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Budget 2021: His solo effort to clean up mangroves has grown into 100 volunteers reforesting Kranji Coastal Nature Park

SINGAPORE — Two decades ago, biological scientist N Sivasothi began a project to clean up the mangroves at Kranji Coastal Nature Park.

Budget 2021: His solo effort to clean up mangroves has grown into 100 volunteers reforesting Kranji Coastal Nature Park

Biological scientist N Sivasothi (pictured) said that he has seen a greater awareness of environmental issues among young people, who are more informed about sustainability and climate change.

  • Biological scientist N Sivasothi started cleaning up the mangroves at Kranji Coastal Nature Park about two decades ago
  • Along other volunteers, his efforts have led to about 100 people working to reforest the area
  • In his Budget 2021 speech, DPM Heng Swee Keat said Singapore needs more people like Mr Sivasothi who want to improve the environment here
  • Mr Heng pledged to support grassroots and other initiatives to help build a more sustainable Singapore

 

SINGAPORE — Two decades ago, biological scientist N Sivasothi began a project to clean up the mangroves at Kranji Coastal Nature Park.

Today, about 100 people have signed on to help him transform the whole area into a coastal forest over the next five years.

Mr Sivasothi is a senior lecturer at the department of biological sciences in the National University of Singapore (NUS). He partnered the National Parks Board (NParks) three months ago as he wanted to contribute towards the Government’s plan to plant one million trees over the next 10 years.

He led a group of volunteers  under Friends of Sungei Buloh, which is part of NParks’ Friends of the Parks scheme launched in 2016 to promote stewardship and responsible use of parks.

This group has been leading the habitat enhancement at the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network, which covers Kranji Coastal Nature Park, by recruiting and mobilising volunteers and youth, and organising events to reforest the site.

As Singapore steps up its fight against climate change, the Government is calling on more individuals such as Mr Sivasothi to come forward.

In his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 16), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat pledged that the Government will partner Singaporeans and support ground-up projects that aim to build a more sustainable future.

Mr Heng was revealing more details about the Singapore Green Plan 2030 — a multi-ministry roadmap launched last Wednesday to make the island more environmentally sustainable over the next 10 years.

“I encourage all Singaporeans to play our part. I am glad that our youth have been especially passionate about this cause and want to be part of this effort,” he said.

“In the spirit of SG Together, the Government will partner Singaporeans and support ground-up projects that aim to build a more sustainable future.”

Mr Heng said that the Government has received more than 200 proposals from individuals, grassroots organisations and businesses for the first SG Eco Fund grant call.

The S$50 million fund was announced last March to support sustainability projects that nudge people and communities towards environment-friendly behaviour.

“I welcome all Singaporeans with ideas for sustainable development to step forward and make the difference,” Mr Heng added.

Mr Sivasothi said that he has seen a greater awareness of environmental issues among young people, who are more informed about sustainability and climate change.

“(They) are stepping forward and there are also a lot of dialogues going on now,” he said. “When I was an undergraduate 30 years ago, there were people who were concerned about the environment but it was a niche group.”

Describing tree-planting as a form of “therapy for the soul”, Mr Sivasothi hopes that this initiative will help Singapore increase its tree population.

In partnering NParks, he now has more resources at his disposal and may mobilise volunteer leaders, who will be trained to guide participants through its various activities such as clearing fast-growing vegetation and plant saplings and monitoring the health of the forest.

Mr Sivasothi, who also coordinates environmental volunteer groups such as the Biodiversity Friends Forum and the NUS Toddycats, wants the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to be a place people may visit and “get their hands dirty”,

“When I was growing up, we had a lot of accessible green spaces but over time, we have lost this proportion. Now there are a lot of green spaces that are managed so you can see (the biodiversity) but you cannot touch,” he said.

Mr Sivasothi hopes that this will give participants a connection to the natural world around them and develop an intimacy with the area.

Related topics

mangrove Kranji Coastal Nature Park NParks Sungei Buloh Budget 2021

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