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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