GE3255 Aquatic, Riparian and Coastal Systems

Restoring Singapore's Mangrove and River Ecosystems

Animals of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR)

On 9 september 2023 the NUS GE3255 Aquatic, Riparian and Coastal Systems students visited SBWR on a field trip. Thanks to the preservation of natural ecosystem (mangroves, etc.), SBWR houses numerous animal species. This abundance of wildlife shows the importance of protecting and restoring our environment. Most of animals described below wouldn’t appear in Singapore if we degraded and destroyed their natural habitats.

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The spreading of the mangroves intertwined roots

Standing guard at the gates of the rivers of Singapore, the mangroves spread their roots, welcome the tides, and protect the land against the floods of the sea. Filled with the melodies of cicadas and interrupted by the songs of birds, the mangrove ecosystem, with its mix of riverine freshwater and salty seawater creates the brackish conditions that are home to countless species of plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and birds. From the two-meter-long saltwater crocodiles to the magnificent blue kingfishers, to the tiny crabs, the mangroves function as a treasure chest of biodiversity. The intertwingled short prop-roots of the Oriental Mangrove, Bruguiera gymnorhiza, hugging the sandy ground reminded me of a squiggly ancient writing language while the long stilt-roots of the Red Mangrove, Rhizophora apiculata, reminded me something you can find in a modern art museum.

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Trees: The engineers of nature

For the past few years, the background on my phone has been a picture of a plant growing through the cracks of an impenetrable paved road. To me, the picture is a symbol of the power of nature. Visiting the mangrove ecosystem at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) showed me the same. Observing the tree roots was an example of how nature astonishingly adapts to its surroundings. These adaptations have taken many more years than the split seconds humans make land-use changes, proving the importance of restoring natural ecosystems.

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Sampling: an insight into the secrets of nature

Figure 1: Our group doing water sampling using the HORIBA water quality meter. (Photo Credit: Gretchen Coffman, 9 Sept 2023.)

Imagine aliens encroaching on your house, slowly taking away pieces of it, leaving you with only a small area to live in. That’s how I would imagine mangrove forests to feel, with less than 5% of the original mangrove forests found in the early 1800s still remaining in Singapore. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) is one of these areas of mangroves and is the largest patch of mangrove area in mainland Singapore. While we are still fortunate enough to see these mangrove ecosystems in Singapore, people should visit SBWR before climate change and developments potentially decimate these forests.

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Say yay to pretty & sustainable Longkang!

It is amazing how this Longkang was restored and beautified to provide a better environment for both humans and animals. Longkangs (translated to drains in Malay) are infamous for being smelly, unhygienic, and filled with dirty waters.

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Can drink anot?

Figure 1: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) (Photo credit: Claire Low)

Have you ever wondered, what makes water drinkable?

On 12 September 2023, Prof Gretchen brought a handful of GE3255 (Aquatic, Riparian and Coastal Systems) students to Bishan Ang Mo Kio park, which is one of the largest parks in Singapore spanning 62 hectares. I was particularly interested in evaluating the water quality in this restored river and would like to share my sampling journey with you.

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Restoring the Kallang River: More beautiful, biodiverse, and resilient

The Kallang River is no Kinabatangan or Mekong River. For most of its length, it is a narrow concrete canal that connects Lower Peirce Reservoir to Marina Reservoir. However, a stretch of the river that runs through Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has been naturalised, turning it into a breathtaking force of nature at the heart of our concrete jungle. And with the restoration of this river, the surrounding landscape was brought to life. In September 2023, our NUS GE3255 Aquatic, Riparian and Coastal Systems class explored this reach of the Kallang River with Prof. Gretchen and our TA Kyle.

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Salt and Sanctuary: Navigating the Salinity Gradients of Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve

If you’ve ever visited Sungei Buloh, the first thing you probably noticed is the scent of salt dancing on the sea breeze, courtesy of the seawater that flows into the mangroves from the sea. In this post, I highlight the salinity gradient present in the mangrove ecosystem, which manifests as changes in vegetation as we move from the back mangrove to areas closer to the sea.

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Mangrove Magic: How Mangroves Support the Biodiversity of Migratory Birds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway

I arrived at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on a stormy Saturday afternoon with my project team from the NUS GE3255 Applied, Riparian and Coastal Systems course, clothes damp from the humidity lingering in the air after hours of downpour. Immediately, I was in awe of the dense mangroves that sprawled out towards the sea, perched up on networks of stilt roots over the water (see Figure 1).

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Flowing Along the Banks of the Naturalised Kallang River

Written by Koh Deng MinFigure 1. Picturesque view of the naturalised Kallang River at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. (Photo by Koh Deng Min)

Have you been to the beautifully restored, naturalised Kallang River at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (BAMK)? Singapore’s “City in Nature” vision is perfectly illustrated at BAMK, where the restored Kallang River meanders through the park, amongst lush riparian vegetation and sustaining diverse wildlife, at the same time being interconnected with urban living areas. Before restoration efforts between 2010 to 2012, the Kallang River used to be a straight, concrete canal which faced difficulties in containing large amounts of stormwater. However, given the restoration measures taken to mitigate the issue, it now acts as an effective floodplain, being able to carry larger stormwater flows.

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