Parliament: Decisions to clear land and forest cover not taken lightly, says Desmond Lee

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 6 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE - Nature is an important buffer against climate change, and in order to safeguard Singapore's climate resilience, decisions to clear land and forest cover are not taken lightly, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee told Parliament on Wednesday (March 6).

Additionally, because of its small size, Singapore must continue to be judicious with land use to meet its needs as a city and country, said Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development.

"Our small size means that our land and resources are finite, and the tensions and trade-offs for us when it comes to land use are magnified many times compared to larger countries," he said during the debate on the Ministry of National Development's (MND's) budget.

"Any decision to clear land and forest cover is not taken lightly," Mr Lee said. "It is a decision we make after very careful deliberation and inter-agency discussion, taking into account Singaporeans' needs and the trade-offs involved."

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Singapore may experience burning smell, slight haze due to 3 Johor hotspots: NEA

Channel NewsAsia 6 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore may experience a burning smell and slight haze over the next few days due to three hotspots in southern Johor, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday (Mar 6).

The agency was responding to Channel NewsAsia's queries after residents in various parts of Singapore noticed a strong burning smell on Tuesday evening.

The smell was reported from areas such as Bukit Panjang, Punggol, Bishan, Serangoon, Yishun and Aljunied, with one resident describing it as "really bad".

"NEA has detected smoke plumes from three hotspots in southern Johor to the east and northeast of Singapore," the authority confirmed.

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Wild boar found dead in illegal poaching trap in cemetery

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 7 Mar 19;

A wild boar was found dead after it was caught in an illegal poaching trap at the Lim Chu Kang cemetery on Monday.

The incident has prompted the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), which shared details on its Facebook page on Monday evening, to warn against the use of illegal traps, which could threaten wildlife.

In its post, Acres said it was saddened to find the wild boar dead when it arrived on the scene, about 30 minutes after it received a call.

An Acres veterinarian assessed the condition of the young male boar and noted that it had died from the stress of being trapped in a tight space.

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What a Singapore Strait traffic jam says about the world economy

South China Morning Post Today Online 6 Mar 19;

HONG KONG — Flying into Singapore’s Changi Airport, visitors often remark on the hundreds of vessels, from supertankers to freighters, anchored along the coastline. Why are there so many? What are they doing there?

A decade ago, the global recession created a maritime car park of apparent ghost ships in the Singapore Strait — vessels sat idle in the world’s busiest shipping lane as companies were going bust or did not have enough business to justify their use.

Now there’s a similar stockpiling of ships in the strait, but it’s more like a traffic jam. A growing global population that is getting materially richer means a burgeoning demand for goods.

Acting as the link between the biggest consumer markets in Europe and the Americas and China, the world’s largest exporter, the strait is one of global trade’s most important stretches of water.

Nearly 100,000 ships pass through the 105km-long waterway each year, accounting for about one-quarter of the world’s traded goods. Singapore’s Ministry of Defence predicts shipping volumes to increase 29 per cent by 2025.

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Malaysia: Sungai Golok dries up

Bernama New Straits Times 6 Mar 19;

PASIR MAS: The dry spell in Kelantan which started about two weeks ago, has caused the water level in Sungai Golok, which borders Malaysia and Thailand, to drop significantly.

A check by Bernama in Rantau Panjang found a sandbar had formed in the middle of the river, causing problems for boat operators to do their daily activities.

In addition, a check at Kampung Jeram Perdah here found the distance between Malaysia and Thailand had "shortened" as the river had been reduced to a 4 metre drain.

As a result, residents living nearby can merely travel on foot to the neighbouring country.

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Malaysia: Wildfires flaring up again in northern Sarawak

stephen then The Star 6 Mar 19;

MIRI: Wildfires are flaring up in the Miri division in northern Sarawak again.

Over the past 24 hours, the Miri Fire and Rescue Department has had to deal with two separate cases of wildfires in two districts.

Miri Fire and Rescue chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said his teams on the ground have been receiving wildfire alerts since Tuesday.

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Indonesia: Trash still huge problem in Indonesia’s national parks

Markus Makur The Jakarta Post 6 Mar 19;

The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration undertook a massive trash clean-up drive in popular national parks on Monday to leverage momentum for National Trash Awareness Day as well as enhancing its efforts toward greater economic empowerment through tourism.

Komodo National Park conservation agency collected almost a ton of trash from Komodo Island.

Margaretha Priska, an officer at the conservation agency, said they conducted clean-up drives at four locations -- Kambing Island as well as Rinca, Papagarang and Komodo villages.

The clean-up was held in coordination with several local institutions that included the Fire Awareness Society (MPA), village administrators, teachers and students.

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Microplastic pollution revealed ‘absolutely everywhere’ by new research

Contamination found across UK lakes and rivers, in US groundwater, along the Yantze river and Spanish coast, and harbouring dangerous bacteria in Singapore
Damian Carrington The Guardian 7 Mar 19;

Humans are known to consume the tiny plastic particles via food and water, but the possible health effects on people and ecosystems have yet to be determined. One study, in Singapore, has found that microplastics can harbour harmful microbes.

The new analysis in the UK found microplastic pollution in all 10 lakes, rivers and reservoirs sampled. More than 1,000 small pieces of plastic per litre were found in the River Tame, near Manchester, which was revealed last year as the most contaminated place yet tested worldwide. Even in relatively remote places such as the Falls of Dochart and Loch Lomond in Scotland, two or three pieces per litre were found.

“It was startling. I wasn’t expecting to find as much as we did,” said Christian Dunn at Bangor University, Wales, who led the work. “It is quite depressing they were there in some of our country’s most iconic locations. I’m sure Wordsworth would not be happy to discover his beloved Ullswater in the Lake District was polluted with plastic.

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