Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Email sent by Grant to Nature Society

I have been back in Singapore for more than 2 mths and even my email to you on 4th Nov went unanswered. I leave today for a 6 week project in China and this will be the last email you will be getting from me as we are withdrawing entirely from this project.

It would appear that all the verbal (and written) assurances that The Green Volunteers would continue to run and administer the Ubin Green House were all politically correct sound bytes. I have always been upfront and straight with you and wish that you could have treated me the same way. Even when I knew I was not going to join NSS part time, I continued to support the green house project.

Even my part time employment was a sham. You said the reason NSS could not afford to hire me was that they were concerned about the finances of NSS but yet promptly employed a full time executive officer and are now looking for a full time education officer - a good example of being upfront and straight even when you and I knew Dr. Geh Min got a sizable donation for NSS.

Once again, the word of NSS and it's leadership is like chaff scattered in a cross wind. I come from an old school where a man's word is his bond, we say what we mean and mean what we say. Obviously, we both went to different schools! With immediate effect. I am severing all ties with NSS.

FYI, this email will be posted on our facebook, blog and sent out to all members of The Green Volunteers so they can judge for themselves what calibre of organisation they are dealing with.

Grant W Pereira
Founder

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Crocodile seen @ Sungei Buloh



Sungei Buloh is one of my favourite wetland parks. I live in Pasir Ris so I don't visit as often as I like to. My good friend Andrew Tay rekindled my interest when he told me he saw 2 crocodiles basking in the sun on one of his recent visits.

A couple of week ago, we visited Sungei Buloh with my photographer friend Arik Chan. We arrived and saw many birds, insects and water monitor lizards but no sign of the elusive croc.







After 2 hours of wondering around, we decided to take a walk at the mangrove board walk before departing. Halfway down the board, I got the powerful stench of rotting meat. I looked around and at the water's edge I saw what looked like a piece of driftwood and realised it was a croc when the “driftwood” opened it's mouth to much on what looked like a huge rodent!



We started taking pictures but the lighting was not good as there was a canopy of leaves blocking out the light.

Here are a couple of photos taken by Andrew (on his first visit) and Arik's of the croc enjoying his meal. Andrew's croc looks almost albino but it was sunning itself covered with mud to keep cool and insect free.

A friend of mine who visits Sg. Buloh frequently told me he saw a nest with more than 20 eggs and a mother croc vigilantly guarding her eggs. Probably 2 or 3 babies will survivie so hopefully it would be easier to spot crocs in their natural habitat in future.

Andrew is one of the most knowledgeble nature guides I know and if you want to arrange a nature walk, he can be contacted at andrew.tay@pacific.net.sg and if you want to see more of Arik's great photos, contact him at mailto:ark@li.sg






Cheers,

Grant

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

CROSS BREED DOGS

I read in the S.T. (16th Nov, home B1) an article entitled “Designer pooches are top dogs”. It's about how breeders are cross breeding certain dogs to produce “cute and cuddly” mutts.

Here's one I heard from my good friend, Juggi “What do you get when you cross breed a bulldog and a Shihtzu?” GIVE UP?

A BULLSHITZU! Of course


Cheers!

“SAY NO TO GOLF COURSES”

I recently saw on CNN that President Chavez of Venezuela intends to close down all the golf courses in his country. He called the sport “elitist” and “bourgeoisie” and I fully agree with him.

There are 32 golf courses in Venezuela (of which he has already closed 9) and there are about 25 golf courses in Singapore. Venezuela has a land area of 916445 sq km and Singapore 710 sq km.

Singapore is 1290 times smaller than Venezuela and yet has golf land that could build another 3 Nee Soon New Towns so the constant talk about land scarcity is pretty hollow.

We need more land for parks, playgrounds, sports and swimming pools and not golf courses reserved for a select few!

I have an on-going “Say no to golf courses” postcard campaign, if you need these postcards, please email me (grant@singapore.com)


“VIVA CHAVEZ”

Friday, 13 November 2009

Volunteers needed for planting

The Green Volunteers, with support from Ricoh and NParks Fort Canning, are launching a butterfly garden at Fort Canning Park.

We need volunteers to help plant about 2,000 saplings on Saturday 28th Nov 2009 at around 8am in the morning. Staff from Ricoh and NParks will also help with the planting. We meet 7.45am sharp at City Hall MRT station control and take a ten minute walk to the park. Here's your chance to do something for nature and help our colourful friends to return to our parks.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

21st November 2009 – Free Guided Nature Walk Pasir Ris Park

When : Saturday 21st November 2009
Meet : 9am sharp, station control Pasir Ris MRT Station
If you want to attend this walk, please email me.

Duration : About 2 hours, flatland, through mangroves and vegetable/spice garden
Booking : Email grant@singapore.com with your name, mobile number and total number of people attending. First come first serve basis!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

HILLTRIBE ORGANIC TEA (H.O.T)


Today we constantly hear words like global warming and climate changes etc yet very little is actually done about it. A small state like Singapore can do very little to stop industrialised countries like India, China, USA etc from polluting our world.

As individuals, there are 2 steps we can take to reduce glocal warming. One is to reduce our use of carbon producing fossil fuels and the other to plant more plants and trees.

We have started a project called H.O.T (Hilltribe Organic Tea). It's a win-win project for both poor hilltribe villagers in Northern Thailand and more importantly, to slow down global warming.

Tea trees are a valuable cash crop (so nobody will cut them down) and can go on producing for up to 150 years. We intend to give each family 100 tree saplings to plant. It's a modest project (100 families, 10,000 tea saplings).



Our volunteers from the Elephant Nature Park (www.elephantnaturefoundation.org) will help plant these saplings together with the families involved. They can drink the tea and the surplus leaves can be sold to supplement their low incomes and more importantly, these trees slow down global warming.

I have already started planting saplings at the Elephant Nature Park and have visited villages that plant tea to learn more from them. My next step is to start a nursery at the park and cultivate tea, mango, lychees etc from seeds (to reduce costs). A half metre tea sapling costs about fifty Singapore cents (delivered to the park).





We are trying to raise five thousand Singapore dollars to get this project started with 10,000 saplings. If you can help please let me know, here's your chance to make a difference directly.

I shall be going to Chiangmai in late December with 12 friends/volunteers and again in May 2010 with 20 students from SMU to start this project. I estimate that with these two trips, we and other volunteers from Elephant Nature Park, can plant all the ten thousand saplings.

Here's your chance to do something that directly improves lives and slow down global warming. You can also volunteer for the May 2010 if you sponsor saplings, I get a special rate from the Park for our green volunteers.

Cheers,
Grant
Mobile : 65 96840950

“If you think you're too small to have an impact – try going to bed with a mosquita” - Dame Anita Roddick (Founder – The Body Shop)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

News from the Elephant Nature Park

Hi Everyone!

Here's an update from Chiangmai after a 3 week visit in September to Elephant Nature Park (
www.elephantnaturefoundation.org). Many exciting things are happening at the park, for a start we have two new born elephants!



Fa mai, a real beautiful and gentle female and Chang Yim, an energetic, playful and cheeky 1.5 month old male who loves to chase and headbutt everyone. Their daily antics never failed to amuse both visitors and volunteers alike.

August to October is the rainy reason, the soil is soft and its a great time for planting new trees and plants as their chances of survival are excellent. The bamboo I planted around my house during my last visit has really grown and many are taller than my house!

During my last week stay, there was a sudden flash flood that washed away alot of our land. At one stage, it threatened to topple the houses we built on the bund facing the river. We had to work feverishly to put sand bags on spots that were threatened, everyone pitched in and did a great job!


For the time being, the houses are safe and once the water subsides, we intend to put more sandbags to secure the ground.


Here are some images - Enjoy!

Cheers,

Grant

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Importance of mangroves

To many people mangroves are a hot, humid and dangerous place teeming with insects and dangerous creatures. They are often referred to as swamps. Actually mangroves are one of the most intriguing and interesting habitats one can visit. Where can you see a fish “walk” on land, come on one of our free guided walks and you’ll see the mudskipper doing just that! It’s the only place where the nationally endangered mud lobster (thalassina anomala) chooses to build its home.

In 1819 it is estimated that about 13% of Singapore was covered in mangroves, today we only have about half percent. Luckily today the true value of mangroves is being discovered both by scientist and nature lovers.

Mangroves are the first line indicators on the well being of our coastlines, a thriving community of mangroves usually indicated good water quality. They slow down soil erosion and some species of mangroves actually help in reclaiming land with their complex root systems. Their prop roots offer protection to many species of insects and fish especially two species of commercially important fish, the Sea Bass and Mangrove Jack Its also home to unusual fish like the Archer fish that captures its prey by “spitting” water at it.

Even the vegetation is different, as plants and trees that grow there can tolerate a very high level of salt water. Many get rid of the high salt content by shedding their leaves

Here you’ll also find a versatile palm called nipah (nypa Fruticans) That’s used to make many things including the “ Attar Chee” fruit that goes into cold desserts

The matured leaves are made into roofing material hence the term “ Attap House”, they young salt leaves are dried and used by kampong folks as cigarette wrappers. The sap from the inflorescence stalk can be used boiled down to make brown rock sugar (Gula Melaka) it is already considered a “rare” species in Singapore.

The rich insect and bug life in the mangroves attract a great number of aquatic and other birds to hunt and nest there. On one of out monthly free walks you’ll see kingfishers, herons, egrets and other birds pouched and looking out for a meal

Experts also now say that if the mangroves had not been cut down (to make way for sea front bungalows) there would have been many less causalities during the last tsunami. This would be a good opportunity for lending organisations to make mangrove planting a requirement before rebuilding loans can be approved The Green Volunteers organize free monthly guided nature walks and mangrove clean-up at Pasir Ris park

If you want to go for a nature walk or help give mangroves a hand by clearing up trash (mostly plastic) go to our blog (www.thegreenvolunteers.blogspot.com) to sign up.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Trash for Cash

A really cool project that recycles ordinary plastic wastes into practical products like shower curtains, bags, pencil cases, computer haversacks and even umbrellas.
A brain child of an Indonesian friend of mine, Aswin, whose aim was two fold when he started this project. “One was to help people less fortunate than me and the other to make a decent living so that I can support my family”, he said.

It looks that he is beginning to succeed in both areas. Ordinary trash plastic is sold for about six Singapore cents a kilo by Aswin pay sixty Singapore cents for the type of plastic he is looking for e.g. detergent packs etc.

This ten fold increase in price benefits the trash picker and his family immediately, especially nutrition wise during this economic downturn 36 year old Aswin is a qualified air-craft technician who did part of his training with Singapore airlines in Singapore

His training reflects his demand for strict quality control of the recycled products, for instance, thread need to stitch the plastic together is of high quality, water proof synthetic thread, the same type used to sew aircraft seats. Zippers used are branded names.

Aswin presently employs 9 full time staff ie 5 sewers, 2 cutters and 2 washers. They are all paid above average wages with incentive bonuses for output and targets met; they also have a profit sharing scheme for end year profits. 3 free meals are provided for all staff.

Business is expending rapidly, he started by buying around 80 to 100 kilos of plastic trash and is now buying around 500 to 600 kilos each week

Plastic is a major pollution problem in Indonesia, they block drains and canals and are a major contributor to terrible floods in the city. Its people like Aswin who helps by recycling some of this trash that would otherwise be buried in dumpsite ( Where they take anywhere between500 to 700 years to disintegrate) or worst incinerated releasing deadly toxins in the air which is not only a serious health hazards but contributes directly to global warming

We are helping Aswin to sell these products in Singapore to help raise funds (and awareness of this plastic menace especially to the young) and more importantly to eventually start a “trash for cash” Educational foundation where we can send the children of the trash pickers to school. We both believe that education is the key to get there children away from their vicious ring of poverty. These stylish recycled products will soon be sold at Ubin Green House.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Whistleblower

Whistleblower is an ongoing direct action project where we take the initiative to identify and report polluters, illegal environmental, cruelty and other socially unacceptable practices to the relevant authorities. I have stopped shows using live fish as part of their act. I have reported supermarkets that overcrowd their tanks and leave fish gasping for air and HDB painting contractors that wash their paint brushes into drains that eventually pollute our rivers. More recently a friend of mine was at Sungei Road and saw someone selling tiger claw nails. He called ACRES who reported to the police and the claws were confiscated for proper identification by AVA. If they are indeed tiger claws, then vendor will be persecuted.

We, on our part, have to be socially responsible, how many times have we seen leaky taps, HDB lights on during the day, all that was needed was one phone call but how many of us let it slide hoping someone else would make that call?

Here are some useful numbers, key them into your mobile now :

1) SPCA: +65 62875355;ext 9

2) ACRES: +65 9783 7782 

3) NEA : +65 1800-2255632

4) PUB : +65 1800-2846600

5) Police : +65 1800-2250000

6) MPA : +65 1800-2725880

Grant : +65 96840950

A camera is a valuable piece of equipment to have as a picture paints a thousand words. When you call the authorities, make a note of the date and time and more importantly the name of the officer you spoke to. Follow up by calling back to speak to the same officer to check on progress. If there's a court case, ask for date, time and court number and try to attend.

The HDB paint contractors was fined S$5000 (his second offense), I doubt he'll be doing this again real soon.

Let's not sit back and hope someone else will do something - Let's bring the fight to them!

Cheers,

Grant

CANTABS- Recycling making a difference


The Prostheses Foundation of H.R.H The princess mother was founded in 1992 when it was discovered that Dr Therdchai Jivacate  a prosthesis specialist sould build artificial limps which were lighter, more comfortable and in some cases 10 times less expensive than imported model. This drastic price difference was made possible by using recycled plastic and aluminium. 

The aluminium comes form aluminium can tabs that are melted down to make limp parts (1000 grammes will boil down to about 800 grammes of pure aluminium). We had been collecting these with the help of green clubs, schools and friends. They are sent to Chiangmai with students going to there to do conservation projects with Elephant Nature Park

These artificial limps are given out Free of Charge to poor people who  need them irrespective of nationality, race or religion. Limps have been supplied to accident or landmine victims in Thailand, Burma, Vietnam Cambodia and Laos. 

Every 3 months. They organise a mobile clinic that visits differnt remote areas of Thailand, usually near a border so that other nationalities can be attended too. They stay for about 5 to 7 days and when they leave everyone is fitted with artificial limps. 

They also train technicians from neighbouring Asean countries including Indonesian during the tsunami disaster in Indonesia (especially Acheh). Its a win-win situation  as there is recycling involved and the end product is something that improves the lives of less fortunate people. 

Start a can tabs collection in your school, office or among your friends. We have sample of parts made from these can tabs at our Ubin Greenhouse which is usually open on Sundays (1200 noon to 5:30pm). They have a website (www.prosthesesfoundation.or.th) although information is limited.

Cheers,
Grant W Pereira
Founder
The Green Volunteers
Mobile 65 96840950


ELEFRIENDS



I have been involved in asian elephant conservation for more than 20 years. In Thailand the drastic decrease in the population is shocking, in the 1900's there were more than 100,000 elephants in Thailand, today there are less than 5000 ( about 3500 capture and 1500 wild) Just imagine in one hundred years a decline of 95% !!! 

In Africa today there are more than 500,000 elephants that is some African States culling is periodically carried out. I suspect that this is planned mismanagement so that the lucrative ivory trade can continue. 
In the whole of Asia there are at most 50,000 elephants apread over the follow countries: India, Srilangka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Laos Cambodia, China and Thailand. I formed ELEFRIENDS about 6 years ago to help the Asian elephants and the northern hilltribes and to do reforestation projects to help slow down global warming. 

We work with a conservation group called Elephant Nature Foundation, (www.elephantnaturefoundation.org) that runs an elephant santuary about 70km north of Chiangmai. Right now we have 35 elephants with various disabilities, including old age and some with mental problems due to ill-treatment. 
I arrange regular trips with schools and green groups to visit to do conservation, reforestation and social projects with the hilltribes. The lastest school to attend were SMU, UWCSEA, Temasek Polytechnic and Chong Boon Secondary School and trip varried from a week to 3 weeks.
 

About 4 years ago, we helped raise about $6000 for medicines etc to help 2 bady elephants (Mo-Too,2 ½ years and Mo-Jay, 6 years) who stepped on landmines in Burma.
Our next project would be to buy and rescue a street begging young elephant at Phuket. You can help by fund raising with your friends, School or office colleges. Find out more on this on my next update. 
My next trip to Chiangmai will be around 10th April 2009 to not only visit the Elephant Nature Park but to take part in the annual, really fun water festival; Songkram, where everybody get splahed. If you can, come join me. 

Cheers,
Grant W Pereira
Founder
The Green Volunteers
Mobile 65 96840950

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Green Volunteers

Today we are constantly bombarded with words such as climate change, ecological footprint, carbon sinks and offset etc that they are beginning to sound like weasels words. Some of these so called “experts” using these clich├ęs have probably never planted a tree or entered a tropical rainforest in their lives! In our world of politically correct stances and sound bytes, these words sound pretty cutting edge and enlightened but they are meaningless empty sounds if they are not followed up by positive actions. These feel good words do absolutely nothing to improve our environment or help slow down global warming.

In reality, a small city state like Singapore is powerless to slow down global warming, we cannot even prevent the haze that’s coming from our neighbours. What we can do as individuals or as a group is to clean-up our mangroves, do reforestation projects, reintroduce native trees and shrubs back into our schools, parks and open spaces so that our native fauna can slowly return.

We can do reforestation and social projects in our region to help badly degraded landscapes and native hill tribes improve their standard of living. We can take part in a direct action ongoing programme called “WHISTLEBLOWER” where we identify and report polluters, illegal environmental activities and other socially unacceptable behavior to the relevant authorities.

Let’s not just sit back and take it, let’s bring the fight to these selfish irresponsible behaviors.
As individuals, we can make a difference and we don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. If you believe that you can make a difference and are prepared to get your feet wet and hands dirty – then join us in our regular activities.

To be kept updated of our regular activities, please email me (grant@singapore.com) your name and DOB.

INDIVIDUALS CAN and DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Cheers,
Grant W Pereira
Founder
The Green Volunteers
Mobile 65 96840950

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

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