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Volunteers' efforts helped save Sungei Buloh

The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve boasts a rich variety of mangrove wildlife, which includes the migratory shorebirds.
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve boasts a rich variety of mangrove wildlife, which includes the migratory shorebirds.PHOTO: ST FILE

We agree wholeheartedly that Mr Richard Hale played a very important role in the conservation efforts of Sungei Buloh, under the Nature Society team comprising the Bird Group Conservation Committee ("The man behind Sungei Buloh" by Mr Subaraj Rajathurai; last Sunday).

The conservation project was the initiative of the Bird Group, whose chairman at that time was Dr Clive Briffett, after calls were made by some of its members to formulate a conservation proposal for its future survival, in view of what had happened at the Serangoon estuary wetland, which had to make way for urban development.

The Bird Group was not aware of the Sungei Buloh nature area at the time, and it was most fortunate that members were kindly shown the whereabouts of the new bird sanctuary, in the nick of time, by Mr Hale, who was not a member of the group at the time. He had discovered the area around 1986.

The area had been slated for development into an agro-technology park, so bold and decisive action was crucial to save it.

The formulation of the proposal to save Sungei Buloh, which took almost a year, was anchored by the many active birdwatchers of the Bird Group, doing the indispensable ground work of collecting bird information, with the voluntary assistance of ornithologist Chris Hails.

The formulation of the proposal to save Sungei Buloh, which took almost a year, was anchored by the many active birdwatchers of the Bird Group, doing the indispensable ground work of collecting bird information, with the voluntary assistance of ornithologist Chris Hails.

This is indeed remarkable, given that the project was based on the efforts of volunteers, both locals and foreigners, in an area that was new to the birding community and during a period when up-to-date field knowledge of Singapore's birdlife, in terms of its distribution within the national territory, was more or less at a pioneering stage.

The proposal was submitted to the Nature Reserves Board under the umbrella of the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) in October 1987 and accepted by the Ministry of National Development on April 19, 1988.

Wing Chong

Chairman
Bird Group
Nature Society Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'Volunteers' efforts helped save Sungei Buloh'. Print Edition | Subscribe