Bukit Timah reserve's flora and fauna to be surveyed

Bukit Timah reserve's flora and fauna to be surveyed

Nearly 20 years after the last major survey of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, one of Singapore's most important ecological oases will come under scrutiny again.

A two-year project to survey the reserve's plant and animal life will begin next month, with the results expected to be published in 2017.

The findings will be used for the long-term management of the reserve, which has at least 40 per cent of Singapore's native flora and fauna despite occupying only 0.2 per cent of the island.

"The findings will provide us with a sound basis for the systematic long-term monitoring and management of the reserve, and help us ensure a sustainable nature reserve for future generations to enjoy," said Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who announced the project yesterday.

The new effort is timely as the last time the reserve was surveyed on a similar scale was almost 20 years ago, between 1993 and 1997, said the National Parks Board (NParks).

The reserve is home to more than 840 species of flowering plants and more than 500 species of animals, including rare and native ones like the Singapore freshwater crab.

Public access to the reserve has been limited since last year for workers to carry out repair and restoration works.

The survey will focus on key groups of animals and plants that are crucial to the rainforest ecosystem.

It will also involve researching the reserve's primary forest, which includes one of the largest forest patches in Singapore that has never been cleared by people.

The project will involve NParks staff, scientists from academic institutions and people with expertise in some of the wildlife.

Researchers and experts involved in the 1990s survey will be roped in. They include Mr Khew Sin Khoon, an architect who is an avid butterfly enthusiast and photographer. He is also author of the Field Guide To The Butterflies Of Singapore.

Nature Society president Shawn Lum, who helped to survey primary forest tree species in the reserve in the 1990s work, plans to study the younger trees and saplings this time around to see if the forest is regenerating itself. He has already been doing this work as part of his own research with the National Institute of Education.

"This survey will be better than the last one as there are more people involved, and those returning have also become more experienced. The 1990s project was more of a warm-up," he said.

zengkun@sph.com.sg


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