Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jul 17

Sentosa Tanjung Rimau is still alive
wild shores of singapore

Green Drinks: Economics As If People & Planet Mattered
Green Drinks Singapore

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Get pets from authorised places, urges AVA amid Malaysian rabies outbreaks

Samantha Boh Straits Times 27 Jul 17;

Outbreaks of rabies in the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Perak have taken five lives, prompting the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) yesterday to urge the public to obtain their pets from authorised pet shops, breeders and shelters.

Dog smuggling, the AVA said, opens Singapore to the disease, which has not reached its shores for more than 60 years.

It said: "We cannot take our rabies-free status for granted as the disease is endemic in the region."

Since 2014, 110 smuggled dogs have been seized by the AVA. Among them were 11 toy poodle, shih tzu and maltese puppies, which were seized from the modified fuel tank of a Malaysia-registered car in March. The smuggler was jailed for 30 weeks for smuggling and animal cruelty.

Yesterday, four of the toy poodles were taken to an animal shelter, where they will wait to be adopted. The rest will follow in the coming weeks.

The dogs have completed 100 days of quarantine at AVA's Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station, during which their health was monitored to ensure that they were not carrying any infectious diseases such as rabies.

Ms Clarissa Frany Francisco, executive manager of AVA's quarantine and inspection group, said: "They passed various health tests, and completed parasite treatments and vaccinations."

When the puppies were found, they were suffering from skin problems, diarrhoea and were dehydrated.

"We hope that there will be no smuggling cases. Not all smuggled animals have happy endings," Ms Francisco said.

Taking no chances with the rabies outbreak so close to home, the AVA has also sent out advisories since the beginning of this month asking pet shops, vets and other stakeholders to be vigilant. The advisories inform people on how to spot symptoms of the disease and who to contact to raise the alarm.

Rabies is mainly carried by dogs, though other mammals can also contract the disease. It is normally transmitted through a dog bite, when the dog's saliva comes into contact with a wound.

Symptoms of the disease, which eventually causes death, include aggression, behavioural changes and paralysis.

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Haze unlikely to hit Singapore next week despite Indonesia fires

Today Online 27 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — The likelihood of transboundary haze affecting the Republic is “expected to be low” for the rest of this week and next week, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday (July 27), as parts of Indonesia continued to be shrouded in smoke from forest fires.

This is because “the prevailing winds over Sumatra are expected to continue to blow from the south-east or south”, it said in response to TODAY’s queries.

Six Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as peatlands burn and the risk of fires spreading elsewhere increased during the annual dry season.

There are currently about 180 hot spots in Indonesia — Aceh, Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan provinces — but the number is significantly lower than in 2015, when haze cloaked large parts of South-east Asia.

Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported 51 hot spots in Sumatra on Thursday, of which 37 were in Aceh province. Northern Sumatra has seven hot spots, Riau four and North and South Sumatra as well as Bengkuli and Bangka Belitung each recorded one hot spot each.

A number of schools in West Aceh district were closed as a result of the smoke, while visibility at the Meulaboh airport was reported to be about 500m, according to the Indonesian media.

Hospitals have reported an increased number of people seeking treatment for respiratory ailments.

“My throat feels scratchy and uncomfortable from breathing ... smoke has even entered my house,” housewife Yus, who like most Indonesians goes by one name, told Antara news agency. As a result, many residents have left their homes, seeking shelter with relatives.

“The smoke is so thick and it seeped into our home this morning. I decided to move to my parents home as I have a two-year-old child,” said Mr Osi, a resident in the Meulaboh district that is one of the hardest hit areas.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter that forest fires are still burning in West Aceh and he suspected that it was a “deliberate act” caused by those who clear their lands by the traditional slash-and-burn method. He said the authorities have deployed helicopters to conduct water bombing to put out the fires.

Devastating dry-season fires in 2015 burnt through 2.6 million hectares and blanketed Sumatra, Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand in health-damaging haze.

Plantation companies and villagers set the illegal fires because it is a faster and, for them, less-expensive way to clear land than by using machinery.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said on Wednesday that Indonesia has given its assurances that it is fully equipped to tackle the matter, including purchasing three helicopters that have been converted to conduct water bombing activities.

“We believed such steps can avoid the pollution problem from happening this year,” he said. AGENCIES

5 Indonesian provinces on emergency alert for forest fires amid dry season
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 27 Jul 17;

JAKARTA: Amid a growing number of hotspots in Indonesia, five provinces in Indonesia are on emergency alert for the spread of forest fires in peatlands.

In a statement on Wednesday evening (Jul 26), the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the five provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

"The status will help the local governments to fight forest fires and the decision was taken after several regencies and districts in the provinces had earlier declared an emergency alert status," said BNPB's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Satellite images from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space shows the number of hotspots creeping up, from 168 on Sunday to 269 on Thursday.

But two regencies in Riau province had declared themselves to be on emergency alert as far back as January to tackle any potential forest fires that could get out of control when the weather gets drier.

Earlier this month, the district of West Aceh also said it was on emergency alert when forest fires had spread over 70 ha within a week.

By setting putting themselves on emergency alert early, regions can ask for aid from the central government to tackle small fires and prevent them from growing into bigger ones.


Taking such anticipatory measures was one of the lessons learnt from the massive forest fires blanketing parts of Indonesia and its neighbouring countries with smog for months in 2015.

The environmental crisis destroyed 2.6 million hectares of peatlands and the World Bank estimated that it had caused US$16 billion in economic losses.

The Indonesian government had pledged to avoid a repeat of that disaster and has put in place mechanisms and processes to combat forest fires and transboundary haze. Indonesian President Joko Widodo had called for preventive measures, tougher law enforcement, more community involvement and better governance of private land and concessions.

Those measures appeared to have been effective as the number of hotspots went down by 83 per cent last year. Experts have said favourable weather conditions also helped.

Indonesia's neighbours have also shown appreciation for progress made in keeping forest fires and transboundary haze in check.

"Efforts to manage and prevent forest fires that have been done by the Riau provincial government have been very impressive," Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman told Indonesia's Antara news agency during his visit to Riau on Tuesday.

However, Indonesia is still grappling with the problem of intentional land burning. BNPB said majority of the forest fires were caused by culprits purposely using fire as an easy and cheap method to clear their land.

Over the past week, police in Palembang, South Sumatra have arrested two people for allegedly clearing land by burning.
Source: CNA/aa

Peatland fires destroy 69ha of land in West Aceh

Francis Chan Straits Times 28 Jul 17;

JAKARTA • Fires raging across carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia's West Aceh regency have destroyed some 69ha of land, including plots that belong to the local community and not companies, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho.

The thick smoke from the fires has forced some schools to close in the regency capital of Meulaboh.

Dozens of people, including children, are suffering lung infections from the haze.

"The fires were caused by people who clear their land using the traditional slash-and-burn method, so the fire spreads," said Dr Sutopo yesterday.

Satellites have in recent days detected more than 180 hot spots across Indonesia, mainly in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The number, however, was far lower than in 2015, when raging fires burning in Kalimantan and Sumatra led to a transboundary haze crisis that was not only the worst on record, but had also pushed Indonesia to the verge of a national emergency.

The choking haze led to widespread efforts by the government to prevent and suppress land and forest fires early.

This has kept the number of hot spots in Indonesia low since then, although experts have said favourable weather conditions also helped.

But Dr Sutopo said the dry land conditions and blistering weather in Riau islands have prompted firefighting task forces to intensify their patrols to prevent indiscriminate land burning.

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Malaysia: Beijing Enterprises unit invests RM2bil in Johor water solution project

The Star 27 Jul 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: China-owned water treatment company BEWG (M) Sdn Bhd (BEWG Malaysia) is undertaking a water solution project in Johor with an investment of RM2bil.

Chief executive officer and executive director Datuk Vence Ong Kian Min said the company would carry out a six-month study on a comprehensive solution to water resources in the state involving water and sewerage systems for the state government’s evaluation and proposals.

“We received the formal letters from the Johor State Executive Council a forthnight ago,” he told reporters on Thursday after the signing of a RM400mil Islamic medium-term notes issued by BEWG Malaysia.

BEWG Malaysia is also in talks with the Sarawak government as well as a few other states on solid waste sanitation projects.

“We are focusing on government and state-related projects and we are open for any private projects as well. It is still something that we want to explore but if you are looking at the scenario in Malaysia, most of the water-related projects are either government or state undertakings,” said BEWG Malaysia deputy chief executive officer and executive director Datuk Amirul Rahman Abdul Rahim.

BEWG Malaysia, which is an indirect subsidiary of Beijing Enterprises Water Group Ltd, was incorporated to undertake water treatment projects in Malaysia.

It is the first China-owned company to raise the RM400mil sukuk for a water infrastructure project.

In November 2015, the company was awarded a design-and-build contract to refurbish and upgrade water treatment and distribution facilities in Kemaman by the Terengganu government.

The proposed sukuk wakalah will part-finance the construction cost of the project, which is slated to be completed by November 2018.

“When we’d got the project in 2015, we found out there is a lot of scope that we need to look at. We redesigned some of the ratification works and is currently solving the land gazette issue.

“All the procurement is ready and we are confident of finishing it on time,” said Ong.

BEWG Malaysia chief financial officer Mustakim Mat Nun said the company was also looking at raising more funds in the capital market to finance water infrastructure projects. - Bernama

Meanwhile, BEWG, CIMB Investment Bank and Maybank Investment Bank said in a joint statement that BEWG (M) Sdn Bhd had tapped into the Malaysian sukuk market by issuing RM400mil Islamic medium term notes (sukuk wakalah) on July 19 - the first-ever ringgit denominated sukuk by a Chinese conglomerate.

The sukuk wakalah was fully subscribed at the point of launch which allowed BEWG to achieve its target funding size and meet its financing objectives. The sukuk wakalah carries a rating of AAIS (stable) by Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd.

Proceeds from the sukuk wakalah issuance will be used to partly finance the refurbishment and upgrading of the water treatment plant in Bukit Sah, Kemaman, where BEWG has been awarded the role of design and build contractor by the Terengganu State Government.

“This landmark transaction represents a number of ‘firsts’ for BEWG Malaysia and the Malaysian sukuk market. This is BEWG’s first-ever debt capital market instrument, the first ringgit denominated sukuk by a China-owned company for water infrastructure funding, and the largest ringgit denominated sukuk issuance by a China-owned company to-date.

“The issuance also enabled the Beijing Enterprises group to diversify its funding sources in Malaysia, which had so far been limited to bank loans,” BEWG Malaysia CEO Datuk Vence Ong Kian Min said in the statement.

“This water treatment project is not only important for the state of Terengganu and its people, but it also represents strong relations between China and Malaysia, in particular with the Terengganu State Government.

“The refurbished and upgraded water treatment plant will ensure reliable water supply to the Kemaman district which houses Peninsular Malaysia’s oil and gas production and refinery operations, and accounts for about 22% of the state’s 1.2 million population. This project is poised to meet the growing demand from industrial areas in Teluk Kalong and Kerteh which, in turn, will help promote the state’s long-term economic growth,” Ong said.

CIMB Investment Bank Bhd and Maybank Investment Bank Bhd are the joint principal advisers, joint lead arrangers and

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Malaysia: 1,000 fishermen upset over Penang reclamation work

AUDREY DERMAWAN New Straits Times 27 Jul 17;

GEORGE TOWN: Nearly 1,000 fishermen from Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokong, Gurney and Paramount here are crying foul over their loss of livelihood as a result of ongoing reclamation works nearby.

The fishermen, who used to be able to make nearly RM3,000 a month previously, said they made only one-third the amount since the reclamation works started two years ago.

They also claimed that no help has been forthcoming from either the state government or developer of the project, except for a "saguhati" (consolation) payment in July 2015.

Their letters to the state government and developer, seeking bigger boats and engines for them to go further out to sea had fallen on deaf ears.

Mohd Shariff Abdul, 57, from the Tanjung Tokong fishing unit, said his income had been slashed by more than 60 per cent, due to the reclamation project.

"What happens when it reaches 100 per cent? By then, the waters where we used to fish will be a 'dead sea'. So, where am I going to get money to feed my wife and children?

"We are not being unreasonable. We just want the state government and developer to give us the necessary equipment to go out further to fish," he said when met today.

S. Selvaraju, 60, from the Paramount fishing unit, said the sea was no longer a healthy breeding ground for fish as it had been turned into a loading and unloading bay for the reclamation works.

He pointed out that there were also times where they were threatened by the workers.

The fishermen then sought assistance from Barisan Nasional leaders in the state after their requests were not entertained.

State Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong said the state government and the developer should not ignore the fishermen's plight.

He also urged the authorities to ensure that mitigation measures have been taken, as suggested in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report to minimise the impact on fishermen

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Malaysia: Sabah to offer more volunteerism tourism package in the name of conservation

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 27 Jul 17;

SEMPORNA: The Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac) will be offering more volunteerism tourism packages for visitors here.

Its state director Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar said such packages were trending among foreigners as most of these visitors often subscribe to the idea of holidaying with a cause, and in this case, conservation efforts.

“The package will have visitors paying to do the volunteerism work that will benefit the ecosystem. “The ministry is working closely with tour operators in developing such packages,” he said during the 1 Voluntourism End in Sipadan Bum-Bum Artificial Reef Programme at Bum Bum Island here.

The four days, three nights programme is part of the ministry’s ‘End in Sipadan’ year-long campaign to promote existing and new diving trails in the state.

Motac launched the diving campaign at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park last December and built artificial reef at Mari-Mari Sepanggar Island in April.

The final site for the campaign will be in Sipadan Island itself, known the world over as one of the world’s best dive sites.

Ahmad Zaki said although Sabah was well known for leisure dives, it was losing out to the strong competition neighbouring countries.

“The island here is a heaven for macro diving especially among underwater photographers.

“We can find a Lembeh seadragon here, which is actually a tiny seahorse as thin as a thread,” he said, adding the species were usually only found in Lembeh Island, Indonesia.

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Ivory Coast seizes record three tonnes of pangolin scales

AFP Yahoo News 28 Jul 17;

Abidjan (AFP) - Authorities in Ivory Coast have seized a record haul of three tonnes of pangolin scales worth an estimated $82,000, in what officials on Thursday called a "massacre".

Eight men of various African nationalities were apprehended overnight on Tuesday as they prepared to sell their merchandise, probably to Asia, said police captain Thimotee Gnahore of the country's transnational organised crime unit (UCT) told reporters in Abidjan.

The shy pangolin's brown scales are made of nothing more than keratin -- the same substance as fingernails -- but are highly prized in Vietnam and China where they are misleadingly touted as bearing medicinal properties.

Soaring demand for the products has seen an estimated one million pangolins plucked from Asian and African forests over the past decade, shunting them onto the list of species at the highest risk of extinction.

The total haul of three tons of pangolin scales -- contained in more than 60 large bags -- represented about 4,000 pangolins captured in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Liberia, according to Adama Kamagate with the Eagle Network.

The American group, which helped with the Ivory Coast operation, works with 10 African governments to fight animal smuggling and corruption.

"This is a massacre," UCT commissioner Bonaventure Adomo said.

The seized scales will eventually be handed to conservation services and then destroyed, Adomo added.

According to Gnahore, the haul is estimated to be worth 45 million CFA francs (70,000 euros, $82,000) on the Ivorian market, but could fetch 100 times that amount on the Asian market, particularly in Malaysia and Thailand.

"It's a profitable trade," Gnahore said.

Trade in the world's most heavily trafficked mammal remains a major problem despite concerted efforts around the world to clamp down.

Last year, the reclusive, gentle mammal received the highest level of protection against illegal trade at a global conference in South Africa.

Pangolins, which have bad vision but a good sense of smell and hearing, are covered in tough, overlapping scales, and eat ants using pink, sticky tongues almost as long as their bodies.

Their scales are sometimes used in the production of crystal methamphetamine, an illegal drug.

In Vietnam and China, the going rate for 1 kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of pangolin scales is more than 1,000 euros.

The creature's meat is also prized as a culinary delicacy and its body parts as an ingredient in traditional medicine in parts of Asia -- particularly China -- and Africa.

The eight men arrested, from Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Guinea, were part of a "large mafia-like network," Gnahore said, adding that the penalties for the men's crimes were too lenient.

"They face only one year in prison and a fine of 30,000 CFA francs. We really hope the law, which dates from 1960, will be reviewed quickly and hardened," Kamagate said.

According to Kamagate, Ivory Coast's pangolin population has been devastated by the trafficking, falling 50 percent in five years, and risks disappearing from the country's forests.

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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jul 17

Anemone hunt at Cyrene
wild shores of singapore

How effective are wildlife corridors like Singapore’s Eco-Link?

Highlights of the July Love MacRitchie Walk

Night Walk At Upper Seletar Reservoir (26 Jul 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Indonesia: Dozens hospitalised as thick haze spreads

Channel NewsAsia 25 Jul 17;

MEULABOH: Young children lie in hospital in Aceh province, Indonesia, as thick smoke caused by forest fires forces dozens of people to be treated for lung infections.

Some schoolchildren were still able to go to school in Meulaboh on Wednesday (Jul 26) wearing masks but several schools suspended classes so students could stay at home.

In the past week, about 35 hotspots - concentrations of fires - have destroyed 70 hectares (0.27 square miles) of forests and other land in Aceh, the national disaster agency said.

"The land fires have been caused by people who clear their land by the traditional slash and burn method, so the fire spreads," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purno Nugroho said.

People are advised to monitor their land and not to slash and burn, especially since the current dry season makes it easy for forest fires to escalate, Nugroho added.

Authorities are trying to put out the blazes and have warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to continue for several months.

The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

The blazes occur mainly on Indonesia's Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, with monsoon winds typically blowing the haze over nearby Singapore and Malaysia.

There are currently about 180 hotspots in Indonesia over about six provinces, but the number is significantly lower than in 2015 when haze cloaked large parts of the region causing huge numbers to fall ill and sending diplomatic tensions soaring.

Last year, researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the United States estimated that the 2015 smog outbreak may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths.
Source: AFP/ec

Eight hot spots detected in Jambi
Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 26 Jul 17;

Eight hot spots have been detected across Jambi. The hot spots have been monitored by the Aqua and Terra satellites since July 23.

Jambi Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) data and information division head Kurnia Ningsih said the eight hot spots were detected in Batanghari, Bungo, Tebo and West Tanjung Jabung regencies.

“Two hot spots were detected in Bungo and West Tanjung Jabung each,” Kurnia said on Wednesday. Three hot spots have been detected in Tebo while in Batanghari, there is only one hot spot, she added.

Jambi Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) acting chairman Hamdan said authorities were striving to extinguish fires in Tebo by dispatching one of three helicopters provided by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) for water-bombing operations.

“Shortly after we received information from BMKG Jambi, we dispatched the helicopter to carry out fire-extinguishing activities,” said Hamdan.

Meanwhile, the police reported they had arrested ET, 50, a housewife who was also a resident of Sumay district, Tebo regency, for her alleged involvement in land burning. The land burning reportedly took place in Pemayungan village, Sumay district, last Saturday.

Jambi Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Kuswahyudi Tresnadi said the crime was discovered when Tebo Police personnel conducted a fire patrol in Pemayungan village.

The police followed up their finding, from which they found the fire starter. On Sunday, ET surrendered herself to the Tebo Police and admitted her guilt. She was charged under Articles 78 (3) and 50 (3) of Law No.41/1999 on forestry. (ebf)

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Malaysia: Indonesia assures there will be no repeat of 2015 haze

JOSEPH KAOS JR The Star 26 Jul 17;

PUTRAJAYA: Amid reports of developing forest fires in Sumatra, Malaysia said it will hold on to Indonesia's assurance that there will be no repeat of the 2015 haze crisis.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic) has expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Indonesian government to combat forest fires in the aftermath of the 2015 incident.

"During meetings with my Indonesian counterparts, including a recent one in Singapore this April, I received assurances that there would not be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation, which badly affected Malaysia and Singapore.

"Since 2015, they have taken such measures including the setting up of a specific department to tackle the haze issue and a special taskforce involving the police, the army and other authorities to handle forest fires.

"With the taskforce, they now respond quicker to forest fires, and many fires have been put out before they could spread.

"Indonesia has also increased its fire fighting assets, including the purchase of helicopters that could carry water to put out fires from above.

"I am quite confident with the assurance given by Indonesia, and we believe there won't be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation this year," said Dr Wan Junaidi at a press conference here on Wednesday.

The minister added that the fact there was no haze crisis last year showed that Indonesia had done well to prevent the situation.

"In 2016, there were about 200 hotspots in Sumatra at one point. Yet, there was no haze in our country," he said.

Reports from Indonesia revealed that there are currently 170 hotspots across the country, mostly in Aceh, East Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan.

In 2015, smoke from mass illegal burning in Indonesia caused over a month of haze in Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand - triggering school closures and disrupting air travel.

Dr Wan Junaidi earlier opened the 18th International Seminar on Current International Issues Affecting Forestry and Forest Products as well as the 20th Meeting of the Asean Senior Officials on Forestry.

‘Indonesia fighting forest fires well’
The Star 27 Jul 17;

PUTRAJAYA: Amid reports of developing forest fires in Sumatra, Malaysia says it will hold on to Indonesia’s assurance that there will be no repeat of the haze crisis two years ago.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Indonesian government to combat forest fires in the aftermath of the 2015 incident.

“During meetings with my Indonesian counterparts, including a recent one in Singapore this April, I have received assurances from them that there will not be a repeat of the 2015 haze situation, which badly affected Malaysia and Singapore.

“They have taken many measures since 2015. These include setting up a specific department to tackle the issue and a special task force involving the police, the army and other authorities to handle forest fires.

“With the task force, their response to forest fires is quicker, and many fires have been put out before they could spread.

“Indonesia has also increased its fire-fighting assets, including the purchase of helicopters that carry water to put out fires.

“I am quite confident with the assurance given by Indonesia, and we believe there won’t be a haze situation like in 2015 this year,” Dr Wan Junaidi said at a press conference here.

The minister added that since there was no haze crisis last year, Indonesia was already doing a good job.

“In 2016, there were about 200 hotspots in Sumatera at one point. Yet, there was no haze in our country. This is because Indonesia has stepped up efforts to prevent the haze. So, I believe it can be prevented this year too,” he said.

Reports from Indonesia revealed that there are currently 170 hotspots across the country, mostly in Aceh, East Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan.

In 2015, smoke from illegal burning in Indonesia caused over a month of haze in Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand, triggering school closures and disrupting air travel.

Prior to the press conference, Dr Wan Junaidi opened the 18th International Seminar on Current International Issues Affecting Forestry and Forest Products as well as the 20th Meeting of the Asean Senior Officials on Forestry.

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Malaysia: ‘Forest fires in Aceh: No cause for alarm’

Churchill Edward Borneo Post 27 Jul 17;

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister and State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, says there is no cause for alarm arising from the forest fire in Aceh, Indonesia.

Based on an expert opinion, he said, from past experiences South West wind from northern Sumatra would blow to Penang and Thailand.

The Southern Sumatran wind also blows to Singapore and Johore, he added yesterday.

“We should be worried of Borneon fires instead,” said Uggah while referring to past forest fire incidents in Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.

State Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) environment quality controller Peter Sawal also shared Uggah’s sentiment.

“From previous records, no trans boundary smoke from Sumatra crossed over to Sarawak but mostly from Kalimantan (Barat). However we are monitoring it (effect of Aceh forest fire),” Peter said yesterday.

“JPBN will make all the necessary policy and strategy to deal with emergencies, including the haze but until the situation warrants it. NREB is also monitoring the situation in Aceh closely and that of local open burning,” Peter said.

“Transboundary haze are also being dealt at Sosek Malindo forum and Asean Ministerial Sub-Committee headed by Federal NREB,” he added.

On Tuesday evening Jakarta Post reported that a major forest fire had occurred in Acheh and that relevant authorities in Kalimantan Barat had got four fire fighting or water bombing helicopters to counter fire spread, ready.

Smoke rose from burnt peatland at an oil palm plantation in Riau, according to Antara/FB Anggoro on Tuesday.

Fires spread across 64 hectares of forest and peatland have been reported in five districts in West Aceh.

According to data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Johan Pahlawan district was the most affected district with 19 hectares of peat land reportedly burning while the Arongan Lambalek and Meureubo districts each recorded 15 hectares of burning land.

Ten hectares were reportedly burning in Sama Tiga district while five hectares of burning peat land was reported in Woyla district.

The fires were allegedly caused by local farmers’ slash-and-burn practices, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Tuesday.

The BNPB, in collaboration with the police, the military and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), have intensified efforts to control the fire and haze, Sutopo said.

“Challenges include difficulty in accessing the locations of the fires, a lack of firefighting vehicles and equipment, as well as a lack of water sources near the fire spots,” he said.

According to data collected by Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Aqua and Terra satellites and a National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) SNNP satellite, 170 hotspots were detected across Indonesia, 35 of which were in Aceh.

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Bukit Panjang CC recognised for green features

LOUISA TANG Today Online 27 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — Bukit Panjang Community Club (CC) has become the first upgraded community club to be certified Green Mark Gold Plus, following the implementation of a raft of green features, such as a real-time energy monitoring platform.

The Green Mark scheme is used by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of a building’s facilities and operations. While some of the newly built community clubs have been awarded the Gold Plus — the second-highest rating after the Green Mark Platinum — Bukit Panjang CC is the first existing community club to receive the certification.

Its digital monitoring platform, developed by grid operator SP Group, tracks electricity use in various locations within the community club and alerts staff to potential energy wastage, with the aid of more than 50 sensors. For example, staff members, who can access the platform through an online software, are able to check if they have forgotten to switch off any appliances after they have left their offices for the day.

The platform has already helped the community club to save 31 per cent on energy consumption. It also collects baseline data on energy use in the building for future analysis.

The platform was part of a pilot project at Bukit Panjang CC that was carried out between last October and May this year. Under the pilot, SP Group also installed 150 solar panels on the building’s roof, which has saved about 20 per cent on energy consumption.

In total, the community club has saved about 50 per cent on energy consumption, from using about 30,000 kilowatts a month to about 15,000 kilowatts.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, mayor of North West District, said that the goal is to reduce energy consumption at the CC by 10 per cent every year. The coffee shop in the community club will also go green by the end of the year.

“Our hope is that one day, we are able to help our CCs to go towards a zero-energy building. As we increase the usage of our CC premises and facilities, you’ll find that there is more demand for energy, so it is important for us to explore new technology,” he added.

Other green features at the CC include new water fittings, such as half-flush buttons for toilet cisterns and sensors for urinals and toilet bowls.

The community club has also changed all its light fixtures to LED lights, which are more energy-efficient, and replaced old air-conditioning units with energy-saving fan-coil units and cooling units.

There are plans to transform 16 other community clubs in the district to become energy-efficient as well, with six of them to be upgraded by 2020.

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