Sustaining Ubin's rustic charm

Sustaining Ubin's rustic charm
RICH BIODIVERSITY:PM Lee - seen here with Ministers of State (from left) Desmond Lee and Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman yesterday - holding a snake on Ubin Day, a community event to celebrate the island's different facets.

These include studies to tackle shoreline erosion, planting trees and supporting the recovery of endangered plants and animals, from birds to otters.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who is overseeing the effort, said these are the first wave of ideas thrown up by the Ubin Project, announced in March to generate ideas from the public on how to sustain Ubin's special character.

More than 2,000 ideas have come in, and a Friends of Ubin Network was formed to facilitate discussions between citizens and the authorities.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held up these efforts as an example of how Singaporeans can do their part for the environment and Ubin when he visited the island for Ubin Day - last celebrated over a decade ago - where volunteers organised tours and talks for the public.

"We can do much more," said PM Lee in a short speech, before he set off on a tour of the island.

These include preserving nature and biodiversity, documenting Ubin's heritage and culture, pursuing outdoor activites, and making the island a field lab as well as a "cradle for sustainable living".

"I'm glad that through this, we have involved many Singaporeans interested in Ubin to come up with ideas and to pool the ideas so we can do something about it," he added.

Mr Lee recalled how he made trips to the island for seafood and cycling, and spent 17 days on the island as a teenager on course at Outward Bound Singapore.

"I've accumulated many good memories of Ubin - like many Singaporeans. And I hope our children will also have the chance to do the same as they grow up," he said.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority and National Heritage Board will also come up with a set of guidelines to restore buildings while retaining their charm.

New and surprising things will continue to be discovered on Ubin, Mr Lee added, singling out its rich biodiversity like the Chek Jawa wetlands, hornbills and endangered mangrove trees like the Eye of the Crocodile, which will be a target of recovery efforts. Out of 200 such trees in the world, 11 can be found on Ubin.

Ubin, he said, was a prime example of how "every Singaporean has an important role to make this a liveable and sustainable city" and urged people to continue giving their ideas and going to the island.

"Look around and ask yourself: 'What can I do to make our environment better, to make Ubin a more interesting place?' " he said. "Imagine it, commit yourself to it, and we will partner with you to make it happen."

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