Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


New NUS centre to study effects of natural disasters on S'pore buildings

23 November 2007 (TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Our buildings may shake when earthquakes occur in the region, but it is "highly unlikely" they will fall. But would they be safe years down the road?

That is what the new Centre for Hazards Research at the National University of Singapore (NUS) aims to find out.

Launched on Thursday, the centre will study the short- and long-term effects of natural disasters on structures and infrastructure.

The centre's director, Associate Professor Lee Fook Hou, said: "I am pretty sure our buildings are safe now, but I can't assure you they will always be. The aim of our research is to reduce that margin of uncertainty."

Comprising 20 local and three foreign academics and researchers, the centre will start work on the impact of earth tremors because that is something "closest to our hearts", noted Assoc Prof Lee.

Through experiments and the investigation of data collected, the centre aims to develop new technologies to counter potential risks to the safety of structures.

"While natural hazards are inevitable, we can focus on using good science to prevent them from becoming disasters," said Assoc Prof Lee. "The idea is to find new ways to improve structures."

This would prove especially useful to companies looking to venture into earthquake-prone areas, he added. The centre will eventually move into research on other dangers such as typhoons and floods.

Another goal of the centre: To become an information and resource hub on natural disasters for Singapore and the region.

By providing "accurate and reliable answers" on why buildings behave the way they do during earthquakes, people here will be more knowledgeable about the effects of natural disasters and be in "a calmer state of mind because they know they are safe", said Assoc Prof Lee.

There are plans to launch a website to provide near real-time information when natural disasters occur, he added.

Several industry players have expressed interest in working with the centre by providing technological assistance or data. - TODAY/ym

Editor's Note: Finally they admit that Singapore is vulnerable to Natural Disasters. It's about damn time!

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S'pore seaweed 'satisfactory': AVA

By Tan Hui Leng, TODAY
23 November 2007

SINGAPORE: Roasted seaweed exported from Singapore that failed Malaysian food safety standards has been tested and found to be satisfactory, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday.

The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, had reported on Wednesday that "roasted seaweed from Singapore was found to contain metal contaminants on four occasions from July to September". The contaminant, cadmium, was at a level that contravened Malaysia's food regulations.

But the AVA, in an email to Today, said: "We have followed up with checks on the cadmium level in the roasted seaweed that was processed in our local food factory and the cadmium level was found to be satisfactory."

Singapore's food safety levels are set in line with international standards, it said, adding that the AVA had only received one notification from Malaysia on 13 Aug.

Locally-manufactured foodstuff is processed in factories licensed by the AVA and they have quality control programmes to ensure safe food production, it said. "Each factory is required to appoint a food hygiene officer to oversee the manufacturing process and the hygiene of the factory."

The AVA conducts routine inspections to ensure that the factories continue to maintain standards. Laboratory analyses are also conducted on food samples to ensure that the quality meets regulatory standards. - TODAY/ym



Orchard Road sees red

By Nazry Bahrawi, TODAY
21 November 2007

SINGAPORE: They had played by the rules, holding gatherings at indoor venues to express solidarity with their countrymen back home. And on Tuesday, they had planned to release doves in a symbolic gesture of peace.

But the gameplan for the Myanmar community here changed after United Nations' special envoy Ibrahim Gamabari's briefing to the East Asia Summit was called off - and on Tuesday, they took to the streets without a police permit.

Thirty-five in all - students, professionals and workers - donned red T-shirts and lined up in rows of three, carrying flyers and a banner, outside Starbucks Coffee at Orchard Parade Hotel for nearly 20 minutes.

Police arrived and after a five-minute exchange with the protesters, the latter, who remained smiling and polite, removed their T-shirts and dispersed - telling the media: "This is a peaceful protest, we don't want any trouble."

Their one request to Singapore: Arrange a session with Mr Gambari, so they could get an update on Myanmar.

On Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said Singapore as ASEAN chair could "facilitate Mr Gambari's meeting with interested parties".

Earlier in the day at Orange Grove Road, near summit venue Shangri-La Hotel, four members of SG Human Rights tried to hand over a greeting card bearing some 40 signatures and a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi to ASEAN leaders.

They were barred by police but after some discussion, it was agreed the group would disperse if a member of the ASEAN Secretariat came out to receive their card. This took place without incident.

Others went beyond theatrics.

At a press conference, regional civil society coalition Sapa Working Group on ASEAN said, the grouping's acceding to Myanmar's request to scrap Mr Gambari's briefing was "a slap" to ASEAN and the hosts.

But the group stressed that the "drama and activity" of street protests should not distract from what is important: The contents of the ASEAN Charter.

The Sapa Working Group plans to submit its alternative ASEAN Peoples' Charter - a code of human rights principles - to the ASEAN secretariat at the next year's Bangkok summit.

Meanwhile, two members of the Singapore Democratic Party were escorted away from Shangri-La Hotel after repeated warnings not to enter the restricted area. One of them, Ms Chee Siok Chin, the sister of the party's secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, told police she had planned to have dinner at the hotel. - TODAY/ym

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Dutch official wary of biofuels impact on food supplies

November 13 2007

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Policymakers should be cautious of biofuels' effect on food costs, Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg said, emphasizing the need to develop new non-food raw materials.

First-generation biofuels are usually made from crops such as grains and vegetable oils but have raised concerns that they are driving up food prices and could lead to shortages.

Many see the solution as so-called second generation biofuels which are not yet commercially viable but involve the breaking down of non-edible crops such as fast growing grasses or trees by enzymes to eventually create liquid motor fuel.

"We need the experience (of first generation biofuels) but we have to be cautious," Verburg said in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

"If biofuels production is stimulated and we do not care about the relation between production for food or for biofuels, we are increasing a problem: namely hunger and poverty."

Earlier this year, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said biofuels were one of the main drivers for projected food price hikes of 20-50 percent by 2016.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food recently described it as a "crime against humanity" to convert food crops to fuel, though some industry leaders have hit back, saying the concerns are exaggerated.

Verburg said she hoped the focus could shift to forms of biofuels that are not made out of food crops.

"We try to put emphasis on moving towards second generation biofuels and we hope we can move on to that soon," she said.
"We have to invest in biofuels but we have to make sure that we do not produce for biofuels when producing for food is needed. And it must be done in a sustainable way."

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Target seeks label move for treated meat: report

November 13, 2007 (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Discount retailer Target Corp is seeking government approval to add a consumer warning to labels of meat treated with carbon monoxide to keep it looking red and fresh, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday in its online edition.

Target, which sells packaged meat in 210 of its 1,537 stores, sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking permission to add a warning to meat labels, the Journal said.

According to the Journal, the proposed label states: "Consumer Notice: Carbon monoxide has been used to preserve the color of this product. Do not rely on color or the 'use or freeze by' date alone to judge the freshness of the product. For best results please follow the Safe Handling Instructions."

Representatives from Target could not immediately be reached for comment.



Singapore will do its part to mitigate effects of climate change: PM Lee

By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia
03 November 2007

SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singapore will do its part to mitigate climate change but the country cannot afford to do so at the cost of its economic growth.

Global warming has caused extreme weather events like major floods and rising sea levels.

And the situation will worsen if countries do nothing.

Speaking at the launch of the year-long Clean and Green Singapore campaign, Mr Lee says no country can solve this problem on its own but must tackle it collectively.

He says countries are taking this seriously and in ASEAN, this is reflected by the pledge put in recent meetings and will be discussed at the upcoming summit.

Singapore, he adds, will do its part.

But Mr Lee says the country must also be practical and recognise that our direct impact as a small country is limited.

He says: "We contribute less than 0.2 percent of all the carbon emission worldwide...so what we do in Singapore is not going to change the world. And just to give you a sense of it, even if Singapore is to shut down the whole of Singapore, no lights, no fans, no air cons, no cars, buses, MRT, nothing, the amount of carbon saved not generated will be the same as three days of energy consumption in China. So it is not possible for us to solve this problem on our own but we cannot say therefore we will ignore it. We will do our fair share as part of the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases."

Mr Lee says when the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission expires in 2012, Singapore will contribute to that.

But the country also has to safeguard its national interests.

This is because it is totally dependent on fossil fuels, with no feasible alternative and it is a major manufacturing base for MNCs, whose products are exported.

Also, Singapore is a major air and sea hub.

Mr Lee says: "Every year we have 25 million containers ship through Singapore, ships taking bunker fuels in Singapore. These are not Singapore's consumption, they are international but happens to upload in Singapore and we have to account for this fairly. If there's a treaty, we have to ensure that it's not all put on our account because that's not fair and doesn't make sense."

Mr Lee says that to prepare for the future, Singapore will have to start now, and redouble efforts to conserve energy, and get used to less wasteful habits.

A Ministerial Committee on Climate change has also been set up to coordinate Singapore's efforts.

And the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources has also announced plans to push for greater energy efficiency in Singapore.

One way is to make buildings here more energy efficient.

Households can also make a difference by taking simple and effective measures, such as choosing energy efficient appliances and also switch to energy-saving light bulbs. - CNA/ch

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Conservation alone 'is not enough'

Richard Leakey
BBC News
10 September 2007

Ahead of Wednesday's publication of the 2007 Red List of Threatened Species, Dr Richard Leakey argues that conservation alone cannot save threatened species such as the mountain gorilla. In this week's Green Room, he calls for action on humans' needs as well.

These deaths were repulsive for the fact that the gorilla corpses served no use to the killers

Millions of people were horrified by the recent slaughter of mountain gorillas that dominated headlines for the inhumanity that seems to cling to this corner of the world.

In the space of a month, nine gorillas - more than 1% of the known population of these charismatic relatives of ours - were wiped out. All were from the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Virunga National Park.

Predictably, the slaughter drew an outraged response. Wildlife conservation organisations leapt into action and began raising funds to deal with it, and a crisis team went in on the ground.

In the following four weeks, peoples' compulsion to do something to save the species produced donations amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

Living at the epicentre of the bloodiest conflict since the Second World War, the mountain gorillas share their habitat with heavily armed militia.

In other lawless regions, where wild meat comes into contact with hungry gunmen, species are slaughtered for food, or for trophies to be traded for cash and weapons.

But these deaths were repulsive for the fact that the gorilla corpses served no use to the killers.

On the contrary, it is the very presence of mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park that threatens them, for the animals draw attention to an area that unscrupulous people would rather have us forget.

Fuelling conflicts

At the heart of the crisis is charcoal - the main form of household energy in Africa. And making charcoal means felling forests, destroying wildlife habitats, damaging ecosystem services such as water catchments and soil fertility.

Charcoal production has been going on for millennia, but recent events in eastern DRC have led to a sharp escalation in demand.

In neighbouring Rwanda, an enormous human population has stripped almost all its indigenous forests bare; while in the Congolese border town of Goma, refugees fleeing the region's crises have swelled the population to more than half a million.

Together, they've created an insatiable demand for charcoal worth an estimated $30m (£15m) a year.

To save Rwanda's few remaining forests and the gorillas that have become a major source of tourist revenue, President Paul Kagame has installed a surprisingly efficient and effective ban on charcoal production.

Ironically, however, that has driven the black industry across the border into DRC, threatening the habitats of the very same gorillas in the park which straddles both countries.

Given the lack of any form of effective government in eastern Congo, and the ludicrously small government salaries - a ranger earns about $5 (£2.50) per month - it is not surprising that the parks' forests have become a commons and virtually everybody is involved in the scramble for resources, from peasants to high ranking government officials and rebel militia.

If gorillas focus unwelcome global attention on the park, it is hardly surprising that those getting rich on charcoal will want to remove that attention by getting rid of one of our closest biological relatives.

As shocking as the gorilla executions were, this is fundamentally a human tragedy, with very human solutions.

There must be alternative sources of energy to meet the demand in both Rwanda and eastern Congo. There must be a return to the rule of law in DRC, where the forests are saved for the long term good of all, rather than looted for the short term riches of a few.

In it together

Although it seems to be a very local problem, we all have an interest in protecting the forests.

It will take a focused global initiative to end the conflict, introduce alternative sources of household fuel, and create alternative livelihoods

Not only do we risk losing one of the most charismatic and important species on Earth, but we are in danger of doing more damage to the world's warming climate.

In that respect, the forests' destruction is a double whammy. Burning charcoal is one of the greatest sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide, but it also strips away the trees that otherwise soak up so much of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

While the alarm has been raised by conservation organisations concerned about gorillas, and the global public has responded, it is clear that the problem is much greater than one of conservation alone.

This is a human development crisis and it will take a focused global initiative to end the conflict, introduce alternative sources of household fuel, and create alternative livelihoods for the population living in eastern Kivu.

If the underlying demand for charcoal is ignored and we focus too much on the gorillas alone, we will not only see the extermination of the mountain gorillas, but the forests, woodlands and all the unique species that inhabit this biologically diverse landscape.

We will also lose the climate mitigation services that the intact forests provide. In the end, we could see a human crisis that will dwarf the tragedy of nine gorillas.

Dr Richard Leakey is the founding chairman of WildlifeDirect, a former head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service and a leading palaeontologist

The Green Room is a series of opinion pieces on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website

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S'pore can set example for ASEAN on energy use: IEA

By Wong Mun Wai, Channel NewsAsia
09 November 2007

SINGAPORE: Singapore can set an example for the rest of ASEAN when it comes to the use of energy, said William Ramsay, the deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to IEA, the Energy Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore could look into areas such as analysing the use of energy by studying energy policy, security and its impact on the environment.

Mr Ramsay said the work would show how ASEAN and in particular, Singapore, can contribute to how energy is being used.

"Singapore, at the centre of ASEAN, could begin making significant changes by doing things differently," he said.

The deputy executive director of IEA is in Singapore to discuss the agency's latest report on energy use.

The report highlights a fact that countries around the equator, like Singapore, would be among the first to suffer from the effects of polluting the planet.

Mr Ramsay said: "Places like China and India and countries not far from the equator know they are going to be the first victims of this. They know they are going to suffer the weather irregularities, they are going to suffer the extreme rains or the extreme droughts; they know they are going to suffer migration of diseases. So intellectually and at the senior policy levels in those countries, we see recognition. The question is how well they can translate that into action."

For the first time, the report concentrates on the two economic giants, China and India.

For China, it says if the country adopts the policies that are being planned, China could cut its energy use by about 15 percent by 2030.

And for India, the country could lower its coal imports by more than half by 2030.

- CNA/so



NEA to offer Environmental Education modules to more schools

By Vimita Mohandas, Channel NewsAsia
06 November 2007

SINGAPORE: Among its various initiatives to raise awareness on today’s pressing environmental challenges, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has partnered schools to develop Environmental Education modules to educate our young on issues such as global warming and climate change.

Having already been rolled out in four schools- Commonweath Secondary, Marsiling Secondary, Nanyang Girls’ and Nan Hua High, NEA is looking into working with these schools to develop similar courses for other schools.

Speaking at the opening of this year’s Clean & Green Singapore Schools’ (CGS) Carnival, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry for the Environment and Water said adopting habits to protect our environment should be cultivated at a young age.

“Global challenges such as climate change, the shortage of potable water and the depletion of natural resources have highlighted the urgent need for sustainable development. There is no better way to meet these challenges than to get more people to adopt environmentally-friendly practices as a way of life. We will achieve a greater chance of success if we start raising awareness and cultivating an environmentally-friendly lifestyle from young,” said Dr Khor.

Since 2006, secondary one students at Marsiling Secondary underwent a 30-hour environmental educational module on water management as part of their curriculum and the programme has been extended to secondary two students this year who are learning about factors that impact air quality and ways to prevent air pollution.

Meanwhile, Mrs Annie Lim, teacher-in-charge of the Green Club at Commonwealth Secondary School, said that the "Water" module of the Environmental Education curriculum for Secondary 1 students, helped them to adopt a green mindset and lifestyle.

"The students are now more aware of the strategic importance of water and the repercussions of not saving and conserving water. They also realise how vulnerable Singapore is, and have learnt about the appropriate technologies available to sustain our water supply. They are more observant of what is happening in the school environment and willingly step forward to provide suggestions on ways to improve it. Moreoever, they are very enthusiastic about taking up green projects next year and mentoring their juniors in these projects," said Mrs Lim.

This annual CGS carnival also showcased joint environmental projects by schools and their corporate partners from the NEA Corporate & School Partnership Programme (CASP). Under (CASP) participating corporations act as mentors to their adopted schools, facilitate training attachments and conduct tours of their companies and plants. Resources and funding are also provided for the schools’ environmental programmes and projects which are exhibited at the Schools Carnival where the best projects are selected to compete in the “Environment Project Competition”.

Among the winning projects this year is one by Princess Elizabeth Primary School and Fujitsu Microelectronics Asia Pte Ltd who have developed an eco-friendly aquarium that requires minimal maintenance and reduces water usage. They came up with a system which enables the water in the aquarium to be changed once every two years compared with once in two months previously, with the use of a unique filtration system that uses bacteria to clean up the waste in the tank.

Another winning entry successfully tested earthworms as an alternative to chemical fertilizers.

This year saw some 175 schools from pre-school to pre-tertiary levels, participating in build-up activities for the Carnival, an increase of 45 per cent compared to last year.

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First-ever carbon trading deal signed in Singapore

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
05 November 2007

SINGAPORE: A Singapore-based company, ecoWise, has tied up with Japan's Kansai Electric Power Company to tackle climate change.

Under the four-year deal, the first to be signed in Singapore, ecoWise will trade carbon credits for Kansai, Japan's second largest power firm.

Carbon trading is a market-based mechanism to help mitigate the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The burning of fossil fuels is a major source of industrial greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane.

Countries, which have signed the Kyoto Protocol, are legally bound to meet emissions targets by 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by making the polluter pay for climate change.

A country that needs to fulfil its obligations may need to buy spare credits from another country that is on track to meet its target.

Under the latest Emission Reduction Purchasing Agreement, Kansai Electric Power Company will buy 95,000 carbon credits from ecoWise over four years, starting in 2008.

ecoWise said it would sell the carbon credits, which will be generated from its facility that processes industrial waste by using thermal energy, at market rate.

Lee Thiam Seng, CEO, ecoWise Holdings, said: "Currently, these agro wastes are using diesel burner, diesel dryer to dry. We are using renewable energy to dry. This will save about 6.1 million tonnes of diesel over the next four years."

The companies are in the process of getting the project registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Kansai said this contract is relatively small compared to its 20 other carbon credit deals around the world.

The firm estimates it will need to procure up to 13 million carbon credits between now and 2012.

Koji Toyama, Manager of the Global Environment Group, Kansai Electric Power, said: "In the near future, I hope Kansai will supply or provide environmental related technology to Singapore industries and if possible, Kansai would like to make a direct investment to the energy sector."

It is hoped that this collaboration will pave the way for more companies to follow suit.

For a start, ecoWise said it would explore opportunities in China, while KYOTOenergy, which had helped broker the deal, will look at investing in gas cogeneration projects.

Michel Buron, CEO of KYOTOenergy, said: "The market in 2006 for emission reductions was around US$24 billion. It is expected to grow to US$100 billion by 2010, and I would say the region – Southeast Asia – will take its share of it, but we see that this region is a bit behind compared to India or China, or even Latin America."

But industry players said there are more emission reduction projects coming on-stream in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, and the sector is set to grow.

However, the rate of adoption will depend on the level of confidence and awareness of how carbon credits can benefit businesses.

Climate change is expected to be discussed at the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

Industry players hope this can further promote sustainable development.

- CNA/so



700 dress up as endangered animals to spread conservation message

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia
02 November 2007

SINGAPORE: There was a wildlife "stampede" at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Friday.

Over 700 participants, dressed up as endangered plants and animals, paraded at the Gardens to spread the conservation message.

From the kings on land to creatures of the ocean deep, participants let their imagination soar.

But the message was clear -- that the environment needs to be protected.

The eco-parade was led by primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall.

It made its way from the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden to the Palm Valley at the Gardens.

The event was organised by the Jane Goodall Institute.

It aims to raise awareness of endangered plants and animals in Singapore as well as foster a sense of responsibility to nature. - CNA/ir


Flood alleviation projects on track: PUB

By Genevieve Woo, Channel NewsAsia
02 November 2007

SINGAPORE: The PUB has sent out flood advisories to about 600 residents and shop owners located in low lying areas.

But it is confident that flash floods in these areas will be alleviated when the Marina Barrage starts operation by next year.

PUB says the barrage is designed to handle both high tides and heavy rainfall.

It does this by maintaining the water level in the future Marina reservoir through a series of crest gates and huge pumps.

According to PUB, there are now 130 hectares of flood prone areas but this will be reduced to less than 100 hectares when the Marina Barrage and other drainage improvement projects are completed.

In time, low-lying areas such as Boat Quay, Chinatown, Jalan Besar and Geylang, can expect to be relieved of flash floods when it rains.

Other flood alleviation projects are on-going at Cuscaden Road, Olive and Joan Road and Commonwealth Avenue.

PUB says the onset of the rainy season is likely later this month, and is expected to last till late January 2008.

Should you come across floods or wish to check the weather forecast, call PUB-One at 1800-284 6600, or the NEA at 6542 7788.

Alternatively, you can get weather information on NEA's website at www.nea.gov.sg.

- CNA/yb



Jane Goodall inspires kids to take action

By Sheralyn Tay, TODAY
01 November 2007

SINGAPORE: As a young girl, Jane Goodall set off for Africa on a ship, without realising that her journey to Tanzania would forever change the way humankind viewed its primate cousins.

She was first to discover that chimpanzees, just like people, not only used tools but also fashioned them, manipulating twigs and grass blades to poke into termite mounds for food.

In Singapore on Wednesday, the extraordinary doctor greeted her audience of 500 corporate and non-profit leaders at a conference here on voluntarism and philanthropy with the hooting cry of a chimpanzee — before setting out to enchant them, in her quietly charismatic way.

Recounting her experiences and programmes in Africa and around the world, Dr Goodall's message for people here was that they, too, could make a personal difference, in this daunting era of global warming, social inequity, terrorism and vanishing forests.

For instance, there was that 8-year-old boy from "the poorest public school in the United States" she said, who was so inspired by her talk that he chastised cereal company Kellogg's for the way a monkey was portrayed on its packaging.

When she returned to the school the following year, she said, the little boy "stood up very tall" and reminded her: "You told us that when monkeys bare their teeth they're not smiling, they're fearful; and I saw that face on a packet of cereal. You also said monkeys shouldn't wear clothes because it's undignified.

"So, I took action."

He had written to the company — unbeknown to him, other people were doing so, too — and to his surprise, Kellogg's took the packaging off the market. "That kind of thing doesn't happen often, but makes a difference in that child's life," said Dr Goodall.

Alluding to mankind's destruction of the planet, she told her audience: "I've seen so many young people who have lost hope. They are apathetic, bitter, angry and even violent, because they feel we have taken their future away from them. And we have."

But through the Roots and Shoots community youth programme that she started in 1991, Dr Goodall hopes to convince youths around the world that they can take charge and make a difference.

Roots and Shoots societies are in almost 100 countries, including Singapore, and draws children from pre-school to university level. Youngsters are encouraged to tackle problems facing their communities, be it through community service, environmental activism or animal welfare.

On Friday, Dr Goodall will meet with members of the 11 societies here, some of them in institutions such as the American School and Hwa Chong Institution.

They will take part in the first Wildlife Stampede at the Botanic Gardens, organised by the newly-registered Singapore arm of the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports local Roots and Shoots groups as well as promotes education and conservation activities.

Dr Goodall hopes that, by nurturing a new generation who will be better stewards of the planet, solutions will be found for today's pressing climate and social issues.

"If we see a brick wall as all these problems that we've inflicted on the planet … hundreds and thousands of young people around the world, like roots and shoots, can break through," she declared.

Dr Goodall earned her doctorate in ethology, the scientific study of animal behaviour, from the University of Cambridge in 1964.

Aged 73 today, she is still on the road 300 days a year giving talks and raising funds for her organisation. She still glows with a youthful vitality.

Asked her secret to ageing gracefully, the elegant Dr Goodall laughed quietly and said: "I just don't look in the mirror!"

- TODAY/so