Singapore's shores: another major area of conservation

"Another major area for conservation lies off Singapore's shores, in its rivers and canals. The country has lost much of its coastal mangroves, important breeding grounds for fish, and 60 per cent of its coral reefs, according to marine biologist Peter Ng of NUS."

An extract from Attracting the birds and the bees: Singapore's Garden City concept may be extended further to encompass ecosystems that encourage biodiversity by Matthew Phan, Business Times 8 Apr 08

"What with one of the world's busiest ports, and other coastal developments like marinas and land reclamation, 'let's not fool ourselves and say they don't impact the system, because they do', said Dr Ng.

What has changed, though, is that Singapore is far more concerned now, compared to 40 years ago, with mitigating impact.

A primary task is to bring silt levels down. Stirred up by erosion and ship movement, silt cuts the amount of light entering the water, stifling corals and seagrass.

Rather than using granite breakwaters, like in the past, Singapore aims to achieve this by redesigning the coastal landscape and reintroducing plants and corals, said Dr Ng. 'We used to think of mangroves as mosquito swamplands', he said. 'But they are useful as breakwaters, and for water containment and filtration'.

And if corals, seagrass and spunges come back, the marine facade, 'now very sterile and boring', will liven up, he said.

Fortunately, Singapore sits at the edge of the Coral Triangle, one of the richest areas in terms of marine life on the planet. 'The current brings things from A to Z here from all over the place,' said Dr Ng. 'If we have the right structures and clean water, animals will come back'.

One ongoing initiative is Singapore's first coral nursery, located off Pulau Semakau, which seeks to grow coral fragments and transplant them to strengthen existing reefs.

Similar efforts are taking place with Singapore's reservoirs and canals under the ABC Waters programme, which seeks to turn them into lush locations for water sports.

Here, too, biodiversity plays a dual purpose. Underwater plants, for example, can not only beautify a canal but also regulate water flow, improving the drainage system, according to Dr Ng."

full article on the wildsingapore news blog.

More links
Coral reefs of Singapore status and threats to our reefs
History and biodiversity of Singapore's mangroves on the Mangroves of Singapore online guide

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