Green Corridor

A few weeks ago, I took part in the Green Corridor Run. It was a 10.5km route that started at the Tanjong Pagar Rail Station and continued along the Green Corridor, to end off at the old Bukit Timah Rail Station.

The Green Corridor essentially runs across the country, starting from the Tanjong Pagar station in the south all the way up north to the Malaysian border. The corridor used to be a railway link but train operations have since stopped since 2011 (which is such a shame in my opinion, I took the train once to Johor and it was a nice slow journey with great views of the greenery). Plans for the use of the Green Corridor are still being made, although URA has submitted a proposal for the corridor to be used as a community space (read it here

The Green Corridor runs from the North to the South

The Green Corridor runs from the North to the South

Route for Green Corridor Run

Route for Green Corridor Run

The Green Corridor Run has been taking place for the last three years but this year was the first time I joined. Its aim is to encourage participants to experience a side of Singapore that not many people have, in terms of its history and ecology. While I think that it is great that the organisers want people to get more in touch with nature, I couldn’t help but wonder at the impacts an event of this scale would have on the nature. Aside from noise pollution (loud music, emcees talking loudly via microphones), there is also littering as well as the runners themselves to think about. Running events naturally have water points – plastic cups of water/isotonic drinks are handed to runners. There are usually big trash collection points a few metres after the water station for runners to throw their cups into but not everyone does. I saw many cups discarded onto the grass, away from the rubbish collection points. Volunteers usually pick up the trash but there may be cups that get missed and thus, left behind to pollute the area. Not forgetting that runners may sometimes bring their own bottles or liquid packs and discard these where there are no rubbish collection points.

We also have to look at the number of people who take part – more than 7000 people participated in the run this year. That is 7000 people running along the green corridor, their feet pounding on the soil and grass. This can’t be good for the vegetation – compaction of the soil, physical damage of the grass.

Look at the number of people!

Look at the number of people!

Along the route

Along the route

While I think the initiative of getting people in touch with nature should be lauded, perhaps there can be a better way to do this instead of letting thousands of people trample through the green corridor. Or a study can be carried out to see whether there are really any negative impacts of such an event on the green corridor (maybe I’m wrong and there aren’t! but I highly doubt it……). What do you guys think?

BTW, there are abandoned iron railway bridges still around if anyone’s up for exploring (or just want to take really nice pictures). They can be found across Bukit Timah Road, Upper Bukit Timah Road and at the Ulu Pandan Canal which is actually near NUS!

abandoned bridge ulu pandan

Iron bridge at Ulu Pandan PCN


abandoned bridge

Disclaimer: The pictures above aren’t mine, except the two of the bridges at Ulu Pandan PCN (I would have liked to take pictures while running but it was really hot and I just wanted to get it over and done with instead of stopping to take pictures).



Urban Death Traps

Walking home from our discussion about urban animals, something caught my eye at the bus stop just outside Science Drive 4. The glass display case for the routes of the buses was displaying something far more interesting: gecko corpses.  It appears that these little guys had fallen into the display case and probably died of dehydration or malnourishment.

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         Continuing my walk, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the various sorts of death traps there are in this city for wildlife. Roads are an obvious example of a death trap with the number of raccoons, squirrels and the occasional deer I spot on them back home but what else can end up killing an animal? Windows provoke birds to their death as they fly into them and plastic causes the death of thousands of animals that swallow it or get trapped in it. With a quick search, I found a couple lesser known examples of animal death in urban environments. For example, in Anjunem, India a series of canals and dams entice animals such as sambars and bisons as a source of drinking water. Ultimately this source of life kills them when they end up falling in and they can’t get out, ultimately drowning. Even in lesser urbanized areas such as farmer fields that have lower obvious touches of human influence, certain fencing can act as a vicious executioner to large running animals. This is seen with the Blackbuck and blade wire fencing. As Blackbuck are running, they often run directly into the fence, getting caught and ultimately injuring themselves to the point of death.

While the road kill may be the flag of animal deaths by urbanisation, there is indeed hidden traps all over that animals may not be able to avoid.


Urban Ecology in London

Throughout my year abroad in Singapore, I have built knowledge on both the local biodiversity and its management. However, I still consider that I know less than most informed locals (i.e. my classmates), simply because I have been here for a much shorter time.

This led me to question my knowledge of my home’s biodiversity. I am currently studying at University College London (UCL) in the UK, but throughout my (short) life I have only lived 5 years in London (which is still the 2nd longest I have ever spent in one place). Ensued an extremely sobering realisation: to this day, I probably know more about Singapore’s biodiversity than London’s!

As a result, I decided to dig up some information about the area where I live in London: Camden Borough. UCL is located in the Bloomsbury area, between King’s Cross Station and the British Museum, and is included within Camden Borough. Most students live north of the university, within Camden itself. As it turns out, Camden Borough encloses a certain number of urban green spaces, most notably Primrose Hill, parts of Regent’s Park, Regent’s Canal, and Hampstead Heath. The latter covers 320 hectares and includes multiple ponds, three of which are used for open-air swimming throughout the year (water temperature on 20th of March was between 6 to 8°C). There is therefore a lot of potential for wildlife in the borough.

Camden copie

Map of Camden Borough


In a recent discussion tutorial within LSM4262, I was quick to point out that English parks are too manicured to have any conservation potential. But what about the smaller parks which are less managed? What about the street trees, the gardens, or any of those pockets of wildlife? In short, what about urban ecology?

Through my research exercise I discovered Camden Borough’s Wildlife and Nature Conservation scheme. Three aims are highlighted: to enhance the natural environment, to promote biodiversity, and to provide opportunities for people to interact with and learn about nature. They offer volunteer opportunities, and encourage people to report wildlife sightings on Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL). This organisation has records dating back from 1713 and includes reports from Darwin himself!

The most important feature though turned out to be Camden Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which is currently in its third reiteration (running from 2013 to 2018). The BAP focuses on 3 areas: access to nature, the built environment (and its positive contribution to biodiversity), and open spaces and natural habitats. It was developed in collaboration with the local community, different NGOs, volunteer groups, etc. Actions to be implemented are listed with target dates spread out through the years. From their programme description, I noted a few interesting points, all of them highly relevant to urban ecology:

  • Camden Borough has areas within the 10% most nature deprived within the country, and 20% least deprived – something to consider when it comes to Human-nature interaction goals.
  • Removal of invasive species is an important target with regular active removal in different locations.
  • The list of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) shows that they are managed by as many as 14 different organisations. They range from the Royal Parks, to universities (e.g. UCL, King’s College), and even to Network Rail (authority in charge of UK’s rail network). Bringing in all those different organisations to agree on a plan is an achievement in itself, and this highlights the benefit of having a single authority, such as NParks, managing green spaces across a large area.
  • The list of protected species in the borough included many species I had never paid attention to before and would have not expected in an urban environment (e.g. Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus)!

Overall, this was a really interesting discovery, as it gave me a better idea of what was going on back home, and also how I could potentially get involved in the future. While reading about Natural Deficit Disorder, many articles mentioned that new generations are only aware of exotic natural environments which are far away from their homes. As an environmental biologist I would like to say that I am more aware of my local environment, but this experience proved me wrong. You are taught a lot at university, but sometimes you also need to go out and make your own research about your own neighbourhood. After all, who would trust a British (well, French in my case) ecologist who can identify a Tembusu tree (Fagraea fragrans) but not a London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia)?


Here is a link to Camden  Council page dedicated to the BAP, with a detailed pdf available at the bottom:

Just as we were talking about mammalian winners…

Take a look at the following link on Buzzfeed that just popped up on my newsfeed. Link

A red fox rescued as a pup and ‘domesticated’. Which now believes it’s a dog (though of course take these info sources with a pinch of salt, they love sensationalizing everything. Talk about winning and successfully establishing yourself and your species as a human commensal and as a pet.

Here’s a more detailed article. “Owner Emma D’Sylva, of Staffordshire, also keeps a skunk and a raccoon”. More mammalian and carnivorous winners i guess.

Is it ever that simple? Trade-offs around urban sustainability

Global resource scarcity, climate change, and political unrest are growing threats to global competitiveness for the world’s major cities. To meet these challenges, cities have to (or at least appear to) become sustainable. The ideal sustainable city is ecologically-rich, comprising diverse communities of urban flora and fauna situated in harmonious socio-ecological assemblages. The sustainable city is also resilient, possessing the social and ecological capital to weather an unpredictable climate-changed world, adapting to precarious biophysical, politico-economic and social realities. Finally, the sustainable city is socially equitable, promoting democratic and transparent participation from empowered citizens.

But is it really that simple? Sustainability is often defined by the cliché ‘triple bottom-line’ where economic, social and environmental objectives are simultaneously achieved. Yet, this unquestioned discourse of ‘balance’ and ‘win-win’ outcomes risks simplifying complex, and often politically problematic socio-ecological processes around the sustainable city. If sustainability is really our concern, then we ought to devote more attention to the nuanced and complex trade-offs around the sustainable city.

Most people would consider Singapore a green, ecologically-rich city. As Tan et al (2013) note, ‘five decades of greening have created a distinctive green ambience in the island city-state’ (25). Indeed, Singapore’s strategic urban planning policies have created an urban landscape punctuated by heterogeneous and highly-connected green spaces – what Newman (2014) calls ‘biophilic urbanism’. From the Park Connector Network, the ABC Waters programme to the Sky Rise Greenery initiative, Singapore demonstrates how the urban form and structure can support and regenerate new urban ecosystems.

Yet, as Churkina et al (2015) warn, sustainable urban greening is about picking the right plants. Emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by plants (e.g isoprene and monoterpenes) interact with air temperature, lights and urban pollutants to substantially affect ground-level ozone levels. Yet urban greening criteria usually neglects feedbacks between species-specific BVOC emission and urban ambient conditions. With Singapore’s NO2 and CO emissions projected to rise by 2020 as (ironically) shown in the 2015 Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (MND and MEWR, 2014; 109), will existing and future greening, coupled with feedbacks from a warming and increasingly erratic climate and intensifying urbanisation, further compromise Singapore’s air quality and liveability?

Singapore also prides itself on building climate resilience, e.g raising the level of land reclamation or investing in energy efficiency (Putra and Koh, 2014). But what is the catch here?

Chelleri and colleagues (2015) describe several cases of cross-spatial and -temporal trade-offs around ‘resilience’. In one of their examples, the globalisation of quinoa (which is the main subsistence crop of Andean farmers) increased demand for organic quinoa, providing farmers with higher incomes. Yet, this led to more intensive agricultural methods to maximise quinoa yield, degrading local agro-ecosystems and causing the loss of local ecological knowledge. Although individual farmers were better off in the short-term, this transformation undermined system-wide resilience over larger spatial and temporal scales.

Likewise, what are the resilience trade-offs across multiple spatio-temporal scales for Singapore? By enhancing economic resilience through a lax immigration policy, Singapore has maintained growth, but at what costs? In addition, by damming all our inland waters, we build water self-sufficiency in the short to medium term. But what happens under conditions of rising sea levels and more intense rainfall if we cannot afford to open the dams to release excess water into the sea?

Finally, Singapore’s public policy has historically emphasised social equity. Nonetheless, constructions and representations of space are always a product of contested values and ideologies. Likewise, notions of green spaces and their ecosystem services are socially constructed and articulated via political and cultural struggles. As much as there is a material, biophysical world ‘out there’, we cannot completely know it, because as Escobar (1998) suggests, there is no materiality that is not mediated by discourse. Accordingly, ‘from a discursive perspective… biodiversity does not exist in an absolute sense. Rather, it anchors a discourse that articulates a new relation between nature and society in global contexts of science, cultures, and economics’ (55).

For instance, Ernstson (2013) shows that the conservation of green spaces depends very much on who wants to conserve, what kind of tools, alliances and discourses they can mobilise. Ultimately, there is a difference in relative powers between the ability of certain groups to successfully conserve an area compared to those who cannot. Notwithstanding relatively equitable urban planning in Singapore, various interests groups still clash and contest each other’s claim to nature (and ‘ecosystem services’). For example, proponents of golf courses see them as representative of park land (Neo and Savage, 2002). More recently, the Bukit Brown controversy saw nature conservation and heritage groups clash, because the road through the cemetery was proposed as an alternative to encroaching into the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The point of all this is not to contest Singapore’s claims to sustainability [for critiques, see Weida, 2009; Wong, 2012]. Rather, I have remained within the conceptual boundaries of the sustainability discourse to make the case for a more nuanced and reflexive engagement with trade-offs. If we shy away from these inconvenient and uncomfortable issues, then there is a risk that words like ‘sustainability’, ‘resilience’ and ‘green’ may devolve into meaningless buzzwords in an era that demands critical and innovative thinking from all of us.



Chelleri, L., Waters, J. J., Olazabal, M. and Minucci, G. (2015). Resilience trade-offs: addressing multiple scales and temporal aspects of urban resilience. Environment and Urbanization.

Churkina, G., Grote, R., Butler, T. M. and Lawrence, M. (2015). Natural selection? Picking the right trees for urban greening. Environmental Science & Policy, 47, 12-17.

Ernstson, H. (2013). The social production of ecosystem services: A framework for studying environmental justice and ecological complexity in urbanized landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning, 109(1), 7-17.

Escobar, A. (1998). Whose knowledge, whose nature? Biodiversity, conservation, and the political ecology of social movements. Journal of Political Ecology, 5(1), 53-82.

MEWR and MND. (2014). Our Home, Our Environment, Our Future: Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015. Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and Ministry of National Development.

Neo, H. and Savage, V.R. (2002). Shades of Green, Fields of Gold: representations, discourse and the politics of golf in Singapore. Landscape Research, 27(4), 397-411.

Newman, P. (2014). Biophilic urbanism: a case study on Singapore. Australian Planner, 51(1), 47-65.

Putra, N.A and Koh, N. (2014). Singapore’s Policy Response to Climate Change: Towards a Sustainable Future. In Putra, N.A and Han, E (eds). Governments’ Responses to Climate Change: Selected Examples From Asia Pacific. SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace, 81-100.

Tan, P.Y., Wang, J. and Sia, A. (2013). Perspectives on five decades of the urban greening of Singapore. Cities, 32, 24-32.

Weida, L. (2009). Climate Change Policies in Singapore: Whose ‘Environments’ Are We Talking About? Environmental Justice, 2(2), 79–83.

Wong, C.M.L. (2012). The Developmental State in Ecological Modernization and the Politics of Environmental Framings: The Case of Singapore and Implications for East Asia. Nature and Culture, 7(1), 95-119.

Lazy Sunday Birding

I’m not an avid birder but one day (some time back) I just happened to be sitting around my dining table staring off into space when I noticed several birds making a stop at a water feature outside. I had a good view from where I was sitting. So it turns out that the water feature is a popular bathing spot and water source for the birds. I would usually spot some colourful species which piqued my curiosity but never did try to identify them till recently. I’m not adept at identifying birds like some of our classmates but I decided to spend a good half of Sunday sitting at the dining table and do some passive “birding” – merely waiting for the birds to come to me. I did up an informal little inventory of species I saw and the number of individuals that visited the bath. I managed to get about 40 sightings in about 3 hours and identified 6 different species, mainly common urban parkland and garden species, with the help of the very convenient NSS bird guide mobile app. Some of these may have been repeat visitors who have learnt that there’s a perennial supply of cool, flowing water waiting for them right here.


Javan Myna taking sips of water

(Please correct me if I’ve identified any species wrongly!)

Of course, amongst those were the commonly seen Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus). The mynas arrived in a brazen fashion, as expected, taking quick drinks from the bath, while the sparrows perched briefly and left as soon as they came. As we all know, both these species are known to be extremely accustomed to humans and the urban environment.



Two Eurasian Tree Sparrows on both sides of the water feature

I took some photos through a glass door hence the reflection. These impeccably clean glass doors were in fact the culprit of several mishaps a while back – the poor birds couldn’t see the glass and knocked into them but fortunately most of them managed to leave unscathed.

Also, I had some rare visitors – a flock of four (what I think were) Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) perching on the nearby fence, glaring at me with their intimidating red eyes. These highly social creatures were a little smaller than the average myna. I understand that they are pretty common around urban areas but I don’t seem to have seen them around my house before. (No photos unfortunately).

These tiny, cute and plump White-eyes (Zosterops sp.) were frequent visitors. It wasn’t very difficult to tell the genus for they had these obvious white rings around their eyes as their name suggests but I’m not quite sure which species of the White-eyes these are though. Once, 5 individuals came at the same time and were hopping about playfully amongst the bamboo branches.


A White-Eye taking a dip


Shaking it off

It began drizzling halfway into my lazy Sunday birding endeavor and I thought perhaps I would end my observation here since the birds would have gone into hiding. However, a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) surprised me. Each time a bulbul visited, it would bathe for a long time, first taking a dip in the water and then fluffing their feathers. They repeated this several times before beginning to preen, even under the rain. I later found a post on the Bird Ecology Study Group website which recorded an occurrence of a Yellow-vented Bulbul bathing in the rain.  (


Yellow-Vented Bulbul

Finally, after the rain had cleared, I had two sightings of a male Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis). Its iridescent green, blue and purple plumage on its head gave it away and its long and slender decurved beak was also indicative of its nectarine diet. I learned from a quick google search that these sunbirds are very common in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, mangroves and secondary rainforests but can also be seen in low-density urban environments. (


Brown-throated Sunbird

Please pardon the poor quality of my photos. Whenever I tried to creep up to take close-up shots for identification purposes the birds were scared away. Would have loved to show what these birds were doing but apparently I shouldn’t have been invading on their privacy while they were bathing.

Despite the common status of most of these birds, I haven’t really paid attention to some of these species till now so it had been a fascinating experience trying to identify and learn more about them. Besides plants, even the unlikeliest urban structures like the water feature also does a very good job attracting biodiversity, just like the example brought up in class about swiftlets nesting in building crevices. The water feature provides an additional and convenient source of water while the bamboos planted by the side also provided a place for the birds to perch and preen their feathers after they are done splashing about. These birds are fascinating little things to watch and could literally keep me entertained for hours. I definitely hope to add on to my simple little spreadsheet in future! Wonder if anybody else have observed any interesting species around your house besides Dr. Coleman?

I have heard about plenty of research projects looking into how plants could influence biodiversity of birds and butterflies in urban areas but not many have attempted to examine the effects of non-vegetation elements (e.g. supplementary feeding, bird baths, pets etc.) present in gardens and quantify them. I came across an interesting article:

Does variation in garden characteristics influence the conservation of birds in suburbia? (Daniels & Kirkpatrick, 2006)


This is a study done in Hobart, Tasmania which modelled garden characteristics and associated bird assemblages with general linear modelling. Through this, they found that variation in garden characteristics does considerably affect the nature of garden bird assemblages in Hobart especially in areas with weaker environmental and landscape influences. They also found that exotic species tended to avoid gardens with supplementary feeding with seeds and chicken yards. Design and management of existing home gardens could potentially be a useful tool in the conservation of urban native avifauna. I’m not quite sure about the applicability of this to Singapore given this study was conducted in a rather suburban area that is most probably not as built-up as the suburban neighbourhoods of Singapore. Additionally, this would also require acceptance and co-operation on the part of landowners.

Given Singapore’s lack of space, we are unable to rely solely on nature reserves and parks to conserve our biodiversity. Perhaps we can also start looking at how non-vegetation structures can potentially play a role in making these urban green spaces conducive for urban wildlife?





Insects: the future high-quality dish?

Article here:

With the increase of life quality in an urbanized world (pandemia control, improved hygiene…), human lifespan keeps on extending, and world population is greater than ever. Hence, the need of food supply to feed all those people, and especially the high demand on protein-rich items (meat to be simple), reaches such proportions, that more and more scientists are wondering whether the Earth is able to sustain everyone’s nutritious needs. And as a matter of fact, as you all know, a large number of people starve in the world while other parts are consuming meat in excess. However, a solution has arise, based on two basic observations:

1) Insects are largely dominating the global biodiversity in number

2) They are proven to be provide high-quality nutrients such as proteins

Consequently, the natural conclusion to these observation is “we should start eating insects instead of pork, beaf or chicken, as it seems to be almost an never-ending source of nutrients, can be found everywhere and could sustain the huge population of humans on Earth”.

This is the scientific rational point of view, but from a cultural point of view, I feel like it would be hard to get people to change their feeding behaviors and become entomophages. The idea of eating insects is quite disgusting from my point of view (and I now what I’m talking about, I tried it!), and I was wondering if this was only because of my european set of mind, or if you guys feel also the same. Do you think the world is ready to face the issue of the lack of food and to start eating Arthropods?


Peregrine on campus ?

For the past couple of weeks, from my 19th floor apartment, across Clementi Road from NUS, I’ve been seeing one (or perhaps more) peregrine falcon(s). Last Friday, it was soaring at roughly eye level directly in front of my home office, before it slowly made its way toward some of the taller buildings across the street. I wonder if there is a nesting pair right here on campus. Makes me feel at home !

Hong Kong & Cheung Chau

I was in Hong Kong at the start of recess week. For the first time in this exceptionally compact city, I’ve started noticing slopes, walls, street trees, light, pigeons and canals. I kept stopping to take pictures of cascading roots, drains and moss lining the stone cobbled streets; I think my friend travelling with me was slightly disgusted. Most of what I saw was talked about in class. I would just like to mention this  “Wind Power Generation System” spotted on a small rooftop near the harbor at the IFC (on HK Island):

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A quick search on the internet later, these micro wind turbines are likely to be test installations- small enough for private use. Can this is a possible application for Singapore as well, given the substantial number of rooftop space available?

Another feature of the dense city I noticed only during this trip was the green pockets in the city:











We talked about green spaces in urban areas in class; these green spaces in HK are I think created for pragmatic amenity use, rather than an environmental function (i.e. ecosystem services). I see old men playing chess, people working out, using the ‘stone floor’, children at playgrounds etc. It is almost like an extended living room for residents in surrounding cramped apartments. I wonder if these spaces contributed to a more environment friendly attitude in its residents too, for example, every shop assumes I will not be taking a plastic bag for my purchases.

Cheung Chau

I was lucky to get to visit an extended family member Uncle Eugen on the island of Cheng Chau (a 45 minute ride on Star Ferry).  A quick introduction to Cheung Chau (I took from one of the information boards scattered around the island put up by DiscoverHongKong):

“Cheung Chau was, until recently, a very important fishing port. In 1911, there were 900 trawlers here, and a population of more than 8000 people. The town was founded in the late 17th century, reflecting the development of a commercial fishing industry in the area. The town flourished by serving the fishing fleet, and by drying and shipping huge catches of fish to inland destinations. The island become home to a suburban population as early as the 1920s. In recent years, this community has grown substantially. The island has no less than seven temples of which the largest, Pak Tai Temple, is particularly magnificent.”                                                                                      – DiscoverHongKong

Uncle Eugen has lived on the island for 27 years. He is an antiquities dealer and restorer, an expert in Asian and Middle Eastern history and antiques. I spent the day listening to his stories of how the island has changed from a sleepy fishing village to a weekend getaway for mainland tourists. Here are some pictures to give you a rough idea of the built up area on the island:

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Everyone has to walk or cycle in Cheng Chau, there are no vehicles and even electric bikes are not allowed (the only exception are electric fire trucks, police vans and ambulances specially made for the narrow lanes). The wind blows the pollution from Shenzhen and HK Island, so it is not exempt from the dangers of air pollution. Right next to his house, there is a small temple with a cherry blossom tree, which brings in droves of tourists. It was brought to Taiwan by the Japanese and shipped over to Cheung Chau. I thought it was an apt metaphor: Uncle Eugen who was originally from Australia was just like the exotic species of the cherry blossom tree; both have been on the island for decades and integrated so well into the native habitat, you could hardly tell them apart from the native species anymore. This is a picture of a picture of Uncle Eugen in his house and the cherry blossom tree:

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Not all exotic species are ‘bad’!

I walked up the hills at the northern end and came across a cemetery:

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According to Uncle Eugen, in the past the people from mainland or HK Island could bury their dead on Cheung Chau because the “Feng Shui” on the island is ideal. However, now only island residents are allowed to be buried on the island AND the new regulations state after 7 years, bodies have to be exhumed and replaced into urns or more compact burial grounds. Would Singapore have to resort to this in the future as we run out of space?

On my walk, I also spotted tagged trees on slopes that were roped off and stone/concrete built into steep slopes along the pathway:

pathway vegetn


Trees are tagged and roped off- the department tracks the felling of trees to ensure integrity of the slopes. Stone/concrete walls are built along pathways to prevent mudslides etc. Because of the hilly nature of the island (similarly on HK island), slope maintenance is a major part of ecological maintenance done by the agricultural services department of Hong Kong.

The island is, to a large part, self-sustainable. The food is either grown on the island, fished from the surrounding ocean or conveniences brought from the mainland. Water comes from nearby Lan Tau Island or collected from a reservoir on the hilltops. Fisherman and local mom-and-pop stores fuel the economy. As I walked around the island, there were numerous tiny shops selling knick-knacks, tea slabs and tiny cramped restaurants. Because the northern and southern ends of the island are hilly, the main settlements are situated at the thinnest part (the tombolo). Here is a picture of the island map: it is shaped like the figure 8 (formed from two masses joined by a tumble where the main streets, ferry/fishing harbor and biggest temple is located):

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Apparently, the residential and commercial rents have increased over the past year, due to the influx of tourism and mainlanders heading here to escape the high rates in the urban core. Besides the MacDonalds booth greeting you as you disembark the ferry, Cheung Chau is pretty much a throwback to basic, almost rural, living. But as space runs out, will the mainland start to eye the islands as potential for development? Will we see a urban to rural move? Before that happens, I hope you guys get the chance to visit!