NParks further identifies 46 threatened native plants and animals for species recovery programmes
03 Sep 2016
Interim update of interesting discoveries found during comprehensive survey of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Singapore, 3 September 2016 — Following the announcement of the Nature Conservation Master Plan at the Festival of Biodiversity last year, the National Parks Board (NParks) has identified 46 species of terrestrial and marine native flora and fauna for species recovery efforts. This announcement follows the success of previous species recovery efforts such as the propagation and introduction of epiphytic native orchids under the Orchid Conservation Programme and increase in natural populations of faunal species such as the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris). All 46 targeted species are classified as threatened under Singapore’s Red Data Book and found in isolated habitats where they are vulnerable to external threats. These recovery efforts, which will span the next two to 10 years, are implemented to safeguard against the extinction of rare and endangered native species whose number of individuals are inherently low. These new targets were announced at the fifth installment of the Festival of Biodiversity held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, held from 3 to 4 September. At the event which was officiated by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam, NParks also revealed that an ongoing comprehensive two-year survey of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve conducted has led to rediscoveries and new records.
Hosting DPM Tharman at the Festival, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said, “Singapore is a biophilic city, packed with biodiversity that we can celebrate and protect. And we have done so with active and comprehensive conservation efforts with close partnership with many passionate volunteers and the broader Singapore community.”
New targets for species recovery programmes
The conservation priorities for the species recovery programme are to ensure the persistence of our endemic and threatened plants and animals. Through the enhancement and protection of habitats and plant propagation, species recovery efforts are part of a consolidated approach to coordinate, strengthen and intensify efforts in biodiversity conservation.
The securing of long-term sustainability of marine biodiversity is covered under the NParks Marine Conservation Action Plan. Species recovery projects have been lined up for the reintroduction of the Giant Clam (Tridacna gigas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Neptune’s Cup Sponge (Cliona patera), and the setting up of a coral nursery at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park that will harbour all the 255 species of hard corals recorded in Singapore. To safeguard against the local extinction of corals, NParks has collected and transplanted fragments of locally rare species like Gardeneroseris planulata, Plesiastrea versipora and Coscinaraea columna from Singapore’s waters to the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park where conditions are more favourable. Some of these corals have been moved to Reef Enhancement Units (REUs) to be nurtured and propagated. Twenty-five REUs will be installed at the Marine Park by late 2016, in addition to the nine REUs sponsored by HSBC as part of the “Plant a Coral, Seed a Reef” initiative.
The list of identified flora and fauna species can be found in Annex A. More information on NParks species recovery efforts can be found in Media Factsheet A.
Interim updates on the comprehensive survey of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
NParks had previously announced a two-year comprehensive biodiversity survey to be conducted in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in March 2015. The results and finding of this survey are important in helping NParks and researchers to better understand the conservation status and distribution of plants and animals in the 163-hectare reserve. This would guide species recovery plans for the flora and fauna found in the area when the survey concludes in 2017.
With seven months remaining of the survey efforts, several rare flora and fauna species, some previously thought to be extinct, have been discovered. These include the Dapania racemosa, Soejatmia ridleyi, Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyuran) and Slender Walking Catfish (Clarias nieuhofii). Researchers and research partners have also discovered more than five potentially new species of spiders as well as a new record of climbing plant from the Aroid family, the Scindapsus lucens. More information on examples of unique species found during the survey can be found in Media Factsheet B.
The two-year comprehensive biodiversity survey on the Nature Reserve focuses on key groups of animals and plants that are integral to the rainforest ecosystem. NParks staff, corporate volunteers and scientists from academic institutions and individuals with domain knowledge of some of the taxonomic groups were involved in the collection and analysis of data, which will be used for systematic long-term monitoring and management of the reserve. The survey, which would pave the way for subsequent conservation efforts including a species recovery programme for identified species, was made possible by a donation and staff volunteers from HSBC. The reserve, an ASEAN Heritage Park, is home to more than 840 flowering plants and over 500 species of animals, around 40% of Singapore’s native flora and fauna including the endemic Singapore Freshwater Crab and the Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus).
Families for Nature initiative
NParks today also launched the new “Families for Nature” initiative under the Community in Nature (CIN) programme. CIN aims to conserve Singapore’s natural heritage, and this new programme serves as a more engaging platform for families to participate in nature-related activities. The year-long initiative will encourage participation in conserving our natural heritage through four categories, namely “Nature Adventurer”, “Wildlife Guardian”, “CIN ambassador” and “SGBioAtlas Contributor”. Families may collect activity booklets at the Festival of Biodiversity to begin their learning journey. Upon completion of each activity, they will be able to collect one of four puzzle pieces, which will form a map featuring Singapore’s rich biodiversity. Families can bond through spending quality time together amid nature while sharing knowledge with others through volunteering as guides and biodiversity surveys.
More information can be found at www.nparks.gov.sg/familiesfornature.
Festival of Biodiversity 2016
The Festival of Biodiversity is an annual celebration of the community's efforts to conserve Singapore's natural heritage. Into its fifth year, the Festival of Biodiversity will be held on 3 and 4 September at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Eco Lake Lawn. The theme for this year’s Festival of Biodiversity is on native species and the recovery efforts for rare flora and fauna. Children can also enjoy free art and craft workshops to learn more about Singapore's biodiversity.
Annex A - List Of Identified Flora And Fauna Species
Factsheet A - Species Recovery Efforts
Factsheet B - Interim Update On The Comprehensive Survey Of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve