Singapore-Delft Water Alliance: help for our reefs, seagrasses and mangroves?

Murky, sediment-laden waters and other stresses on our marine ecosystems. Learning more about these and how to build harbours that can also sustain marine life are the aim of the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, a team of Singapore and Dutch researchers.
The team is also looking at Pulau Semakau to house an aquatic centre.

The team will learn precisely how the ecosystem reacts to stresses and will then conduct tests to try to develop more natural ways to prevent erosion or biodiversity loss.

'This is about regional planning to increase the biodiversity for any type of coastal development, whether on the cityfront, port or nature park."

In some cases, restoring coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves may provide enough protection for the shoreline. But as such buffers have to extend 100m inland from the waterline to land safe enough to build on, they can be put up only in areas far from the Central Business District. On coasts by the CBD or sites to moor vessels, a hard shoreline might be the only alternative as its width is 20m. However, it could incorporate hiding places to encourage fish and corals to grow.

Singapore will be one of four sites for the studies, with the rest in the Netherlands. The teams will create a coastal marine development programme, beginning with pilot tests, that can eventually be implemented at shorelines worldwide.

The team is also looking to establish "an aquatic centre in a marine setting, hopefully on one of the southern islands where we have the rare condition of pristine nature in close proximity to urban developments."

A dream site for the researchers would be Pulau Semakau, where coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass meadows flourish alongside the dumping grounds of waste incinerators. A concrete wall separates the natural from the man-made. The marine aquatic centre will be similar to a freshwater research centre at Sungei Ulu Pandan, which has an open concept, inviting passers-by to come in and find out more about science.

Discussions with government agencies, including the National Parks Board, Building & Construction Authority and the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, have begun to find the best sites for the projects.

Work will begin on research models at the Tropical Marine Sciences Institute's laboratories on St John's Island. Once perfected, these projects will find a home in nature.

Full report on Developing Singapore's shorelines the eco-friendly way by Shobana Kesava, Straits Times 6 Dec 08 is on the wildsingapore news blog.

More details about the SDWA projects and links to more articles on the wild shores of singapore blog.

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