.

“We want to urge [businesses] to shift their paradigm in manufacturing their products, such as by using more environmentally friendly materials, as part of our efforts to cut down on waste production in the upstream,” Rosa recently told The Jakarta Post.

Rosa said that the ministry's road map would cover three industries: food and beverage manufacturing; food and beverage services, and retail.

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Founders of plastic waste alliance ‘investing billions in new plants’

European NGO says firms are likely to be at centre of global boom in plastic production
Sandra Laville The Guardian 21 Jan 19;

The founding companies behind a self-styled alliance to end plastic waste are among the world’s biggest investors in new plastic productions plants, according to a European NGO.

A majority of the firms which announced this week they were collaborating to try to help tackle plastic pollution are likely to be at the heart of a global boom in plastic production over the next 10 years.

Together the companies have committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling, with an aspiration to raise that to $1.5bn if more members join.

But most of the founding firms have tens of billions of dollars riding on the need for global plastic production to continue growing over the next decade and more.

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World to miss 2020 climate 'turning point': analysis

Patrick GALEY, AFP Yahoo News 22 Jan 19;

Paris (AFP) - The world is on course to miss its "best chance" of preventing runaway climate change by ensuring global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2020, researchers warned Tuesday.

Even as Earth is buffeted by superstorms, droughts and flooding made worse by rising seas, and as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise globally, an analysis by the World Resources Institute showed that current efforts to limit temperature increases are falling well short.

In 2017, experts identified six key milestones that mankind must hit by 2020 if the Paris climate goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) is to have a fighting chance of being met.

They include radical changes to how we get our electricity, and to how goods and services are distributed worldwide.

Chief among these are an immediate phasing out of fossil fuels, including a total halt to new coal power plant construction within two years, as well as an end to dirty energy subsidies.

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Best of our wild blogs: 21 Jan 19

Blue Skies Above!
Butterflies of Singapore

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PUB, NEA investigating black discharge in Potong Pasir canal

Channel NewsAsia 20 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB and the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Sunday (Jan 20) said they were investigating black discharge which was seen in a canal at Potong Pasir.

"PUB received a report of discharge in an outlet drain at Potong Pasir Ave 1 at 10.20am on Jan 19, 2019," said a PUB spokesperson in a reply to Channel NewsAsia's queries.

A video uploaded by Facebook user Adam Teeoo showed the black liquid streaming into the canal.

PUB officers and contractors went down to investigate immediately, said the spokesperson.

However, there was no discharge found onsite, as it might have been diluted with the water in the canal, he added.

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Businesses must ensure a liveable and sustainable planet, not just focus on profits: Ho Ching

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 19 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: While businesses pursue profits and financial returns, they must invest in training for their people and also fulfil their obligation to ensure a liveable and sustainable planet for all, said Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching on Saturday (Jan 19).

Speaking at the St Gallen Symposium 2019 Singapore Forum, Mdm Ho said businesses have a stake in meeting the needs of society and helping to make lives better.

"For businesses, profits are just a shorthand notation for financial strength and viability. Businesses can thrive only if they succeed in meeting the needs of their customers as their primary mission, but that alone is not enough for longevity," said Mdm Ho.

"If all of us try to extract the maximum amount of grass to feed our own sheep, the village green will soon be bare – we end up with no grass to feed our sheep, and we may even starve."

With climate change posing an existential threat to humans, Mdm Ho urged businesses and organisations to rethink the purpose of their capital so that they can help society and take urgent action on climate change.

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Keep calm and carrot on: how agritech could transform farming in Singapore

What agritech entails, why investors are sitting up, and how it could transform farming in Singapore
CLAUDIA CHONG Business Times 19 Jan 19;

THINK fast: which countries come to mind when you hear "agriculture"? China? Yes. Japan? Probably. Singapore? Not so much. The country has never had a large role to play in agriculture. Yet in the past two years, the authorities cannot seem to stop waxing lyrical about the potential of Singapore as an agrifood tech hub for the region, almost as if to say: There's so much we can do. Lettuce grow together.

But jokes asides, agritech is becoming serious business here. Just earlier this week, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) investment arm Seeds Capital appointed seven co-investment partners to pump more than S$90 million into Singapore agrifood tech startups. The last year also saw notable movements within the private sector as well. Catalist-listed Trendlines announced plans to open an innovation centre to develop agrifood technologies here, and wants to raise a US$40 million venture fund. Global agrifood tech accelerator network The Yield Lab rode into town too, basing their regional operations in Singapore.

And yet when it comes down to it, most of us in Singapore might go our whole lives never being in the presence of a crops farm or livestock. A single mysterious wild cow on Coney Island - which has since died - was novel and exciting enough to gather a religious following.

So what does Singapore have to do with agriculture technology, and why is the buzz getting louder? Here's why you should even carrot all.

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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jan 19

See you at EarthFest!
Green Drinks Singapore

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The impact of the haze on caterpillars

Straits Times 19 Jan 19;

While there are studies on the impact of haze on human well-being, its effect on other species and ecosystems is rarely explored.

A study led by Associate Professor Antonia Monteiro from the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science has revealed that toxic chemicals in haze can affect the survival and development of butterflies, said the university.

Insects are very sensitive to changes in air quality because air reaches their inner cells directly through valve-like openings known as spiracles on the sides of their bodies. The diffusion of gases then takes place close to each cell via very fine tracheal tubes that transport the air from the spiracles to the inside of the body. In humans, the air first diffuses into the blood system in the lungs before reaching cells.

The researchers discovered that when the caterpillars of the Squinting Bush Brown Butterfly (Bicyclus anynana) were exposed to artificially generated smoke from burning incense coils, a large proportion did not survive to adulthood. Those that did survive took longer to reach adulthood, and were smaller. A smaller size usually leads to lower egg production.

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Indonesia: Bali requires foreign tourists to pay US$10 - Let's preserve nature

Ni Komang Erviani The Jakarta Post 18 Jan 19;

While battling against the plastic that has besieged its waters, Bali is preparing a bylaw that will impose a US$10 levy on foreign tourists.

The Bali administration has drafted a bylaw on tourist contributions for the environment and cultural preservation, which has been discussed with the Bali Legislative Council since December.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster said the revenue from the tourist tax would be allocated to fund programs on preserving the environment and Balinese culture.

“This will give us better fiscal space to support the development of Bali,” Koster said at the Bali Legislative Council building.

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Best of our wild blogs: 18 Jan 19

2 Feb is World Wetlands Day 2019
wild shores of singapore

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MP Louis Ng urges Government to ban shark’s fin from public service events

NICHOLAS KHONG Today Online 17 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Shark’s fin dishes should be banned from events organised by or for the public service, Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng said.

Mr Ng, who is MP for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency, submitted a parliamentary question on the issue earlier this week, asking whether shark’s fin — traditionally considered a delicacy and a staple at Chinese weddings and formal banquets — is still being served at public service events and if it will be on the menu at future events.

In a written response, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that government agencies decide on their respective menus based on what is “prudent and appropriate for the occasion”.

“We do not have policies specific to the serving of shark’s fin,” Mr Chan said, adding that public agencies abide by the procurement principles of fairness, transparency and value-for-money.

Speaking to TODAY, Mr Ng said that these principles would rule out serving shark’s fin dishes.

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Malaysia: Soldiers foil attempt to smuggle 310 magpies to Indonesia

Bernama New Straits Times 17 Jan 19;

KUCHING: Soldiers yesterday foiled an attempt to smuggle 310 magpies to Indonesia via a 'lorong tikus' (illegal route) near the Malaysia-Indonesia border in Tebedu, about 100 km from here.

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Indonesia: Fires burn 124.5 hectares of land in Riau since early January

Antara 17 Jan 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Some 124.5 hectares of land and forests in Riau Province caught fires since early this year due to low rainfall, coupled with strong winds, according to the Riau Provincial Disaster Mitigation Board (BPBD).

The land and forests are located in Rokan Hilir, Bengkalis, Kampar, Dumai, and Kepulauan Meranti districts and Pekanbaru and Dumai municipalities, Edwar Sanger, acting chief of BPBD Riau, stated here on Thursday, Jan 17.

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Best of our wild blogs: 17 Jan 19

26 Jan (Sat): FREE Guided Pasir Ris Mangrove Walk
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Celebrate World Wetlands Day 2019 from 26 Jan - 3 Feb
celebrating singapore shores

Singapore dismisses politician's call to ban shark fin from public sector events

Open Electricity Market: Your Green Options
Green Drinks Singapore

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When both the rich and poor feel the heat from climate change

ALBERTO SALVO Today Online 16 Jan 19;

News reports of a study I authored, published in Nature Communications last month, have put the spotlight on how different segments of society may be affected by climate change.

What can we infer from the findings given that the global climate is changing and researchers and policymakers are trying to understand the impacts of rising temperatures on societies around the world?

Scientists use unseasonal weather fluctuations — say a warmer versus cooler summer — to examine how heat affects a range of socioeconomic variables that we care about, such as public health, worker productivity, industrial output, commuter behaviour, school test scores, and so on.

Specifically, consider the ways in which people protect themselves from excess heat.

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 Jan 19

Bukit Timah: The Highest Hill in Singapore
My Nature Experiences

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December 2018 was 2nd warmest year-end on record; Met Service warns of long-term warming in Singapore

VICTOR LOH Today Online 15 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — If December felt hotter than usual, your hunch is right.

The last month of 2018 was the second warmest December since 1929, while the past decade is the warmest on record.

"These are signs of the long-term warming trend in Singapore," the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 15).

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Food importers may be required to help tackle supply disruptions

Move among steps to beef up food security; new agency to boost safety for consumers
Tiffany Fumiko Tay Straits Times 16 Jan 19;

Importers of key food items may be required to come up with preventive strategies and other plans to mitigate the impact of supply disruptions to Singapore, which imports more than 90 per cent of its food and is vulnerable to factors affecting global supply, such as disease outbreaks and climate change.

This and other measures to beef up Singapore's food security were included in two Bills tabled in Parliament yesterday to dissolve the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and split its functions between the National Parks Board (NParks) and a new statutory board to oversee food safety and security.

The AVA will cease in April and its plant-and animal-related functions, including animal welfare, will be transferred to NParks.

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Singapore aiming to become region's urban agriculture technology hub: Koh Poh Koon

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations".
Sue-Ann Tan Straits Times 15 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has the "right ingredients" to make it the urban agriculture and aquaculture technology hub in the region, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said on Tuesday (Jan 15).

In a keynote speech at the Indoor Ag-Con Asia conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which is being held in Singapore for the fourth time, Dr Koh said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations", as it has a climate for innovation, strong talent base and strategic location which can transform agriculture and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Where arable land is scarce, innovating how we produce food is critical in helping us overcome our farming constraints and better contribute to our food sustainability and traceability efforts," he said.

"Investments in agri-tech can also help to reduce our reliance on food imports and allow us to enjoy seasonal produce while lowering our carbon footprint."

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Indonesia: Cable ship sinks after collision with tanker in Bintan

Fadli The Jakarta Post 14 Jan 19;

The Indonesian Navy has deployed several vessels after the Vanuatu-registered cable ship the MV Star Centurion collided with the Hong Kong-flagged tanker MT Antea on Sunday morning in Bintan waters, Riau Islands.

The Singaporean authorities previously rescued some 20 crew members from the sinking Star Centurion, which was a vessel designed for undersea pipeline work. The Antea sustained damage to its hull in the accident at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday in Tanjungberakit.

Based on images of the damage to the respective ships, it would appear the Star Centurion crashed into the side of the Antea. The Star Centurion capsized and sank within hours.

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Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished
Damian Carrington The Guardian 15 Jan 19;

“We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming.

“It was just astonishing,” Lister said. “Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You’d be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all.”

“It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” he said. “We began to realise this is terrible – a very, very disturbing result.”

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Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study

Scientists say it may still technically be possible to limit warming to 1.5C if drastic action is taken now
Damian Carrington The Guardian 15 Jan 19;

Climate change could be kept in check if a phaseout of all fossil fuel infrastructure were to begin immediately, according to research.

It shows that meeting the internationally agreed aspiration of keeping global warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is still possible. The scientists say it is therefore the choices being made by global society, not physics, which is the obstacle to meeting the goal.

The study found that if all fossil fuel infrastructure – power plants, factories, vehicles, ships and planes – from now on are replaced by zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their useful lives, there is a 64% chance of staying under 1.5C.

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Jan 19

Chinese New Year Resolution – Let’s be kind to sharks and rays!
Mei Lin NEO

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Price of eggs up 4% over 6 months: Chan Chun Sing

Channel NewsAsia 14 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: The local retail price of eggs increased by about 4 per cent between June and November last year, according to Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

He revealed this in a written parliamentary reply on Monday (Jan 14) in response to a question from Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Associate Professor Daniel Goh on the cause behind the increase in the price of eggs in the past six months and whether profiteering has been a factor.

Mr Chan said the import prices of eggs from some of Singapore's import sources have gone up significantly between June and November 2018, some by up to 50 per cent.

"However, we also have other import sources where the import prices have either remained stable or shown slight declines of up to 7 per cent. As such, the local retail price of eggs has increased around 4 per cent over the same period," he said.

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Thailand to make it rain as pollution chokes Bangkok

AFP Yahoo News 15 Jan 19;

Bangkok (AFP) - Thailand is set to deploy rainmaking planes to seed clouds in an effort to tackle the pall of pollution that has shrouded the capital in recent weeks.

The weather modification technique involves dispersing chemicals into the air to aid cloud condensation, which should in theory result in rain.

"The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation... expects the rainmaking to be done tomorrow (Tuesday) but it depends on wind and humidity levels," Pralong Dumrongthai, director-general of Thailand's Pollution Control Department, told reporters.

As Thais woke up Monday morning to another day of murky air blanketing its bustling construction-filled capital, environment group Greenpeace said Bangkok was currently the 10th most polluted in the world, rivalling some cities in China.

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Australia: Million dead fish cause environmental stink

AFP Yahoo News 14 Jan 19;

Sydney (AFP) - As many as a million fish are believed to have died along the banks of a major river system in drought-battered eastern Australia, and the authorities warned Monday of more deaths to come.

The banks of the Murray-Darling Rivers are thick with rotten fish, with officials putting the number of dead at hundreds of thousands and saying the toll is likely closer to one million.

Further high temperatures forecast for this week could make the situation worse, the New South Wales government has warned.

Low water conditions and the heat may also have encouraged an algae bloom that starves the fish of oxygen and produce toxins.

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Desalination produces more toxic waste than clean water

Marlowe HOOD, AFP Yahoo News 15 Jan 19;

Paris (AFP) - More than 16,000 desalination plants scattered across the globe produce far more toxic sludge than fresh water, according to a first global assessment of the sector's industrial waste, published Monday.

For every litre of fresh water extracted from the sea or brackish waterways, a litre-and-a-half of salty slurry, called brine, is dumped directly back into the ocean or the ground.

The super-salty substance is made even more toxic by the chemicals used in the desalination process, researchers reported in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Copper and chlorine, for example, are both commonly used.

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Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s

SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press Yahoo News 15 Jan 19;

WASHINGTON (AP) — Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s, a new study shows.

Scientists used aerial photographs, satellite measurements and computer models to track how fast the southern-most continent has been melting since 1979 in 176 individual basins. They found the ice loss to be accelerating dramatically — a key indicator of human-caused climate change.

Since 2009, Antarctica has lost almost 278 billion tons (252 billion metric tons) of ice per year, the new study found. In the 1980s, it was losing 44 billion tons (40 billion metric tons) a year.

The recent melting rate is 15 percent higher than what a study found last year.

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Best of our wild blogs: 14 Jan 19

Putting the Saga in Saga Seeds
Wan's Ubin Journal

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Singapore otters a hit overseas

Fans across the globe ask interest groups where they can see the creatures when they visit Singapore
Nur Syahindah Ishak The New Paper 14 Jan 19;

National Geographic photographer Stefano Unterthiner, 48, from Italy has been to more than 30 countries and photographed exotic wildlife such as the Komodo dragon, European bison and brown bear.

When he learnt about Singapore's Bishan otters, he flew here in January last year for over three weeks.

He is not the only foreigner to be intrigued by our otters.

Otter groups here told The New Paper that they get messages from fans across the globe asking where to find the animals if they were to visit Singapore.

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Spike in fish prices likely to continue in run-up to Chinese New Year

Bad weather, rising demand, Malaysia's seafood export ban cited as reasons for higher prices of popular fishes
Rei Kurohi Straits Times 14 Jan 19;

A recent spike in the price of fish that is likely to continue with Chinese New Year just weeks away was partly the result of recent bad weather, which caused some shortages among Singapore's regular suppliers, fish sellers told The Straits Times.

Mr Lim Choon Yau, who represents wholesaler Song Fish Dealer, said fishermen in countries like Indonesia and Thailand have reported poor catches and unpredictable weather preventing them from fishing in recent weeks.

He said: "The price of Chinese pomfret has risen from about $30 to as much as $50 per kg. If the weather continues to be bad, who knows how high the price could rise?"

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Indonesia: Facebook post leads N. Sumatra police to alleged poacher

Rizal Harahap and Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 13 Jan 19;

Authorities in Riau and North Sumatra have arrested a man allegedly involved in illegal poaching after he posted a video of himself slaughtering an endangered bird on social media.

The Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) joined hands with the Kuantan Singingi (Kuansing) Police to track down and apprehend Arhedi, 29, for allegedly killing a hornbill on Friday evening.

Arhedi, who is originally from Lebak, Banten, is a rubber plantation worker in Gunung Toar subdistrict, Kuansing, Riau. The police are still on the hunt for his coworker, OG, who allegedly took down the bird with a slingshot.

A video of Arhedi chopping up the hornbill went viral on social media and alerted the police.

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Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jan 19

Flew In Visitors (12 Jan 2019)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Butterfly of the Month - January 2019
Butterflies of Singapore

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Why Singapore is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world

Extreme heat, combined with the island’s high humidity, could be life-threatening, the programme Why It Matters discovers.
Desmond Ng and Tang Hui Huan Channel NewsAsia 13 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: The recent spells of hot weather that Singaporeans have been experiencing may not be just temporary heatwaves.

The island is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world - at 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade - according to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS). It is almost 1 deg C hotter today than in the 1950s.

What is even grimmer news – Singapore’s maximum daily temperatures could reach 35 to 37 deg C by year 2100, if carbon emissions continue to rise at the same rate, warned Dr Muhammad Eeqmal Hassim, senior research scientist with the MSS Centre for Climate Research Singapore.

Other countries already experience hotter temperatures than this - but the reason this spells trouble for Singapore, is that humidity is high here all year round,

This could lead to potentially deadly situations, as the programme Why It Matters found out.

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Singapore needs to relook way it uses resources if it's to become a zero-waste nation: Masagos

Calvin Yang Straits Times 12 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has to relook the way it uses resources if it is to achieve its vision of becoming a zero-waste nation, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Saturday (Jan 12).

If done right, the country will also be able to create new economic opportunities for local businesses and jobs for Singaporeans, added Mr Masagos, who was speaking at the launch of Singapore's Year Towards Zero Waste at Our Tampines Hub.

The year-long campaign aims to raise awareness of waste issues here and the need to treasure precious resources.

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Wild boar killed in accident outside Waterway Point in Punggol

Channel NewsAsia 12 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: A wild boar died after being run over outside Waterway Point in Punggol on Saturday (Jan 12).

Animal welfare group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) received a call at about 11.55am alerting them to two wild boars near Waterway Point.

One was reported to be in the car park, while the other had died after being run over.

When officers from ACRES arrived at the scene, they found only the carcass of the dead wild boar. The carcass was subsequently cleared by the National Environment Agency, ACRES said.

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2 Asian leopard cats abandoned at Bukit Batok, rescued by ACRES

Channel NewsAsia 12 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Two critically endangered Asian leopard cats were rescued by an animal welfare group after being found abandoned in a carrier at Bukit Batok West last month.

Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) said it received a call at about 10am on Dec 20 from a member of the public, claiming to have found two Asian leopard cats abandoned in a carrier at Bukit Batok West Avenue 6.

The cats were picked up by ACRES in the afternoon.

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Indonesia: Riau resident accused of igniting forest fire after throwing cigarette butt

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 12 Jan 19;

Dumai Police arrested a resident for allegedly starting a forest fire in Purnama subdistrict in Dumai, Riau, after he threw a lighted cigarette butt onto peatland.

Police chief Comr. Restika P. Nainggolan said the suspect, identified as 49-year-old Sabri, had attempted to put out the fire when the fire brigade arrived.

"Apparently he is one of the land owners," Restika said on Friday.

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$1m prize for innovative solutions for clean energy, sustainability

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 12 Jan 19;

Local non-profit organisation Temasek Foundation has launched its Liveability Challenge this year, issuing a global call for companies to come up with innovative solutions for clean energy and sustainability in tropical cities.

Its Ecosperity arm is offering a $1 million prize - which it claims is the biggest in Asia for such a competition - to the winning company, which will go towards project development, crowdfunding campaigns and mentoring opportunities.

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From fighting diabetes to food waste, start-ups cook up new ideas for food

Tang See Kit Channel NewsAsia 12 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Affecting more than 420 million people globally, diabetes has been described as one of the world’s fastest growing chronic diseases and for Alan Phua, it is one that he lost both his grandmothers to.

So when Verleen Goh, his business partner and a trained food scientist, suggested developing a product that’s not only diabetes-friendly but can also help with prevention, he agreed.

The product they envisioned will make starchy white rice “healthier” by lowering its glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose level. White rice, a staple of meals here in Singapore and the rest of Asia, has a high GI value that is deemed unhealthy for diabetics or those trying to keep their blood sugar at a healthy level.

After three years of research and development, the founders of Alchemy Foodtech have turned that idea into reality.

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Panic as family finds 3m-long python in toilet, then struggles to find agency to help remove snake

Adeline Tan The New Paper 11 Jan 19;

When his wife's screams woke him up at 6.45am, he found a slithery intruder in their Housing Board maisonette in Eunos.

What ensued was a two-hour drama where the family had to deal with a 3m reticulated python in their home while waiting for help to arrive.

Recalling the incident, which happened on Dec 30, the resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Goh, said his wife had run into their bedroom to wake him.

"She said there was a huge snake in the toilet. I thought she was exaggerating or had mistaken something else for a snake," he told The New Paper.

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Malaysia: Green turtle with 'floater syndrome' rescued off Gaya Island

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 11 Jan 19;

KOTA KINABALU: An endangered green sea turtle, believed to be suffering from 'floater syndrome', was rescued by guests of a resort off Gaya Island, near here, on Tuesday.

The turtle was spotted floating at sea by guests and surf team of Shangri-la’s Rasa Ria Resort at 11.55am.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said the group tried to push the turtle back further toward open water but the reptile kept swimming back to them.

Turtles with 'floater syndrome', a condition caused by excess accumulation of gas in the body, could not dive for food or protection.

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UN Environment expects Indonesia`s major role in marine waste prevention

Antara 11 Jan 19;

Children join a clean coast campaign in Parangkusumo Coast, Bantul, Yogyakarta, some time in 2018. (ANTARA FOTO/Hendra Nurdiyansyah/foc).

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - UN Environment`s Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Dechen Tsering expects Indonesia to play a major role in preventing plastic waste from entering the sea.

"With regard to marine waste, we can see awareness, policies, regulations, and implementation," Tsering noted in a written statement received in Jakarta on Friday.

Tsering remarked that marine waste mostly came from Southeast Asia. She also realized that Indonesia and other countries in the region are working hard to tackle this problem.

Hence, Indonesia and the UN Environment plan to create a Regional Center for Capacity Initiative to Protect the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.

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Republic Polytechnic launches course to groom high-tech farmers

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 11 Jan 19;

A new course here aims to train the next generation of high-tech farmers so that Singapore can produce more of its own food.

The Diploma in Applied Science in Urban Agricultural Technology, launched by Republic Polytechnic (RP) on Wednesday, is the first full-qualification diploma course in agricultural technology in Singapore.

The course was developed by RP, in consultation with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, to develop a local core agriculture workforce with modern agricultural knowledge and techniques to drive the sector's growth and transformation.

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Grab says 'right time' to introduce electric vehicles, set to roll out 200 Hyundai Konas

Amir Yusof Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing firm Grab is set to roll out 200 electric vehicles (EVs) into Singapore's streets progressively from Friday (Jan 11).

Having purchased 200 Hyundai Kona 64 kWH electric cars, Grab will release an initial batch of 20 vehicles on Friday with the rest being introduced over the next few weeks, head of the company's car leasing service GrabRentals, Kau Yi Ming said in an interview with local media.

"With these 200 cars, we will also be one of the biggest EV fleet in Singapore, and we want to be able to take this opportunity to introduce electric vehicles to both drivers and passengers of Grab," said Mr Kau.

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Malaysia: Melaka focusing on conserving and preserving turtle landing sites

r.s.n.murali The Star 10 Jan 19;

MELAKA: The state government is cutting back on the perimeter of ongoing reclamation works close to Pulau Upeh for the sake of turtles, said

State Agriculture, Entrepreneur Development, Co-operative and Agro-Based committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee.

He said the move was decided as the state government is focusing on conserving and preserving the environment of the turtle landing sites at Pulau Upeh and other parts of the state.

“We have stopped contractors from encroaching the perimeter of the permitted reclamation zone and they will face punitive action if they continue to be defiant.

“For the record, the reclamation works close to Pulau Upeh have been in existence since the 1970s,” he said after launching the staff appreciation event at the Turtle Conservation Centre in Padang Kemunting on Monday.

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World's oceans are heating up at a quickening pace: study

AFP Yahoo News 11 Jun 19;

Tampa (AFP) - The world's oceans are heating up at an accelerating pace as global warming threatens a diverse range of marine life and a major food supply for the planet, researchers said Thursday.

The findings in the US journal Science, led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, debunk previous reports that suggested a so-called pause in global warming in recent years.

The latest technology shows no such hiatus ever existed, raising new concerns about the pace of climate change and its effect on the planet's main buffer -- the oceans.

"Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought," said co-author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Singapore eco-tourism plan sparks squawks of protest

AFP 9 Jan 19;

Singapore is creating a vast eco-tourism zone in a bid to bring in more visitors, but environmentalists fear the development will damage natural habitats and are already blaming it for a series of animal deaths.

While it may be best known as a financial hub with scores of high-rise buildings, tropical Singapore is still home to patches of rainforest and an array of wildlife, from monkeys to pangolins -- also known as scaly anteaters.

In one green corner of the city sits a zoo and two sister attractions -- a night safari and river safari -- that have long been big draws for foreign and local visitors.

Now jungle is being cleared in the same area to make way for a bird park, a rainforest park and a 400-room resort, to create a green tourism hub it is hoped will eventually attract millions of visitors a year.

But the project in the Mandai district has ruffled the feathers of environmentalists.

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SP Group rolls out first wave of electric vehicle charging points

ASYRAF KAMIL Today Online 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Electric vehicle (EV) users can now expect to fully charge their vehicles within half an hour at 19 new charging points around the island.

The 19 50kW direct current (DC) charging points are part of utilities provider SP Group’s first wave of 38 public charging points located at commercial buildings and industrial areas, and also Singapore Polytechnic.

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Dengue cases up 20 per cent in 2018, trend continues into new year

Today Online 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — The total number of dengue cases in 2018 increased sharply from the previous year, with a total of 3,285 cases reported. This was almost 20 per cent more than in 2017, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media release on Wednesday (Jan 9).

The trend has continued into the new year, with the number of cases reported increasing over the past three weeks. There was a total of 207 cases in the first week of the year.

While the number went up in 2018, it was a significant drop from the record high of 22,170 seen in 2013. There were 18,326 cases the year after, followed by 11,294 and 13,085 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

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Opening of Botanic Gardens extension delayed by a year to minimise environmental impact

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - The opening of an 8ha extension to the Botanic Gardens - initially scheduled for the end of last year - has been pushed back by around 12 months due to construction issues.

The Gallop Road extension, which will feature attractions including an arboretum full of endangered rainforest trees, a hiking trail and galleries, was announced in 2015 when a completion date of late 2018 was set.

However, the Botanic Gardens' director of development, Ms Ng Yuin-Mae, announced on Wednesday (Jan 9) that more time is needed to ensure that the extension and new facilities being constructed are developed sensitively to ensure that wildlife can continue to thrive in the area.

Monthly environmental impact studies indicated that more time was needed to ensure minimal noise and vibration pollution in the surrounding area, and to protect the area's biodiversity.

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Malaysia: No water tariff hike in Johor, says state exco

IZLAILY NURUL AIN HUSSEIN New Straits Times 9 Jan 19;

JOHOR BARU: The federal government's plan to increase water tariffs nationwide will not involve Johor, said state investment and utilities committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse.

He said this is because Johor had already increased its water tariff in 2015.

Puah said the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry's plan to increase water tariffs is part of the government's effort to standardise water rates in the country.

"The water tariff in Johor was just increased in 2015. Also, the water tariff in Johor is not lower than those imposed in other states. I see no need to increase the tariff at this stage.

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Best of our wild blogs: 9 Jan 19

Video: Conserving Singapore's wildlife in an urban landscape
Channel NewsAsia

Hazy figures cloud Indonesia’s peat restoration as fire season looms

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Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions top 50m tonnes: Report

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 8 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Singapore generated more than 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2014, the bulk of it from the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy for industries, buildings, households and transportation.

The figure, which is the latest available, was published online last week in a biennial report that the Government submitted to the United Nations on Dec 27.

The 50.9 million tonnes of greenhouse gases generated in 2014 is an increase of 4.8 per cent from about 48.6 million tonnes generated in 2012.

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Shell fined S$400,000 for Pulau Bukom fire that injured 6 workers

Channel NewsAsia 8 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Oil giant Shell has been fined S$400,000 for a fire which broke out at a petroleum refinery on Pulau Bukom in 2015, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Tuesday (Jan 8).

The fire left six workers injured, including two with critical injuries after they suffered 50 per cent and 70 per cent burns.

On Aug 21, 2015, two groups of workers were simultaneously conducting maintenance and project works on a crude distillation unit at the refinery, said the ministry.

The first group was carrying out hot works on a scaffold. This included the use of a blow-cutting torch from an oxy-acetylene cylinder to cut and dismantle existing pipes.

The other group was carrying out cold works along a hydrocarbon solvent line on the ground. This involved removing a joint connection to a valve as well as connecting a hose to the valve to drain out residual flammable hydrocarbons inside the pipeline into a nearby pit.

"When one of the workers opened the valve to start the draining process, flammable vapours from the draining of hydrocarbons came into contact with the sparks from the hot works," said MOM.

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Indonesia: Toba Lake hills prone to landslides due to alleged illegal logging - Walhi

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 8 Jan 19;

Debris from the landslides feared to have been caused by illegal logging practices have for several times covered Siduadua Bridge on the Trans Sumatra highway in Sibaganding subdistrict, Simalungun regency, North Sumatra.

For almost three weeks since Dec. 18 last year, when the first landslide hit, the traffic on the bridge that connects Pematang Siantar and the renowned tourist resort Lake Toba was disturbed by the debris, forcing thousands of travelers to seek for alternative routes by crossing the lake.

Only since Sunday that the traffic has returned to normal again after a joint team cleared the debris that amounted to over 100 tons in weight.

Executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment’s (Walhi) North Sumatra branch, Dana Prima Tarigan, said that landslide remained a major threat to the forest area around Lake Toba hills due to rampant illegal logging practices.

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What Singapore can do to prepare for the next flood

Floods cannot be completely eliminated, but can be managed, say Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K Biswas.
Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K Biswas Channel NewsAsia 8 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: The year-end monsoon season typically sets off alarm bells to watch for flooding, particularly in Singapore, once beset by images of an Orchard Road ponding incident.

Although such incidents evince snarls and flare up tempers, in other cities, people have developed creative responses to floods.

In Thailand, we have witnessed how the recent tropical storm Pabuk resulted in heavy floods and left more than 30,000 people in evacuation shelters. This is an example of the severe impact of a single, very unusual weather event for which resilience is much needed.


The reality is that climate change will bring to bear unpredictable and unprecedented weather patterns.

So it is fortuitous that the United National Climate Change Conference organised in Poland in early December 2018 united once again most countries on what should be a coordinated and effective response on adaptation, mitigation and preparedness for coping with climate change.

Climate change has a global reach and is impacting societies all over the world. Extreme climatological events such as floods, droughts and hurricanes are affecting more cities.

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With farms atop malls, Singapore gets serious about food security

Rina Chandran Reuters 8 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Visitors to Singapore’s Orchard Road, the city’s main shopping belt, will find fancy malls, trendy department stores, abundant food courts - and a small farm.

Comcrop’s 600-square-metre (6,450-square-foot) farm on the roof of one of the malls uses vertical racks and hydroponics to grow leafy greens and herbs such as basil and peppermint that it sells to nearby bars, restaurants and stores.

The farm’s small size belies its big ambition: to help improve the city’s food security.

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Lower Peirce Reservoir fishing grounds reopened after 140 motoro stingrays removed

Choo Yun Ting Straits Times 7 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Fishing grounds at Lower Peirce Reservoir have been reopened after around 140 motoro stingrays were removed.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 7), national water agency PUB said that the non-native stingrays were removed from the reservoir waters with the assistance of the National University of Singapore and the National Parks Board.

The fishing grounds, which reopened on Monday, were closed after motoro rays were sighted at Lower Peirce Reservoir on Dec 20 last year.

However, the fishing grounds at Upper Seletar Reservoir will remain closed until further notice, PUB said.

In December, the agency said that 75 motoro stingrays had been removed from the reservoirs and waterways since 2015.

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Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife Dept still unable to identify source in viral photo of abused turtle

stephanie lee The Star 7 Jan 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife authorities are still not able to find the source behind a viral photo, believed taken on a boat, which showed a turtle being abused.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said all personnel in the department are involved in finding out the source of the photo, and to investigate whether the incident happened in Sabah.

So far, we have yet to get any information as to who took the photo, where it was taken, and who the perpetrators are,” he said.

The photo, which shows a person sitting on a turtle with another stepping on it, had made its rounds on social media like Facebook and on messaging app WhatsApp.

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Indonesia: Ministry prepares for forest fires following moderate el Nino forecast

Antara 7 Jan 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Environment and Forestry Ministry has taken early precautionary measures against land and forest fires, with the climatology agency forecasting moderate El Nino during the period from January to February.

"Moderate El Nino will be experienced in Indonesia from early January to February 2019 that will necessitate the adoption of early anticipatory measures," the ministry`s Director General of Climate Change Ruandha Agung noted in a statement here on Monday.

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Best of our wild blogs: 7 Jan 19

Interesting Ubin Butterflies
Butterflies of Singapore

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Sharing economy hype vs reality in Singapore

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 6 Jan 19;

Each week, TODAY’s long-running Big Read series delves into trends and issues that matter. This week, we examine the impact of big money on the sharing economy, and its effects on consumers. This is a shortened version of the full feature, which can be found here.

SINGAPORE — The sharing economy held much promise when it burst onto the scene in the not-too-distant past, opening up an avenue for people to earn an income by sharing their underused resources with others.

Consumers, too, embraced it in a big way, hoovering up goods and services in nearly every area imaginable, from point-to-point transport to co-working spaces.

But more than a decade after it began its meteoric rise globally, the collaborative movement has come under siege.

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Singapore supplies additional treated water to Malaysia at Johor's request

Channel NewsAsia 6 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's water agency PUB said on Sunday (Jan 6) that it supplied additional treated water to Malaysia this week after pollution disrupted production at Johor's water plants.

"Production at Johor's water plants was disrupted recently by pollution to the river catchment. PUB's Johor River Waterworks was not affected by the incident," said PUB in a statement.

"At Johor’s request, PUB helped to tide Johor residents over the water supply disruption by turning on PUB’s Pasir Gudang offtake and supplying an additional 6 million of gallons per day (mgd) of treated water between 2 and 4 January 2019.

"This was on top of the 16 mgd that we usually supply Johor," it added.

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Philippines: Death toll from storm, landslides climbs to 126

AFP Yahoo News 6 Jan 19;

Manila (AFP) - The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines shortly after Christmas rose to 126, authorities said Sunday, adding landslides caused by torrential rain were the top cause.

The storm hit central and eastern Philippine islands on December 29 and caused massive flooding and landslides. More than 100 people died in the mountainous Bicol region southeast of Manila, regional disaster officials said.

While the Bicol region is often hit by deadly typhoons, many people failed to take necessary precautions because the storm was not strong enough to be rated as a typhoon under the government's storm alert system, according to civil defence officials.

Officials also said that many residents were reluctant to leave their homes during the Christmas holidays.

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Best of our wild blogs: 5 Jan 19

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 13 Jan 2019 (Sun)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

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Look Ahead 2019: Environment — New policies may spur companies to up their game

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 4 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — The Year of Climate Action wrapped up with the public now more aware of the need to fight global warming, going by more than 300,000 pledges from individuals and organisations garnered in 2018.

In the next few years, the focus will shift towards corporates and their role in tackling climate change, which is resulting in rising sea levels and more weather extremes. All eyes will be on several key policies to be rolled out, beginning with the carbon tax from this year.

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Red Dot Power halts electricity retail services amid 'financial challenges'

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 4 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Red Dot Power has pulled out of the electricity market, saying on Friday (Jan 4) that it had been a "financially challenging period".

The company was part of the initial soft launch for the open electricity market (OEM) in Jurong, signing up around 3,000 customers, including 120 households.

When the open market roll-out to other parts of the island began on Nov 1, Red Dot Power decided to not sign up new customers as it evaluated its business.

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Singapore suspends raw pork imports from parts of China with African swine fever

Channel NewsAsia 4 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has suspended the import of pork and pork products from parts of China with outbreaks of African swine fever, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Friday (Jan 4).

These areas include Anhui, Fujian, Henan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Sichuan, Zhejiang and Shanghai.

Only processed pork products from approved establishments in the affected areas that have been heat-treated to inactivate the virus are allowed to be imported, AVA said.

China has confirmed about 100 cases of African swine fever across 23 provinces since August last year, but experts believe it is worse than reported, Reuters said. The disease is deadly for pigs but does not harm people.

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Malaysia: Man nabbed for selling pangolin on social media

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 4 Jan 19;

The 20-year-old man from Kota Belud was caught red-handed by the personnel for possessing a live pangolin at the back bonnet of a car at 11am yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: A man who had used social media to sell a protected animal was arrested by Sabah Wildlife Department.

The 20-year-old man from Kota Belud was caught red-handed by the personnel for possessing a live pangolin at the back bonnet of a car at 11am yesterday.

“Acting on a tip-off from public, a team of four enforcement personnel was despatched to track and inspect a grey Proton Persona near a petrol station in Kota Belud town.

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Best of our wild blogs: 4 Jan 19

Jan 2019 sampling events for NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme – Last sampling sessions!
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

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Feeling less productive? Blame it on the air: NUS study

WONG PEI TING Today Online 3 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Exposure to air pollution over several weeks is not just unhealthy, it can also affect worker productivity, according to a study by the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Employee productivity dips by 1 per cent when the PM2.5 — a fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size — in the air increases by 10 micrograms per cubic metre and stays at that level for 25 days, the study found.

The NUS team spent more than a year gathering information from factories in China and scrutinising the output levels of two textile mills at Henan and Jiangsu. The findings from the study were published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics on Thursday (Jan 3).

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Indonesia: Jakarta Residents Agree on Limiting Disposable Plastic Bag

Ricky Mohammad Nugraha Tempo 3 Jan 19;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Jakarta Environmental Agency announced that 80 percent of the city’s residents welcomed the idea of limiting the use of disposable plastic bags.

The Agency's head of waste management Rahmawati, said that the Agency acquired the data based on a door-to-door survey conducted on respondents that mostly consist of housewives.

"Almost 80 percent [of respondents] agreed to a limit on the use of disposable plastic bags and willing to bring their own [reusable] bags," said Rahmawati to Tempo on Thursday, January 3, 2019.

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Vietnam: Wildlife trafficking still at serious levels

VietNamNet Bridge 3 Jan 19;

As a hotspot for wildlife trafficking and consumption since the late 80s, Vietnam is facing a risk of depletion of biodiversity.

Vietnam made a commitment to fight against wildlife trafficking at the 2018 London Conference. In reply, PanNature, a Vietnamese not-for-profit organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity, recently issued a policy bulletin on the status of wildlife in the country.

The country in the past mostly exported wildlife and served as a site for wildlife transshipment, but now it has also become a consumer of wildlife.

The wildlife demand from Vietnamese is increasingly high, depleting domestic biodiversity resources, and having a negative impact on natural resources in other countries, from the sub-Mekong Region to Africa.

Despite the ban on trading and consuming wildlife, many Vietnamese still eat wild animal meat, while restaurants still sell dishes made of wild birds and animals.

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Best of our wild blogs: 3 Jan 19

Happy New Year from the Marine Park
Sisters' Islands Marine Park

Happy New Year with R.U.M.!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

2019 Schedule for our FREE Guided Walks
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

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Indonesia: 90 percent of tsunami survivors in Lampung want to be resettled

Antara 1 Jan 19;

S Lampung, (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo ((Jokowi) said that nearly 90 percent of residents of Sebesi island in Lampung province, who survived the Dec 22, 2018 tsunami in Sunda Strait, want to be resettled to other areas.

"I just asked the Sebesi residents. In essence, they want to be resettled to higher ground. They all are no longer brave enough to live in coastal areas," he stated, after holding a dialog with survivors of the tsunami, on Wednesday.

The tsunami survivors of Sebesi Island are currently taking refuge in the Kalianda indoor tennis court in South Lampung district.

The president noted that they will be resettled on the same island.

"But they will live on higher ground on the island," he added.

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Indonesia: Floods, landslides to dominate 2019 amid continuing environmental damage

Karina M. Tehusijarana The Jakarta Post 2 Jan 19;

Flooding and landslides will remain the predominant type of disasters in Indonesia in 2019, a repeat of what happened in 2018 when thousands of natural disasters happened, a government disaster office has projected.

The last day of 2018 saw a fatal landslide in Sukabumi, West Java, which killed at least 15 as of the first day of 2019.

"We predict that in 2019, over 2,500 natural disaster will occur across Indonesia," National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters on Monday. "Hydrometeorological disasters such as floods, landslides and puting beliung [small tornadoes] will continue to dominate and make up about 95 percent of total disasters."

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Why we are pushing for divestment from fossil fuel in fight against climate change


Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing recently spoke about how just as Singapore’s past 50 years have been defined by its successful water story, the next 50 will be defined by its ability to manage its energy challenges amidst the threat of climate change.

The special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained stark warnings to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, it called for governments to fully decarbonise their economies as soon as possible, which necessitates transitioning from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy.

This is why we, a group of National University of Singapore students, have been campaigning for divestment from fossil fuels.

Our efforts have been targeted towards getting NUS, who invests a small percentage of its S$3.7 billion endowment in fossil fuels, to commit to full divestment by 2024.

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No more plastic straws with Yakult drinks

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 30 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Yakult Singapore will stop providing straws from the end of the year, the company said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 27).

The announcement comes as a growing number of food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants and cafes around the world have joined the movement to cut down on the use of plastics.

Even entire cities have jumped on the bandwagon. Most recently, the authorities in Bali have enacted a ban on single-use plastics, including shopping bags, styrofoam food packets and straws.

In its post, Yakult Singapore said that it will be removing straws from two of its products — Yakult and Yakult Ace Light — “from end December 2018 onwards”, as part of efforts “in contributing to environment protection and sustainability”.

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Best of our wild blogs: 1 Jan 19

Celebrating Singapore's Shores on the road: September - December
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Love MacRitchie’s 2018 in Review
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Giant Clam Girl’s 2018 Highlights!
Mei Lin NEO

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