Best of our wild blogs: 26 Aug 19

Prof Wong Poh Poh's comments on PM's speech on climate change and rising seas
wild shores of singapore

Love Our MacRitchie Forest – raising public awareness about our forest heritage

Beting Bronok, Pulau Tekong
Offshore Singapore

Cyrene Reef
Offshore Singapore

The Singing Bird Returns: Ailanthes integrifolia
Flying Fish Friends

Flying Tigers 2.0
Butterflies of Singapore

Shining and Guiding the Way: The Lighthouses of Singapore
Remember Singapore

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Explainer: How much time does Singapore have to build up its response to climate change?

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 24 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE —  A “50- to 100-year problem” was how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the “grave threat” of rising sea levels to Singapore.

While a hundred years from now seems far away, Singapore has already started to feel the impact of climate change with hotter weather and heavier rainfall in recent years. Studies have also shown that Singapore could experience more extreme weather patterns as soon as 2050. 

Indeed, steps are already underway to mitigate the impact of rising sea levels. For example, Singapore has introduced a carbon tax to nudge companies to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. It has also begun building infrastructure such as train stations on elevated ground. 

More measures are in the pipeline. How much time does Singapore have to make sure that it is sufficiently ready? TODAY takes a closer look.

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Commentary: How effectively can Singapore adapt to sea level rise?

Even as Singapore strives to adapt to rising sea levels, let’s not win that battle yet end up losing the larger war against climate change, says the Singapore Management University’s Winston Chow.
Winston Chow Channel NewsAsia 25 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore isn’t alone in confronting the consequences of rising seas.

Several other coastal cities and small islands also face this hazard, and lessons can be drawn from how they plan for and adapt to it.

Recent research shows three general approaches can be considered when dealing with the threat of sea level rise. First, accommodate the threat, which includes flood-proofing existing buildings and infrastructure, or designating areas that would be allowed to flood during high tide.

Second, retreat from the threat, which includes the removal and reallocation of key infrastructure and assets to areas that the sea cannot inundate.

Third, protection from the threat, which includes planting and managing mangrove coasts, or engineered options like sea walls, land reclamation and polders described during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech.

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Rising sea levels: Not urgent or too close to home? Residents in the east give their views

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 22 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — One was so assured that she would encourage her children to live near Singapore’s eastern coastline even 50 to 100 years from now.

Another wondered if construction work being done to deal with rising sea levels would block the views from his flat.

In getting a quick gauge of how residents living in the eastern part of Singapore think about the future impact of climate change, TODAY found that for some of them, climate change was too far down the road to be a cause for worry.

Others were impressed that the environmental issue was finally getting national attention, but all were generally supportive of the measures to counter the problems related to it.

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21% more mosquito breeding habitats destroyed in 2018 through use of Gravitrap system

Channel NewsAsia 23 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (Aug 23) said that its Gravitrap system - which is designed to attract and trap female Aedes mosquitoes looking for sites to lay their eggs - enabled it to detect and destroy 21 per cent more breeding habitats in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Gravitraps have also been useful in helping NEA remove a large number of Aedes aegypti adult mosquitoes, including infected female mosquitoes, the agency said in a media release.

About 50,000 Gravitraps have been deployed at Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates islandwide since NEA began using the system in 2017.

Another 14,000 traps will be rolled out at landed estates and newly completed HDB areas from the second half of this year, NEA said.

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Malaysia: Water treatment plants in Johor affected by hot weather, dry spell in state

VENESA DEVI The Star 24 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: Several water treatment plants have been affected by the dry spell in Johor, says State International Trade, Investment, and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah.

He said that the Sungai Gembut water treatment plant in Kota Tinggi could no longer operate normally due to the significant drop in the water supply.

"The water level at the treatment plant has dropped beyond its critical level of 0.0 meter to -0.87 meter. The plant is failing to operate normally," he said in a statement released on Saturday (Aug 24).

He added that several areas in the district are expected to experience water disruptions due to the dry spell and hot weather in the state

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Malaysia: Trench built to contain raging forest fire in Johor

REMAR NORDIN The Star 23 Aug 19;

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state Fire and Rescue Department has built a trench to stop the forest fire at Jalan Tanjung Kupang, Kampung Pekajang from spreading.

Its operation commander Sarhan Akmal Mohamad said the fire, which started since 11.45am on Wednesday (Aug 21), has now spread to 40 acres.

“A total of 70 Fire and Rescue Department personnel from 10 stations from Zone 1 (Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Kulai and Pontian) have been deployed to help fight the fire.

“We have conducted aerial monitoring to find the best way to contain the blaze, ” he said in a statement here on Friday (Aug 23).

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Malaysia: Two schools in Kuala Baram shut due to worsening smog

STEPHEN THEN The Star 22 Aug 19;

MIRI: Two schools in Kuala Baram in northern Sarawak have been shut down until further notice, effective noon on Thursday (Aug 22), following worsening haze caused by forest fires.

The Sarawak Disaster Relief Management Committee announced that SK Kuala Baram 2 and SJK Chung Hua Tudan have been told they must close.

"The Air Pollutant Index near the schools has reached 223 and both will close until further notice," said the committee secretariat.

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Merbau now Malaysia's national tree

Veena Babulal New Straits Times 23 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Capable of towering up to 50m in height, the Merbau, one of the tallest trees in the tropical region, is now officially Malaysia’s national tree.

In announcing this, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the merbau could become a symbol of national pride.

“I would like to take the opportunity to announce that the merbau tree (Malacca teak) has been chosen as our national tree.

“With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol of national pride,” he said while opening the “Hutan Kita” exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Tower here.

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Indonesia: Sumatra Island ravaged by 584 hotspots representing forest fires

Antara 24 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG) Station in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, confirmed the presence of 584 hotspots on Sumatra Island suggestive of forest fires on Saturday morning.

Of the total, 272 hotspots were detected in Riau, over twice the 112 hotspots found on Friday afternoon, Nia Fadhila, the Pekanbaru BMKG station's analyst, stated here on Saturday.

A total of 128 hotspots were found in Jambi Province, 99 in South Sumatra, 41 in Bangka Belitung, 18 in Lampung, 11 each in West Sumatra and Riau Islands, and four in Bengkulu.

Some 102 hotspots covered Pelalawan District in Riau, 90 in Indragiri Hilir, 35 in Bengkalis, 17 in Indragiri Hulu, nine each in Meranti Islands and Siak, seven in Rokan Hilir, two in Kuansing, and one in Kampar.

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Indonesia: Forest fires drive Sumatran tiger from their habitats

Antara 25 Aug 19;

Indonesia, home to the Sumatran tiger, joined celebrations on International Tiger Day, observed on July 25, to raise support for the conservation of tigers.

The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving tiger in the country, and the smallest of the five tiger subspecies in the world. In the 1970s, the number of Sumatran tigers had reached some 1,000, though the figure decreased to 800 by the 1980s. Currently, the population is believed to be between 400 and 600 tigers.

In earlier days, Indonesia was home to three tiger species, including the Bali tiger, which became extinct in 1940, and the Java tiger, declared extinct in the 1980s.

While environmentalists, experts and officials campaigned during Global Tiger Day, still, the few remaining Sumatran tigers have to struggle to survive, as Sumatra Island has been ravaged by hundreds of hotspots, similar to forest fires, since July 2019.

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Sharks and rays to be given new international protections

BBC 25 Aug 19;

Countries have agreed to strengthen protections for 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, including those hunted for their meat and fins.

The proposal was passed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on Sunday.

The newly protected species include mako sharks, wedgefishes and guitarfishes.

A demand for shark fin soup is one of the driving factors in the depleting numbers of sharks in the ocean.

The proposal, which was tabled by Mexico and requires ratification this week, means that the species can no longer be traded unless it can be proven that their fishing will not impact the possibility of their survival.

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Thailand: Second dugong calf washed ashore dies

Tan Hui Yee Straits Times 23 Aug 19;

BANGKOK - An orphaned dugong under the care of Thai veterinarians died on Thursday (Aug 22), less than a week after the loss of another calf which became a social media darling for its human-friendly antics.

Jamil, a three-month-old male dugong, was found washed ashore in the southern province of Krabi on July 1 with abrasions on his body, and had been kept under close watch in an enclosed pond at the Phuket Marine Biological Center.

Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) announced on its Facebook page that the mammal had been sent for surgery to Vachira Phuket Hospital on Thursday evening to remove seagrass that had clogged his stomach after his intestines stopped working.

That had caused a build-up of gas in his intestines and was putting pressure on his lungs, making breathing difficult.

But Jamil stopped breathing after he was returned to the nursery pond.

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