New Ubin Living Lab provides opportunities for outdoor learning and citizen science projects
27 Feb 2016
ITE East and Republic Polytechnic students participate in species recovery efforts on Pulau Ubin
27 February 2016, Singapore – The National Parks Board (NParks) today announced the opening of the new Ubin Living Lab (ULL) on Pulau Ubin. This new facility will be a catalyst for community participation in conserving the island’s biodiversity and heritage and promoting sustainability, through citizen science programmes, outdoor camps and scientific research. Students collaborating with NParks in species recovery efforts helped mark the completion of the first phase of the ULL today. Republic Polytechnic students presented to Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee their bat box prototypes, while ITE East students assisted in building nest boxes for the Blue-throated Bee-eater. The launch of the ULL kicked off a series of year-long activities celebrating Pulau Ubin, more details of these activities can be found in the Annex.
These species recovery efforts are part of community initiatives in conserving the biodiversity on the island for generations to come. Bat box prototypes designed by Republic Polytechnic students will be fabricated into boxes to be installed at various locations around the island. These boxes will then be monitored to determine if they are conducive for bats to roost. The bee-eater nest boxes that ITE East students are helping NParks to construct will eventually be installed beneath sand mounds at Ketam Quarry.
At the same event, SMS Lee planted coastal tree saplings as part of reforestation efforts together with some 80 Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) members and partners. He also helped the ITE East students in assembling one of their bee-eater nest boxes.
The Ubin Living Lab
The new 2.1 ha ULL serves as an integrated facility for field studies, education and research, and community outreach. It will function as an outdoor classroom for school groups to conduct educational programmes while providing a platform for students to learn about the island’s history and heritage, as well as biodiversity on the island through citizen science. Organised groups may hold talks and workshops which aim to deepen appreciation for nature and heritage. NParks will work with various groups to implement environmental education programmes. Amenities at the ULL will also be available to field researchers to support their research activities on the island. Activities held at the ULL will be aligned with The Ubin Way and encourage greater community involvement in preserving Ubin’s rustic charm for future generations.
SMS Lee said, “With the completion of the first phase of the Ubin Living Lab, school groups, researchers and the nature community will have a space they can call their own to study the rich biodiversity on Ubin and conduct research, exchange ideas with one another and actively participate in conservation initiatives.”
The ULL was first announced in November 2014 as one of the initiatives for The Ubin Project. Located at the former Celestial Resort site at the southwestern tip of the island, two buildings have been refurbished to house two laboratories, a multipurpose hall, meeting and seminar rooms, two dormitories, as well as a gated outdoor campsite that can accommodate up to 100 campers. A basic first-aid post will be installed to provide treatment when there are activities at the ULL. NParks staff based in Pulau Ubin will also start using the office space in the next few months. A mangrove arboretum will be set up within the ULL near Sungei Puaka by NParks and the community. Expected to be ready by the end of 2016, the arboretum will showcase 35 mangrove species found in Singapore as part of conservation initiatives under The Ubin Project. This includes 8 critically endangered mangrove tree species that will be established and re-introduced to the mangroves in Ubin as part of the ongoing reforestation and habitat enhancement efforts.
Since 2014, members of the community have shared suggestions and feedback on the development of the ULL. When completed, the total area of the ULL will span 5.4 hectares. Future phases of the ULL will include the planning and implementation of pilot projects for sustainable design and practices in potable water supply, waste management, electrical power supply, as well as green buildings. In the interim, NParks is also working with partner organisations to implement water treatment systems to provide potable water for visitors to the ULL and public toilets on Pulau Ubin.
The rustic surroundings provide students with a suitable platform to engage in experiential learning while playing their part in conserving Singapore’s biodiversity. Educators and research groups who wish to use the facility may send an e-mail to NParks_Pulau_Ubin@nparks.gov.sg two weeks in advance. To date, eight groups comprising educational institutions and outdoor activity groups have signed up to use the facilities at the ULL to hold training sessions and nature appreciation workshops for the rest of the year.
Annex: List of activities at Pulau Ubin
Factsheet: Tree planted by SMS Desmond Lee