One night in 1990, I trudged in the mud of Lim Chu Kang mangrove and realised it was not as dark as it should be. Walking towards the light, I realised the southern half of that mangrove had been cleared. I would learn later this was for aquaculture, and rue the decision for space was available inland which would have been just as suitable.
Instead a invaluable mangrove visited even by mangrove researchers from around the world had disappeared, just like that. No one had known, nor did anyone speak of it. We’ve been vigilant ever since, grimacing in anticipation of an inopportune interest in that piece of land.
Then came the news in 2017 and 2018 that the mangrove and mudflats at Lim Chu Kang and Mandai had been set aside as nature parks. And now the news in 2020 about the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network. It will take a long time to sink in. Many hands had worked towards this goal over at least three decades, an they hail from many sectors of society: the active activist advocating for the site, the student toiling to build the knowledge their research would contribute, the individual and volunteer who reminded everyone that these sites exist, the managers who had looked after these sites and many a policy minion from behind a desk far from the mud, who all battled to see this day.
Their hearts must have all been gladdened by the news – a network, no less! I hope they took some time to chat with friends and family about the news or just took a break from a typically hectic pace of life to reflect on this wondrous news.
The culmination of all that effort handed baton to current teams from NParks and URA and led by the indefatigable Desmond Lee at MND, to deliver an outcome few would have dreamt about! That tinge of wistfulness and sadness when we talk about the northwest mangroves has suddenly been lifted. We will not pass on a burden of grief to our youth. And everyone can feel proud of this effort of national stewardship which ultimately ensured the conservation of these mangroves and mudflats.
Now conservation requires much more than boundaries, and everyone in various communities still have their work cut out for them. But how wonderful it will all feel now, to work in celebration, without a dark cloud hanging over all of us!
Several old guard have passed on before this news, and they were activists and contributors from our local and international community. I remember them all with gratitude, fondness and love ❤️.
For now, let’s take a deep breath and revel in this news.
Glenn & Neil celebrate on Money FM with interview with Ho Hua Chew (NSS) and Adrian Loo (NParks) with “Sungei Buloh is Growing! ”