Maps are critically useful in any examination of Singapore’s landscape, and Hill’s (1900) report is shocking in the account of the extent of forest loss, after 81 years of colonial rule.
Report on the present system of forest conservancy in The Straits Settlements with suggestions for future management by H. C. Hill. Singapore, 1900.
In May and June 1900, H. C. Hill, the Conservator of Forests of the Indian Forest Service, studied published reports and visited forest reserves in Singapore with H. N. Ridley (Director of the Botanic Gardens) and W. L. Carter (Collector of Land Revenue).
He includes a map in his report which is available online. It reflects the extensive exploitation which the Singapore landscape suffered at the time. His language too reflects the insult on the landscape, and he makes recommendations for management, relevant to the land use at the time.
I am looking forward to this chat with Andie Ang, Nor Lastrina and Kathy Xu, three stalwarts of the nature and environment community who have inspired us with their motivation, dedication and resilience. This will an opportunity to find out about the realities of conservation and advocacy.
I am also delighted to be able to co-host the session with Tan Yin Ling, who found the community in 2017 when the Biodiversity Friends Forum was initiated.
Update – NLB did a wonderful job of curating the recording and put it online on 3rd April 2021 on Youtube:
About the talk – “Urged to study a furry mammal in his beloved mangroves, Sivasothi aka Otterman began by unravelling the status of otters in Singapore and Malaysia. For this he tapped a network of archived books and journals, museum collections and veteran naturalists near and far, assisted by curators, librarians and scientists.
When otters first returned to Singapore, it was recreational coastal users who helped track otter dispersal. Two decades later, a network of otter-watchers now help him understand the behaviour, dispersal and travails of otters in urbanised Singapore. The stories, shared in social media posts and scientific publications help repay that debt of information provided so generously from around the world, three decades ago.”
About the speaker – “N. Sivasothi a.k.a. ‘Otterman’ was immersed in mangroves and wildlife for research, education and conservation at the National University of Singapore from the late 1980’s. He promotes public education, youth development and environmental stewardship in Singapore, and contributes to wildlife working groups and close-door engagements to mitigate development impact.”
Histories by the National Library Singapore is a series which highlights research on historical and related matters in Singapore and the region, creating an appreciation of the role of humanities and social science research in contemporary society. For more talks, follow GoLibrary on Eventbrite.
I marked the day with an animal behaviour lecture and ended it with a dialogue about conservation. Thanks to Jack & Rai who hosted a World Wildlife Day dialogue with Anbu (ACRES) and myself last Sunday night.
I am curently reading “Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants,” by by Jacob Shell. A geographer who read widely and travelled to visited a complex array of South Asian and Indochinese (prominently in Burma) peoples who work with elephants. Pushed to the mountains by historical waves of lowland conquests in the region, the geography led to an evolution of elephant working cultures.
Shell sheds light on the co-dependency of elephant and man on forests, which are foraging and mating grounds for their elephants, and which suport the forest-based economies, logging and transport through seasonally flooded terrain. Roads, forest fragmentation and agriculture thereaten these areas but the dificul terrain is also the setting of some of the longest resistance wars which protect the forests.
I know very little about Southeast Asia, a tremedously complex region and the perspectives stitched together Jacob Shell, a geographer, are insightful.
Note: Marcus Chua shares what research reveals about Species Awareness Days tonight!
NParks has a whole load of opportunities listed on their Volunteer Page. The good thing is you are now required to select a home-base; with this association, you wi be notified if oppotunities near where you live. If interested in conservation activities, you will have to attend an orientation before volunteering, which wil be helpful.
Preparation of the next generation for participation in conservation is enhanced by a programme initiated in 2017 by the Biodiversity Roundtable, and is called the Biodiversity Friends Forum. And this year, we launched the annual Biodiversity Challenge 2021 over three February mornings of Zoom induction workshops.
We did manage a lot in two hours, and ported the wildlife in Singapore game to a jamboard exercise. It’s less interactive but we managed. And we wil catchup on the more intimate 1:7 field trips allowed for in parks in Singapore. Members of the Biodiversity Roundtable have chipped in with many offerings and will get to know these younglings too!
To ensure the ball got rolling quickly, we listed two activities in the first week: a night walk on the Rail Corridor (South) which includes geography and land use, in addition to a glimpse at the night fauna, and Sapling Protection Action at the coastal forest restoration site at Kranji Coastal Nature Park.
I’m really pleased about the number of BFF Alumni joined the Organising Committee to add valuable help and ideas. Facilitators at the Induction Workshop were mostly all Alumni as well, while Seniors and Mentors of the Biodiversity Roundtable dropped by to say hello to Participant in the Breakout Rooms. I was so glad they were able to do that at the last minute.
Participants can expect to see more of Alumni, Seniors and Mentors at the nature walks, talks and workshops lined up for them in the five months ahead. The BFF series is about building communities as much as awareness and I am looking forward to gettign to know some of them better with time, and learning about their own Acts of Nature!
We will not see big gatherings anytime soon, of course. Already the induction workshop last year was run as parallel sessions in two NUS venues complete with mitigation, due to the threat of COVID-19. Things got much more serious and even the field trips had to be cancelled and negagament driven onine. Our induction workshop is run on Zoom, for all of two hours, but we will complete a second half in March after participants have experienced guided field trips – this is a good thing!
Why we do it?
This is part of NParks’ exciting coastal restoration plan at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve at Kranji Coastal Nature Park. Coastal vegetation were mostly cleared by settlements and reservoir construction by the 1970’s. With the extention of SBWR to the western edge of Kranji reservoir in 2014, this is an opportunity to practice habitat enhancement: soil preparation, tree-planting and sapling protection.
How do we participate??
Join is for the next session on Sat 27 Feb 2021. You will receive details about where to meet, your Team Leader and attire (long pants and covered shoes). We will provide gloves (bring your own if you have them) and tools. LImited spaces due to COVID-19 mitigation. Register on Eventbrite at https://tinyurl.com/kcnpspa-27feb2021
About every decade, the constant pressure of development requires a renewal of the understanding of the fate of green spaces in Singapore. Not just by the public, and nature community, but also all of the purposeful agencies of government. The exercise has become an increasingly vociferous, facilitated by the internet and now social media, and this time too, probably by the introspection COVID-19 forced upon us.
So much so, this has been a hotly discussed topic about nature and the environment in our recent history. Stimulated no less by the humble ex-kampung sites of Ulu Pandan and Clementi. The evolving mechanisms of engagement by government have embraced new voices, and we can expect more dialogue about decisions.
Minister Desmond Lee’s speech in parliament today, in response to questions posed by MPs, is certainly required reading. The issues are no longer the substance of private sessions or university classes but being aired in parliament.
I am glad to see this. Participation can be difficult, as can be engagement. But it is also critical to our way ahead.
MND: “Oral Answer by Ministry of National Development on Development Plans for Green Spaces, Feb 1, 2021” [link; pdf]
The BFF Challenge is back! Join our ever-growing community of BFF as you embark on field trips, biodiversity-exploration and online workshops for exposure to Singapore’s wonderful flora and fauna. No experience is required, sign up if you want to learn more about nature.
😍 are interested in biodiversity (no matter how small or big this may be)
🤓 want to learn more about the biodiversity scene
🤠 want to do your part in protecting the environment
🌱 are between 16-35 years old
📍 (used up your SingapoRediscover vouchers but still want to discover a different side of Singapore)
THIS IS FOR YOU!
To complete the Challenge, you will be involved in the three parts from February to June 2021:
Empower yourselves by attending the BFF Challenge workshops from the safety of your homes [Virtual, 4-6 hours over a few sessions]
Equip – Attend three curated field trips offered by seniors and log your experience in a shared field journal on WordPress [3 field trips, 10 hours]
Engage & Enable – Share about nature a wider audience through an Act for Nature [6 hours]
Still unsure? Read more about past year’s BFF Challenges from the participants themselves here:
Gaw, L. Y. F., Yee, A. T. K., & Richards, D. R. (2019). A high-resolution map of Singapore’s terrestrial ecosystems. Data, 4(3) [link].
The classified map of high resolution images of Singapore from 2003 to 2018 is shown in Figure 1. The map has a maximum spatial resolution of 30 cm (as per the panchromatic resolution of WorldView-3). The area of each map class is shown in Table 1. The total non-marine area classified was 742.22 km2, of which 359.06 km2 (49 %) was covered by vegetation and 46.63 km2 (6 %) was covered with surface freshwater features. The remaining area was unvegetated land; consisting of built-up impervious sDuatrafa20c1e9s, 4o,f121684.10 km2 (38 %) and pervious surfaces of 53.00 km2 (7 %).
Grab the PDF of the paper for a better resolution than the image here.