Take a walk and smell the flowers

Students from Juying Secondary School planting a tree as part of Biodiversity Week last year. The event was started in 2015 as Biodiversity Week for Schools, with workshops designed for students, from pre-school to secondary school. It was expanded l
Students from Juying Secondary School planting a tree as part of Biodiversity Week last year. The event was started in 2015 as Biodiversity Week for Schools, with workshops designed for students, from pre-school to secondary school. It was expanded last year to include the community.PHOTO: JUYING SECONDARY SCHOOL

Despite its small size, Singapore is home to a large variety of animal and plant species. But conserving them is an ongoing challenge. In this five-part weekly series done in conjunction with Biodiversity Week that starts tomorrow, The Straits Times has been highlighting some success stories. Today, in the fourth part of the series, we look at the activities at the upcoming festival and feature some of the Republic's original inhabitants.

Take a stroll through Hort Park's native garden, where various plant species indigenous to Singapore are thriving, or attend a talk by a conservation expert.

At this year's Biodiversity Week, thousands of people will get to experience up close the Republic's rich flora and fauna.

Staying true to its theme - explore and encounter Singapore's biodiversity - the week of festivities which starts tomorrow includes nature walks and park tours at places such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens' learning forest and Labrador Nature Reserve.

Guides from the National Parks Board (NParks) will point out native animals and plants, such as the pitcher plants and macaques in Lower Peirce Reservoir Park.

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Efforts to boost biodiversity range from a butterfly trail along Orchard Road to seeding corals in surrounding waters.

With more than half the world's people living in cities and 60 per cent projected to do so by 2030, Singapore's success is being used as a template for protecting plants and animals in an urban setting.

 
  • BIODIVERSITY WEEK ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS

  • FESTIVAL OF BIODIVERSITY

    Organised in collaboration with the Biodiversity Roundtable, the festival celebrates Singapore's flora and fauna, through games, crafts, interactive booths and exhibitions.

    WHEN: May 27 and 28, 10.30am to 10.30pm

    WHERE: Nex shopping mall, B2 event plaza

    FESTIVAL OF BIODIVERSITY SPEAKERS SERIES

    A panel of guest speakers from the local biodiversity conservation scene will share their fascinating insights on the island's natural heritage.

    WHEN: May 27, 2pm to 3.30pm; May 28, 11.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 3.30pm.

    WHERE: Serangoon Public Library

    SBG LEARNING FOREST TOUR

    Participants will get to explore habitats ranging from a freshwater forest to a lowland rainforest at the Learning Forest, via a network of boardwalks and elevated walkways.

    WHEN: May 20 and 27, 9am to 10am.

    Registration is at 8.45am.

    WHERE: Visitor Services Counter at Tyersall Gate, Singapore Botanic Gardens

    NATIVE GARDEN TOUR @ HORTPARK

    Visitors will learn about various plants in the garden and what objects they can be used to make during the tour.

    WHEN: May 21 to 28, 9am and 10am. Registration starts 15 minutes before.

    WHERE: HortPark's Visitor Services Centre.

    For more activities, visit: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/biodiversityweek

The Republic is home to more than 40,000 native species of flora and fauna which have survived despite extensive habitat destruction. There are more than 400 native bird species, and at least 40 mammal, 120 reptile, 25 amphibian, 60 freshwater fish and 380 butterfly species. Also, our waters host one in three of the world's hard coral types.

Plant-wise, a 1ha plot within the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve - possibly the world's most ancient small rainforest reserve - contains more tree species than the whole of North America.

Participation in the upcoming Biodiversity Week is set to surpass last year's turnout of some 17,000 people, said Ms Linda Goh, director (biodiversity information and policy) at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

The event was started in 2015 as Biodiversity Week for Schools, with workshops designed for students from pre-school to secondary school, where activities such as planting a tree were incorporated into the students' curriculum. It started with 12,000 students, and this year some 20,000 students will be participating.

The school-based event was expanded to the community last year so as to reach out to more people. This year, for the first time, there will be a nationwide BioBlitz, which involves participants documenting biodiversity in an area, said Ms Goh. It will be held at 28 of Singapore's parks.

The highlight of Biodiversity Week is the Festival of Biodiversity, which will take place on May 27 and 28 at Nex shopping mall in Serangoon.

There will be games, crafts, interactive booths and exhibitions, as well as talks by a panel of guest speakers from the local biodiversity conservation scene. They will be giving talks on their research into creatures ranging from the endangered pangolin to the blue- blooded horseshoe crab, and their efforts to conserve the many species found in Singapore.

"We really want to connect and engage with the people, to allow them to discover and understand what we have in our parks and gardens, and to encourage them to take ownership and concrete actions to protect the flora and fauna in our garden city," said Ms Goh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Take a walk and smell the flowers'. Print Edition | Subscribe