Industry Sharing Series: National Parks Board
On 3 October 2016, the Faculty invited Ms Linda GOH, Director (Biodiversity Information and Policy), National Biodiversity Centre, National Parks Board (NParks) to share on Singapore’s biodiversity conservation efforts and NParks’ community engagement initiatives to encourage conservation of our urban greenery.
Ms Goh started her talk by sharing that while Singapore is an urbanised city-state with small land mass, it is also rich in biodiversity. For instance, we have over 2,100 native vascular plant species, more than 380 bird species, nearly 100 reptile species and over 80 freshwater fish species.
Singapore is also unique in being one of the few cities with nature reserves within our urban setting. We have four nature reserves, namely, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (lowland dipterocarp forest), the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (including freshwater swamp forest), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (mangroves) and Labrador Nature Reserve (coastal hill forest).
Ms Goh noted that enormous and dedicated efforts go into maintaining Singapore’s urban greenery. To realise Singapore’s vision as a City in a Garden, the Government set down the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 2009 to safeguard our biodiversity, enhance public awareness of our natural environment and strengthen partnerships with stakeholders.
Ms Goh added that it is important that the community is actively involved in our greening efforts. To this end, the Community in Nature (CIN) initiative, spearheaded by Ms Goh, aims to bring together nature-related events, activities and programmes to connect and engage different groups in the community to conserve Singapore’s natural heritage.
Ms Goh went on to describe the various thrusts of the CIN initiative. The first thrust, citizen science, focuses on community participation in research endeavours to improve nature awareness and stewardship. Data derived from these projects informs decision-makers about our biodiversity and helps to formulate conservation strategies. Help from citizen scientists enables the collection of large amounts of data, and in return, they learn more about our biodiversity. Citizen science initiatives include national programmes such as Biodiversity Watch, site-specific programmes such as Biodiversity surveys and collaborations with non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The second thrust, habitat enhancement and species recovery, focuses on involving the community in managing, enhancing and restoring our indigenous habitats and ecosystems. Habitat management programmes include coastal cleanup and invasive weed management. Habitat enhancement programmes include Greening Schools for Biodiversity to encourage student participation in caring for the environment, and the Plant a Tree programme which provides a platform for organisations and individuals to participate in greening Singapore by planting trees.
The third thrust, nature education, creates community awareness and appreciation of biodiversity through talks, roving exhibitions, guided walks at parks, gardens and nature reserves, as well as workshops and camps. Flagship events like the annual Festival of Biodiversity, organised in collaboration with the Biodiversity Roundtable of Singapore, also showcase our natural heritage and inspire the public to champion biodiversity causes.
About 60 students attended the session. One of the participants, Brian THIAN Wen Yao, Year 3 Chemistry, said, “The session was very insightful. I am supportive of the idea of engaging the public, especially school children, so that they develop an appreciation of the environment from a young age.”
Ms Goh has been involved in Singapore’s biodiversity conservation for the past 20 years. The National Biodiversity Centre, established in May 2006, serves as Singapore’s one-stop hub for biodiversity-related information and activities.
Ms Linda Goh shared with participants on the biodiversity conservation efforts in Singapore as well as NParks' community engagement initiatives
One of the participants, a Year 3 Chemistry major Brian Thian, raised queries during the session
Participants interacted with Ms Goh after the session