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International Update Volume 48, Issue 1

SEVERAL SPECIES RECORDED FOR FIRST TIME IN MALAYSIAN RAINFOREST

Malaysia

For the first time ever, scientists have surveyed the rainforest of Penang Hill comprehensively. The 130-million-year old forest is believed to have never been cut before and has remained largely unexplored. Among the exciting discoveries is a potentially new species of “ghost” scorpion. A 117-member team climbed tall trees, searched the forest floor, and scoured the dark to discover many animals and plants. They recorded more than 1,400 species, including four likely new to science.

CHINESE PROVINCE TO CUT AIR POLLUTION 14 PERCENT BY 2020

China

Hebei, China's most polluted province, pledged to cut emissions by 14 percent by 2020 as part of China's overall goal of improving air quality in the region. The provincial government promised to cut fine particulate matter to an average of 57 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020, down from 65 micrograms in 2017. The province has been under heavy pressure to bring smog under control this winter, shutting factories, curbing traffic and converting coal-fired heating boilers as part of a state anti-pollution drive.

GREAT BARRIER REEF THREATENED BY STARFISH

Australia

An outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish has been found munching Australia’s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. The predator starfish feeds on corals, and the outbreak hits as the reef is still reeling from two consecutive years of major coral bleaching. The threat has caused the government to start culling the starfish. The crown-of-thorns were found in large numbers last month in the Swains Reefs, at the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, by researchers from the reef’s Marine Park Authority.