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The new coastal arboretum at Pulau Ubin. — Picture courtesy of Singapore National Parks Board
The new coastal arboretum at Pulau Ubin. — Picture courtesy of Singapore National Parks Board

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SINGAPORE, Sept 12 — A nursery of 500 trees, known as an arboretum, was launched on Pulau Ubin yesterday to support research and educate the public on the area’s rich natural heritage and biodiversity.

At the launch, which took place on the annual Ubin Day, the National Parks Board (NParks) also announced the discovery of two insects new to science at Pulau Ubin.

New arboretum

The new coastal arboretum at Pulau Ubin will showcase about 500 trees representing around 70 native species that occur in the coastal environment in Singapore, such as the critically endangered Sea Tristania and Damak-damak Tahun, which was presumed nationally extinct until its rediscovery by NParks at Coney Island in 2014.

The coastal arboretum will act as a nursery for these native coastal plant species, which will be later established and re-introduced to the coasts of Pulau Ubin as part of ongoing habitat enhancement efforts.

Located at Ubin Living Lab, a 5.3 hectare-wide facility for field studies, environmental education and community outreach, the coastal arboretum will also complement the facility’s existing mangrove arboretum to support research activities on the island.

It will, for instance, serve as a reference resource for students and researchers studying Pulau Ubin’s biodiversity.

NParks will also work with various school or interest groups to implement environmental education programmes so that the public can learn more about Ubin’s natural heritage and biodiversity.

New discoveries

NParks and the research community discovered two insects new to science at Pulau Ubin in 2018 and 2019.

The discoveries are of a new genus of Sepsid fly and a new species of insect, the Long-Legged Fly.

It was discovered in a survey of Pulau Ubin’s mangroves and identified by Dr Patrick Grootaert, the head of the entomology department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science.

“The Sepsid fly is in fact a new genus altogether and it shows that after all these years we are still finding new wildlife on the island, underscoring the importance of biodiversity conservation,” said National Development Minister Desmond Lee at the launch of the arboretum and announcement of the insect discoveries.

These findings will enable NParks to update Pulau Ubin’s biodiversity baseline data and its species inventory, which will contribute towards developing better management strategies for the island and planning for future research, habitat enhancement and species recovery projects, NParks said.

Reforestation

NParks said on Saturday it has also been expanding reforestation efforts on Pulau Ubin, from three sites when the project began last year to 12 different sites across the island.

In total, 3,500 trees will be planted in these sites this year to enhance biodiversity and ecological connectivity between these areas and the core forests abutting them, the agency said.

Members of the public can participate in community tree planting at these sites as part of the OneMillionTrees movement. — TODAY

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