SINGAPORE - Young Singaporeans will have more opportunities to learn and participate in biodiversity conservation through a new National Parks Board (NParks) initiative.
The Youth @ SGNature initiative will reach out to about 25,000 young people each year through various programmes such as landscape design, biodiversity surveys and mentorships. This is more than double the 11,000 youth NParks currently engages.
The youth refer to those between 15 and 25, said NParks, which currently reaches out to 130,000 students of all levels through its programmes.
"We need to do even more to involve young Singaporeans in our transformation into a City in Nature because they will in time take on the stewardship of this city," said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Saturday (Sept 5).
Mr Lee, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, was speaking in a video opening of the month-long e-Festival of Biodiversity.
In his Facebook page, Mr Lee also said the aim of the Youth @ SGNature initiative is to engage young people "at a deeper level to nurture them as volunteers and stewards in nature and greenery".
NParks will partner Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) on Pulau Ubin to conduct coastal clean-ups, tree planting and biodiversity surveys, among other activities. This will be rolled out to Secondary 3 students from next year if the Covid-19 situation permits.
There is also a new programme Youth Nature Explorer that offers activities such as invasive species management, biodiversity beach patrols, plant nursery work and landscape design. Participants will then be tasked to create digital content for NParks' social media platforms.
NParks said it is looking to fill some 300 slots to form a pool of young people who can act as ambassadors for biodiversity and horticulture.
Selected participants between 18 and 25 from these programmes may be invited to join the Youth Stewards for Nature, where they will take up three- to six-month projects offered by NParks, under the mentorship of NParks staff.
These include leading species recovery efforts surveys, designing therapeutic gardens or even a "nature way", which are less manicured green corridors that are meant to mimic the structure of a forest.
The Festival of Biodiversity, in its ninth edition, will run till Sept 26. It is held mostly online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a line-up of online activities and events.
One such activity is a special edition of Wader Watch held on Zoom. Members of the public can visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve virtually and learn more about the migratory shorebirds that arrive in the nature reserve every year to escape the harsh winter in the north.
On Saturday, 25 educational institutions, educators, and students were lauded for their contributions to local biodiversity conservation efforts with the new NParks Community in Nature Schools Award.
Two books - A Review Of Garden Bird Watch (2015-2019) and A Guide To the Bees Of Singapore - which feature contributions from the nature community, were also launched.