NParks announces that over 500 species have been discovered or rediscovered locally over the past five years
27 May 2017
48 new targets have been added to the species recovery programme
The National Parks Board (NParks) announced that over 500 species have been discovered and rediscovered over the past five years in Singapore by NParks staff, research partners and naturalists. These species include both marine and terrestrial animals, plants including orchids, and insects. These discoveries were made during in-depth surveys, such as the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve survey, as well as concerted efforts to survey Singapore’s nature reserves and nature areas in the past five years.
The list of discoveries and rediscoveries includes a bee species that is potentially new to science, and a very rare orchid. A small carpenter bee of the genus Ceratina that is potentially new to science was found by chance in 2014 while NParks staff were studying a clump of flowering Tiger Orchids. In 2016, a clump of the Acriopsis ridleyi growing on a tall tree in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was collected. When it flowered, the Singapore Botanic Gardens herbarium verified that it was a species of orchid thought extinct for over 100 years. More details about the discoveries and rediscoveries can be found in Factsheet A.
Despite Singapore being highly urbanised, the fact that we are able to discover and rediscover over 500 species in our city-state in the last five years shows that there is a lot more biodiversity in our City in a Garden that have yet to be discovered and studied. This also shows that decades of efforts to enhance our urban greenery and safeguard our nature reserves and other green areas are paying off.
These discoveries and rediscoveries also underscore the importance of having in place a plan to conserve key habitats, and restore and enhance habitats to help endangered species recover. The Nature Conservation Masterplan, which was introduced in 2015, systematically consolidates, coordinates, strengthens and intensifies NParks’ biodiversity conservation efforts by integrating various programmes and projects. An example of such an effort is the species recovery programme. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development, Desmond Lee shared at today’s Festival of Biodiversity (FoB) that NParks has identified an additional 48 threatened animal and plant species for recovery efforts. These are on top of the 46 species announced last year.
48 additional species identified for species recovery
Those new to the list include the Cinnamon Bush Frog, the Sunda Leaf Fish, and the Climbing Pandan, all of which are nationally threatened. These recovery efforts will span the next two to 10 years and seek to conserve native flora and fauna by targeting endemic, rare or threatened species in Singapore through propagation, reintroduction, habitat enhancement and protection. More details about the species recovery programme can be found in Factsheet B.
Increasing connectivity between our green spaces and enhancing habitats
For our unique native biodiversity to thrive, we need to expand their habitats. Nature Ways, which are roadside greenery planted up with bird and butterfly attracting plants, help biodiversity travel between green spaces, and nature parks, which buffer the nature reserves, both help expand the range of habitats. In addition, park connectors are established as green corridors to link parks and nature areas together. The development of such ecological connections and the integration of nature with the urban landscape are another part of the Nature Conservation Masterplan.
Therefore, NParks also shared at the event that one lane of Old Upper Thomson Road would be converted into a park connector.
The Old Upper Thomson Park Connector, scheduled to be completed in time to complement the opening of Thomson Nature Park, will provide a safer passage for animals crossing between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the nature park. The enhanced plantings along the park connector will enhance the habitat and provide the animals, such as the critically endangered Raffles’ Banded Langur, with more food and shelter. The new park connector will also allow visitors to safely walk and cycle to the upcoming Thomson Nature Park and other nature areas in the vicinity.
NParks is also studying the possibility of extending the Park Connector further along Old Upper Thomson Road to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, and other meaningful connections. This will provide the public with even more recreational options and increase the accessibility of our green areas, while at the same time benefiting the animals residing in the nature areas. More details about the Old Upper Thomson Park Connector can be found in Factsheet D.
Community stewardship in action – Singapore’s first Nationwide BioBlitz
As part of efforts to reach out to the community and encourage them to explore and encounter our biodiversity, NParks conducted its first Nationwide BioBlitz programme over the course of seven days as part of the annual Biodiversity Week (20 to 28 May 2017). The Nationwide BioBlitz, a part of the NParks-Community in Nature Biodiversity Watch programme and the first of its kind on such a scale in Singapore, took place across more than 80 sites in schools, parks, gardens and nature areas from 20 to 26 May 2017.
These sites include a sub-tidal area at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, which marks the first marine BioBlitz conducted in Singapore. During the BioBlitzes, nearly 3,000 participants comprising students, members of the public, corporate partners and citizen science volunteers worked alongside naturalists and researchers to document the flora and fauna in our parks, gardens, and waters within specific locations and timeframes. It was also the first time that citizen scientists and volunteers had come together to plant biodiversity-attracting plants in our parks to enhance the habitats in these areas.
Certain sites, like Yishun Park, Punggol Park and Pasir Ris Park, are slated to undergo habitat enhancement works in the future. Therefore, the BioBlitzes provide baseline data of the species of flora and fauna present in those parks. This knowledge will help to shape the upcoming habitat enhancement works. BioBlitz surveys that were carried out in schools and community gardens give participants an idea of the biodiversity that can be found in their midst.
Highlights of the Nationwide BioBlitz were shared at today’s FoB launch at NEX shopping mall. The sixth installment of the two-day Festival was hosted by Mr Lee. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Leader of the House Grace Fu was the Guest-of-Honour at the event.
Festival of Biodiversity
The Festival of Biodiversity is an annual celebration of the community’s efforts to conserve Singapore’s natural heritage. Into its sixth year, the Festival of Biodiversity will be held on 27 and 28 May at NEX, B2 event plaza. This year’s festival will feature a Nature Art Exhibition, a series of talks on conservation in Singapore, and nature-themed storytelling sessions. Children can also enjoy free art and craft workshops to learn more about Singapore’s biodiversity.