Plans to restore eroded Ubin shoreline

(Top) Mr Sean Lam, 47, and his son Leeuwin, nine, were among more than 100 participants who planted mangrove saplings in Pulau Ubin yesterday. (Above) An artist's impression of a coastal boardwalk of about 500m at Noordin Beach, one of the projects p
Mr Sean Lam, 47, and his son Leeuwin, nine, were among more than 100 participants who planted mangrove saplings in Pulau Ubin yesterday. PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
(Top) Mr Sean Lam, 47, and his son Leeuwin, nine, were among more than 100 participants who planted mangrove saplings in Pulau Ubin yesterday. (Above) An artist's impression of a coastal boardwalk of about 500m at Noordin Beach, one of the projects p
An artist's impression of a coastal boardwalk of about 500m at Noordin Beach, one of the projects planned for the island.PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

New measures to protect island's flora and fauna amid erosion of its northern shores

More will be done to protect Pulau Ubin's flora and fauna, including plans to restore its northern shoreline, build a coastal boardwalk and support the recovery of endangered plants and animals.

Announcing these initiatives yesterday on Pulau Ubin, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee said more must be done to protect the rich biodiversity teeming on the island.

Noting that Pulau Ubin has more than 720 native plant species and over 500 animal species, including some not found on mainland Singapore, he said: "This is remarkable but we must do more.

"We have plans to restore Ubin's eroding shoreline, which will serve as a base for more of Pulau Ubin's flora and fauna to be restored in the near future."

Shoreline restoration was one of the earliest priorities for The Ubin Project, announced in 2014 to generate ideas from the public on how to retain Ubin's rustic charm.

Erosion has badly affected about 40m of northern Ubin, threatening critically endangered species such as the Eye of the Crocodile tree and leading to the closure of Noordin Beach - a popular camping site - in 2013 for public safety.

A year-long study, concluded this month by the National Parks Board (NParks), found that changes in wave conditions partly as a result of ship wakes, or waves generated by the movements of vessels, as well as changes in land use were among the key causes of erosion.

NParks has identified possible measures to restore the shoreline, such as using man-made rock structures and sand to widen the existing beaches, growing more mangroves and adding wooden poles along the shoreline to mitigate the impact of waves.

NParks will call a tender, and works are expected to start next year and end by 2020.

An impact assessment will be done, said NPark's director for Pulau Ubin, Mr Robert Teo.

"Until we call a tender, we won't be sure how much (the work) is going to cost. It depends on the magnitude of the designs and the amount of work that's going to be done," he added.

A coastal boardwalk of about 500m, part of which will extend into the sea, will be built at Noordin Beach, which will reopen when restoration works are completed. From the boardwalk, visitors can view the island's coastal mangroves and hills.

Yesterday, NParks also unveiled a design for new otter holts - essentially dens for the critically endangered oriental small-clawed otter. By the end of this year, two holts will be installed on the island which will allow researchers to monitor and study otter behaviour.

Other species' recovery efforts include installing 30 bat boxes of six different designs across the island for bats to roost, and reintroducing endangered native orchids to parts of the island.

At the event to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity yesterday, Mr Lee joined more than 100 participants to plant 100 mangrove saplings at the mangrove arboretum in the Ubin Living Lab.

Among them were executive manager Sean Lam, 47, and his wife and son. He said: "This is one of the last places in built-up Singapore where you can enjoy such nature. Without the mangroves, the soil will be eroded and the next generation won't have anything to see."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'Plans to restore eroded Ubin shoreline'. Print Edition | Subscribe