I – Community Impressions

Terrestrial Issues in Singapore: Perspectives from the Community

N. Sivasothi, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

As users of nature areas in Singapore, some things are evident – more people thronging parks, Bukit Timah appears exhausted and zonation for park users is sorely needed. There is a push for enrichen biodiversity and a fear that this will give rise to indiscriminate release of species into areas without pre-release assessment or monitoring. Do we have a mechanism to discuss this and can the community be engaged to help.?


What’s going on with freshwater biodiversity in Singapore?

Darren Yeo Chong Jinn, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

For years, freshwater biodiversity has received little attention apart from specialized interests among academics. Hence, it often surprises people to learn that Singapore possesses a range of freshwater habitats that continue to support an impressive diversity of flora and fauna including some highly threatened species unique to the country. Fortunately, the situation appears to be improving, and there has been growing governmental and public awareness and interest in freshwater habitats and their associated biodiversity, although these still face various conservation and management challenges. In this very brief introduction, we take a quick look at what some researchers, managers, and educators, have been up to in the freshwater environments in Singapore, as well as some of the challenges faced.


Making a difference for Singapore’s marine biodiversity

Ria Tan, Wild Singapore

Singapore has amazing marine biodiversity, and awesome efforts are being made for it. A brief introduction to these and the challenges ahead.


II – Forests Session

Who will cross the road? Monitoring surveys for the Ecolink

Delfinn Sweimay Tan & Tan Yeng Kheng, National Parks Board (Central Nature Reserve)

Singapore has very few primary forest areas left; one of the largest areas is Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, bisected from the Central Catchment Nature Reserves by the BKE. To combat loss of biodiversity due to fragmentation, the Eco-Link was built to bridge the two nature reserves. We are very fortunate in that we have the opportunity to monitor the species diversity of various animal groups that existed in both nature reserves, and observe how the presence of the Eco-Link will affect the species composition of both nature reserves.


Nature rocks, Let’s G.O. (go outside)!

Karen Teo Chwee Peng & Sharon Chan, National Parks Board (Central Nature Reserve)

Singapore got forests meh? It’s an urban jungle with no interesting natural landscapes! … or is it?! Is Singapore really devoid of wilderness? Are there really no nature activities to do in Singapore? Through this past decade, the National Parks Board has developed several nature/environmental education activities for people of all ages. Want to get involve in nature conservation work? This presentation will be able to share more with you.

The National Parks Board is the designated custodian of Singapore’s natural heritage and its vision and mandate aim at conserving, creating, sustaining and enhancing the green infrastructure of our Garden City. NParks strives, through thoughtful planning and designing, to facilitate park users’/nature lovers’ communion with Nature.


Why would anybody want to be a botanist in Singapore?

Chong Kwek Yan, Lok Siew Loon Alvin, Pham Nguyet Minh, Teo Siyang, Yee Thiam Koon Alex & Tan Tiang Wah Hugh, Plant Systematics Lab., Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

I would give a brief introduction on the range of research that is being conducted in our “Plant Lab”, ranging from government-funded projects on urban greenery and landscaping with native plants, to urban agriculture, to graduate-led research on vegetation ecology, invasive plants and novel ecosystems, and how all these are linked to the original namesake of the lab, on plant taxonomy and floristics.


The new, the warm and the furry: undergraduate zoological explorations in Singapore

Marcus Chua Aik Hwee & Sivasothi N., Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Mammal research in Singapore went back as far with Raffles in 1819 and has since seen sporadic interest until a resurgence in the last two decades. Much of this stems from the need for better ecological and basic information on Singapore’s mammals for conservation and management of species that share our living spaces. Some of these species include common palm civets, community cats, leopard cats, mousedeer, otters, small mammals and wild pigs.

At the National University of Singapore, an active cadre of staff and students has undertaken zoological explorations to study, raise awareness and address conservation challenges of species that co-exist with humans in our forests and urban landscapes.


Kena rotan – a botanist gets whipped in the forest

Adrian Loo Hock Beng, Raffles Institution

Native palm species in our backyard – are there really as many palm species in the island of Singapore as on the whole of mainland Africa? In the past year or two alone, several palm species thought to be extinct have been rediscovered in our nature reserves and one new record confirmed. How did these palms get missed out? The localities in which they are found are surprisingly accessible and no more than a few metres away from the walking trails. Some of these palm species have interesting biological adaptations, one of which is a symbiotic relationship with ants. They do this by forming ant galleries of spines and modified leaf parts. The next time you go into the forest remember to “kenal rotan”.


III – Special Updates

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and the fate of Apollo, Prince and Twinky

Tan Swee Hee, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

The planning for the Singapore’s new natural history museum has began and this presentation serves as an update to the biodiversity community on the progress made so far. The dinosaur exhibit that will be the centre-piece of the new museum will also be discussed.


National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)

Linda Goh Mei Ee, National Parks Board (National Biodiversity Centre)


IV – Freshwater Session

Minimising urbanisation impact on waterways – the use of Water Sensitive Urban Design and freshwater ecological guidelines

Benjamin Loh Wee Tatt, Tan Puay Yok & James Wang-Wei, National Parks Board (CUGE Research)

A new sustainable water management strategy, Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), that is capable of preserving and mimicking the natural hydrological process responsible for low flow characteristic and improving water quality is being adopted in Singapore. This paper presents a range of WSUD measures such as biotope cleanser, bioretention system and bioengineering that have been implemented in the country. These measures incorporate elements that mimic closely to natural treatment processes and are therefore able to maintain hydrological and ecological sustainability and biodiversity. Alongside with a framework for water quality and ecological guidelines that CUGE is developing with NUS-SDWA, the current ecological and water quality status of each individual waterbody managed by NParks will be able to be assessed, classified and managed in an ecologically appropriate manner.


The Story of the Freshwater Phytoplankton Guidebook

Wong Yueat Tin, Public Utilities Board (Technology & Water Quality Office)

In this session, the presenter will share on the recently published “A Guide to Freshwater Phytoplankton in Singapore Reservoirs”. She will briefly talk about the factors that led the authors to work on this book and the main groups of phytoplankton covered in this guide. The audience will get to understand the importance of algae and appreciate them better at the end of the presentation.


‘Bugs in my soup’ – freshwater macroinvertebrate biodiversity, a powerful tool for environmental and conservation management

Chong Jun Hien & Esther Clews, Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore

Freshwater macroinvertebrates play an important role in the community of life found in and aroundf reshwater systems – they break down detritus, algae and leaf litter and fuel higher trophic level organisms.

Macroinvertebrates have a wide ranging sensitivity to the immediate and long-term changes or stresses in their environment and are thus particularly useful indicators of freshwater environmental health. Information from monitoring macroinvertebrate communities improve the information provided in decision making processes for environmental and conservation management as compared to spot water chemistry as these organisms can indicate pollution events accumulating over time.

This talk presents an overview of macroinvertebrate fauna in our local freshwater environments and tools used for measuring the conditions and health of Singapore’s freshwaters.


Alien aquatics in Singapore – friend or foe?

Tan Heok Hui, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Singapore has around 40 species of native freshwater fishes, in increasingly smaller and fewer natural waterways. The presence of non-native elements may pose more threat and harm than good, but is there evidence? The coastal environment is also not spared, due to developments and modifications. The aquatic biota has already been severely impacted but how long can they persist?

The speaker will highlight a few interesting case studies to illustrate the current situation in Singapore.


V – Marine Session

Getting muddy for nature – documenting Singapore’s marine biodiversity with community help

Jonathan Ngiam Shu Ren & Linda Goh Mei Ee, National Parks Board (National Biodiversity Centre)

A general overview of Singapore’s marine biodiversity, the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey and the involvement of volunteers and the community to convey the message that everyone has a role to play in the conservation of our natural heritage.


PROJECT SEMAKAU—Connecting Conservation and the Community

Soo Wai Kit & Wang Luan Keng, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Project Semakau is a community-based conservation project initiated by Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS sponsored by HSBC Singapore and supported by the National Environment Agency from 2008-2011. Large-scale biodiversity surveys were initiated on the island to realise and enhance the value of Pulau Semakau as a nature education and conservation site.

From the onset, volunteers were an integral component and ranged from secondary school students to working adults. Trained as surveyors for data collection and nature guides to lead public intertidal walks, some were inspired to initiate ecogardens in schools and organise independent nature walks. The biodiversity surveys revealed surprises including rare species and new records for Singapore. The experience of Project Semakau is suggested as model for community involvement in large scale scientific projects.


Singapore’s coral reef heritage – ongoing efforts to document and understand a diverse ecosystem

Karenne Tun & Chou Loke Ming, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore & DHI Water & Environment (S) Pte Ltd

Singapore’s coral reefs occupy an area of less than 13km2, or ~0.005% of the world’s total. Despite its miniscule side, Singapore’s reefs are no less significant in terms of biodiversity, boasting over 35% of total hard corals species in the world and over 50% of the total within its geographic range. This talk will highlight Singapore’s rich coral reef heritage, and give insights to some of the more charismatic groups of reef inhabitants.


Zoning out and zoning in – the SBWR action plan to integrate needs and protect wildlife

Ang Hui Ping, National Parks Board

What is the Sungei Buloh Master Plan about?

The master plan envisages a future for Sungei Buloh which delicately balances recreation and conservation needs, while retaining its iconic charm.

The living wetlands intend to be a biolearning destination with a difference with enhanced conservation efforts. Visitors can look forward to new and enhanced outdoor learning, education and research facilities as well as programmes and activities which will cater to students, families, nature lovers and researchers alike.

A 38 hectare Sungei Buloh Wetland Park encompassing the existing Kranji Nature Trail will focus on nature learning and recreation and buffer the core wetland reserve. This area will diversify the visitor experience and absorb the additional visitorship.

Ultimately, reaching out and involving people will ensure the long-term conservation of our wetland heritage.


Battling extinction: the horseshoe crabs of Kranji mudflats

J. Vanitha, Goh Ter Yang & Hsu Chia Chi, Nature Society (Singapore)

Horseshoe crabs


Mandai Mangrove: living laboratory, but for how long?

Dan Friess, Edward Webb, Wee Kim Shan & Lee Wei Kit, Applied Plant Ecology Lab., Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore & Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore

Mandai mangrove in NW Singapore has been a hotspot of mangrove research for decades. However, this mangrove patch faces multiple threats to its survival, such as changing sediments and currents, genetic disconnection from other mangrove patches, the threat of reclamation and future Sea Level Rise. We describe the research we are conducting to elucidate the most important threats to Mandai, the processes causing them, and how we can better protect this disproportionately important mangrove patch.

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