NPARKS PARTNERS OCBC BANK IN SINGAPORE'S FIRST LARGE-SCALE ECOLOGICAL MANGROVE RESTORATION PROJECT AT PULAU UBIN
29 Oct 2022
With a contribution of $3 million, the OCBC Mangrove Park underscores OCBC’s commitment to carbon storage efforts to mitigate climate change
The National Parks Board (NParks) and OCBC Bank unveiled plans for the OCBC Mangrove Park today. Located at Sungei Durian on Pulau Ubin, it will be Singapore's first large-scale project to adopt the Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) method to help enhance the long-term resilience of mangrove habitats and increase Singapore’s capacity for carbon storage, which helps to fight climate change by reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
OCBC Bank’s S$3 million donation is the latest in its continuing moves to expand carbon storage efforts to help fight climate change. The project also contributes to NParks’ OneMillionTrees movement, Singapore’s national goal of planting one million more trees by 2030.
Work is estimated to be completed by 2026 with around 8,000 mangrove plants that will naturally take root at the site. Concurrently, OCBC Bank will work with staff volunteers and the community, including the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN), to plant an additional 1,000 mangrove saplings across Pulau Ubin over the next six years, along the Pulau Ubin coastline.
Collectively, the OCBC Mangrove Park’s 9,000 mangrove trees could potentially sequester up to 30 million kilograms of carbon dioxide in their lifetimes. Together with the surrounding mudflats and soils, the amount of carbon stored in a mangrove ecosystem could be three to four times more than in a terrestrial ecosystem.
The OCBC Mangrove Park project was launched by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development, Ms Helen Wong, Group CEO of OCBC Bank, Professor Leo Tan, Chairman of Garden City Fund, and Mr Kenneth Er, CEO of NParks.
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development, said: “The new OCBC Mangrove Park will help restore and safeguard more of our mangrove patches in Singapore. It complements other nature-based solutions implemented by NParks, such as: a coastal protection and mangrove restoration project at Pulau Tekong; the creation of a coastal belt at Kranji Coastal Nature Park; and ongoing restoration works to the northern coastline of Pulau Ubin to combat coastal erosion. These solutions are important in mitigating climate change and offer additional habitats for our native biodiversity. We thank OCBC for the continued partnership in our efforts to transform Singapore into a City in Nature.”
Ms Helen Wong, Group CEO of OCBC Bank, said, “Dealing with carbon emissions is key in fighting climate change. That’s why OCBC has been supporting reforestation and restoration projects in the region, which help store carbon.
We are glad to expand our carbon storage efforts, which had begun with a habitat enhancement project, followed by the OCBC Arboretum which houses 2,000 trees that can absorb 80 million kilograms of carbon dioxide in their lifetimes. Today, we announce our mangrove restoration plans at the OCBC Mangrove Park, here in Pulau Ubin, as well as another mangrove project to plant 9,000 trees at Tebuk Mendeleng, Malaysia.
These are our two latest initiatives to fight climate change. The 18,000 trees that we will help grow through these 2 projects can help absorb more than 30 million kilograms of carbon dioxide. This makes for a fitting 90th anniversary gift from us to Singapore and Malaysia, as we work with the community to tackle climate change.”
Combining all its forestation efforts in the region since 2017, OCBC Bank is helping to absorb 111 million kg of carbon dioxide.
Led by NParks, the OCBC Mangrove Park uses the EMR method, a landmark science-based approach that facilitates the natural establishment of mangrove plants. It aims to produce a self-sustaining ecosystem where minimal human intervention will be needed to allow the mangroves to propagate, complemented by community outreach efforts.
The EMR method was first recommended for use at Sungei Durian ponds by the Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) initiative, a ground-up initiative that serves to restore mangrove forests through science-informed methodologies.
In addition to the restoration of mangroves, OCBC Bank will also be funding NParks-led research on mangroves and carbon storage which will in turn enhance efforts to mitigate climate change.
“We thank our long-term partner, NParks, for their openness in sharing their insights and passion for making a difference in the sustainability arena,” Ms Wong added.
Ecological Mangrove Restoration Method
The mangrove restoration site at Sungei Durian ponds spans around four hectares and is located at Sungei Durian ponds along the southern coast of Pulau Ubin. The area used to be filled with natural mangroves, but these were mostly cleared and converted into aquaculture ponds in the 1990s to facilitate farming activities. The ponds were eventually abandoned in 2001.
Mangrove restoration will be carried out using the EMR method which aims to produce a self-sustaining ecosystem where minimal human intervention will be needed to allow the mangroves to propagate.
Upcoming works include earth-filling the ponds to increase the elevation levels of the base of the ponds for propagules to establish more easily, adding drain culverts to increase water and sediment flow to the ponds, and erecting gabion blocks to retain sediment within the ponds. These efforts will improve hydrology or water flow and enable mangrove propagules to establish more effectively in the ponds. The OCBC Mangrove Park will contribute to strengthening climate resilience and supporting biodiversity conservation.
Accessibility to the site will also be improved, and community engagement and outreach programmes will be introduced following the opening of OCBC Mangrove Park in 2026, providing additional recreational opportunities for Singaporeans.
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 This is equivalent to storing eight million kilograms of carbon.
 A terrestrial ecosystem refers to an ecosystem that is land-based. This differs from a mangrove ecosystem which occurs at the interface between land and sea, and is a coastal wetland.
 Mangrove propagules are seedlings that develop from the parent mangrove tree and have germinated while still attached to the parent tree. Mangrove propagules float and are dispersed by water.