Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Beting Bemban Besar
wild shores of singapore

Rainy Night Walk At Venus Drive (24 June 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Malaysia: Benalec’s entire Tg Piai reclamation project gets DOE approval

The Star 23 Jun 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the green light from the Department of Environment (DOE) for all three phases of its Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub and Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

The marine construction firm said on Thursday that the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by 70% owned subsidiary Spektrum Kukuh and Johor State Secretary Inc for Phases 2 and 3 got the nod on Friday last week.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the company said this was for the balance area of 2,407 acres of the total reclamation area of 3,487 acres.

The go-ahead for Phase 1 of the project had been received in January 2015.

The company said the DEIA approval encompassed the reclamation construction for all three phases of TPMIP, oil storage terminals and related marine facilities, which will be capable of accommodating vessels up to 350,000 deadweight tonnage.

“The approval also includes infrastructure components on TPMIP such as jetties, a land bridge connecting TPMIP to the mainland of Tanjung Piai, and drainage channel dredging activities in the waters of Tanjung Piai, Johor,” it added.

Reclamation works for Phase 1 began in December last year after the relevant approvals were secured, and there has been formation of land covering more than 100 acres at the project to date, Benalec group managing director Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai said in a press statement.

The company said its reclamation and development works for the Pengerang Maritime Industrial Park at Teluk Ramunia, Johor, had also secured the development order and earthwork plan approvals.

According to reports, among the directors of Spektrum Kukuh are the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris Sultan Ibrahim and Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman, who are said to be partners to Benalec in the Tanjung Piai project.

Benalec shares gained 3 sen to close at 50 sen on Thursday,with 1.665 million shares changing hands.

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Malaysia: Johor mulls importing more beef following FMD outbreak

The Star 25 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: With Hari Raya just around the corner, Johor may have to import beef to meet demand, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among cows in Mersing.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Ismail Mohamed said this must be done if there was great demand for beef in the next couple of weeks.

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry has issued permits for the import of beef due to the outbreak and coming festive occasion. The state government has appointed five local suppliers to import the meat, but only if the need arises, Ismail said.

He downplayed worries over FMD, saying not many cows were affected and that the situation was under control.

“Cows in enclosures or in feedlots are healthy and do not show any symptoms of FMD. Only cattle that were roaming tested positive,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Ismail pointed out that in Mersing alone, there were 297 farmers with 14,935 in livestock – 8,708 cows, 3,260 buffaloes, 2,419 sheep and 548 lambs.

The Johor Veterinary Department started vaccinating cows against FMD in nearby Teriang and Endau from June 7.

Further tests by the department found that only 43 cows, belonging to 11 farmers, have the disease at this time.

Ismail said the next step was to find the source of the infection and how it was able to spread.

Livestock farmers in Mersing have told The Star that they could lose tens of thousands of ringgit if people stay away from beef due to the outbreak.

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Indonesia: Java on brink of ecological collapse

Hans Nicholas Jong and Bambang Muryanto The Jakarta Post 24 Jun 16;

Tough mission: Military personnel and search and rescue team members scour debris for victims following a landslide at Kolongan Beha, Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi, on Thursday. Floods and landslides caused by extreme weather in different locations in the past few days have left three people dead, damaged dozens of houses and affected transportation links.(Antara/Stenly Pontolawokang)

Unruly permit issuance and rapid extractive industry expansion have led to a string of disasters in several parts of Indonesia, particularly in Java, which is on the brink of ecological collapse as most of its forest areas have been converted.

Industrial activities have led to steep forest cover decline in Java, from 15 percent in the early 1990s to 3 percent currently. The deforestation has led to disasters such as flooding and landslides, which have been exacerbated by the recent extreme weather in Indonesia, according to Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) senior researcher Soeryo Adiwibowo.

“On one hand, the size of natural forests and agriculture fields keeps declining. On the other hand, industry, transportation and abandoned fields keep increasing because Java is being converted into an industrial zone even though its ecological burden is already too heavy,” he said.

The biggest culprit is the cement industry, which has grown by eating up the forests of Java. Investors flock to Java because it has more developed infrastructure and a larger labor force than other major islands in Indonesia.

“But the government has to develop outside Java as well right? Until now the growth of the extractive industry, especially cement, has been increasing sharply,” IPB forestry department senior researcher Hariadi Kartodihardjo told The Jakarta Post.

According to Hariadi, due to the massive loss of forests, Java is especially prone to flooding during the rainy season and drought during the dry season.

In 2015, 80 percent of Java’s 118 regencies and municipalities experienced heavy flooding, while 90 percent suffered from prolonged drought.

“The loss of vegetation is causing a dramatic gap between the dry season and rainy season. During the dry season, there is no water catchment and soil dries fast. On the other hand, water cannot be contained during the rainy season because there is no vegetation,” said Hariadi.

Regional governments have contributed significantly to the loss of forest coverage in Java by issuing regulations that benefit the extractive industry. IPB data said that between 2007 and 2008, at least 122 of the 278 bylaws passed by local governments in Java made it easy for companies to exploit natural resources.

“But now the Home Ministry is revoking regional regulations that hinder investment, not regulations that are destroying the environment and supporting the extractive industry. It means the government only thinks of the economy and not the environment,” Hariadi said.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said regional governments should also improve their spatial planning.

“Ecological disasters like these are also related to spatial planning. Sustainable spatial planning already takes water conservation into account. It shows that the role of regional governments is huge,” she said.

Extreme weather has been especially deadly this year, with heavy rains hitting parts of Indonesia during an abnormally wet dry season. As of Thursday, 56 people had been killed due to flooding and landslides in Central Java alone, with nine people still missing.

Purworejo regency was hit the heaviest, with 42 people dead and six people missing. A search and rescue (SAR) mission is still ongoing, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“Around 300 SAR personnel are being deployed to look for the missing victims. Yesterday, the police deployed dogs but since there were many people watching the landslide, it created difficulties in the field,” he said.

Two villages in Purworejo; Sudimoro and Tlogorejo, were still isolated after a flood and landslide blocked road access to the areas.

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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Big Sisters Island
wild shores of singapore

A visit to Lentor Forest
The Tender Gardener

Update on closure of the Rail Corridor
The Long and Winding Road

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Mass coral bleaching in Singapore

Beyond the pale
Warmer seas hurting corals; experts suggest moving them to deeper waters or into controlled environments
Audrey Tan Straits Times 24 Jun 16;

Just as flowers wilt in strong sunlight, soft corals are bleached and appear shrivelled when the water gets too warm.

All is not well in the sea, where temperatures have risen and caused coral bleaching in Singapore and around the world.

Water temperatures have dipped slightly since early this month, and scientists are hopeful that partially bleached corals can recover if the water does not get any hotter.

Bleaching occurs when abnormally high sea temperatures cause corals and related organisms - such as sea anemones - to expel the symbiotic micro-algae living in them.

Corals depend on the symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, for food.

"The algae exit the coral, leaving the coral without the zoo- xanthellae's colour and exposing the limestone skeleton which is white, hence 'bleaching'," explained Assistant Professor Huang Danwei, a marine biologist from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) biological sciences department.

Without the algae, the corals derive nutrition by trapping plankton. "But this is not sufficient over the long term, and will result in the weakening of the coral and increase its susceptibility to stress," said coral expert Chou Loke Ming.

A conservative estimate of the temperature threshold at which corals bleach is 31.15 deg C, +/-0.20 deg C, according to the National Parks Board (NParks).

"From end April, temperatures began exceeding the bleaching threshold, reaching up to 0.8 degrees above the threshold some time in May," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine division at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

Temperatures have dipped to just below the bleaching threshold from early this month, and scientists are monitoring the reefs here.

Professor Chou, an adjunct research professor at NUS' Tropical Marine Science Institute, said researchers are not sure yet if the current bleaching episode has peaked.

"But this is certainly a major bleaching event, like in 1998 and 2010. Water temperature is still above normal," he added. The average sea temperature here is 28 deg C, he Chou said.

This year, as in 1998 and 2010, is an El Nino year. This refers to the phenomenon linked to prolonged warmer weather.

Dr Tun said NParks' management strategies include safeguarding local rare species by moving them to deeper water with stronger currents or into controlled environments.

Prof Chou said these measures could help, although the responses are limited in scale. Transplantation is a stressful process for corals and the number of colonies that can be moved is also limited, he said.

Also, when temperatures go back to normal, corals moved to deeper water may suffer from the lack of sunlight at those depths.

Added the marine conservation veteran of 30 years: "A more effective approach is not to wait until warming occurs before responding.

"We should start translocating coral colonies to different and more challenging sites, and give them sufficient time to adapt so that they can tolerate the impact of warming when it next comes."

Keppel Land building homes for man and marine life
Keppel Land condo project includes effort to house corals
Audrey Tan Straits Times 24 Jun 16;

Marinas, docks and harbours may not sound like the ideal homes for marine creatures, but property developer Keppel Land has taken up the challenge: It wants to build homes not only for people but also for marine life.

To do this, it has embarked on a project to enhance the existing marine habitat in the waters around King's Dock, next to its upcoming waterfront condominium Corals at Keppel Bay.

Naturally-occurring hard corals that are unattached or overturned due to natural processes are first picked up from around Keppel Island and grown in a nursery. They are then transplanted onto artificial reefs at the new site in the Keppel Bay waterfront precinct.

In April, 10 underwater "condominiums" were completed. These are artificial reef structures made of fibreglass, which provide a substrate where transplanted corals are attached.

Marine biologist Brian Cabrera from consultancy DHI Water and Environment, which was appointed by Keppel Land for the project, said marine organisms can naturally be found in the area.

"But by providing more substrates, it adds complexity to the reef and encourages more marine habitat formation. These reef enhancement structures also serve as fish-aggregating devices and should improve natural coral recruitment," he said.

Mr Cabrera and his colleagues will be doing their first monitoring dive next month to document the health and growth of the transplanted corals and provide the necessary maintenance, such as cleaning sediment.

When The Straits Times joined the marine biologists for a dive on Monday, fish such as the monocle bream, orange-spotted rabbitfish, pipefish and copperband butterfly fish were seen flitting around the arms of the transplanted branching coral. Butterfly fish, in particular, are a good sign as they are usually found in healthy reef environments, said Mr Cabrera.

Mr Tan Swee Yiow, president of Keppel Land, Singapore, said: "True to its name, Corals at Keppel Bay, apart from featuring world- class waterfront homes, also provides an underwater sanctuary for marine life to thrive."

Work on the project started as early as 2014 when Keppel Land appointed DHI to helm it.

Marine biologists first collected fragments of coral measuring roughly 10cm from the waters around Keppel Island. They were then nurtured in a coral nursery for about 16 months. During this period, they grew to about five times their original size. Biologists then attached them to the fibreglass structures using marine epoxy cement.

The coral project is Keppel Land's latest initiative to protect the marine life around Keppel Island Bay.

The Marina Industries Association had last September touted the developer's Marina at Keppel Bay as Asia's first fish-friendly marina, in recognition of marina operators who work to improve fish habitats.

Among other things, boat owners are encouraged to use biodegradable washing liquids and detergents when cleaning their vessels. Fishing is also not allowed. The measures are part of Keppel's City Reef project, which aims to nurture a kaleidoscope of marine life under its pontoons. As a result, marine creatures such as jellyfish and harlequin sweetlips are thriving there.

Coral expert Chou Loke Ming, an adjunct research professor at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Tropical Marine Science Institute, said there are benefits to nurturing a healthy marine ecosystem, whether man-made or natural.

"It will help to make the water clearer by filtering pollutants from the water, and also attract more marine life and become biologically productive. People can look and enjoy the splendour of life thriving in sea."

Assistant Professor Huang Danwei from the NUS Reef Ecology Lab added: "Many marine organisms are effective indicators of water quality. A thriving marine ecosystem in a marina, for example, indicates an environment that is probably safe for recreation."

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jun 16

Green Drinks: Development of the Lentor (Tagore) Forest
Green Drinks Singapore

Mass coral bleaching on Small Sister's Island
wild shores of singapore

Toddycats @ Pesta Ubin 2016 (Part I): A Celebration of Singapore’s Marine Biodiversity and a plea to Reduce our Plastic Footprint

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Future Economy team looks for novel ways out of land shortage

Soon Weilun, The Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Jun 16;

A SUB-GROUP of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is looking at "innovative" approaches to overcome Singapore's land constraints as the economy is being restructured.

Not only is it considering new technologies to make better use of Singapore's road network, the group is also digging deep into solutions that involve putting utilities underground.

These approaches are crucial because Singapore's economy is maturing and constraints on resources, including land and energy, are "starting to bite", said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

He sits on the CFE, a high-level panel tasked to chart the direction of Singapore's economic restructuring.

He is co-chair of one of the CFE's sub-committees on Future City, which is concerned with the infrastructure needed for the future; Tan Chong Meng, group chief of PSA International, is the other chairman.

Speaking at the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting luncheon, Mr Wong said: "Underpinning all of these ideas is the consistent theme of innovation. That is the way we have to think about the economy going forward."

At the event, he shared "preliminary" recommendations in five areas that the group is looking at.

The first is infrastructure - that which is needed to enhance connectivity, brought about by better technologies.

Mr Wong said that for example, housing estates could be equipped with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the movement of autonomous vehicles. Such vehicles, called "people mover systems", are already in use in Gardens by the Bay.

These vehicles can very well operate in Singapore's housing estates in 15 years, he said; it is already a work-in-progress.

The second area the Future City sub-committee is looking at lies in going underground to overcome land constraints.

Reclamation projects have helped Singapore expand land area, he said, but the country can do more to exploit the potential for underground developments; putting power stations underground is being considered.

"It costs more, but it will free up surface land for development, and potentially from a cost-benefit point of view, it will be worth doing in the longer term," he said.

The third area the group is looking at is enhancing Singapore's position as a global city. The central business district (CBD) will be expanded after the Pasir Panjang port facilities are moved to Tuas; a second CBD will come up in the Jurong Lake District.

The fourth area is the co-locating related industries. There is potential for Jurong to be a centre for clean technology companies, Woodlands to be the hub for advanced manufacturing, and Punggol, for creative industries, said Mr Wong.

The fifth area would be ensuring the security of key resources.

Singapore is already looking for a site for a second liquefied natural gas terminal, and will maximise space to harness alternative energy sources.

The Housing Development Board has already issued tenders for companies to deploy solar panels on rooftops of housing estates, he said.

Terming these plans as medium- to long-term ones that may not immediately address concerns, Mr Wong said they will take several terms of government to implement.

"These are not five-year plans, but that is a uniquely Singaporean competitive advantage ... We can plan long term and we have been doing so," he said.

'Many options' for future development of Singapore
Minister cites building underground facilities as one solution to overcome land constraints
Wong Wei Han, Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Jun 16;

Underground power substations? Underground reservoirs?

Singapore still has many options for development despite its physical constraints, and one way is to build more infrastructure underground.

This subterranean potential is among the plans the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is studying to make Singapore a vibrant global city and competitive economy, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

"We're always looking at how we can expand our land and space options - and we have them. We have reclamation projects, indeed the Tuas mega port will be on reclaimed land. But we can also go underground," he said.

With projects like the Jurong Rock Caverns - a liquid hydrocarbon storage 150m below ground - Singapore is only "starting to scratch the surface of the potential for underground development".

"There is a lot more that we can do beyond Jurong Rock Caverns. For instance, the utility or power substations that you see around - a lot of them can go underground. It will cost more, but also free up surface land for development."

He cited national water agency PUB's interest in building an underground reservoir as an example.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs CFE's future city sub-committee, was speaking at the annual general meeting lunch of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC).

Building underground facilities has been in focus as the Government looks for long-term solutions to overcome land scarcity here. In March, an underground district cooling network - which produces chilled water for air-conditioning for nearby areas - was launched at Marina Bay.

The Government also hopes to deploy more innovative technologies, such as driverless vehicles to transport goods across industrial estates, replacing the huge fleets of trucks on the roads today, he said.

"We can go beyond that to people-mover systems. In 15 to 20 years' time, I think it's very possible to have housing estates with mover systems taking people from where they live to the nearest MRT station," he said, adding that these systems can also be built underground.

Other large-scale projects are under way. The consolidation of port facilities in Tuas will free up land to develop the Greater Southern Waterfront, a new central business district. Another new CBD, the Jurong Lake District, is also in the pipeline.

"These plans will take several terms of government to implement. These are not five-year plans. But this is also our competitive advantage, because we can plan long term. That's the way Singapore was built for the past 50 years."

For all these initiatives, a strong public-private partnership is important, he told around 260 guests attending the lunch yesterday.

SICC, celebrating its 179th anniversary this year, will focus on being relevant to member businesses amid the structural headwinds here, chief executive Victor Mills told reporters at the lunch.

Cost pressures have certainly taken a toll, he said, adding: "Anecdotally, for every one expatriate family being posted to Singapore for work, there are between seven and 12 leaving.

"But Singapore as a brand remains highly trusted for business services. We are still a hub for finance, for contracts, for arbitration. That element of Singapore brand will always be important."

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Changi Water Reclamation Plant to be expanded

Channel NewsAsia 23 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: A tender to expand Changi Water Reclamation Plant, which will help meet future demand for used water treatment, was issued on Thursday (Jun 23), said Singapore's national water agency PUB.

In a press release, PUB said the expansion will be completed by end 2019 and will add another 44 million gallons a day (mgd) to the treatment capacity of the plant. The tender includes civil and infrastructural expansion works as well as the installation of advanced membrane bioreactor (MBR) equipment.

The MBR treatment module will be increased in two phases of 22mgd each, in tandem with used water flow projections, it added.

Commissioned in 2008, the Changi Water Reclamation Plant is touted to be one of the largest and most advanced water reclamation facilities in the world. It has an initial treatment capacity of 176 mgd, and treats about half of the country's used water and produces treated effluent, which is used as feedstock for NEWater production, PUB said.

NEWater currently meets 30 per cent of Singapore's water demand, and this is set to increase up to 55 per cent in the longer term, the agency added.

“With this expansion, Changi WRP will be one of the world’s largest membrane bioreactor facilities. More importantly, it will produce more treated used water effluent for NEWater production and increase our water recycling rate, which will allow us to ensure a robust and sustainable supply of water for Singapore’s future”, said Mr Yahya Abdul Ghani, PUB’s director of water reclamation (plants).

- CNA/kk

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Malaysia: Boulders and loose earth a likely problem when La Nina hits

SIRA HABIBU and ARNOLD LOH The Star 23 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Granite boulders half-buried in hillslopes along roads around the country and slippery, loose earth at the slopes could prove to be a major problem with the onset of La Nina, which is likely to bring heavy rains.

On Penang island, the Public Works Department is facing a major headache.

Engineers have pulled out many loose boulders along Jalan Tun Sardon, a road that climbs the Penang Hill range from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau and Bayan Lepas, said state department director Salleh Awang.

“The challenge is that many of the boulders farther uphill are on private land.

“The earthwork necessary to extract the boulders could damage the terrain or even the durian trees up there.

“We have told some of the landowners to keep an eye on landslide risks during wet weather,” he said.

An avalanche of granite boulders along the road on May 28 almost killed passing motorists while a boulder – estimated at 20 tonnes and as tall as a man – crushed the left side of a car, trapping the vehicle.

Salleh said his engineers had investigated the rockslide and found that it was a natural incident caused by heavy rain loosening the soil that had lost its protective plant growth during the drought earlier this year.

Slope experts conducted an inspection of Penang’s roads on June 7 and warned of landslide and water hazards along Jalan Teluk Bahang between Balik Pulau and Batu Ferringhi.

“Around the sharp bends on this stretch, water will gather during exceptionally heavy rain. Cars need to go slow there.

“We have sent men to clear all the drains and make sure rainwater runs off smoothly but the steep slopes and fallen foliage can clog the drains quickly in a storm,” Salleh said.

Around the country, PWD has identified 2,576 dangerous slopes on a map of landslide-prone sites along federal roads.

Of the number, 992 have been tagged as the most dangerous and required strengthening jobs, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said.

Besides Penang, the slopes are located in Cameron Highlands, Lojing, Hulu Terengganu, Hulu Perak, Ampang (Selangor), Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Kundasang and Sandakan in Sabah, as well as Kapit and Miri in Sarawak.

To monitor and repair dangerous slopes, JKR has been carrying out surveys across federal roads, excluding tolled highways.

“However, there are still many high-risk slopes elsewhere,” Fadil­lah said.

It would cost billions to repair and strengthen all the dangerous slopes, he added.

“We are implementing the slope-strengthening programme in phases according to priority and availability of funds,” he said.

The budget for JKR is only to secure the safety of slopes along federal roads.

“For roads under the purview of states and local councils, the cost is borne by the state government while JKR provides technical assistance.”

Fadillah said the Inter-Agency Slope Management committee comprising the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry, Mineral and Geosciences Department, Meteorology Depart­ment, highway concessionaires and local governments, among others, was formed five years ago.

Apart from local councils, he said landowners should also bear responsibility in securing the safety of slopes.

Humidity a threat to landslide areas
The Star 23 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Landslide-prone slopes could turn out to be disaster zones in the humid atmosphere and the authorities are zooming in on locations that need urgent attention.

As the weather is beyond control, the Public Works Department (PWD) is watching landslide-prone areas under its jurisdiction.

Science, Technology and Innova­tion Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said the weather had remained humid since last weekend, although it should be dry during the current south-west monsoon season.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), which is under the ministry, affirmed that the humid weather was caused by low air pressure over the South China Sea close to Malaysia.

The low pressure led to a build-up of clouds, bringing persistent rain.

“This humid climate is expected until mid-week. At the same time, there has been an increase in the intensity of rain,” Tangau said.

A MetMalaysia spokesman said the occurrence of La Nina could only be confirmed after October.

However, most climate models predict that La Nina would most probably occur by the end of the year, she said.

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Indonesia’s outermost islands sinking under palm oil expansion

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 22 Jun 16;

Indonesia’s outer islands that have peatlands are at risk of sinking due to the aggressive expansion of palm oil plantations. This has prompted the government to try and restore the damaged peatland areas on the islands.

The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), tasked with restoring damaged peatland for the next five years, said the country’s outer islands were on the agency’s list of priority areas to be restored.

In Riau Islands, there are some islands, listed as outer islands, that have peatlands such as Tebing Tinggi, Bengkalis and Rangsang, according to BRG planning and cooperation deputy head Budi Wardhana.

“We know that palm oil expansion has been massive. Therefore, the islands that I mentioned are at risk. Bengkalis Island, for instance, is supposed to have 65 percent of its area protected, but there are so many palm oil plantations there, whether concessions or managed by local people on a small scale,” he said.

Budi said the sinking was caused by the subsidence of soil as the land dried up to make way for plantations.

“Peatland is like tea. When it’s dry, it will rise when water comes. So when the sea level falls, the peatland will be thrown out to the sea,” he said.

Likewise, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) swampland specialist Azwar Maas said the government should prioritize its restoration efforts in outer islands with peatlands as they were in danger of disappearing due to abrasions and subsidence.

“Sea water will come to peatlands and erode them. After that, the peatlands will go to the ocean,” he said.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry said the government had mapped outer islands with peatlands throughout the archipelago.

“We have West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Lampung and East Kalimantan. These are our areas,” the ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control director-general, Karliansyah, said.

The ministry will focus on restoring damaged peatlands on the BRG’s priority list as it will be easier if the ministry teams up with the agency.

“They’re doing restoration at 84 peatland hydrology areas in seven provinces. That’s why we’re asking for their data first so that there’s an agreement [on which areas should be prioritized],” Karliansyah said.

A map by the BRG reveals that 2.7 million hectares of peatland have to be restored over the next five years to prevent recurring land and forest fires. Out of 2.7 million hectares, 2.3 million, or 87 percent, are in concession areas.

The BRG has been able to map out which companies are responsible for the restoration of areas that have been damaged by years of peatland fires.

Most of them are agroforestry companies, with 217 palm oil companies operating across 589,000 hectares of restoration area.

And then there are 109 pulp and paper companies operating across 609,000 ha and 109 companies that produce natural forest products across 59,000 ha.

The BRG also plans to produce a 1:50,000 scale map to identify priority restoration areas and improve the zoning of peat conservation and cultivation areas. The agency has said it will prioritize its restoration attempts in badly damaged areas, such as those that have been burned more than three times.

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Indonesia: Extreme weather persists, blocking access to victims

Lita Aruperes, Ganug Nugroho Adi and Agus Maryono The Jakarta Post 22 Jun 16;

The extreme weather that has devastated parts of Indonesia continued on Tuesday, increasing the death toll as harsh conditions have hampered rescue efforts.

As of Tuesday, floods and landslides in Purworejo regency, Central Java, had killed 37 with seven people reported missing. A significant increase from the 22 fatalities recorded on Monday.

The National Mitigation Disaster Agency (BNPB) said that Purworejo administration had declared a
state of emergency for 30 days until July 18.

The BNPB said current conditions had hindered rescue operations because road access to villages in Purworejo were buried from landslides.

“I also have asked local police to provide bloodhounds to help find the missing people,” BNPB head Willem Rampangilei said.

Similarly, the local administration in Kebumen regency, Central Java, declared a 15-day state of emergency until July 3 after heavy rain fell for eight hours on Monday causing two deaths and six missing.

The Kebumen Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) also reported that hundreds of homes were inundated and four bridges collapsed.

A third state of emergency was declared in Surakarta, Central Java, by Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo on Tuesday, although the flooding that inundated 15 villages and three districts in the city had subsided.

Rudy said the government was preparing to repair the damaged infrastructure.

“Much infrastructure is damaged from the flooding and thus has to be repaired. The public works agency is still compiling data on the damaged infrastructure, and we are focusing on cleaning the areas that were flooded,” he said.

According to Rudy, the city’s poor drainage system contributed to the flooding.

In Banyumas, hundreds of residents are at risk of starvation as access to their homes has been cut off by landslides.

Likewise, around 600 people in Watuagung could not evacuate their village because landslides blocked access points.

“If, after one or two weeks, access to the village is still blocked, hundreds of Watuagung residents could begin starving,” a volunteer named Aris said, adding that the village was located in a hard-to-reach location through a narrow and bumpy road.

Banyumas Disaster Mitigation Agency has been trying to evacuate the residents but to no avail.

“The terrain is difficult. We have deployed heavy equipment but we are yet to reach the village. We’re still devising an effective evacuation method,” the agency’s head, Prasetyo, told The Jakarta Post.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) it is predicted all six provinces in Java will see heavy rain with strong winds and thunder.

Willem said people needed to be cautious as the predicted heavy rainfall would likely cause flooding and landslides again.

Floods and landslides also occurred in North Sulawesi, killing one person in Manado.

The victim, Meity Mawuntu, was driving in a Toyota Avanza car with four other people when an electricity pole fell and hit the car.

Electricity blackouts affecting some areas of Manado also occurred as a result of the accident.

Meanwhile, Sangihe Island regency in North Sulawesi was hit by floods and landslides on Monday morning trapping four people. It is still unknown whether they have been rescued.

The BNPB reported that there were 200 people trapped in their homes.

In response, Sangihe Disaster Mitigation Agency, local military and police personnel, a search and rescue team and volunteer groups have established emergency posts and soup kitchens for victims. (wnd)

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