Best of our wild blogs: 31 Aug 19

Amazing living reefs of Kusu Island
wild shores of singapore

East Coast Park is alive!
wild shores of singapore

Singapore Bird Report – July 2019
Singapore Bird Group

15 September (Sun): R.U.M. Mangrove Cleanup (Internaional Coastal Cleanup edition)
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Channel 8 newsclip about mangrove restoration as mitigation action against sea level rise
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Ubin Day 2019 – bringing focus to marine biodiversity and the threat of marine trash!

A new painting: Thunderstorm at Chek Jawa
Flying Fish Friends

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Shovelnose rays, served as ‘shark head’ in Singapore eateries, now critically endangered

NABILAH AWANG Today Online 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Food lovers who enjoy a delicacy called “shark head” in Singapore restaurants may want to think again as the animal has just been classified as critically endangered.

“Shark head” is the sea creature known locally as the shovelnose ray — also known as the white-spotted wedgefish — and is usually promoted as a dish rich in collagen, which is meant to promote skin elasticity.

The creature was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Cites meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, ended on Wednesday (Aug 28).

The rays can be found in the waters of South-east Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and the Northern coast of Australia, said Ms Sue Ye, founder of marine conservation group Marine Stewards — whose mission is to protect marine resources by promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Local fishermen occasionally catch them, she said, adding that they were urged to release them back into the ocean if they did.

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8 in 10 S'poreans say climate change is real, Govt should invest in fighting threat: Reach

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 29 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Eight in 10 Singaporeans believe that climate change is real and Singapore should put resources into tackling the threat before it is too late, a government feedback exercise has found.

The exercise by Reach, the Government’s feedback unit, canvassed responses on the issues raised at the National Day Rally on Aug 18 from more than 5,000 Singaporeans aged between 15 and over-70.

The findings were released on Thursday evening (Aug 29) before a closed-door dialogue on the rally chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking to reporters before the dialogue at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Heng noted that the need to tackle the climate threat has resonated, especially with young Singaporeans.

“Several of them told me that they have been discussing this a lot in schools as well as in the universities,” Mr Heng said.

“They felt it was important for us to tackle long-term challenges, even though these are not imminent today.”

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Commentary: Climate change in Singapore and what the future brings

History shows us how hotter and drier years, coupled with greater exposure to flash floods, haze incidents and water shortages, make climate change a deadly phenomenon to Singapore.
Koh Tieh Yong Channel NewsAsia 31 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: During his recent National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that the defence against climate change must be given as much emphasis as the military defence provided by the Singapore Armed Forces because climate change threatens the existence of our nation in the 21st century.

Many Singaporeans who have paid only cursory attention to environmental issues may be surprised by the gravity of this message.

Sure, there are the occasional flash floods and yes, we do remember the days when the island was shrouded in haze. But have we come to the point where the climate has turned into such a monstrosity that our city-state has to “go to war” against this gargantuan enemy for generations ahead?

Two aspects of the problem help us appreciate our nation’s long-term commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change. First, the observation and scientific understanding of climate change, especially how headline global trends compare in relation to Singapore. Second, the rational basis for addressing other suspected effects of climate change.

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One of Singapore's oldest water treatment plants upgraded for $162m to boost water resilience

Audrey Tan and Jacklin Kwan Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - One of Singapore's oldest water treatment plants has been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology, in a move that will boost the Republic's water resilience in the face of climate change.

The upgraded Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, which is also more energy- and cost- efficient now, was officially opened by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Thursday morning (Aug 29).

The Choa Chu Kang plant treats water from Kranji, Pandan and Tengeh reservoirs before it is delivered to taps in homes, businesses and industry.

Climate change may cause the quality of water in Singapore's reservoirs to deteriorate, said Mr Masagos during the event.

He pointed to how rising temperatures could result in warmer waters, while intense rainfall could lead to an excessive amount of nutrient runoff being washed into waterways and reservoirs.

"These conditions are likely to fuel algae growth in the reservoirs, which will need to be removed as part of the water treatment process," said Mr Masagos.

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Plans to cut daily waste sent to landfill feasible, but some gaps remain in implementation: Experts

TESSA OH Today Online 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Environment experts believe that the 2030 target to reduce the amount of waste sent daily to the Semakau Landfill by 30 per cent is within reach, but how the plans are executed will determine whether the goals are ultimately achieved.

The waste reduction target was announced by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) on Friday (Aug 30) as part of its larger Zero Waste Masterplan, which aims to extend the landfill’s lifespan beyond 2035.

Ms Renee Mison, spokesperson for Eco-Wiz, said that she has already seen some of the initiatives recommended for tackling food waste in practice. The company, which specialises in food waste and general waste management technology, has worked with several restaurants, hotels and malls to adopt food waste segregation measures.

Ms Mison has also observed that, increasingly, more companies are introducing food waste segregation measures into their waste management practices.

As such, she believes that the Government’s plan to make food waste segregation treatment mandatory by 2024 is a realistic goal.

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August 2019 likely the driest and warmest on record, says Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: This month was likely Singapore's driest and warmest August on record, said the Meteorological Service Singapore on Friday (Aug 30).

The record-breaking readings come as the country experienced its first dry spell in more than five years, from Jul 31 to Aug 16.

At the climate station in Changi, the total rainfall recorded for August was 11.8mm as of Aug 29, breaking the previous August low of 18mm in 1888.

"August 2019 is thus on track to be the driest August in Singapore since rainfall records began in 1869," said the Met Service.

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Sky park to be built above Bukit Timah canal as part of new green corridor

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 31 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: A sky park is set to be built above the Bukit Timah canal, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Saturday (Aug 31).

Construction works for the first phase of the new park, a 1.4km elevated stretch that runs from the Rail Corridor to Elm Avenue, will start in 2021 and is expected to be completed within two to three years.

The sky park is part of the National Parks Board (NParks) plan to develop the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, a linear park that lies between Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road.

In future, this green corridor may be extended all the way to Kallang Riverside, totalling 11km.

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New trial could enable drone inspections, better Web experience for visitors to Singapore’s Southern Islands

Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: If you see drones flying about when visiting Singapore’s Southern Islands, don’t be alarmed. They are part of a wider trial by authorities to bring “low-cost, reliable and long-range connectivity” to these far-flung areas using an under-utilised radio spectrum known as TV White Space.

A six-month trial to use TV White Space for data transmission on five Southern Islands - Kias Island, St John’s Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Hantu Besar and Kusu Island - started in August.

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Malaysia, Johor: Situation in Pasir Gudang under control, no need to close schools - MB

VENESA DEVI The Star 30 Aug 19;

MUAR: The situation in Pasir Gudang is under control and there is no immediate need to shut down schools in the district, says Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal.

Dr Sahruddin said there has not been any new case reported since Thursday (Aug 29), and students who fell sick on Wednesday (Aug 28) have since recovered.

"Whether or not schools need to be shut down depends on the decision by the state education department.

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Malaysia: Protected marine parks no sanctuary for endangered turtles

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Despite efforts to save turtles, the endangered species are still under threat, even within protected marine parks in the state, in particular the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) near here.

Marine biologist Scott Mayback said the threats come in various forms, including heavy boat activities, marine debris, fish bombings, and ghost nets.

“(The ghost net) is a major concern. People are still using it to catch fish, even within a protected marine park.

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Malaysia: Kelantan Customs seizes 4,000kg of Thai-bound wild boar carcasses

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah New Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

TUMPAT: Kelantan Customs Department today foiled an attempt to smuggle 4,000kg of wild boar carcasses, worth RM44,000, to Thailand.

The wild boar carcasses, hidden in two boats, were seized in two separate operations here, said the department's director Mohd Rakbi Mat Saud.

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Malaysia: Poachers target Helmeted Hornbill

EDDIE CHUA The Star 30 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill is facing a grave threat from poachers who are after its famed red crown, which is prized by collectors.

International wildlife syndicates pay these poachers between US$80 (RM337) and US$100 (RM421) per crown, prized as “red ivory” that can be carved into souvenirs and trinkets.

The hunt for these magnificent birds has intensified in Malaysia following a clampdown on poaching activities in Indonesia. The authorities there are keeping a tight watch on airports and seaports.

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Indonesian police investigate palm oil companies over forest fires: ministry

Reuters 29 Aug 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police are investigating three palm oil companies on suspicion of starting fires on Borneo island, where environmentalists say extensive deforestation has occurred to make way for plantations, a government ministry said.

The Ministry of the Environment and Forests is also investigating 24 other companies on Borneo and Sumatra island in connection with fires in their concession area, Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry’s director general for law enforcement, told reporters.

“Previously, we focused more on bringing suspects to civil courts and giving administrative sanctions. But with the forest fires still taking place in 2019, we are using criminal instruments more intensively,” Sani said.

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Indonesia: Severe haze sees schools dismissed in Dumai

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 30 Aug 19;

A thick blanket of haze from forest fires has forced schools in Dumai, Riau, to dismiss their students early.

On Wednesday, four principals from different elementary schools asked the Dumai Education Agency for permission to dismiss their students early because of the increasing severity of the haze.

“They went home at 10 a.m. We asked the principals to tell the students’ parents to pick their children up at school so they wouldn’t wander around after school,” Dumai Education Agency secretary Dedy said on Wednesday.

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Great Barrier Reef outlook very poor, Australia says

BBC 30 Aug 19;

The Great Barrier Reef's outlook has been officially downgraded from poor to very poor due to climate change.

Rising sea temperatures thanks to human-driven global warming remain the biggest threat to the reef, a five-year Australian government report says.

Actions to save it "have never been more time critical", the report reads.

Stretching over 2,300km (1,400 miles), the reef was designated a World Heritage site in 1981 for its "enormous scientific and intrinsic importance".

But in recent years the reef has been increasingly damaged by warmer seas which have killed off coral and affected its long-term health.

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Amazon fires: Brazil bans land clearance blazes for 60 days

BBC 29 Aug 19;

Brazil has banned setting fires to clear land for 60 days in response to a massive increase in the number of fires in the Amazon rainforest.

The decree was signed by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has faced intense criticism at home and abroad for failing to protect the rainforest.

A leading Brazilian environmentalist warned on Wednesday that the "worst of the fire is yet to come".

South American countries will meet next week to discuss the crisis.

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