Keeping Ubin's old school charm

Keeping Ubin's old school charm

When a place is known for being rustic and laid-back, how do you improve it and still retain that old school charm?

Thousands of people who live in or have been to Pulau Ubin have come up with more than 2,000 ideas on how the National Parks Board (NParks) can do just that.

The ideas range from protecting the biodiversity and heritage of the island to supporting educational and nature-based recreational activities there.

Studies will begin on how to solve a massive shoreline erosion in the northern edge of the 10.2 sq km island.

Noordin Beach was closed last year for public safety and studies will be carried out to determine the main causes of the erosion and ways to rectify it.

About 3,000 trees will be planted in the western tip of the island in an area known as Tanjong Tajam, where a large part of the forested area was destroyed due to forest fires during the drought in March.

More boardwalks with lookout points will be built to let visitors get up close to the island's plants and animals.

While some of the suggestions will need to be implemented soon due to pressing needs, others are still being discussed.

The Friends of Ubin Network (Fun) was also formed in March to facilitate discussions between members of the public and the authorities.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the island on Ubin Day, reinstated for the first time since 2003. Fun had suggested bringing it back this year.

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

GETTING SPECIES BACK TO UBIN

1) PLANTS

Pulau Ubin houses one of the richest diversity of plant species in Singapore, some of which are found only on the island. A few species have been picked for a species recovery programme.

Eye of the Crocodile (Bruguiera hainesii) - There are only 200 specimens in the world, but Singapore has about 11 of them.

Jamba (Neuwiedia veratrifolia) - Found only on Pulau Ubin, it is a locally critically endangered plant. The terrestrial orchid will be reintroduced into the reforestation sites and research will be done on its propagation methods.

Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) and Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) - Experiments in transplanting these rare species will be conducted by NParks and TeamSeaGrass volunteers. Seagrass beds provide nursery and food for animals such as dugongs or sea cows. The Chek Jawa wetlands area houses one of the three largest seagrass meadows in Singapore.

2) BATS

Bat boxes and houses will be designed and constructed by polytechnic students for bats to establish their habitats in the area. Bats are important in reforestation as they help pollinate and disperse seeds.

The Ashy Roundleaf Bat (Hipposideros cineraceus) is found only on Pulau Ubin and the Lesser False Vampire Bat is found only on Ubin and Pulau Tekong.

3) OTTERS

Otter holts, or dens, will be constructed to help otters breed. There are two species found on Ubin - the Smooth-Coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea).

Video cameras will be installed around their dens to allow public viewing and also for scientific studies on their behaviour.

4) BIRDS

Red Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) - These birds lay their eggs on stony areas with short grass. Such a landscape would be provided to attract them to nest.

Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) - These birds prefer nesting on trees or palms so more of these trees will be planted.

Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) - Sand mounds will be created for them to nest. Artificial boxes will also be installed.

Herons - Wetlands will be established to aid the nesting and roosting of birds such as herons. The Pekan Quarry has been earmarked as a site for this. Floating wetlands and nesting platforms will be installed to draw in other birds such as crakes, rails and kingfishers, as well as dragonflies and frogs


This article was first published on Dec 4, 2014.
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