Plantiful Bounty from Blogging

Hey there!

As we approach the end of this blogging journey, I just wanted to share some of my reflections regarding my blogging journey.

When I first knew that I had to set up a blog, I was worried, because I was never confident with my writing skills. I wasn’t sure if I had the sufficient knowledge, or whether my ideas would be mature enough. There were just a lot of doubts and uncertainties.

These 3 months weren’t easy. I realised the amount of commitment needed to sustain a blog and update it regularly. I was so conscious with what I was posting that I could spend up to 5 hours just crafting out a single post. Seeing that I could spend so long just writing a post, I remember being worried about whether I would be able to post regularly.

However, I was thankful for this blog, because I became more confident. I used to be so afraid of expressing my ideas and would have the notion that my ideas were always incorrect. As much as I was fearful with what I was writing, this blog provides a platform for me to step out of my comfort zone and just express myself. That was when I realised that it doesn’t matter whether my ideas are good enough. As long as I know that I am passionate in what I was doing and this is what I truly feel, I am sure that the readers would also be able to empathize with me.

There are times when I could have thought more critically but I wasn’t disheartened because this means that I know the shortcomings of my posts and there is room for improvement. After all, a blog is a place for learning. Interestingly, this is one of the assignments that I love and hate. While I hate that I could spend so much time writing a post, I do enjoy the overall process. I could write whatever I want and just let my mind wander.

I was glad I was given this opportunity. Without this blogging journey, I wouldn’t be as observant and I wouldn’t be able to gain so much valuable insights. I realised there is so much I could learn just being more attentive during the simple events that happen in my daily life. This would be the main takeaway which I would practise even after this blogging journey.


I am thankful for this blog. Yes, it was tough but fulfilling. 🙂

 ♣ Johanah


What Now?

Hey there!
flowerJust a few months ago, I wasn’t as environmentally-conscious as I am now. I didn’t know how drastic some of my consumption patterns could impact the environment. However, through this module, I have learnt so much about the impacts of our actions and the urgency for a change in the way we live. Through small actions in our daily lives like bringing our own lunch boxes to takeaway food, we can do our part in ensuring that damage to the environment can be reduced.

People were shocked by my drastic change in the way I live which of course lead to doubts regarding the genuity of my actions. There are times which I am disheartened when people just dismiss my behaviour. If I cannot influence the people whom I am close to (my family and friends), how am I going to influence others and make a positive change for the environment?

This brings to the topic of influence.

For the past 3 months, I have brought up some of the development, benefits and issues regarding the greenery in Singapore. Throughout my blogging journey, there have been many times that I question myself. I have spoken a lot about the issues we face, how we prioritize artificial greenery over natural sites, how certain ecologically valuable sites have to make way for development…

But I wonder, what gives me the right to speak up and influence others? As someone who still has a lot of learn, do I really have the power to make a change for the better?

What exactly can I do as an Environmental Studies student?
What exactly can we do as Singaporeans?

Some people feel that they do not have the power or the ability to protect our sites. After all, it is usually the authorities or the higher-ups who would have the final say in the usage of the land. But the very fact is, they do listen to us. As leaders, they have to listen to our needs. We are the ones who would influence their actions. The most prominent example would be Chek Jawa. If not for the public’s opposition, awareness would not have been created about the beauty of this site and Chek Jawa could possibly be gone due to reclamation by now.

This brings me back to what Dr Peter Ng have mentioned during the talk last Monday: If people do care and love these natural sites, there is no need to worry because it is unlikely that they will be taken away.

This is the power of our voice. This collective voice is the very basis of influence. Only then can progress be made to protect these natural sites and move towards a ‘truly green Singapore’.

Right now the best thing we can do is to come together to speak up when we see a plan that we know would damage the environment. It all comes down to knowing what is the right thing to do.

Don’t be afraid to be speak up.

♣ Johanah

Placing faith into Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Hey there!

Today, we had a talk by Professor Peter Ng. Dr Ng is a widely-respected biologist who discovered Johora Singaporensis, a species of crab that is endemic to Singapore.

During the talk, Dr Ng mentioned that Bukit Timah nature reserve has to be regularly maintained by people due to the lack of animals for seed dispersal. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that many of the plants, some which are vital species to the nature site, require animals to disperse seeds. This is quite saddening to hear. Although the site used to be a forest with a self-sustaining ecosystem, the survival of the nature reserve now strictly depends on man’s regular efforts to maintain the site and ensure that the seeds of the plants are dispersed.

One of the main reason for such a change could possibly be due to the huge extents of fragmentation from development, affecting seed dispersal routes. In the map below, other than the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) which separates the Central Water Catchment area and the Bukit Timah Nature reserve, we can also see developments such as a golf site, a rifle range and even condominiums around the nature site.


Photo courtesy of Google Maps (,103.7752687,779m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x31da10f5981ed73b:0x7b421dc2a7c58be!8m2!3d1.3483925!4d103.7774628 )

In my mind, there are so many questions:

Could it be possible to restore the nature reserve its original state? Is it possible to bring back these animals that are crucial in ensuring the healthy state of the forest?

On 22 October 2016, Bukit Timah nature reserve was opened to the public after two years of closure (Spykerman, 2016). During these two years, restoration efforts were mainly targeted at facilities like trails and boardwalks. In other words, the restoration efforts were focused on satisfying the needs of the public. These restoration efforts are understandable, considering that many of these old facilities are posing a threat to the safety of the public. However, would it be better if the same amount of resources is dedicated to bringing the forest back to life so that regular maintenance can be minimised? Would this even be possible, considering the degree of fragmentation that has already resulted to the nature site?

Frankly, I do not know the answers to these questions. Seeing that the nature reserve has been maintained by people for years and there seems to be no improvement to the natural state of the forest, I couldn’t help but have a more negative stance regarding the future situation of the nature reserve. This could be why I find it ironic that much resources have been spent on improving the infrastructure of the reserve despite the dire state of the forest. However, I still have belief that not all hope is lost . After all, the reserve has one of the richest biodiversity (Nparks, 2016). Let’s not put our faith down. I feel that the best thing we can do is to minimize as much disruption to the nature reserve as possible and stop any more developments to the area.

♣ Johanah

Nparks. (2016, October 24). Bukit Timah nature reserve. Retrieved  October 31, 2016, from

Spykerman, K. (2016, October 22). Bukit Timah nature reserve reopens after 2 years of restoration work. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from Channel News Asia,


People Behind the Greens

Hi there!

Not long after I started my blogging journey, I came across this newspaper article from zbW under Lianhe Zaobao, a classic Mandarin Publication in Singapore. In short, the article features some of the individuals that has contributed to the green landscape of Singapore.


Aborist, Farmer, Gardener, Park Manager. These are the people that we hardly noticed, yet they are vital in giving us a green living environment.


I would like to share one of the stories of an individual that was featured in the article.

John Tay, just 28 years of age, chose a career path that was not common by many: becoming a farmer.

Many felt that he was crazy.

Tay mentioned that after his close friend fell ill, he started to get in touch with articles regarding food and nutrition. He realized that poor diet and stress are the main culprits that cause people who lived in cities to fall sick so easily. Seeing that many of the food people eat are increasingly unhealthy due to convenience, he decided to be a farmer (Tan, 2016).

‘Farming is a form of art. The purpose of an art piece is to bring across a message. I hope that my life can be a form of a message to others that farming is not an inferior profession and provide new perspectives to the society. In Japan, people respect farmers greatly. It is time to change our mindsets.’ (Tay, 2016)

I tried my best to translate and I apologise if it is slightly inaccurate. I respect what he does. Tay’s journey to become a farmer wasn’t easy. He said that his friends and family were against the idea of him becoming a farmer. There are many times he wanted to give up, not because of the labour but the judgement and stress people gave him (Tan, 2016).

It was the people’s judgement that made him waver.

Many people tend to associate greening with intensive labour. I, myself, was once involved in horticulture maintenance. If I could I summarise my experience, it would be: Sweat, mud, weeds and many, many mosquitoes. It was a truly memorable experience. I remembered my aching back and legs as I travelled home, unable to imagine how am I going to survive if I do this on a daily basis.

Yet, these people truly loved what they are doing. Despite the hard work, they are happy, because they are following their passion.

For some, they left their homes to come to Singapore. These people take up labour-intensive jobs that many would avoid, yet they are crucial contributors to the greenery in Singapore. They work under the hot sun and literally just a few inches away from the roads, but many of us not take much notice of them.

Let’s not forget to appreciate them as well.


♣ Johanah

Tan, Y. X. (2016, August 14). 联·系·自·然: 挥汗锄地为己任 (Be in Touch with Nature: Sweat, labour, responsibility). zbW (LianHe ZaoBao), pp. 4–7


The Unknown Greens in Pulau Semakau

Hi there!

Last Sunday, we had a field trip at Pulau Semakau. For some of you guys who do not know, Pulau Semakau is one of the Southern Islands in Singapore and it is Singapore’s first and only landfill.

‘Isn’t Pulau Semakau a garbage dump?’ This is the common response I encounter when I told my friends and family about my field trip. My mother even jokingly asked me if I needed a mask. Well, such comments are understandable.

After all, the term ‘landfill’ doesn’t sound pleasant.

I had a dull impression of the island, thinking that there would not be much greenery. In my mind, I picture mountains of rubbish or ashes with an overpowering stench.

After a 20-minute ferry ride (and dizzy spells), we finally reached Pulau Semakau. The island’s atmosphere was completely different from what I have imagined. The environment was really pleasant and there was no stench at all. That was when I realized that many had the wrong perception of Pulau Semakau. The absent of stench is because garbage was incinerated in the mainland and transported to the landfill as ashes.

semakau-view-1Beautiful view and weather 🙂

The amount of greenery on the island caught my attention. On the map, I was surprised to see mangroves, a coral nursery and an intertidal area consisting of seagrass which I believe will host a wide variety of flora and fauna. Vegetation was also planted on the cells after the ashes was covered with topsoil, contributing to the greenery of the area.


We were lucky enough to experience the rich biodiversity on the island. During the tour, we saw seabirds like heron, a monitor lizard and even sea urchins.

semakau-viewSpot the heron! 😀

semakau-mangrovesNatural mangroves that was on the original Pulau Semakau before it was connected with Pulau Seking through land reclamation, resulting in the current Pulau Semakau.

semakau-roadOur guide told us that people used to stargaze here! However, it was stopped possibly because of the phase 2 landfill.

By 2035, the landfill would be filled up. What would happen to the greenery and biodiversity?

‘Singapore’s land use plans beyond 2030 … indicate possible large-scale reclamation at Pulau Semakau’ (Ee, 2014)

It would be devastating if this happens. As shown, the ecosystem on Pulau Semakau is really valuable and it would be unfortunate if lost.

Of course, the main takeaway from this trip would be learning about the waste management process in Singapore. However, it is also interesting to learn about the rich greens in Pulau Semakau that wasn’t well-known by many. By spreading knowledge about the rich biodiversity of Pulau Semakau, it is hoped that the ecosystem in Pulau Semakau would be left untouched and even preserved, just like Chek Jawa that was saved from reclamation due to widespread public opposition.

‘Island Paradise built on a Garbage Dump’ (Châtel, 2007)

Hopefully, Pulau Semakau would continue to be an ‘island paradise’ in the future. This trip was indeed an eye-opener. It would be great if I can travel to Pulau Semakau and explore the island again. 🙂

♣ Johanah

Ee, D. (2014, July 12). Singapore’s seagrass meadows at risk from reclamation. The Straits Times. Retrieved from

Châtel, F. de (2007, July 26). The island paradise built on a garbage dump. Cable News Network. Retrieved from