Keeping the public engaged with nature

Dr Lena Chan.
Dr Lena Chan.

KEEPING CONVERTS COMMITTED

Keen naturalists will always find ways to connect with nature. Conducting wildlife training workshops, bio blitz, nature watches and citizen science projects allows enthusiasts to add another dimension to their commitment.

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research, including data monitoring and collection. With these organised activities, they not only observe wildlife but also systematically document our native plants and animals as citizen scientists. They can also carry out hands-on habitat enhancement and restoration projects, such as reforestation, weeding out invasive alien species and doing coastal cleanups that will be beneficial to wildlife.

Armed with these rich experiences and knowledge, they are the best advocates to educate the unconvinced.

WINNING OVER THE UNCONVERTED

We cannot love what we do not know. Unless individuals understand the benefits of wildlife in our midst, they will not appreciate the importance of wildlife to human survival in urbanised areas, and their contribution to our quality of life.

  • About the writer

    Dr Lena Chan is group director of the National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board (NParks). She helms a team of officers who are responsible for a diverse range of matters pertaining to biodiversity conservation.

    Dr Chan is a member of the advisory committee for the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook for the Convention on Biological Diversity. She is also a member of the advisory board for the Biophilic Cities Network, which aims to advance the planning for biophilic cities through research, dialogue and exchange, and teaching.

    She has published numerous scientific papers and book chapters on conservation biology and ecology.

To convert the unconverted, we need to create opportunities for them to take part in public awareness events, especially when they are run by enthusiastic nature lovers. This is why the annual Festival of Biodiversity, organised by National Parks Board and the Biodiversity Roundtable to celebrate biodiversity, is always held in a popular mall.

We should instil the values of biodiversity conservation in young children and students. Incorporating biodiversity into the school and tertiary institution curricula opens them to the science and the art of biodiversity conservation in our formal education.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Keeping the public engaged with nature'. Print Edition | Subscribe