SINGAPORE – A 12.5ha coastal forest in Labrador, along the Greater Southern Waterfront, will be restored starting next year as part of Singapore’s ongoing efforts to conserve its biodiversity for future generations.
The restoration of the area – which is the size of 17 football fields – will include the planting of 5,000 native trees that are suited to the coastal forest environment together with the community, National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced on Sunday (Nov 7).
The authorities will also study how they can enhance the connectivity between the 22ha Labrador Nature Reserve and its surrounding green spaces as they embark on future plans for the area, he said.
In a statement on its Forest Restoration Action Plan for the reserve, the National Parks Board (NParks) said the measures planned till 2030 will strengthen the ecological and climate resilience of its habitats.
These comprise a 10ha coastal hill forest and a coastal beach forest in the 2.5ha area between the coastal hill forest and the sea.
These lie beside the last remaining rocky shore on mainland Singapore. It comprises coral rubble, sandy substrates and seagrass beds, with rich intertidal faunal diversity.
A new coastal trail will also be introduced as part of the restoration work, where visitors can learn about coastal habitats and their resident diversity. Its development will be supported by Keppel Corp through a $1 million donation.
The trail will also provide visitors with views of the sea from vantage points, and allow them to learn more about the history of the coastline over the years, the native flora and fauna that can be found at beach forests and rocky shores, how the environment might change with rising sea levels, and why conserving natural coastal habitats is important to build climate resilience, NParks said.
Work on its design and development will start next year.
Mr Danny Teoh, chairman of Keppel Corp, said: “With sustainability at the core of Keppel’s strategy, we have been actively contributing to environmental conservation efforts in and around Keppel Bay, the birthplace of the Keppel Group.
“Through these projects, we hope to help preserve biodiversity at the reserve and contribute to nature-based solutions to combat climate change.”
NParks added that the coastal hill forest houses plants that grow on land adjacent to the sea and are tolerant to salt exposure and poorer soil conditions, some species of which are now very rare. Together, the habitats are home to 100 bird species, 41 butterfly species, 15 mangrove species and 4 seagrass species.
This will help buffer the core habitats within the nature reserve, said Mr Lee, who added that the newly planted trees will provide food and shelter for native species, and strengthen ecosystem resilience.
To kick-start the restoration work, Mr Lee joined members from the nature community and donors to NParks’ programmes in planting 50 native coastal trees at the nature reserve on Sunday morning.
Mr Lee said these will comprise 25 native species, including the twin-apple tree (Ochrosia oppositifolia), which is locally extinct, and the critically endangered pink-eyed pong pong tree (Cerbera manghas).
Sunday is also the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s Tree Planting Day, which was established by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
On Nov 7, 1971, then Defence Minister and Acting Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee led a community tree-planting effort at Mount Faber Park.
Five decades on, Singapore is making an even bigger push towards greenery and sustainability, said Mr Lee on Sunday.
He cited the OneMillionTrees movement, part of the Government’s efforts to make Singapore a City in Nature.
“This is not just a quantitative exercise,” said Mr Lee. “We also carefully selecting native species and where we plant these trees to enhance habitats.”