Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Want to find Treasures in our "Wastelands"?

This is the last week to register for the upcoming workshop by Bian Tan on the Treasures of our "Wastelands". If you are interested to learn more about the pioneer plants in Singapore, their ecological roles and how to share more information about them with others, sign up for the workshop now at http://snipr.com/gtijk.

Experienced guides are most welcome to attend as well to share your stories about these treasures with other workshop participants.

Date: 8 May 2009, Friday
Time: 7.00pm - 9.30pm
Venue: Civil Service College, 31 North Buona Vista Road Singapore 275983 Map
Workshop Fees: By Donation
Read our FAQ

This workshop is an introduction to pioneer plants and the basic principles of succession ecology. Learn about some common species, and how our “wastelands” are actually important pioneering plant species.

Bian Tan
Bian graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Master’s in Plant Taxonomy. He is the SEA Programme Coordinator for the Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and assists botanical institutions with plant conservation, environmental education and the SEABG network. Prior to this, he spent almost 20 years in the USA studying and working at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, where he pioneered the establishment of their South East Asian Cloud Forest.


Registration is strongly advised as it allows us to better customize the workshop to suit YOUR needs!

The workshop is limited to 30 participants so please register early.
Closing date: Sunday, 3 May 2009.

The Leafmonkey Workshop hopes to provide a platform for new and experienced guides to come together to Learn, Share and Do. Our workshops comprise of a short presentation on the topic of the month by our Guest Speakers, followed by activities that aim to facilitate sharing and participation. Activities provide a platform to learn how to communicate scientific facts with everyday language and stories to share with our friends, families and visitors we guide. Also, participants gain opportunities to share guiding techniques, tips and experiences with others. Our workshops are non-denominational and open to all nature groups in Singapore. This is an opportunity to get to know other volunteers, make new friends and share your experiences with one another.

Read full article here

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doing something "special" for Earth Day

This morning, a certain duck asked me, "what are you doing for Earth Day?"

To be honest, I hadn't planned on doing anything "special" since I honestly feel that every day should be Earth Day. "Special" actions shouldn't be reserved for just one day in a year.

However, if you are too busy on the other 364 days of the year and are looking for something really meaningful to do on Earth Day, then here's the monkey's recommendation for you this Earth Day!

International Year of the Reef 2008 Singapore is seeking public feedback for its Draft Blue Plan. This blue plan is for Singapore by Singapore. They are now calling upon the public to contribute their comments and feedback - an opportunity for all of us to make the blue plan "our own". At the end of May 2009, the final compiled version of the blue plan will then be submitted as a proposal to the Singapore government. So do your part for the Earth today, start by caring for the environment in our very own "backyard". Download the draft Blue Plan and send in your feedback today! Read on to hear what the IYOR08Singapore Blue Plan team has to say.

"The Draft Blue Plan is a proposal to the Government and people of Singapore from the members and organizations that form “International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2008 Singapore” – interested members of civil society concerned about the conservation and management of Singapore’s coral reef heritage. Contributions and advice from the leading marine biologists in Singapore have been incorporated. It was released on 23 April 2009. Members of the Public can download a copy of the Draft Blue Plan here.

Comments and suggestions from members of public are invited. You may email us at blueplan.singapore@gmail.com before the closing date, 14 May 2009. The Blue Plan will presented to the Government with the collated and edited comments in late May 2009.

Please note that blueplan.singapore@gmail.com is designed to receive emails only. While we will give every opinion/comment due consideration, due to human resource constraints, we are unable to respond to queries and may not be able to include every comment into the final Blue Plan due to editorial considerations. Please contact the Marine Conservation Organisations Listed in Annexes B & C of the Draft Blue Plan if you are keen to find out more about the wide range of activites and programmes that are being organised. We apologize for this inconvenience."

Read full article here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Upcoming seminars by ISEAS

There are two upcoming seminars at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies that may be of interest to some of you. The first is for those of you interested in the impact of climate change on food production. The second is more immediate to home - a tour and seminar on the marina barrage.

1) Rice in Southeast Asia: What Future with Climate Change?
Speaker: Duncan I. Macintosh, Development Director, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Date: Monday 27 April 2009
Time: 2:30 TO 4:00 PM
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2
Free Seminar, First Come First Served.
Organised by the Environment and Climate Change Programme, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Seminar Flyer: http://www.iseas.edu.sg/iframes/27apr09a.pdf
RSVP Response Form: http://www.iseas.edu.sg/iframes/form27apr09a.htm
Contact Person: Ms May Wong, may@iseas.edu.sg

2) The Marina Barrage: Seminar and Tour
Date: Wednesday 29 April 2009
Time: 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Venue: Marina Barrage
Organised by PUB; the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies; the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore.
Mr Yap Kheng Guan, Director, 3P Network, PUB, Singapore's Water Management Strategy and the Marina Barrage
"Appreciating Science Behind Water Quality of Marina Lake"
Professor Vladan Babovic, Director, Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore
Free Seminar; First Come, First Served
Seminar Flyer: http://www.iseas.edu.sg/iframes/29apr09a.pdf
RSVP Response Form: http://www.iseas.edu.sg/iframes/form29apr09a.htm
Contact Person: Ms May Wong, may@iseas.edu.sg

Read full article here

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meeting with Resorts World

A continuation of my engagement encounters with Resorts World.

Yesterday, a group of people who were interested in developments at Resorts World was invited for a closed-door meeting at RWS headquarters on Sentosa. Naturally, the first thing I had to do was make sure that I could at the very least blog the above statement.

In the event that I would make any further faux pas, I checked with Krist Boo (Vice-President, Head of Communications, Resorts World at Sentosa) who called the meeting, if I could at the very least mention that such a meeting occurred. Alas she paused for a while but monkey eventually got the green light to let it be known that this meeting took place. I hope that writing this doesn't get anybody in trouble! *fingers crossed*

To quote Krist at the beginning of the meeting, "We believe in doing what is right" and "we are committed to engage you". And that's why were all sitting there at 10am on a Saturday morning (18 Apr 2009).

At the end of the meeting, we were also asked to actively engage RWS instead of waiting for them to engage us. Moral of the story is, don't hesitate, start emailing RWS if you have questions and don't wait till information falls on your lap.

I truly hope to believe that RWS is really sincere in engaging stakeholders and are trying to do so, to the best of their limited abilities. So kudos for trying. I want to believe it when they say that they have to do it first in order to prove to us that they are doing it right. Hopefully it would not be too late by the time things are cast in stone.

Again, I must say that my intentions of blogging this is purely, and somewhat optimistically or naively, to share the fact that RWS is doing some form of engagement. In the field of environmental management and in my personal opinion, engagement is an important and wonderful thing. I like sharing wonderful things with my readers.

I can only hope that this is the beginning of more engagement and collaboration with Resorts World and other corporate entities in the future. If so, that would be a good progressive step in Singapore's business environment and civil society.

Why is engagement a wonderful thing?
Here's a document by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management that explains briefly why "public, private and voluntary organisations preparing policies, plans, programmes, and projects relating to the environment should develop and implement policies for stakeholder engagement". [Read the document here]

Previous posts on Resorts World:
I signed the No Whaleshark petition, have you?, 12 Mar 2009
A chat with Resorts World, 2 Apr 2008
EIA of Sentosa Integrated Resort, 30 Jan 2008

Read full article here

Friday, April 17, 2009

Desperate for Nature

It seems that a neighbor of mine is so desperate for nature that they are attempting to grow cow grass on the concrete stairs landing. I hope they know that soil is needed to retain water which will then be absorbed by the plant roots. But then again, a lot of the grass patches in Singapore are grown on equally thin layer of soil. A quick probe by the soil auger will hit concrete without much effort. I'll be really curious to see how long this grass patch survive in its concrete home.

Read full article here

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eating "Trash"

A few days ago, a friend sent me this video. It reminds me of slumdog millionaire except more poignant without the hollywood ending. I was reminded again of this video when my colleague and I were talking about how we don't blink an eye at how much food is wasted in affluent societies. Singapore being one of them. But while there are those scavenging the trash for food, there are also those who purposefully dive into dumpsters looking for food and not because they cannot afford buying! But they were doing it because they are "freegans"

Although dumpster diving is often associated with the poor, a new movement (freeganism) concerned with environment, anti-consumerism and all the conspicuous consumption (and waste) as well as urban poverty issues have begin to emerge in recent times. There is also an anti-hunger organization called Food Not Bombs gets a significant amount of its food from dumpster diving from the dumpsters at small markets and corporate grocery stores in the US and UK. Food Not Bombs have also taken off in Singapore and there have been attempts to collect some of the food that are regularly being drawn out by wholesalers and supermarkets in Singapore. Even though these food are being throw away, they are not always inedible. They then use these materials to provide food for the homeless in Singapore. Yes, we have homeless people!

The first time I heard of dumpster diving is from 2 young Australians who were part of a team going to Poznan, Poland for UNFCCC-COP14 by land last year (2008). They were well educated university students who were definitely capable of paying for their food. But one of them told me that he is a "freegan". I was simply amazed that he would eat food picked out from dumpsters and he told me that it is amazing how much good stuff you can find in the dumpsters of supermarkets. Surely the singaporeans amongst us who loves a good deal will know of how bakeries offer food for cheap at the end of the day before they close. Those food if not sold, will have to be dumped. And as long as they are not dumped, they are perfectly good to it! And if dumped, they can still be eaten if you pick them up straight away! Apparently the usual practice is to negotiate with the owners so that they will give the freegans these food that's meant for the bin. Likewise, a lot of vegetables are thrown away if they have blemishes or do not meet certain aesthetic demand from hotel restaurants or fast food chains or even supermarkets consumers who wouldn't buy vegetables with holes or fruits that are bruised.

Speaking for myself, I find that being an urban Singaporean living in an affluent country, I find such affront at considering the possibility of eating food from the dumpster.
Honestly, freeganism is pretty extreme even to me and my mind is still reeling from it now as I write.

Yet at the same time, there are people like those children in the video who have no choice but eat food from the dumpster, if there's even scraps left. Look at the face of the little boy who cheered at the sight of spaghetti served from the rubbish bin. It wrenched my heart.

Somebody mistakenly thought the video is about globalization and poverty but I think showing the fast food restaurants is merely commenting about how much food we usually waste in our daily meals. Fast food restaurants are pretty much frequented only by the middle class and above in many developing countries, such as Manila which was featured in the video. Do you think about the food that you can't finish at lunch or dinner? We try to console ourselves that there is now food recycling where food waste is used to generate fuel and energy. But how about going one step back? Buy what you need and finish everything you can. What is trash to you is food to many. As long as we don't get food poisoning from eating it, why are we not eating it?

Read full article here

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Giving a Guest Lecture on Environmental Groups

I have been invited to give a guest lecture in the GE3239 Environmental Sustainability class in NUS Geography Department on "Community Groups and Environmental Leadership". The lecturers would like me to share my personal experiences and so for the first half, I share my own journey. Along the way, I introduce to the students the various environmental leaders I met along the way. As I have to rush off for an interview, the second half will be presented by one of the lecturers. The latter half will be an overview of all the interest, types and actions of the groups in Singapore. This may be of interest to some as it provides a brief introduction to the community.

There is a mistake on the date of the lecture. Oops!

I'm somewhat hesitant in putting these slides online and sharing it on the blog originally as I felt that this is not totally comprehensive. However, I do not profess to know it all! Far from it. Always hoping to learn more. If I missed out anything or made any mistake, please feel free to leave a comment!

Read full article here