NParks announces new partnerships and projects to support marine conservation
19 Jun 2023
- Ocean Network Express and Singtel contributing $1 million each to support conservation, recreation, and education at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park
- Two new projects awarded grants under the first grant call of the Marine Climate Change Science programme to advance climate change research
Today, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced new partnerships with Ocean Network Express (ONE) and Singtel. Their contributions of $1 million each will support enhancement works at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. These will enhance visitors’ experience and enable them to learn about the importance of conserving coastal and marine biodiversity.
ONE’s contribution will go towards the establishment of a new Ocean Network Express Coastal Forest Trail, an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The trail will wind through Big Sister’s Island’s coastal forests, providing a unique opportunity to appreciate and learn about the biodiversity that call this ecosystem home. Habitat enhancement will also be carried out as part of this project. Singtel’s contribution will support the enhancement of an existing lagoon into a tidal pool that will provide conducive conditions for new habitat niches to be re-established to support a wide range of marine biodiversity, while protecting the lagoon beach from erosion. These features will be opened to the public when the enhancement works to the Marine Park are completed next year. The contributions by ONE and Singtel will also go towards outreach and marine education programmes. To further marine conservation efforts, a new initiative to plant 100,000 corals in Singapore’s waters was also announced. This will scale up existing coral restoration efforts to substantially improve the resilience of coral communities and reefs throughout Singapore’s waters.
NParks also announced two projects that have been awarded grants under the first grant call of the $25 million multi-stakeholder Marine Climate Change Science Programme to advance climate change and marine conservation research. These projects, led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), will go towards developing new knowledge and solutions to strengthen the resilience of our natural ecosystems to climate change.
These announcements were shared at the opening of the 5th Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium by the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, Desmond Lee. The Symposium is co-organised by NParks and NUS.
Partnering the community to enhance conservation, recreation, and education
As part of efforts to encourage nature stewardship, a key thrust of our City in Nature vision, NParks has worked closely with community partners, such as the Friends of Marine Park to carry out activities including guided public walks and beach patrols for sea turtles. NParks has also worked with Institutes of Higher Learning, such as the National University of Singapore, to carry out research projects on topics including coral restoration. In addition, various organisations have contributed towards NParks’ conservation efforts. For example, ONE and Singtel are supporting the enhancement of Sisters’ Islands Marine Park for conservation, recreation, and education to allow the public to appreciate the coastal and marine biodiversity present there.
Ocean Network Express Coastal Forest Trail
The upcoming 230 metre-long Ocean Network Express Coastal Forest Trail on Big Sister’s Island will allow visitors to learn more about the island’s coastal habitats as they walk through the surrounding coastal forest. Habitat enhancement will also be carried out for the area bordering the trail through the planting of critically endangered coastal species such as Putat Laut (Barringtonia asiatica) and Penaga Laut (Calophyllum inophyllum). The trail will culminate in a hilltop view deck, which offers visitors panoramic views of the neighbouring offshore islands and a prime spot for birdwatching. Bird species that may be spotted include the Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo), the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and the critically endangered Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana). The development of the trail is supported by a donation of $1 million from ONE, through NParks’ registered charity and IPC, the Garden City Fund.
The contribution from ONE will also support marine education programmes and learning resources at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, which will enable visitors to learn about the importance of habitat conservation and foster a greater appreciation for our natural heritage.
Lagoon tidal pool supported by Singtel
An existing lagoon at Big Sister’s Island will be enhanced into a tidal pool to retain seawater during low tides. This will create a sheltered water body that in turn can help to encourage mangrove propagules and seagrass to establish inside the lagoon. It will also protect the lagoon beach from wave-induced erosion. Over time, the lagoon will mature into a multi-habitat ecosystem, supporting a wide range of marine biodiversity. This may include marine flora such as the Spoon seagrass (Halophilia ovalis), Api-api Jambu (Avicennia marina) and fauna such as the Common sea star (Archaster typicus). The development of the tidal pool is supported by a donation of $1 million from Singtel, through NParks’ registered charity and IPC, the Garden City Fund.
In addition, Singtel will be extending its expertise and 5G technology to enable educational and monitoring programmes to engage the community through the creation of a marine classroom so that they can learn more about the biodiversity at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park and play a bigger role in helping to protect them.
Ms Aileen Tan, Group Chief People and Sustainability Officer of Singtel said, “We are pleased to extend our support and expertise to help preserve one of Singapore’s most important biodiversity sites, as part of our commitment to protecting our environment and delivering sustainable value to stakeholders. Through the creation of an immersive and engaging 5G-powered marine classroom, we hope to foster greater awareness and appreciation of our remarkable local biodiversity and empower every generation to enjoy the unspoilt beauty and rich biodiversity of the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park.”
“Coastal forests are an essential component of the coastal and marine environment, and together with other habitats like mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs, support a vast array of marine biodiversity while providing essential ecosystem services like shoreline protection that are key for our survival and well-being. We are grateful for the generous donations from our partners, Ocean Network Express and Singtel, whose support enables us to continue our marine conservation efforts, cultivate a sense of community stewardship towards Singapore’s natural heritage and bring us closer to our vision to becoming a City in Nature,” said Professor Leo Tan, Chairman, Garden City Fund.
These enhancements and their complementary outreach and marine education programmes will be made available to the public when the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park reopens in 2024.
New initiative to plant 100,000 corals in Singapore’s waters
The initiative aims to grow 100,000 corals, and subsequently introduce them into our marine environment. This will scale up existing coral restoration efforts such as the Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Coral Seed-A-Reef programme to substantially improve the resilience of coral communities and reefs throughout Singapore’s waters. Corals will be grown and nurtured from small nubbins in coral nurseries until they are large enough to be transplanted. They will then be transplanted onto degraded reefs for restoration purposes or be inserted into other areas to establish new coral communities. NParks is currently working on the programme, together with academic partners such as the St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory, with the support of the Friends of Marine Park community. The new initiative will be launched in 2024.
Advancing research efforts to safeguard Singapore’s coastal and marine ecosystems
The Marine Climate Change Science (MCCS) programme is a $25 million multi-stakeholder research programme involving key stakeholders from government agencies, research institutes and the industry. It places emphasis on multi-disciplinary and translational research, in order to inform the development of evidence-based interventions and solutions. Two projects have been awarded grants under the first grant call for the MCCS programme.
The first is led by Associate Professor Huang Danwei from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Biological Sciences. The project, titled, “Enhancing urban coral reef resilience to climate change across biological scales”, aims to develop scientific understanding and applications to enhance the ecological resilience of coral reefs in tropical urban environments. The second project, led by Assistant Professor Tang Hao of the NUS Department of Geography, shares how nature can help us mitigate climate change. Titled “A Blue Carbon Framework for Singapore’s national climate change policy”, it aims to account for Singapore’s blue carbon, to show its potential in contributing to our climate change targets. These projects will enhance our ability to protect our critical coastal and marine habitats, and to leverage nature-based solutions in our fight against climate change.
5th Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium
The Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium was first organised in 2006 and is held every four years. In this 5th edition, which is hosted by Singapore for the first time and opens today, the Symposium aims to bring the region’s scientific community together to discuss and integrate the science and conservation of Asia-Pacific coral reef ecosystems and create new paradigms to solve the key challenges faced by the region’s coral reefs.
This year, seven Plenary Speakers from the Asia Pacific, including two from Singapore, will be speaking at the Symposium to set the stage for various topics including coral reef restoration efforts, coral reef ecology and evolution, and environmental law and policy. More than 800 participants from nearly 40 countries are expected to attend the Symposium which comprises 39 thematic sessions, as well as 11 workshops. It provides a platform for scientists, educators, managers, and other stakeholders in the region to share their knowledge and expertise on the fields of coral reef biology, ecology, management, and conservation, with the intention of forging greater cooperation and effective programmes for collaboration to preserve our common marine natural heritage. The Symposium will end on 23 June 2023. Visit www.apcrs2023.org for more details.
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Information accurate as of 19 June 2023