Best of our wild blogs: 31 Mar 19

Student ideas for developing Changi
wild shores of singapore

Night Walk Along Island Club Road (29 Mar 2019)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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NParks launches 36km trail linking Coney Island with Jurong Lake

Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board on Saturday (Mar 30) launched a 36km trail linking Coney Island Park in the northeast with Jurong Lake Gardens in the west.

The Coast-to-Coast (C2C) Trail cuts across Singapore and takes visitors through a variety of parks and nature areas, with highlights such as Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

In addition to an online guide, the trail also comes with its very own augmented reality (AR) app, which uses 3D-animated characters to provide information about native flora and fauna and surrounding areas of interest, NParks said in its media release.

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Commentary: Beyond scarcity and security, does Singapore need a new water narrative?

Have strides made in water management drowned out a longstanding attitude concerning the importance of water conservation? Can a new culture of empowerment and ground-up action reverse that tide?
Lin Suling Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: Water conservation has been an ethos drilled into those of my generation.

I remember my primary school conducting at least one water-rationing exercise. Water coolers, taps and toilets were shut off for a few hours.

It was not the most pleasant experience. At 11, when you had to go, you went. And you only had a small pail of water to flush down your business.

But this deliberately painful exercise indeed underscored how precious timely and reliable access to water was.


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Cambodia’s environment, Singapore’s problem

Surekha A. Yadav Malay Mail 31 Mar 19;

MARCH 31 — So, apparently, my neighbourhood smells of urine.

That’s right, Yishun — that proud northern region of our island — denigrated by the ignorant as a hotbed of crime (okay, there were a couple of cat killers) is now literally a pee town?

Honestly, this is rubbish! Firstly, Yishun is a lovely neighbourhood and secondly, I haven’t noticed any urine smell and don’t know anyone who has.

Still, on the online forums it is apparently a thing.

The National Environment Authority has said the urine and burning smells detected island-wide are in fact the result of fires at landfills and farm sites in Johor.

And this brings us to a serious point; from the regional plastic waste that washes up on our shores to the oil slicks that appear due to discharge from passing ships and of course the Indonesian haze that often chokes us in the hot months, Singapore seems to be the perpetual victim of other nations’ inability to take care of their environment.

But is this really the case?

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Malaysia: Is life without plastic bags possible in Penang? Yes, say NGOs

BALVIN KAUR New Straits Times 30 Mar 19;

GEORGE TOWN: Penang non-governmental organisations have called on the state government to ramp up its efforts to tackle the problem of single-use plastic bags in the state.

While welcoming the state government’s move to mull increasing plastic bag charges to 50 sen a piece for consumers, they believe that more needs to be done to beef up existing regulations.

Consumer Association of Penang president S.M Mohamed Idris said that despite Penang being the first state to implement a ‘no free plastic bags policy’ in the country back in July 2009, it is still being widely used in Penang.

“The ‘no free plastic bag’ ruling only applies to shopping outlets but not hawkers and markets,” he said.

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Malaysia: 111 Pasir Gudang schools reopen after Sg Kim Kim pollution disaster

Mohamed Farid Noh New Straits Times 31 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: Classes resumed at 111 schools in Pasir Gudang today after being closed for approximately two weeks following the chemical pollution of Sungai Kim Kim, which sickened thousands.

Checks by the New Straits Times at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Pasir Gudang 2, which is located about 5km from Sungai Kim Kim, saw many students still wearing face masks as a precautionary measure.

It is learnt that roughly 90 per cent of pupils have returned to their respective schools.

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Whale shark selfies in the Philippines’ seaside ‘theme park’: A tourist experience that's out of control?

A fleeting sighting of the world’s biggest fish - a rare and mysterious creature - would be special. In Oslob though, a small fishing village in the central Philippines, they appear in a procession, a controversial operation that has divided the country.
Jack Board Channel NewsAsia 30 Mar 19;

OSLOB, Philippines: The effortless glide of the whale shark is a spectacular sight. Close to the surface of the water, the spotted skin of each passing giant shimmers in the refracting sunlight.

A fleeting glimpse of the world’s biggest fish - a rare and mysterious creature - would be special. In Oslob, though, a small fishing village in the central Philippines, they appear in a procession.

On this day, some 15 sharks, most of them male juveniles, have made their way into the so-called “interaction zone”. About 2,000 people will join them, and for five hours the sharks will perform lap after lap along their underwater catwalk.

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Indonesia: Forest patrol continues in anticipation of Ell Nino-induced fires

Antara 30 Mar 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Environment and Forestry Ministry's Post Command for Forest Fire Control has continued its routine and integrated patrols to anticipate hot spots indicating of forest and land fires as moderate El Nino is expected to develop from April until July 2019.

The post command had extinguished hot spots to prevent forest fires in several provinces, Raffles B Panjaitan, the ministry's director of forest and land fire control, said in a statement here on Saturday.

They are conducting routine patrols among other things in the provinces of North Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, and Southeast Sulawesi.

Integrated patrols are being carried out in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan Provinces.

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Indonesia: Emergency period ends for flood-torn Sentani

Ivany Atina Arbi The Jakarta Post 30 Mar 19;

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) announced on Saturday that authorities had decided to end the 14-day emergency period in Sentani district, Jayapura, Papua, after a flash flood struck the area on March 16.

It is known that 112 died in the disaster, while 17 others remain missing. Light to severe injuries were sustained by 961 people.

With the end of the emergency period, the transition phase will last three months until July 27, BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

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Alaska bakes under heat wave linked to climate change

Jocelyne ZABLIT, AFP Yahoo News 30 Mar 19;

Los Angeles (AFP) - Alaska residents accustomed to subzero temperatures are experiencing a heat wave of sorts that is shattering records, with the thermometer jumping to more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit (16.7 Celsius) above normal in some regions.

"Both February and March have been exceptionally warm," Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, told AFP. "Many places are on their way to their warmest March on record."

He said that cities and towns in the northern half of the state, including Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Barrow (also known as Utqiagvik), could see temperatures soar 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 22 Celsius) above normal this weekend as the warm trend continues.

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Mar 19

All islands cleared of asbestos and open to the public
wild shores of singapore

The Butterfly Legs
Butterflies of Singapore

Singapore Bird Report – February 2019
Singapore Bird Group

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St John's Island, Pulau Hantu cleared of asbestos: SLA

Channel NewsAsia 29 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: All asbestos removal works on St John’s Island and Pulau Hantu have been completed, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) announced on Friday (Mar 29).

SLA also added that the campsite on St John’s Island will reopen in June.

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New maritime heritage trail offers insights into past and present

Euodia Chi Straits Times 30 Apr 19;

SINGAPORE - As visitors stepped into the Fuk Tak Chi Temple, they were greeted by an intricate model of a boat with Chinese characters wishing seafarers a safe journey painted on its sail.

Originally a shrine set up by Confucianists and Taoists to give thanks for their safe journey to Singapore, it was converted to a museum in 1998.

Located on Telok Ayer Street, the area is replete with temples, mosques and shrines set up by immigrants after their journeys across the sea. One of these, the Nagore Dargah Shrine, was built in memory of Shahul Hamid who was believed to have miraculously saved sailors in distress as the Saint of Nagore in southern India.

Today, the shrine serves as an Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.

These places form part of the Singapore Maritime Trail 3: Our Legacy, a free guided walk which was launched on Friday (March 29) by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and for Culture, Community and Youth.

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Malaysia: Water rationing has started in Kota Tinggi

Some 10,000 households in Kota Tinggi are experiencing water ration. - NSTP/ADI SAFRI
Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 29 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Water rationing has started for some 10,000 households in Kota Tinggi.

The decision to impose scheduled water supply was taken after the operations of the Lok Heng and Sungai Gembut water treatment plants were affected due to the prolonged dry spell.

The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) said the Lok Heng plant was operating at a minimal level.

This because the water levels at Sungai Sedili Kecil have dropped below the critical level.

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Indonesia threatens to quit Paris climate deal over palm oil

Reuters 27 Mar 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A senior Indonesian minister warned on Wednesday Southeast Asia’s biggest economy could consider exiting the Paris climate deal if the European Union goes ahead with a plan to phase out palm oil in renewable transportation fuel.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, has lashed out at the EU after the bloc classified palm oil as a risky crop that caused significant deforestation and ruled that its use in renewable fuel should stop by 2030.

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Indonesia: Apusan forest's illegal logging is death warrant for rare animals

Antara 29 Mar 19;

Malang, E Java (ANTARA) - Extensive illegal logging in the Apusan preserved forest, Tambakrejo Village, Malang, endangers the existence of rare animals, including the hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) and Javan leaf monkey (Trachypithecus auratus), an environmental non-governmental organization Profauna Indonesia stated.

"Damage caused to the Apusan forest, which comes under Perhutani's management, is estimated to reach 200 hectares, of the total 500.20 hectares of the preserved forest area," Coordinator for the Lowland Forest Conservation Program of Profauna Indonesia Erik Yanuar stated here on Friday.

Yanuar noted that the forest served as a habitat for varied species of wild and protected animals.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Mar 19

2019 Draft Master Plan on wild shores of singapore

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Burning smell set to be reduced with rain: NEA

Timothy Goh Straits Times 29 Mar 19;

The burning smell reported across the island over the past two months may soon occur less frequently, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday.

On Feb 8, residents living in several parts of eastern Singapore, including Tampines, Bedok and Pasir Ris, reported a "strong burning smell" similar to haze. The source of the smell was later traced to a landfill fire in south-eastern Johor, which was later extinguished.

Complaints about the smell continued through mid-February and March, however, due to other fires and hot spots in the region.

NEA said yesterday that it has continued to receive feedback from the public about the burning smell in various areas of Singapore.

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Malaysia: All Sungai Kim Kim victims released from hospital

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 28 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: All victims of the Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste dumping case who were hospitalised for inhaling toxic fumes have been discharged.

State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said he was informed that the last victim who sought treatment following the incident was allowed to go home on March 25.

"All patients who were hospitalised have been released. So far, we have not received any new cases relating to the incident," said Dr Sahruddin.

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Malaysia: ‘Laws needed to protect Ulu Muda’

tan sin chow The Star 29 Mar 19;

GEORGE TOWN: Legislation is needed to gazette the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah as a ‘Northern Region Water Catchment Area’, said the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).

Its chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said with laws to monitor and manage Ulu Muda, the reserve will receive protection not only as a rainforest area but also as a regional catchment area.

“There should also be federal compensation to Kedah for conserving Ulu Muda, as well as to Perlis and Penang.

“It is vital to gazette Ulu Muda as a water catchment area and only then can we guarantee raw water security for Kedah, Perlis and Penang,” he said.

Ulu Muda encompasses 163,103 ha of rainforest.

About 70% of Perlis’ raw water, 96% of Kedah’s raw water and more than 80% of Penang’s raw water originates from Ulu Muda.

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Indonesia: Police foil attempt to export Komodo dragons for Rp 500 million apiece

The Jakarta Post 28 Mar 19;

Police in East Java have busted a network of criminals they say attempted to smuggle 41 Komodo dragons out of the country and sell them for Rp 500 million (US$35,000) each.

The special crimes unit head of the East Java Police, Sr. Comr. Akhmad Yusep Gunawan, said the force had also rescued five baby Komodo dragons from the Surabaya-based group of alleged smugglers.

“The criminals intended to ship the animals to three countries in Southeast Asia through Singapore,” Yusep told reporters on Wednesday, as quoted by

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Asia's mega-cities need clean energy drive to cope with environmental threats

Henning Gloystein Reuters 28 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Avoiding threats from climate change and pollution will require Asia’s booming cities to become much more efficient in their use of energy resources, delegates at a city development conference said on Thursday.

Asia is home to 15 out of the world’s 20 biggest cities, and the United Nations estimates another 2.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050, by far the most in Asia.

This growth caused serious pollution problems and will challenge transport networks, food supply chains, and energy supplies, the delegates said.

“Cities occupy 2 to 3 percent of our planet’s surface, yet they consume 70 percent of all energy,” said Soren Kvorning, President for Asia Pacific at Danfoss, a Danish engineering firm with a strong focus on Asia.

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Climate change: Global impacts 'accelerating' - WMO

BBC 28 Mar 19;

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the physical and financial impacts of global warming are accelerating.

Record greenhouse gas levels are driving temperatures to "increasingly dangerous levels", it says.

Their report comes in the same week as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a surge in CO2 in 2018.

However, new data from the UK suggests Britain is bucking the trend with emissions down by 3%.

This year's State of the Climate report from the WMO is the 25th annual record of the climate.

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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Mar 19

No more fires in Indonesia? Blazes on Sumatran peatland say otherwise

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Tech for urban farming among R&D focus as Singapore looks to beef up food security

Tang See Kit Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: As part of his job, Liew Woei Chang keeps a close eye on hundreds of tilapia fish daily.

But the 39-year-old does not work in the fish trade. In fact, the tilapia that he monitors possess quite an atypical trait.

A freshwater fish, tilapias tend to grow slower or face high mortality rates when reared in sea water. Together with four other researchers, Dr Liew, a research investigator at the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL), has been looking at how to change that.

Eight years since the research programme started, the team has “almost achieved” that.

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Malaysia, Johor: Hot spells caused 15 major fires

nelson benjamin The Star 28 Mar 2019;

JOHOR BARU: The present hot and dry spell has caused 15 major fires in six states, destroying land equivalent to the size of nearly 450 football fields.

Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid (pic) said the 15 hotspots involved peat soil, farms and estates, landfill, forest and plantations covering some 239ha of land.

Mohammad Hamdan said the hotspots included six in Sarawak, Pahang (four), Johor (two), and one each in Kedah, Kelantan and Perak.

“Most of the major fires have been put out and so far there are still 56ha to be doused,” he said, adding that there was a landfill fire the size of 3.23ha, which had been raging in Kota Tinggi in Johor for about three weeks.

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El Niño 2019: Possible impact in Indonesia

Yopi Ilhamsyah Jakarta Post 27 Mar 19;

The worst ever recorded El Niño of 2015 caused the world’s weather to change. Presently El Niño is predicted to be more frequent, turning into a major climate anomaly threat. Given its normal 5-year return period, its early appearance this year has raised alarm bells. It is feared that El Niño-affected regions in Indonesia will severely suffer from sufficient water resources that might alter the planting season, reducing agricultural productivity and threatening national food security.

Many studies have revealed a strong correlation between El Niño and rainfall variability which further leads to retreat of the rainfall onset in Indonesia. A significant shift of the rainy season is found as El Niño signs strengthen, causing a prolonged dry season. Based on monthly average rainfall characteristics in 30 years, Indonesia is identified to have three main types of climatic zones, i.e., monsoonal, equatorial, and local type climates. The peak of the rainy season of the monsoonal type climate occurs in January-February. Meanwhile for the equatorial type climate (e.g., Aceh, North and West Sumatera, Riau and Kalimantan), two peaks of rainfall are found in March and October.

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Indonesia: Flash flood strikes Ulu Ogan, South Sumatra

Antara 28 Mar 19;

A flash flood hit Kelumpang Village, Ulu Ogan Sub-district, Ogan Komering Ulu District, in South Sumatra Province, on Tuesday evening, following incessant heavy rain that triggered the Kepayang River to overflow its bank (Antara photo)

Baturaja, South Sumatra (ANTARA) - A flash flood hit Kelumpang Village, Ulu Ogan Sub-district, Ogan Komering Ulu District, in South Sumatra Province, on Tuesday evening, following incessant heavy rain that triggered the Kepayang River to overflow its bank.

The flooding did not last long, but it was among the worst experienced in the past 15 years, Dadang, a resident of Kelumpang, noted.

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URA Draft Master Plan 2019: More housing planned for CBD, Marina Bay area

Fann Sim Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: More homes will be built in the central business district (CBD) and Marina Bay area, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Wednesday (Mar 27).

Under its Draft Master Plan 2019, which includes plans to rejuvenate the central area, URA said it will increase housing in sites such as Downtown, Marina South and Rochor so that more people can live closer to their workplaces and other amenities.

The plan for a larger live-in population in the office-dominated CBD and Marina Bay area is part of a move by URA to bring more life to the area after office hours.

"We are looking to bring in new housing options in the CBD. We want to make our CBD more vibrant, a 24/7 precinct, and housing is one of the ways where we want to bring in more people that will be living within the CBD areas," said Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, URA’s chief planner.

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Malaysia: Sarawak says all ready for dry El Nino weather

sharon ling The Star 26 Mar 19;

KUCHING: Sarawak is prepared to face the dry spell stemming from the El Nino weather phenomenon, readying about 1,000 vehicles and boats to deliver water to villages as needed.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said although this year's El Nino was weak, it was expected to last until May and had already caused dry weather with less rain.

"Several villages and longhouses are facing water shortage, so we have decided that the disaster management committees at divisional level will continue with their preparations for the dry spell.

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Coral reefs near equator less affected by ocean warming

Research based on analysis of field observations from 20-year global coral survey
Florida Institute of Technology Science Daily 20 Mar 19;

Ocean warming is threatening coral reefs globally, with persistent thermal stress events degrading coral reefs worldwide, but a new study has found that corals at or near the equator are affected less than corals elsewhere.

The findings from Florida Institute of Technology Ph.D. student Shannon Sully and professor Rob van Woesik, along with colleagues at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Reef Check, were published March 20 in the journal Nature Communications.

The work, which was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Zegar Family Foundation, was based on analysis of field observations from a 20-year global survey of over 3,500 coral study sites led by Reef Check founder and former director Gregor Hodgson.

As expected, coral bleaching was most common in localities experiencing high-temperature stress, but it was significantly less common in those places with high monthly variation in temperatures.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Mar 19

Sisters' Islands Marine Park (Pulau Subar Laut)
Offshore Singapore

A playground within nature – Love MacRitchie Walk (10 March 2019)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Asian Openbill-Singapore’s 2nd Record
Singapore Bird Group

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HQ of Singapore construction firm being built with sustainable material from local waste

Joy Pang Minle Straits Times 25 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE - The first step in developing sustainable construction material using local waste was taken today (Mar 25), with the signing of an agreement that will include its use in the building of a new headquarters of a local construction company.

The agreement between JTC Corporation and Samwoh Corporation will see recycled materials processed from construction and industrial waste, like sedimentary rocks excavated from Jurong Rock Caverns, being used in erecting the four-storey building near Kranji Reservoir.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat, who witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between JTC and Samwoh, told The Straits Times he is confident Singapore can play a key role in sustainable technology.

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NEA's pay-as-you-throw idea triggers memes and serious debate

Residents worry about hike in waste disposal fee and indiscriminate throwing of rubbish
Cheryl Teh Straits Times 26 Mar 19;

One photo showed the white-and-blue Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry photoshopped onto a rubbish chute with the caption "Electronic Rubbish Pricing".

Another showed a rubbish chute with a coin-slot, labelled "insert coin to dump rubbish", next to it.

These memes have surfaced on social media following a Straits Times report on March 15 over a "pay-as-you-throw" pilot by the National Environment Agency (NEA) later this year, to make households pay according to the garbage they throw.

Besides the lighthearted memes, the report has triggered a serious debate over the feasibility of implementing such a scheme here and the necessity of exploring this idea or even others to monitor and limit rubbish dumped by households.

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Malaysia: 3 charged over Sg Kim Kim pollution

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 25 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: “THERE are no chemiclas in court, so why are you wearing a mask? Remove it.”

This was the stinging rebuke delivered by judge Jailani Rahman to the director of a used tyre processing factory, who was wearing a disposable mask for his charge proceedings at the Sessions Court here yesterday.

The accused, Wang Jing Chao, 34, a Singaporean, was called out for the charge to be read.

Wang was the last of three people brought to court over charges of collusion and of disposing of a scheduled substance into Sungai Kim Kim.

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Malaysia: Wildfires and smog pose a danger in Sarawak

stephen then The Star 26 Mar 19;

MIRI: Choking smog are enveloping residential estates in many parts of Miri and Kuala Baram districts during the night and pre-dawn hours.

This smog comes from wildfires that rage at night in several hotspots.

The air pollution is making it hard for residents who have to breathe in the foul air.

Firefighters from the Miri and Lopeng Bomba stations are working non-stop to fight the fires, but some are burning so close to housing estates, they pose a real physical danger.

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Malaysia: Rain eases dry spell


KUALA LUMPUR: AFTER weeks of prolonged hot and dry weather, rain finally brought relief to residents of the Klang Valley, Terengganu and Sabah yesterday.

The hour-long downpour, however, caused flash floods in some parts of the city here.

In Kampung Datuk Keramat, firemen had to rescue a 15-year-old disabled person and a 4-month-old baby trapped in floodwaters.

The Fire and Rescue Department said several cars were stranded in the flood.

Keramat Fire and Rescue Department operations commander Suhaimi Abdul Shukor said floodwaters in Kampung Datuk Keramat were 3m deep.

The rain also led to several felled trees in the city’s main arteries, such as Jalan Ampang and Jalan Genting Klang.

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Malaysia, Johor: No water supply to 75,000 following closure of Simpang Renggam plant

Bernama New Straits Times 26 Mar 19;

KLUANG: Water supply to about 75,000 consumers of SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd in Johor have been cut off since Saturday morning (March 23).

This follows the temporary closure of the water treatment plant in Simpang Renggam in Kluang.

The plant was closed because of ammonia pollution in Sungai Benut.

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Indonesia: Wildfires rage on in Riau, authorities use helicopters to put out flames

The Jakarta Post 25 Mar 19;

The head coordinator of the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Edwar Sanger, said the wildfires were likely to keep spreading, as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru was still detecting hot spots.

Edwar said Bengkalis was the hardest hit regency with 1,263 ha of burned land. Most districts in the regency have experienced wildfires since early this year. However, the worst wildfires were recorded on Rupat Island, where peatland was on fire throughout February, causing thick smoke that spread to the city of Dumai on the Sumatran mainland.

Aside from Bengkalis, severe wildfires were reported in the east coast areas of Rokan Hilir (407 ha), Meranti (222.4 ha) and Dumai (192.25 ha).

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Indonesia: Protecting Orangutans in natural habitat deemed crucial

Antara 25 Mar 19;

The Indonesian authorities foiled a tourist's attempt to smuggle an orangutan out of Bali Island recently. (ANTARA FOTO/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - It is incredibly heartbreaking to see a picture of a tourist in Bali attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan kept in a rattan basket into Russia.

During X-ray screening, Bali's conservation agency staff spotted the two-year-old male ape in the 27-year-old Russian's suitcase on March 22, 2019. The Bali police arrested the tourist, who had planned to bring home the "sleeping" orangutan and keep him as a pet.

Orangutans (orang means human and utan means forest) are among the rarest animals, as only 100 thousand of the protected species remain worldwide.

Preserving wildlife in its natural forest habitat is a vital step in ensuring that conservation efforts were successful in the long term.

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'Coal is on the way out': study finds fossil fuel now pricier than solar or wind

Around 75% of coal production is more expensive than renewables, with industry out-competed on cost by 2025
Oliver Milman The Guardian 25 Mar 19;

Around three-quarters of US coal production is now more expensive than solar and wind energy in providing electricity to American households, according to a new study.

“Even without major policy shift we will continue to see coal retire pretty rapidly,” said Mike O’Boyle, the co-author of the report for Energy Innovation, a renewables analysis firm. “Our analysis shows that we can move a lot faster to replace coal with wind and solar. The fact that so much coal could be retired right now shows we are off the pace.”

The study’s authors used public financial filings and data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) to work out the cost of energy from coal plants compared with wind and solar options within a 35-mile radius. They found that 211 gigawatts of current US coal capacity, 74% of the coal fleet, is providing electricity that’s more expensive than wind or solar.

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Explainer: Why sand is so highly valued and the controversy surrounding cross border trade

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 24 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE — A short documentary by a Cambodian filmmaker that claimed Singapore has imported over “80 million tons of sand worth more than US$740 million (S$999 million) from Cambodia” went viral here recently.

The 16-minute film once again shone the spotlight on Singapore’s heavy reliance on imported sand for land reclamation.

The 2018 documentary by Ms Kalyanee Mam, who won an award for it at an environmental film festival held in Washington, United States, in March, claimed that Singapore’s need for sand has destroyed the livelihood of a community on an island off Cambodia’s coast.

When contacted about the claims in Ms Mam’s video, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said it does not condone the unlawful import of sand. It also reiterated that Singapore had stopped importing sand from Cambodia after a ban by the latter took effect in November 2016.

Ms Mam, who is based in the United States, could not be reached for comment.

Find out why there is so much controversy over this highly valued commodity:

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Malaysia: Singapore’s help sought to find Sungai Kim Kim pollution suspect

remar nordin The Star 25 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Johor police are working with their Singaporean counterparts to track down a man in his 30s in connection with the Sungai Kim Kim chemical waste pollution case.

The man is believed to be the owner of a used tyre-processing company allegedly involved in the pollution incident in Pasir Gudang.

State police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said the man was on the wanted list and police were waiting for the Singa­porean autho­rities to arrest him.

He added that seven out of the 11 people detained in relation to the Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste dumping had been released on police bail after investigations revealed that they did not have any relation to the case.

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Malaysia: Rising dengue cases, drying taps and heatwave

rahimy rahim The Star 25 Mar 19;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are having to battle dengue cases on the rise even as they face drying taps from the current heatwave.

Dengue cases have shown a dramatic spike this year – up by about 150% from last year – and besides a change in the virus serotypes that is fuelling the increase, the weather pattern is of no help either.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said changes in weather patterns could have made it easier for the Aedes mosquitoes to breed in stagnant water.

He said that with the hot dry spells sandwiched by short bouts of rain, the mosquitoes’ larvae could hatch more easily.

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Indonesia: Authorities rescue injured orangutan in oil palm plantation in Aceh

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 24 Mar 19;

A team comprising members of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, the Human-Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU), the Orangutan Information Center (OIC) and the Wildlife Conservation Center Indonesia Program (WCS-IP) found a female orangutan in Namo Buaya village, Subulussalam, Aceh, on March 19. The orangutan, named Pertiwi by the team, was found near where a different orangutan was found with air rifle pellet wounds on its body.

The head of the Sumatra Lestari Orangutan Foundation (YOSL-OIC), Panut Hadisiswoyo, said Pertiwi was rescued without administering anesthesia since it might harm her vital organs due to her underweight condition.

“Our team managed to rescue the injured orangutan. Her condition is very worrying. Looking at her underweight body, we suspect that she was malnourished,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Mar 19

Coney Island a.k.a Pulau Serangoon
Offshore Singapore

Three Archdukes
Butterflies of Singapore

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Fire breaks out at ExxonMobil's Jurong Island refinery; no injuries reported

Channel NewsAsia 23 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: A fire broke out in a refinery tank on Jurong Island on Saturday morning (Mar 23).

ExxonMobil said the incident happened at about 9.45am.

"The fire involved residue within the tank, which at the time of the fire was empty and undergoing maintenance," said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Read more!

Malaysia: Dry weather to last until May; water shortage in 6 states

Bernama New Straits Times 23 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is expected to continue experiencing hot and dry weather until May, says Water, Land and Natural Resource Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

He also said that six states - Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perak, Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan - are expected to face water shortage due to the dry weather and lack of rainfall.

In a statement today, the minister said several locations have not received rain for over 30 days, including Hulu Perak (56 days) and Setiu, Terengganu (31 days).

Read more!

Indonesia: Russian accused of trying to smuggle drugged orangutan from Bali

Ni Komang Erviani The Jakarta Post 23 Mar 19;

Dewa Delanata, head of the airport’s quarantine office, said the orangutan had been drugged and placed in a basket.

"The Russian deliberately used an inhumane method to take the orangutan to Russia," the official said on Saturday.

The Russian has been identified as ZA.

The quarantine officer and airport security found the orangutan at the international departure area at around 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Dewa said. "At first, we thought it was a monkey. The officers were afraid to open the basket, as they thought the monkey would be aggressive and run loose in the departure area.”

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Indonesia: YOSL-OIC seizes and rescues 10 orangutans during January-March period

Juraidi, Fardah Antara 23 Mar 19;

The Lestari Sumatran Orangutan Foundation-Orangutan Information Center (YOSL-OIC) has seized and rescued at least 10 orangutans in the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh during the January-March 2019 period.

"Give space to other creatures to exist because our Earth is not only for human beings to live, but also for other creatures, such as orangutans. Orangutan is not a dangerous animal, so when you see orangutans entering a plantation, please contact us
Medan, North Sumatra (ANTARA) - The Lestari Sumatran Orangutan Foundation-Orangutan Information Center (YOSL-OIC) has seized and rescued at least 10 orangutans in the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh during the January-March 2019 period.

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Mar 19

Pesta Ubin 2019 workshop
wild shores of singapore

St John's Island shores after one year of closure
wild shores of singapore

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Green label soon for firms' water-efficient equipment

Effort to help businesses like hotels, eateries conserve water to start from this April or May
Shabana Begum Straits Times 23 Mar 19;

Water-efficient equipment such as commercial dishwashers will soon carry a green label, in an effort to help businesses such as hotels and restaurants conserve water. This is the latest move in Singapore's push to ensure that taps here do not run dry for future generations.

Speaking at the GoBlue4SG night carnival at Marina Barrage yesterday to mark World Water Day, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, who was joined by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor, reiterated the need for households and industries to commit to using less water.

He said: "Water demand here is projected to double by 2060, and that is also around the time when our water agreement with Malaysia ends." The water agreement will expire in 2061.

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Johor expecting water treatment plants in next three to four years to reduce reliance on Singapore

Asia One 22 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU - The state hopes to have several new water treatment plants to enable it to better manage its resources and not be reliant on buying water from Singapore.

Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian said the state government is sharing and providing ideas to the federal government on ways to reduce dependence on treated water from Singapore.

"I have brought forward proposals that would be helpful for the federal government to realise this aim.

Read more!

Malaysia: All 111 schools in Pasir Gudang to re-open on March 31

The Star 22 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU (Bernama): All 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang area closed following the Sungai Kim Kim chemical waste pollution incident will re-open on March 31.

Johor Education Department deputy director Azman Adnan said

work to clean-up the schools would be carried out first, with the cooperation of the Parent-Teacher Association.

“Those involved in the cleaning-up will be the parents, communities, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. Students won't be involved.

Read more!

Malaysia: Penang dams take a critical dip

r. sekaran and n. trisha The Star 23 Mar 19;

GEORGE TOWN: With the current dry spell, the dams in the state have dipped to critical levels.

The Ayer Itam Dam capacity has fallen to 49.1% compared to 60.4% on March 8, while at the Teluk Bahang Dam, it has dipped to 70.7% from 75.6% during the same period.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is expected to visit the Ayer Itam Dam tomorrow to attend a briefing on the water levels.

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Why kill these gentle giants of the oceans, nature lovers question 150kg stingray catch

stephen then The Star 22 Mar 19;

MIRI: Giant stingrays are being blatantly caught offshore northern Sarawak by local fishermen, and nature lovers are questioning whether there is a need to catch and kill these gentle giants of the ocean.

On Friday (March 22) morning, a local fishermen in Sibuti district, 60km south of Miri, publicly boasted about catching a stingray weighing 150kg in the South China Sea off the coast here.

He posted pictures of himself hauling up a huge stingray, measuring the height of an adult man.

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Malaysia: Most landfills in Johor at full capacity

venesa devi The Star 23 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Most landfills in Johor are severely overloaded and could be shut down at any time, says Tan Hong Pin.

The Local Government, Science and Technology Committee chairman said currently, there were 16 sanitary landfills throughout the state.

“Some of them have reached their limit while several others are almost full.

“We are having a challenging time figuring out ways to resolve the issue, especially at areas in northern Johor as plans for the opening of a landfill in Bukit Payong, Parit Sulung, has been postponed,” he said when met after the SuteraFOLO Farm open day yesterday.

“We are in the process of identifying suitable areas for rubbish disposal and sanitary landfills, as well as other methods to safely dispose waste materials.

Read more!

Indonesia: S. Sumatra to likely face longer drought

Ujang Idrus, Rahmad Nasution Antara 22 Mar 19;

Palembang (ANTARA) - The South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has forecast that this year's drought may last longer than that of 2018, so necessary preventive measures should be taken against the threats of bush and forest fires.

No rain was received during the peak of this year's dry season. Hence, to halt bush and forest fires, preventive measures are necessary since South Sumatra has peatland areas, the agency's head, Iriansyah, stated in Palembang on Friday.

It was not easy to extinguish the wild fires in peatland areas, he stated, adding that the BPBD officials had mapped South Sumatra Province's fire-prone districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Musi Banyuasin, and Muaraenim.

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Project promises to turn palm oil plantations back into rainforest in Borneo

Brooks Hays UPI 22 Mar 19;

An aerial photos shows the first 38 acres of palm oil plantation that will be turned back into rainforest on the island of Borneo. Photo by Robert Risch

March 22 (UPI) -- Across the island of Borneo, conservationists are preparing to rewild palm oil plantations. The project will see agricultural acreage turned back into near-natural rainforest.

The list of species threatened by deforestation as a result of palm oil production in Malaysia and Indonesia includes the orangutan, Sumatran elephant, Bornean pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger.

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Plastic pollution: can the ocean really be cleaned up?

While the ultimate goal is to stop plastics from entering the water in the first place, cleanup projects play an important role
Joanna Khan The Guardian 21 Mar 19;

Somewhere in Hilo, on Hawaii’s Big Island, a team of scientists and engineers are tending to The Ocean Cleanup’s 600-metre-long rubbish-herding device, after its maiden voyage to the Great Pacific garbage patch was cut short in December 2018, because it fractured into two pieces.

The project has had its fair share of problems since it was unveiled in May 2017 and has been criticised by marine scientists and environmental groups for its potential negative environmental impact. However, some still herald The Ocean Cleanup for having a positive effect on plastic pollution.

Pete Ceglinski, the Australian co-founder and chief executive of the Seabin Project – plastic-cleaning devices deployed in harbours and marinas – is one. He credits Boyan Slat, the inventor behind The Ocean Cleanup, with increasing the global awareness of the ocean plastics issue over the past six years.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 22 Mar 19

31 Mar (Sun): Dive clean up at Lazarus Island with Our Singapore Reefs
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Dead sea turtle at Pulau Semakau (South)
wild shores of singapore

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2019 poised to be really hot year

Singapore has shifted to a new higher temperature, and it will continue to rise, says Dr Muhammad Eeqmal Looming possibility of El Nino could send mercury soaring to new heights, say experts
Chang Ai-Lien Straits Times 22 Mar 19;

Brace yourself for a sizzling 2019.

With the temperature-boosting El Nino weather phenomenon a looming possibility, this year could see temperatures soaring to new heights, say Singapore's climate experts. "We're noting a rising temperature trend in the Pacific, especially under the ocean, so we're poised for El Nino," Dr Muhammad Eeqmal Hassim, senior research scientist at the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, told The Straits Times.

"The signs are there. We just need a kick start, such as a westerly wind burst, for it to happen."

Read more!

These young engineers want to make recycling a breeze in Singapore

It’s not always easy to find a recycling or e-waste bin, prompting four GovTech employees to come up with a prototype tool to map all such bins in Singapore.
Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 21 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: “When I have something I want to recycle, what can I do?”

That was one of the main problem statements a group of four young engineers at the Government Technology Agency’s (GovTech) Data Science and Artificial Intelligence department were hoping to tackle when they developed their prototype tool - named Trashy – not too long ago.

Ms Laura Lee, an associate computational scientist, shared how her experience living in London provided the impetus for creating the prototype.

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Malaysia: 70 hotspots detected in Pahang since early March

Shahrinnahar Latib New Straits Times 21 Mar 19;

KUANTAN: A total of 70 hotspots have been detected in Pahang since early March, a massive increase compared to only 26 hotspots recorded the month before.

Pahang Department of Environment (DoE) director Rosli Zul said this is due to a combination of factors, namely the hot weather as well as uncontrolled open burning activities by irresponsible parties.

“Pekan has the most number of hotspots at 34, followed by Rompin at 21, Jerantut (5), Temerloh, Kuantan, Lipis and Temerloh at two each, as well as Bera and Bentong with one hotspot each,” he said, adding that this month saw a sharp increase in the number of hotspots, due to open burning in plantations and peat land.

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Malaysia: Pasir Gudang toxic spill clean-up to cost over RM10mil

mei mei chu, lo tern chern, and rena lim The Star 22 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The operation to clean Sungai Kim Kim will cost the authorities more than RM10mil, says Yeo Bee Yin.

The Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister said the cost of removing the toxic pollution in the 1.5km stretch of the river cost RM6.4mil.

"It is RM6.4mil for the clean-up alone. This does not include the movement of the officials and all that," she said at a press conference at the inaugural Malaysian Industrial Development Berhad (MIDF) Green Conference yesterday.

It was previously reported that the clean-up operation for Sungai Kim Kim included 900 tonnes of soil and 1,500 tonnes of polluted water.

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Indonesians need to be aware of importance of protecting forests

Rahmad Nasution Antara 21 Mar 19;

Bogor, (ANTARA) - Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya emphasized the importance of raising people's awareness over protecting forests in her statement to mark this year's International Day of Forests on Thursday.

"Forests are one of our important life support systems, so it is important for us to manage forests sustainably. Sustainable forest management can only be achieved through the better understanding of forests," she was quoted as saying by the FAO's press statement.

Education and training are necessary to raise awareness among forest users and the general public of forests and forestry, she said, adding that through education and training, qualified human resources to manage forests and the environment were created.

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Residents in Yishun & Punggol complain of urine-like smell, likely from Johor

The air has been smelling a little more than funky.
Guan Zhen Tan Mothership 20 Mar 19;

Mmm, pee pee

Yishunites and Punggolians have been sniffing out something awful in the air lately.

Residents from both estates have been complaining that the smell is similar to that of urine.

According to Shin Min Daily News on March 15, some residents in Punggol have reportedly experienced giddiness and nausea after being exposed to “The Smell”.

Read more!

Malaysia: Guideline review for factories handling hazardous chemicals

MOHD FAHMI MOHD YUSOF New Straits Times 20 Jan 19;

JOHOR BARU: The government will review existing guidelines of licence applications from factories which handle hazardous chemical substances.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the ministry will bring the matter before the Cabinet for a decision.

She said such a review was necessary to prevent the recurrence of Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste pollution.

Read more!

Malaysia: Satellite data shows Pasir Gudang has 46 possible illegal dumping grounds

mohd farhaan shah The Star 20 Mar 19;

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Satellite data shows that Pasir Gudang has about 46 potential illegal dumping locations, says Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

She said this was one of the findings by the scientific committee formed to look into the chemical dumping incident at Sungai Kim Kim on March 7.

"The committee used satellite data to look at the whole Pasir Gudang area to identify possible illegal dumping locations.

"We hope that the state government and local authorities will take action by cleaning the identified locations," she said, adding that the ministry would provide the list to them soon.

Read more!

Malaysia: Bushfires on the rise in Sabah

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 20 Mar 19;

KOTA KINABALU: The state Fire and Rescue Department is receiving an average of 80 calls per day about bushfires in the past two weeks.

Director Kamarulzaman Malik Abdullah said Tuaran and Keningau had the most reports.

“Open burning activities are contributing to the haze. Although (the haze) subsided somewhat yesterday because of rain, the department has now received more calls involving bushfires in several areas.

“The fires are not spontaneous. They are man-made,” he told the New Straits Times today.

Read more!

Indonesia: Terra and Aqua Satellites detect 165 hotspots in Riau, Sumatra

FB Anggoro, Fardah Antara 20 Mar 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Terra and Aqua Satellites, on Wednesday morning, detected a total of 187 hotspots on Sumatra Island, including 165 in Riau Province, according to the Pekanbaru meteorology station.

The number of hotspots in Riau increased to 165, from 156 on the previous day, according to a statement issued by the local meteorology station.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 20 Mar 19

Celebrating Singapore Shores Forever!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

High time to re-evaluate nature’s worth in Singapore?
Love our MacRitchie Forest

30 Mar (Sat): All Talk, How Action? - A workshop on Civil Society action
wild shores of singapore

Read more!

NParks opens nature playground at HortPark as testbed for future ‘biophilic’ sites

SHERLYN SEAH Today Online 20 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE — At first glance, it might not look like much, with leaves, sand and some wooden blocks and poles in the ground. However, the new biophilic playground at HortPark has been specially designed to allow children to play freely with nature.

Centred upon the concept of “biophilia”, the innate emotional connection that humans have with nature, research has shown that interacting with the outdoors helps children develop creativity.

The new play area will also be a testing ground for the National Parks Board (NParks) to develop design guidelines, by early 2020, to help pre-schools, government agencies and developers in building more of such sites around the island.

This is so that more playgrounds can adopt natural designs for children to experience biodiversity.

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Singapore continues to monitor situation in Pasir Gudang as more illegal dumping found

Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: Authorities in Singapore are monitoring the situation in Pasir Gudang, as more illegal waste dumping sites have been found in the area.

One of the new dumping sites found this week is along Johor's Sungai Masai, which empties into the Johor Strait opposite Singapore's northern coast, near Yishun.

The air and water quality in Singapore, as well as the water supply, remain unaffected by the latest developments, said the National Environment Agency (NEA), Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, Singapore's water agency PUB and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a joint statement on Tuesday (Mar 19).

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam described the illegal chemical waste dumping as "an irresponsible act".

Read more!

Malaysia: Air quality dips in several areas in Pahang and Melaka

Bernama New Straits Times 19 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Four areas in Pahang and Melaka recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings as at 12 noon today.

Based on the latest readings from the website of the Department of Environment (DoE), Rompin and Balok Baru Kuantan in Pahang recorded the highest API readings of 192 and 157 respectively.

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Malaysia: Govt working on stiffer punishment following Pasir Gudang toxic fumes incident

Syed Umar Ariff New Straits Times 19 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Stiffer punishment may be introduced as part of amendments to the Environmental Quality Act 1974, following the toxic fumes incident in Pasir Gudang.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis told the Dewan Rakyat today that measures were also in the pipeline to significantly reduce pollution.

"We are proposing to change (amend) the Act, and continuously strengthen overall enforcement to ensure pollution can be significantly reduced effectively," she said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Sg Kim Kim free of toxic pollution


PASIR GUDANG: The 1.5km stretch of Sungai Kim Kim – which was put under the national spotlight after it became polluted with chemical waste – is declared free of toxic pollution.

This declaration was made after carrying out an extensive cleaning operation, said Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

The authorities will still continue to monitor the river for the next 25 days to ensure the water and air quality within the surrounding is clean.

“Now, the job is to bring all the chemical waste collected to a factory for disposal. A total of 900 metric tonnes of soil and 1,500 metric tonnes of water that was polluted has been cleaned,” she said at a press conference held at the main dumping ground near Sungai Kim Kim here yesterday.

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Malaysia: Only the tip of the iceberg

lo tern chern The Star 20 Mar 19;

EXCLUSIVE:BUKIT MERTAJAM: From the north to the south of Peninsular Malaysia, there seems to be no end yet to the discovery of illegal dumpsites.

Although Penang was the first state to implement the “No Single-Use Plastic” initiative, it has a lot more environmental battles to take on, with illegal disposal of waste becoming a hot issue as of late.

Just three days after the report of chemical waste dumped in an oil palm estate in Bukit Teh here, an illegal plastic dumpsite the size of six football fields has been uncovered in nearby Machang Bubok.

During a visit to the site yesterday, The Star saw mounds of shredded plastic almost two storeys high. Excavators and forklifts were at work unloading more of such waste from trucks.

It is believed that the marshland was previously an illegal sand quarry that had been shut down many years ago.

Besides plastic waste, items such as discarded furniture and construction debris have filled up the pools of water there.

Read more!

Indonesia: No illegal logging activity in Sentani, Papua area hit by flooding

Martha H, Fardah Antara 19 Mar 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry has confirmed there was no illegal logging activity in the Sentani areas hit by flash floods on Saturday (March16, 2019), according to IB Putera Parthama, the ministry's Director General for River Basin Management.

There were no logs floating or swept away by flood waters in the Sentani Sub-district, Jayapura District, Indonesia's eastern most province of Papua, Perthama said here, Tuesday.

"Branches and roots of the floating trees were intact. It shows that the trees were not a result of the illegal logging activity (suspected of having) caused the flash floods," he told the press.

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Indonesia: As temperatures rise, water-sharing can prevent transboundary haze

Water-sharing arrangements between companies and Indonesian communities can prevent fires in dry season hotspots, two observers point out.
Michelle Ann Miller Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: With 2019 expected to bring hotter and drier-than-usual El Nino weather conditions to Southeast Asia, concerns are heightened about a recurrence of the 2015 haze crisis. The episode of chronic transboundary air pollution that choked the region in a blanket of acrid smoke had severe health, economic and environmental impacts.

Indonesia, a major haze-producing country, claims to be better prepared for the next intense dry season, expected to start in June this year. Indonesia’s confidence is linked to major land reforms undertaken in the aftermath of the 2015 haze crisis.

In 2016, President Joko Widodo introduced a moratorium on burning, draining and deforesting 4.9 million hectares of peatlands, amending a 2014 regulation.

Read more!

Shocking autopsy photos show toll of plastic waste on dead whale

Images show marine biologist removing 88lb worth of plastic bags from stomach of whale that died in Philippines of ‘gastric shock’
Erin Durkin The Guardian 19 Mar 19;

Graphic autopsy images have revealed the terrible toll that plastic waste took on a young whale found dead in the Philippines.

The juvenile Cuvier’s beaked whale died of “gastric shock” after swallowing 88lb (40kg) of plastic bags, according to marine biologists at the D’Bone Collector Museum, a natural history institution in Davao City in the Philippines.

Photos show the museum director, Darrell Blatchley, pulling sheet after sheet of plastic out of the stomach of the dead whale, which was found on Saturday. A heap of plastic bags piled up next to the dead animal.

Read more!

School climate strikes: 1.4 million people took part, say campaigners

Activist Greta Thunberg, 16, says action proved ‘no one is too small to make a difference’
Damian Carrington The Guardian 19 Mar 19;

More than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action, according to environmental campaigners.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student whose solo protest last August prompted the global movement, said: “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.”

Children walked out of schools on Friday in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries, with demonstrations held from Australia to India, the UK and the US, according to the Fridays for the Future website. Further strikes are planned for 15 April.

Eyal Weintraub, an 18-year-old from Argentina who took part in the protests, said: “We have reached a point in history when we have the technical capacities to solve poverty, malnutrition, inequality and of course global warming.

“The deciding factors for whether we take advantage of our potential will be our activism and our international unity.”

Read more!

NParks working to preserve Ubin's rusticity

Straits Times Forum 18 Mar 19;

We thank the public for their feedback (Many rules, fewer visitors, say Pulau Ubin Islanders, Feb 24; NParks need to be more transparent on Ubin; and Myriad rules killing feel of kampung life, both March 4).

Since taking over as the central managing agency for Ubin in 2016, the National Parks Board (NParks) has sought to maintain and enhance the island's much-loved rusticity.

Our priorities were to ensure the safety of residents and visitors, and protect Ubin's natural and built heritage. And NParks has maintained the status quo, as much as possible.

Read more!

Malaysia: Nine states on Level 1 heatwave alert

The Star 19 Mar 19;

PETALING JAYA: It is getting hotter by the day with temperatures in the peninsula “boiling” between 35°C and 40°C.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has put a district in Kedah on Level 2 heatwave alert while 23 districts in seven states and one federal territory in the peninsula are on Level 1 after temperatures increased.

Read more!

Malaysia: Two more chemical waste dump sites found in Pasir Gudang

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 18 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Two more rivers in Pasir Gudang have been found to have been used as dump sites for chemical waste.

In the first case, about 10 plastic barrels, believed to contain chemical substances, were found in Sungai Masai next to the Pasir Gudang Highway.

The discovery was made by residents of nearby housing estates on Sunday after the authorities came to the location to start cleaning works.

Read more!

Malaysia: Schools in Pasir Gudang to remain closed

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 18 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Schools in Pasir Gudang will remain closed until the term break next week, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said the decision was made after a briefing with the authorities and experts who are involved in the chemical dump issue at Pasir Gudang.

“Following the briefing, it was decided that the schools could not reopen yet. The decision was taken as a precautionary measure," he said in a press conference after visiting the medic base at the Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium.

During the visit, he was also briefed on the latest situation by the relevant agencies.

Read more!

Malaysia: Malayan tiger could be extinct in 5 to 10 years

Bernama New Straits Times 18 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malayan tiger is likely to become extinct in the next five to 10 years if no drastic measures are taken to protect the species.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the Malayan tiger population was at a worrying level, with fewer than 200 left, according to the First National Tiger Survey conducted from 2016 to 2018.

“The actual population of Malayan tigers will be known once the survey is completed in 2020,” he said in reply to Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

Read more!

Malaysia: Bear on loose in Kalimantan town

The Jakarta Post 18 Mar 19;

The agency suspect that it is a sun bear and was a resident’s pet. It was first spotted by the residents of a housing complex.

“[We searched] for the dog-sized bear in bushes close to the housing complex but we did not find it,” chief patrol officer Muriansyah told on Sunday.

The BKSDA has set up a trap filled with cempedak (a fruit similar to jackfruit) in a bid to capture it, but as of Sunday the bear is still on the run.

Read more!

Indonesia: Papua flood death toll climbs to 79, 43 still missing

The Jakarta Post 18 Mar 19;

A seven-hour torrential downpour caused the flood, which has forced 4,728 residents to evacuate to six different emergency shelters. Meanwhile, the BNPB has estimated that 11,725 families have been affected by the flood.

The floodwaters also demolished around 350 houses and inundated 211 others, while public facilities were also torn apart by the disaster, according to BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Read more!

Indonesia: Flooding in Purworejo forces 1,500 to flee homes

Suherdjoko The Jakarta Post 18 Mar 19;

Torrential rain on Saturday and Sunday left four districts in Purworejo, Central Java inundated on Monday, forcing about 1,500 people to flee their homes.

Homes experienced up to 80 centimeters of inundation on Monday, however no fatalities were reported.

"We call on people to be alert and immediately report to us if they need help," Purworejo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Sutrisno said Monday.

He said Purworejo had received assistance from BPBDs in other regencies in the province, including from Magelang and Kebumen and from a search and rescue agency in Cilacap.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 18 Mar 19

Our first time guiding over 300 participants at Berlayer Creek, Labrador Park!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Journey to Becoming a Rockstar: Discovering Geography in Ubin
BES Drongos

Assorted Nectaring Plants - Part 4
Butterflies of Singapore

Read more!

Singapore remains unaffected by chemical spill incident in Pasir Gudang: Authorities

Today Online 18 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE — Singapore's air and water quality remains safe, and its water supply is unaffected by the chemical spill incident at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, the Republic's authorities said on Sunday (March 17).

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA), PUB and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said in a joint statement that they have been closely monitoring the incident since reports of it first surfaced on March 7.

NEA said ambient levels of volatile organic compounds such as benzene in the north-eastern region remain safe.

It added that the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) since March 6 has been in the good to low-moderate range, while the 1-hr PM2.5 readings have remained in Band I (normal).

Read more!

Malaysia: Cleaning up of 1.5km-stretch of Sungai Kim Kim over

Bernama New Straits Times 17 Mar 19;

JOHOR BAHRU: The cleaning up process along 1.5 kilometres of Sungai Kim Kim, in Pasir Gudang near here, which began on Wednesday, following dumping of toxic chemical waste there, was completed today.

Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said, however, monitoring would continue today to see if anything more needs to be done.

“The 1.5 km-stretch of Sungai Kim Kim that was polluted has already been cleaned up but today we want to see what more ‘touch up’ we can do.

“Today can be said to be a day of monitoring. After that, then only we can look into what further action is needed,” she told the media at the state Disaster Management Committee’s operations room here.

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Malaysia: Kedah implements water rationing amidst protracted dry spell, heatwave

New Straits Times 17 Mar 19;

ALOR STAR: Declining water supply as a result of the ongoing nationwide heatwave has forced the Kedah government to implement water rationing in several areas in the state, Bernama reported.

Although no emergency has been declared, water supply restrictions have been applied in Merbok, Tanjung Dawai, Bedong, Semeling, Singkir and Gurun – areas worst affected by the months-long dry spell.

“(The level of) water rationing will depend on the severity of water (scarcity in each area). If need be, we will channel water to the affected areas.

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Malaysia: Nation at risk of fire

sira habibu, martin carvalho, and stephanie lee The Star 18 Mar 19;

PETALING JAYA: The entire Penin­sular Malaysia (except for Klang), Sabah and parts of Sarawak between Miri and Bintulu have been identified as being at extreme risk of fire, said Malaysian Meteorological Department director-general Alui Bahari.

“Open burning is strictly prohibi­ted as it will be extremely difficult to control fire under the current hot and dry spell,” he said when asked to comment on the code red warnings issued by the department in certain areas nationwide.

The red code is issued by the department’s Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) to indicate extreme level of risk of forest fires, unbeatable bush fires and drought.

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The Big Read: To build a strong water-saving culture, S'pore needs more than recycled messages

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 16 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE — Five families roughed it out at Marina Reservoir by surviving on only five litres of water for 12 hours on a cold night on March 1. They were participating in a water-rationing camp run by outdoor recreations company Better Trails.

The camp, which was supported by PUB, was one of several initiatives for the agency's latest water-saving campaign, “Make Every Drop Count”.

Launched on March 2 as part of Singapore World Water Day, it will run for an entire year, making it one of its biggest and longest to date. Previous editions in recent years had lasted a month at most.

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Malaysia: DoE finds waste dumping site

lo tern chern The Star 17 Mar 19;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: While work is underway to clear Sungai Kim Kim in Johor, another case of illegal chemical waste dumping may have been detected deep inside an oil palm estate in Bukit Teh near here.

Located behind a scrapyard and far from the public eye lies approximately 15 barrels of dark pungent liquid.

The Department of Environment (DoE) visited the site after a report was lodged and the site has now been covered with silver metallic sheets.

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Malaysia: Chemical waste pollution in Sg Kim Kim affects livelihood of fishermen

The Star 17 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU (Bernama): The chemical waste pollution in Pasir Gudang, since March 7, has not only affected the health of people around the region but has led to a decline in catch and fishermen's sales to drop.

South Johor Fishermen's Association chairman, Azli Mohamad Aziz said 650 members of the association from several villages claimed their sales revenue had dropped by 50% over the last 10 days since the incident..

"The pollution has affected 250 fishermen from four villages around Sungai Kim Kim, namely orang asli fisherman from Telok Kabung, Kampung Perigi Aceh, Kampung Pasir Putih and Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, to whom the river was a source of income," he said when met at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru fishermen's market, here Saturday (March 16).

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Malaysia: Schools in Pasir Gudang still closed

Bernama New Straits Times 16 Mar 19;

BANTING: The Education Ministry confirms that 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district were still closed due to the toxic pollution from the dumping of chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the schools concerned would be reopened at a date to be announced later.

"We look at the situation first. We don’t have a date for the reopening of the schools," he told reporters after officiating the Private Education Open Day at MAHSA University, here, today.

On Wednesday, the ministry directed 111 schools in Pasir Gudang closed following the toxic pollution based on the current situation and feedback from the State Disaster Management Committee.

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Punggol, Yishun residents complain of 'strange smells'

Derek Wong Straits Times 16 Mar 19;

Residents in Punggol and Yishun have complained of strange smells amid reports that a chemical spill in Pasir Gudang, Johor, has left more than 3,000 people feeling sick after inhaling the noxious fumes.

According to the Chinese-language Shin Min Daily News, some residents in Punggol experienced giddiness and nausea as a result of the smell.

Punggol resident Lin Zhi Long, 35, told the newspaper that while the industrial activity nearby sometimes gives rise to certain smells, the stench in the past two days was different. However, he said it was hard to tell whether the smell resulted from the toxic spill in Johor.

On Wednesday, Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said in a Facebook post that residents in Yishun had complained of a urine stench in the area.

"I checked with NEA (National Environment Agency). NEA said this is likely from Johor," she wrote.

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Expect more warm weather until late March: Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 15 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: The scorching heat that has prevailed over Singapore is forecast to persist for another week, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) on Friday (Mar 15).

Some relief can be expected in the last week of the month, in the form of short-term thundery showers on most days in the afternoon, it added.

One or two mornings may see widespread thundery showers with occasional gusty winds and on several days, the rain could extend into the evening.

However, total rainfall for the month is "still likely to be well below normal", said MSS.

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Malaysia: Another 780 people affected, with 113 warded in Pasir Gudang chemical crisis

mohd farhaan shah The Star 15 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: A total of 780 new cases have been registered at the medic base at the Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium as of 12am on Thursday (March 14), bringing the total number of people affected by the chemical pollution here to 3,555 cases.

However, Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said only 202 individuals received further treatment at hospitals, with 113 warded.

He said many who were hospitalised earlier had been discharged.

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Malaysia: Fire and Rescue Dept has stationed 133 Hazmat personnel in Pasir Gudang

The Star 15 Mar 19;

KOTA BARU (Bernama): The Hazardous Materials Unit (Hazmat) of the Fire and Rescue Department (JPBM) has stationed 133 personnel at the polluted area in Pasir Gudang, Johor, to monitor air quality and to advise the state disaster management committee accordingly, says Bomba director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.

He said the personnel had been stationed at the location since March 7, the first day the dumping of chemical waste into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang was reported.

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Malaysia: Portion of Sungai Klang polluted by unidentified chemical substance

Dawn Chan New Straits Times 14 Mar 19;

KLANG: A portion of Sungai Klang has been found to be polluted by a chemical substance that has yet to be identified and the authorities believe it was dumped by irresponsible parties earlier today.

Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) director Datuk Hashim Osman said the affected part of the river was confined to a stretch near Taman Eng Ann in Klang.

He said the pollutant was detected following complaints made by the public to Luas at about 6pm.

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Malaysia: Sungai Raja Hitam falls under Class Four, needs extensive treatment

Zahratulhayat Mat Arif New Straits Times 15 Mar 19;

IPOH: Sungai Raja Hitam in Manjung has been categorised under Class Four in river water quality and needs extensive treatment.

Perak Environmental Department director Norazizi Adinan said this happened due to the location of Sungai Raja Hitam which was located about six kilometres from a oil palm factory there.

“We are always taking river samples to the Chemistry Department for analysis, besides frequent monitoring at the factory.

“In February this year, the court imposed RM4,000 fine and the factory has learnt from its mistakes. Several initiatives have been taken to improve their services,” he said when met at his office in Bangunan Seri Kinta here today.

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Indonesia: Police name four suspects in Dumai forest fires

The Jakarta Post 15 Mar 19;

The Dumai Police in Riau have named four suspects in separate forest and land fires that have blanketed the city with haze.

“Three of the suspects were arrested in West Dumai district, while the other one was arrested in Medang Kampai district,” Dumai Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Restika Nainggolan said on Thursday as quoted by

He added the police had handed over one of the cases to prosecutors, although the police chief did not specify which suspect. Meanwhile, the investigators were still investigating the other three cases.

“All four are suspected of clearing land by burning it. The fire spread to other areas,” Restika said.

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Indonesia: Smuggler arrested in Papua with over 2,000 endangered turtles

Agence France-Presse Jakarta Post 15 Mar 19;

A man has been arrested for trying to smuggle 2,000 endangered pig-nosed turtles, police said, marking the latest wildlife-trafficking arrest as the Southeast Asian nation battles the vast trade.

Authorities in Papua province said they seized 2,227 of the palm-sized turtles which were stuffed into boxes on a boat docked in the remote town of Agats.

"Officers saw a port worker carrying three big boxes and got suspicious," Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said late Thursday.

"This is protected species and they are not for sale."

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Nations agree 'significant' plastic cuts

Patrick GALEY, AFP Yahoo News 15 Mar 19;

Nairobi (AFP) - Nations on Friday committed to "significantly reduce" single-use plastics over the next decade, in a series of voluntary pledges that green groups warned fell short of tackling Earth's pollution crisis.

After marathon talks in Nairobi, countries appeared to have reached a deal over throwaway plastic items such as bags, cups and cutlery to reduce the more than eight million tonnes of plastics entering oceans each year.

The final ministerial statement -- issued on a day of youth protests against climate change -- made only two references to man-made global warming and none to the fossil fuels that drive it.

It said countries would "address the damage to our ecosystems caused by the unsustainable use and disposal of plastic products, including by significantly reducing single-use plastic products by 2030."

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Sharp rise in Arctic temperatures now inevitable – UN

Temperatures likely to rise by 3-5C above pre-industrial levels even if Paris goals met
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 13 Mar 19;

Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement, research has found.

Winter temperatures at the north pole are likely to rise by at least 3C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and there could be further rises to between 5C and 9C above the recent average for the region, according to the UN.

Such changes would result in rapidly melting ice and permafrost, leading to sea level rises and potentially to even more destructive levels of warming. Scientists fear Arctic heating could trigger a climate “tipping point” as melting permafrost releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, which in turn could create a runaway warming effect.

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'It's our time to rise up': youth climate strikes held in 100 countries

School and university students continue Friday protests to call for political action on crisis
Sandra Laville, Matthew Taylor and Daniel Hurst The Guardian 15 Mar 19;

From Australia to America, children put down their books on Friday to march for change in the first global climate strike.

The event was embraced in the developing nations of India and Uganda and in the Philippines and Nepal – countries acutely impacted by climate change - as tens of thousands of schoolchildren and students in more than 100 countries went on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address what they say is a climate emergency.

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Mar 19

SG #climatestrike: 15 March 2019
Green Drinks Singapore

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OBS stops water activities after Johor chemical dumping incident

SAMUEL DEVARAJ The New Paper 15 Mar 19;

Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) has stopped all water-based activities following the illegal chemical-dumping incident at Pasir Gudang in Johor.

The adventure school, which conducts outdoor activities and camps for schools and young people at its campus in Pulau Ubin, is taking the precaution, even as the authorities have declared the seawater quality around the island to be within normal levels.

The National Youth Council, which oversees OBS, told The New Paper yesterday: "As the safety of our youth participants is the priority, the National Youth Council has directed Outward Bound Singapore to take active precautions and cease all sea-based activities around Pulau Ubin for now, while closely monitoring for possible spillover effects of the incident" with the National Environment Agency (NEA).

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Malaysia: Clearing chemical waste for Sg Kim Kim a priority for now

Syed Umar Ariff and Teh Athira Yusof New Straits Times 14 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Efforts are being made to ensure that the clean-up works ongoing in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor do not lead to any further spread of toxic waste in the air.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said containing the vaporisation of toxic waste as well as cleaning up the river are the main focus of the authorities at the moment.

“When the cleaning process is carried out, such as digging out the soil, there are volatile organic compounds which will vaporise into gas. This is why the spread of the chemical (methane gas) must be suppressed.

“That is why, when digging out toxic waste, it must be contained as we want to prevent the vapour from traveling further. There are gas detectors as well to monitor the level of gas let out during the vaporisation process.

“Contractors have a way to tackle this, which is by adding water to contain the vapour from spreading,” she said, noting that the hazardous material (Hazmat) team and Department of Environment (DoE) are currently monitoring the clean-up process.

Yeo said the phase two of the river clean-up is expected to complete within a week or less as four contractors will be appointed to do the works.

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Malaysia: Johor toxic waste incident under control - Mahathir

No need to declare state of emergency, but there is need to be cautious: Malaysian PM
Hazlin Hassan Straits Times 15 Mar 19;

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that the toxic chemical incident in Pasir Gudang district in Johor is "under control", as he visited the southern state which is grappling with the clean-up of a river and the treatment of more than 2,700 people who had taken ill after inhaling the noxious fumes.

Seven people were still in critical condition yesterday, down from the 12 reported on Wednesday.

The alarm caused by the incident led the Malaysian Parliament to debate yesterday whether the federal government should declare an emergency for the area in south-east Johor, just north of Pulau Ubin.

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Singapore shares efforts to turn trash to cash

Masagos speaks of move towards circular economy at UN event
Cheryl Teh Straits Times 15 Mar 19;

Singapore will continue to step up efforts to turn trash to cash, with initiatives like the $45 million "Closing the Waste Loop" fund to support research and development and businesses that want to work towards a zero waste future, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said.

Speaking at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday, he said: "We must take urgent action to protect our planet for future generations."

The minister added that to develop in a sustainable manner, a paradigm shift is needed, for people to change their production and consumption patterns from a linear "take-make-throw" approach, to a circular one where resources can be re-used endlessly.

This circular approach, Mr Masagos said, will be supported by three pillars of action.

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Air pollution causes as many as 7 million premature deaths each year: UN report

Rei Kurohi Straits Times 14 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE - Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk, causing between six million and seven million premature deaths and an estimated US$5 trillion (S$6.78 trillion) in welfare losses each year, the United Nations said on Wednesday (March 13) in a landmark 700-page report on the state of the planet.

The sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report, compiled by 250 scientists from 70 countries, said a quarter of all disease and early deaths are due to air pollution and other poor environmental conditions which cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The number of global deaths resulting from exposure to dangerous levels of PM2.5 - referring to particulate matter fine enough to enter a person's bloodstream through the lungs - rose 11 per cent from 2010 to 2016.

Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa saw sharp increases in such deaths due to rising levels of air pollution even as deaths in Western Europe and North America fell.

Professor Benjamin Horton, who chairs the Asian School of the Environment at the Nanyang Technological University, said: "Despite Singapore's prosperity, it is not isolated from human-induced environmental change occurring elsewhere in South-east Asia. For example, large fires caused by peat burning in Indonesia directly impact air quality and human well-being in Singapore."

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Malaysia: All out to save Harimau Malaya

sim leoi leoi The Star 14 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The next two years will be critical for Harimau Malaya’s survival in the wild with the launch of an operation by Wildlife and National Parks Depart­ment (Perhilitan) to monitor known tiger habitats or “hotspots” in its battle against poaching. This comes even as Perhilitan put in a request for a number of army personnel to beef up their patrols as well as consider a “shoot-on-sight” policy against poachers.

“Ops Belang is a drastic programme to ensure our staff are everywhere – ‘boots on the ground’ – involving our staff at all levels in ensuring that wildlife is protected.“The main purpose of Ops Belang is to protect the species of our country’s icon – Harimau Malaya – which is now facing a reduction in numbers due to poaching and snares,” said its director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim recently.

Among the activities under Ops Belang are patrols in known tiger habitats, including along timber roads, wildlife trails, along rivers and lakes, and detecting and recording traces of encroachment and poaching as well as destroying the snares.

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Indonesia: Prioritizing preventive measures against forest fires

Fardah Antara 15 Mar 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian authorities have claimed that the number of forest fires had reduced some 85 percent over the past several years.

Thanks to the significant reduction, no neighboring countries had lodged complaint over the past few years as their countries were not free from haze usually exported by wildfires in Indonesia.

Despite that achievement, however, some Rp1 trillion had to be spent for fighting wildfires on peatlands in South Sumatra province last year, Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo said on March 12, 2019.

In view of the high cost, he felt it was necessary to familiarize the public with the effort to preempt wildfires

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Indonesia: Six orangutans released back into wild

Fardah Assegaf Antara 14 Mar 19;

Palangka Raya, Central Kaliman (ANTARA) - Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan (ANTARA) - Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in cooperation with Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Office (BKSDA) and Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (TNBBBR) authority released six orangutans into the park, first of 2019's planned releases.

Preserving wildlife in its natural forest habitat was a vital step in ensuring that conservation efforts were successful in the long term, Agung Nugroho, the TNBBBR head, stated here on Thursday.

The orangutans were released after having completed years of rehabilitation. They had to endure an approximately 10-to 12-hour-long journey across both land and river to predetermined release points in the TNBBBR forest.

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Indonesia: Jambi villagers struggle to keep elephants away

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 14 Mar 19;

The last time Usman and other residents of Semerantihan village in Sumay district, Tebo regency, Jambi, had a good night’s sleep without worrying that a herd of Sumatran elephants would roam into their residential area was four years ago.

Semerantihan village is located within the 508,000-hectare Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem that stretches from Riau to Jambi. The ecosystem is considered to be the last sanctuary for several endangered species, including the Sumatran orangutan, tiger and elephant.

Every night, villagers go on patrol around the village to drive away the elephants and prevent them from entering their local plantation. Usman said a herd consisting of at least 30 elephants regularly circled the village.

“These elephants like to come into our plantation. They eat or stomp on our crops,” Usman told The Jakarta Post recently.

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