SPH chips in to save Singapore's corals

SPH has sponsored 10 hard coral fragments from four species, including Madracis kirbyi (above).
SPH has sponsored 10 hard coral fragments from four species, including Madracis kirbyi (above).PHOTO: NPARKS

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has become the first corporate sponsor to plant "seeds" of growth underwater.

It is sponsoring 10 fragments of coral at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park as part of the National Parks Board's (NParks') Plant-A-Coral community outreach initiative.

Ms Ginney Lim, general counsel and executive vice-president for corporate communications and corporate social responsibility at SPH, said yesterday that the company was pleased to be the first corporate sponsor of the programme. "SPH actively supports a diverse range of green and conservation projects... We will be on the lookout for more worthy projects that the SPH Green Fund can support."

First announced in May, the Plant-A-Coral initiative allows organisations and individuals to sponsor a coral with a minimum donation of $200. NParks will plant a coral nubbin - a small coral fragment - in its nursery on Sisters' Island for each donation, and grow it to a suitable size before transplanting it on a reef at the Sisters' Island Marine Park.

The 10 hard coral fragments sponsored by SPH, the parent company of The Straits Times, are from four species: Gardineroseris planulata, Plesiastrea versipora, Coscinaraea columna and Madracis kirbyi.

These can be found naturally on Singapore's reefs, and are not abundant here, said coral expert Chou Loke Ming. Hard corals are important habitats and food sources for marine organisms, said Dr Toh Tai Chong, who studies corals at the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Both coral scientists welcomed the NParks' Plant-A-Coral initiative as one that would allow people and organisations to take ownership of Singapore's natural resources.

Prof Chou said: "It is difficult to involve large numbers of volunteers to do the actual work in creating and maintaining the nubbins, especially on a large scale, so this is an effective way of getting them involved... which is environmentally non-damaging."

Added Dr Toh: "The propagation of uncommon coral species ensures their survival on our reefs. More importantly, this initiative raises awareness of Singapore's rich marine diversity and natural heritage."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2016, with the headline 'SPH chips in to save Singapore's corals'. Print Edition | Subscribe