Mangrove study to aid conservation (The Sunday Times, Sunday 24 June 2012)

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Mangrove study to aid conservation

Leslie Kay Lim

Volunteers in mud-proof boots and gloves are to descend on Pasir Ris Park mangrove forest as part of a new wildlife survey.

Around 60 people – mostly employees at Panasonic and their families – will visit the area roughly every 45 days in the two-year study. They will gather data on mangrove trees and creatures such as snails and mudskippers. The data can then be used in conservation work.

The project is a joint effort between Panasonic and the National Parks Board (NParks). Both organisations have collaborated on nature tours and tree-plantings in the past, but decided mid-last year to deepen their partnership.

“We want to make Singapore a city in a garden … but we can’t do it alone,” said NParks general manager Chia Seng Jiang. He said the manpower provided by Panasonic would help the board manage the mangroves, and the data collected would build on a 2006 survey by the National Biodiversity Centre.

Led by NParks representatives, the volunteers will examine the plants and creatures, looking at factors such as abundance and general health. Snails and mudskippers were selected as they are indicator species which reflect the mangrove forest’s overall condition.

The survey is part of a broader conservation programme at Panasonic which includes a $15,000 donation to NParks’ Garden City Fund, said its general manager, Mr Low Beng Huat.

The outings to the mangrove forest are important because they create a greater awareness of the environment, added Mr Low. “It’s an opportunity not only to appreciate nature but also let the younger generation understand the importance of nature in Singapore.”

Siblings Lye Jia Qi, 14, and Lye Jia Hao, 11, said digging for snails was an unusual experience. “We’re from the city so it’s important to encourage them to venture out,” added their father, Mr Lye Puay Foon, 44, whose wife works at Panasonic.

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