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Professor Leo Tan recognised as an ASEAN Biodiversity Hero for his contributions to biodiversity conservation

08 Aug 2017

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity today recognised Professor Leo Tan, Chairman of the Garden City Fund and former Chairman of the National Parks Board (NParks), as an ASEAN Biodiversity Hero.

Prof Tan is among 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, who were conferred the award. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes award recognises outstanding individuals from the ASEAN Member States, who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries and the region. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes award ceremony was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in Manila, Philippines.

“We congratulate Prof Tan on being conferred the ASEAN Biodiversity Hero award for his invaluable contributions. He has played important roles in conserving our natural heritage as a marine biologist, an educator as well as the former Chairman of NParks. As Chairman of the Garden City Fund, Prof Tan continues to tirelessly bring together partners, including corporations, to complement government and community efforts to co-create a City in a Garden that is rich in biodiversity,” said Mr Kenneth Er, Chief Executive Officer, NParks.

Contributions to biodiversity conservation

Prof Tan is well known as an outstanding science educator and passionate advocate for environment, in particular, biodiversity conservation.

As Chairman of NParks (1998-2007), Prof Tan had helped to lay the foundations of nature conservation in Singapore. This included the designation of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Labrador Nature Reserve as Nature Reserves in 2002. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was also designated as Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003. Prof Tan has dedicated a lifetime of research and conservation work to marine biology and conservation and was actively involved in the conservation of Labrador Nature Reserve. He also played a significant role in establishing the foundation for biodiversity conservation planning and management in NParks. He encouraged and supported the comprehensive marine biodiversity survey of Singapore’s marine life led by NParks and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Prof Tan continues to serve as Chairman of NParks’ Garden City Fund, which is set up to realise Singapore’s vision of a City in a Garden.

Prof Tan received the 2007 President’s Award for Environment, the “highest accolade for individuals, educational institutions and organisations that have made outstanding contributions towards environmental and water resource sustainability in Singapore”. He was acknowledged for his leadership at NParks, growing NParks from a green infrastructure builder to providing exciting lifestyle and recreational experiences amidst our parks and greenery.

At NUS, Prof Tan was involved in major research projects including Singapore’s first landfill at Semakau research survey (2008-2012) on the biodiversity of the mangroves and intertidal zone. He also supported the restoration of the 160-year old Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research into a new museum renamed as the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in 2015. He was also the Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board (2008-2011) for the seminal publication by NUS on “Singapore Biodiversity - An Encyclopaedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development”.

ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes

The heroes from the 10 ASEAN Member States will be known as the faces of biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is one of the ASEAN region’s contributions to the celebration of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 – an excellent opportunity to increase public awareness of the values of biodiversity and promote actions at the regional, national and local levels to conserve and sustainably manage the world’s rich natural heritage.

The award is supported by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, HARI Foundation, Inc., and the European Union through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN project. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity serves as awards secretariat.

For more information on the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, please visit






Last updated on 09 July 2018

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