It takes a community to protect mangroves: Desmond Lee

Participants looking for animals living among the mangroves of Pasir Ris Park in 2016. The event was part of the National Parks Board's Community in Nature Biodiversity Survey@Parks series.
Participants looking for animals living among the mangroves of Pasir Ris Park in 2016. The event was part of the National Parks Board's Community in Nature Biodiversity Survey@Parks series.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

As both the biggest threat to and beneficiary of mangroves, the local community needs to be involved in protecting the tropical trees growing in and around intertidal communities.

Anyone can help by volunteering with organisations like the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Restore Ubin Mangroves initiative, a mangrove rehabilitation project led by researchers, community groups and government agencies.

They can get involved in nature walks, biodiversity surveys and mangrove cleanups in the Central Nature Reserve, Pulau Ubin or Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR).

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee made the call for community involvement on Monday at the opening of the 5th international Mangrove Macrobenthos and Management Meeting. Mr Lee is also the Second Minister for National Development.

The meeting has been organised every three to six years since 2000, and is the world's largest and longest-running mangrove conference. It convened a record number of 321 researchers, practitioners and non-governmental organisations from 38 countries to share research and raise awareness about mangroves.

Mr Lee said Singapore is a microcosm of mangrove deforestation in South-east Asia, the world's largest mangrove repository. Singapore's mangroves are home to various mangrove plant species, including 20 endangered and 26 rare species.

Local conservation efforts include a living collection of native mangrove trees in the SBWR mangrove arboretum; a Pulau Tekong programme to protect and restore mangrove biodiversity; a species recovery programme focusing on endemic, native or critically endangered species; and the new Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Nature Park.

To learn more about the state and importance of mangroves, register at https://tiny.cc/mangrove_public_forum to attend a free public forum, A World Without Functional Mangroves, from 11am to 12.30pm today at the National Library.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'It takes a community to protect mangroves: Desmond Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe