Conservation plans afoot for Sisters' Island Marine Park

On Saturday, NParks launched the Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef initiative, which will allow the community to contribute to habitat enhancement efforts in the Marine Park.
Olivia Quay Channel NewsAsia 21 May 16;

SINGAPORE: Following a one-year feasibility study, the National Parks Board (NParks) on Saturday (May 21) said it will embark on new conservation, research, outreach and educational plans for Sisters' Island Marine Park.

These new plans will be carried out from end-2016, and will completed in phases from 2017 to 2019, it added.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, who was in attendance, said: "Our rich marine biodiversity is something that makes us special. Singapore's waters cover less than 1 per cent of the world's surface area, yet we are home to more than 250 species of hard corals, or around one-third of the world's total.

"There are also 100 species of reef fish and about 200 species of sponges within our waters. We may be small, but we are large in our marine richness."

Big Sister's Island will house the Marine Park, with a boardwalk, intertidal pools and a floating pontoon to be constructed. These facilities will offer the public more opportunities for close-up encounters with the marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Its Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre is set up on St John's Island, about a kilometre from Sisters' Island. It will be within the grounds of the National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Meanwhile, Small Sister's Island will serve as a dedicated site for marine conservation, promoting species recovery and habitat enhancement. Programmes will be conducted to facilitate visits for schools, institutes and organisations.

NParks will also set up Singapore's first turtle hatchery on Small Sister's Island, developed through a S$500,000 donation from HSBC.

On Saturday, NParks also launched the Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef initiative, under the Garden City Fund. This will allow the community to contribute to habitat enhancement efforts in the Marine Park.

- CNA/kk


Sisters’ Islands Marine Park to be conservation site
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 23 May 16;

SINGAPORE — The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is set to become a site for marine conservation, research, outreach and education, under plans revealed by the National Parks Board (NParks) on Saturday.

The 40ha park, the first marine park in Singapore, stretches around the Big Sister’s and Small Sister’s Islands, and along the western reefs of St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor.

On Big Sister’s Island, a floating pontoon will be set up by early 2018, while intertidal pools and a boardwalk will be installed by the end of that year. These will allow the public to get up-close with marine and terrestrial biodiversity. A coastal plant conservation area and forest trails will also be established.

Small Sister’s Island, meanwhile, will be home to the Republic’s first turtle hatchery and a coral nursery by the end of next year, among other things. It will also be a site for marine conservation research, playing host to visits by schools and organisations to learn about the marine research taking place in the country’s waters. KENNETH CHENG

Sisters' Island to be heart of marine life conservation
Danson Cheong, Straits Times AsiaOne 22 May 16;

An artist's impression of the boardwalk on Big Sister's Island which will provide sweeping views of the coastline.

From Singapore's first sea turtle hatchery to a floating pontoon with see-through panels, detailed plans to transform Sisters' Islands into the heart of the country's marine life conservation efforts were revealed yesterday.

Announcing these yesterday on St John's Island, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee highlighted how, despite covering less than 1 per cent of the world's surface, Singapore's waters are home to over 250 species of hard corals, a third of the world's total.

"We may be small, but we are large in our marine richness," he said, as he highlighted the need to ramp up conservation efforts and to raise awareness among Singaporeans of the life in surrounding waters. "The marine park is meant for Singaporeans, and we hope our people will love it, grow it and take ownership of this park."

The 40ha Sisters' Islands Marine Park, first announced in 2014 and about the size of 50 football fields, comprises the two Sisters' Islands - which are a 40-minute boat ride from Marina South Pier - surrounding reefs and the western reefs of nearby St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor. Its ecosystem supports corals, anemones, seahorses, fish and other marine life.

With the help of a $500,000 donation from HSBC, a turtle hatchery will be set up on Small Sister's Island by the end of next year.

The island will be a dedicated site for marine conservation and research. It will have a coral nursery where rare corals can be grown before being transplanted onto Reef Enhancement Units (REU) on the reef. Yesterday, HSBC also donated $180,000 for nine REUs under the new Seed-A-Reef programme.

Open to the public, donations of at least $20,000 will pay for an REU - an artificial scaffolding to which corals attach and grow.

To encourage Singaporeans to take ownership of the marine park on the islands, they will be able to also "sponsor" a coral for $200 in the new Plant-A-Coral initiative.

Big Sister's Island meanwhile will serve as a "gateway to the marine park" for the public, said Mr Lee.

It will have facilities where people can get close to nature, such as a floating pontoon, intertidal pools, a boardwalk and forest trails.

Most of these new facilities will be built by the end of 2018.

Ms Karenne Tun, a director at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre, said each sponsored coral will be grown in aquariums or a coral nursery in the sea from small fragments before being transplanted.

"We will target key species in Singapore that we feel need a bit of help, (or) those that are rare in Singapore," she said, adding that it can take six months to two years for corals to be transplanted, depending on how fast the species grows.

If these programmes are done right, they could have an "add-on effect on the natural reef", said Mr Stephen Beng, who chairs the marine conservation group of the Nature Society (Singapore).

Professor Wong Sek Man, director of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Tropical Marine Science Institute, said the upcoming plans on Sisters' Islands will help educate the young on how to protect the environment. "Kids are very curious... to know what kind of marine organisms can be found in the sea. If they can also touch them, it will be very nice," he said.

NUS first-year environmental science undergrad Lim Hong Yao, 22, who has been on a guided walk with NParks to the intertidal area on Sisters' Islands, said the zone is full of wildlife. "Everything is interesting... I've seen corals, hermit crabs, octopus and even stingrays."

Big plans for the two Sisters

ON BIG SISTER'S ISLAND

Early 2018

A floating pontoon will be built adjacent to the jetty. Visitors will also get to observe marine life such as sea fans, sponges and sea anemones through viewing panels on the base of the pontoons.

Mid-2018

Forest trails that cut through the island will allow visitors to explore the island and go bird-watching.

End-2018

A boardwalk along the lagoon will provide sweeping views of the coastline. Visitors can also get up close with coastal flora and fauna.

Intertidal pools will be built along the island's inner sea walls to create an environment similar to natural rock pools, where marine life can be viewed up close at low tide.

ON SMALL SISTER'S ISLAND

End-2017

The first turtle hatchery here and an outreach facility will be built. The hatchery will be a refuge for rescued turtle eggs, where they can hatch safely.

A coral nursery will be established to safeguard hard corals. The nursery will play an important role in the conservation of coral species, especially in view of rising sea temperatures. Corals undergo bleaching when the temperature of the water gets too high.

ON BOTH ISLANDS

Ongoing now

As part of the Plant-A-Coral and Seed-A-Reef programmes, corals will be transplanted onto reef enhancement units, which are artificial structures placed within the reef to encourage coral growth.

End-2018

Areas will be set aside for coastal plant conservation. These will feature around 30 coastal plant species including critically endangered ones.

The public can visit the coastal plant conservation area on Big Sister's Island. The area on Small Sister's Island will be a dedicated site for research and conservation.

To sponsor a coral, visit www.gardencityfund.org/coral.


NParks announces new conservation, research, outreach and educational plans for Sisters’ Islands Marine Park
NParks 21 May 16;

Launch of new community outreach initiative:
Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme by the Garden City Fund

21 May 2016 - Following the completion of a one-year feasibility study, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced new conservation, research, outreach and educational plans for the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, and launched Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme, a new community outreach initiative by the Garden City Fund. This will provide the public more opportunities to learn about Singapore’s rich marine biodiversity and contribute to marine conservation efforts.
Conservation, research, outreach and educational plans for the Marine Park

The feasibility study had been initiated in 2015 to explore sustainable ways to conserve the habitats in Sisters’ Islands Marine Park while providing a range of outreach and educational activities for the public. After the conclusion of environmental impact assessments, the new plans will be carried out sensitively from end 2016, and progressively completed in phases from 2017 to 2019.

The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park spans about 40 hectares around the Big Sister’s Island and Small Sister’ Island, and along the western reefs of St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor.

Big Sister’s Island will serve as a platform for conservation, outreach and education. A boardwalk, intertidal pools and a floating pontoon will be sensitively established, offering the public more opportunities for close-up encounters with the marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Further inland, there will be a coastal plant conservation area and forest trails for the public to explore and learn more about coastal plants and the natural heritage on the island.

Small Sister’s Island will serve as a dedicated site for marine conservation research with facilities to promote species recovery and habitat enhancement. Programmes will be conducted to facilitate visits for schools, institutes and organisations to learn about marine research and initiatives that are carried out in Singapore waters. There will also be a coastal plant conservation area, reef enhancement units and a coral nursery on Small Sister’s Island. NParks will also set up Singapore’s first turtle hatchery, which will be developed through a $500,000 donation from HSBC. The turtle hatchery will provide a dedicated in situ facility to receive, nurture and hatch rescued turtle eggs assessed to be at risk from other coastal areas in Singapore in an effort to increase their survivability (See Factsheet A for details on plans and Factsheet B for details on turtle hatchery).
Launch of Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme

NParks also launched the Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme to provide opportunities for the community to contribute to habitat enhancement efforts in the marine park. Individuals and organisations may offer a donation and sponsor a coral or a Reef Enhancement Unit (REU), which is an artificial structure placed within suitable reef zones to enhance bare areas for marine organisms to grow and reef fish to seek refuge. Targeted coral species will be transplanted from a coral nursery in the marine park to the REUs (See Factsheet C for details on Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme). Under the NParks’ Citizen Science Programme, divers can also help to monitor growth of the REUs every six months.

To sustain Singapore’s natural heritage, NParks will also continue to engage the community to share information on the importance of marine biodiversity and responsible marine park etiquette, such as not to poach and fish in the Marine Park.


MEDIA FACTSHEET A
Conservation, research, outreach and educational plans for the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park
Information accurate as of 21 May 2016. For more information, please contact June Yeo at 97499285.

The new plans for Sisters’ Islands Marine Park will be carried out sensitively on principles of sustainability to ensure existing habitats and the biodiversity they support are not negatively impacted. These plans had been developed following the feasibility study which started in 2015 after engaging key stakeholders to seek ideas and feedback. The feasibility study was initiated to explore sustainable ways to conserve the habitats in Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, while providing a range of outreach and educational activities for members of the public.

Conservation, outreach and educational plans for Big Sister’s Island

Big Sister’s Island will serve the Marine Park’s objectives of conservation, outreach and education. Members of the public can look forward to a boardwalk, intertidal pools and a floating pontoon which will be sensitively established. Further inland, there will be forest trails for the public to explore.

Conservation, outreach and educational plans for Big Sister’s Island

Boardwalk
Estimated completion timeline: End 2018

Members of the public can get a closer look at the coastal flora and fauna as they explore the boardwalk along the lagoon. Set against the backdrop of the sea, the boardwalk provides opportunities for visitors to take in scenic views of the coastline and
spot biodiversity.

Artist impression of boardwalk at high tide (Courtesy of National Parks Board)

Intertidal pools
Estimated completion timeline: End 2018

Intertidal pools located along the inner sea walls create an environment similar to natural rock pools, providing additional hiding places for marine organisms, allowing visitors to view them up close at low tides.

Artist impression of intertidal pool (Courtesy of National Parks Board)

Floating pontoon
Estimated completion timeline: Early 2018

A floating pontoon will be sensitively installed at the Big Sister’s Island, adjacent to the jetty and looping back to the
shore. The pontoon will be specially designed to enhance biodiversity and provide opportunities for visitors to view marine life such as sea fans, sponges, sea anemones as well as hard and soft corals up close. Visitors will also get to observe other mobile marine life through viewing panels on the base of the pontoons.

Artist impression of floating pontoon (Courtesy of National Parks Board)

Forest trails
Estimated completion timeline: Mid 2018

Members of the public can experience nature and greenery as they trek the forest trails at Big Sister’s Island. The forest trails will provide opportunities for visitors to spot coastal forest plants and go birdwatching.

Artist impression of forest trails (Courtesy of National Parks Board)

Visitors pavilion
Estimated completion timeline: Early 2018

A visitors pavilion, equipped with information on Sisters’ Islands Marine Park and the biodiversity within, will be built adjacent to the jetty

Conservation and research plans for Small Sister’s Island

Small Sister’s Island will serve as a dedicated site for marine conservation research with facilities to promote species recovery and habitat enhancement. Programmes will be conducted to facilitate visits for schools, institutes and organisations to learn about marine research and initiatives that are carried out in Singapore waters. NParks will be establishing a coral nursery and Singapore’s first turtle hatchery, which will be developed through a $500,000 donation from HSBC

Turtle hatchery and outreach facility
Estimated completion timeline: End 2017

Singapore’s first turtle hatchery will be set up at Small Sister’s Island through a $500,000 donation from HSBC. The hatchery will provide a safe refuge for rescued turtle eggs, giving them a chance to hatch safely. Education and outreach
programmes will also be put in place to create awareness of our local marine biodiversity.

Artist impression of turtle hatchery
(Courtesy of National Parks Board)

Coral nursery
Estimated completion timeline: End 2017

A coral nursery will be sensitively established to safeguard hard corals found in Singapore waters. The nursery will play an important role in the conservation of coral species, especially in view of rising sea temperatures. Corals undergo bleaching when the temperature of the waters gets too high. This means that they lose a major source of food and are more susceptible to disease and other stressors. With the creation of a coral nursery, locally rare corals that may be threatened by coral bleaching for example can be moved to a controlled environment which would help to ensure their survival.

Coastal plant conservation areas and reef enhancement units will also be set up at both Big and Small Sister’s Islands.

Coastal plant conservation areas
Estimated completion timeline: End 2018

The coastal plant conservation areas will feature around 30 coastal plant species found in Singapore as part of marine conservation initiatives. This includes critically endangered coastal plant species such as Pemphis acidula and Tristaniopsis obovata.Members of the public can visit the coastal plant conservation area on Big Sister’s Island to learn more about coastal flora. The coastal plant conservation area on Small Sister’s Island will be a dedicated site for research and conservation purposes.

Reef enhancement units
Estimated completion timeline: Ongoing

As part of the Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme, targeted coral species will be transplanted from the coral nursery in the marine park onto reef enhancement units, which are artificial structures placed within suitable reef zones to enhance bare areas for marine organisms to grow and reef fish to seek refuge.

MEDIA FACTSHEET B
Turtle Hatchery

Singapore’s first sea turtle hatchery will be set up at the southern lagoon on Small Sister’s Island through a $500,000 donation from HSBC. The Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles will be the key species covered under the project.

Turtles visit Singapore’s shores throughout the year to lay eggs on the sandy beaches.

Since 2012, there have been ten reported sightings of turtles on the shores of East Coast Park and Changi Beach. Members of the public can call the NParks hotline at 1800-471 7300 (Toll-free), or the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) at 9783 7782 to report sightings of turtles on Singapore’s shores. The organisations will follow up on the reported sightings, in consultation with each other to ensure the safety of these turtles. If eggs are found and assessed to be at risk, they will be collected and transferred to the turtle hatchery at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park where they will be monitored and cared for until they hatch and are released into the sea.

The hatchery would also provide research opportunities to study local sea turtle populations. Education and outreach programmes will be developed to create awareness of our local marine biodiversity. These include visits to the turtle hatchery, involvement in egg collection and transfer to the hatchery, and habitat maintenance.

The $500,000 donation from HSBC will support the building of a facility for receiving rescued eggs and where outreach programmes are conducted on the island, over a period of five years. Educational signs and materials will also be developed for the outreach facility. HSBC staff will be involved in habitat maintenance and possibly collection of eggs when they are found and reported by members of the public.

HSBC Singapore CEO, Guy Harvey-Samuel said, "Our long-standing environmental and educational programmes have taught us that building a sustainable environment requires public and private sectors, NGOs, and communities to work together to deliver lasting
positive changes. HSBC is pleased to support National Parks Board's first Marine Park in Singapore and its ambition to inspire the community to protect our city-state’s rich marine biodiversity. We are very excited to see the education that it will nurture round marine biodiversity, especially amongst young Singaporeans. We also look forward to seeing the Marine Park inspire people to make their mark when it comes to the conservation of our environment."

Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef Programme

Caring for the marine biodiversity and the environment is the social responsibility of every individual. The Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme is a platform for organisations and individuals to actively participate in the habitat enhancement efforts of the Sisters’ Island Marine Park by sponsoring a coral under the Plant-A-Coral initiative or a Reef
Enhancement Unit (REU) under the Seed-A-Reef initiative.

Plant-A-Coral initiative
Under the Plant-A-Coral initiative, organisations and individuals will be able to sponsor a coral with a minimal donation of $200. Coral nubbins, which are small coral fragments, will be attached to wall plugs and allowed to grow to suitable sizes within nurseries and on the reef before being transplanted to the REU. Donors will be entitled to participate in a free intertidal guided walk at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park to experience the rich biodiversity.

Seed-A-Reef initiative
Under the Seed-A-Reef initiative, organisations and individuals will be able to sponsor a REU with a minimal donation of $20,000. REUs are artificial structures placed within suitable reef zones to enhance bare areas for marine organisms to grow and reef fish to seek refuge.

Donors will be able to prepare coral nubbins which will be transplanted to the REU when ready. In addition, donors will be entitled to participate in a free coastal guided walk at St John’s Island to experience the natural and historical heritage of the island.

To kick off the programme, HSBC has fully supported the first phase of the Seed-A-Reef initiative, donating $180,000 for nine REUs. More REUs will be put up for sponsorship in subsequent phases of the Seed-A-Reef initiative.

The Plant-A-Coral, Seed-A-Reef programme is open to the public. To sponsor a coral, interested parties can make a donation online via NParks’ registered charity and IPC, Garden City Fund, at www.gardencityfund.org/coral. Donors will also receive a certificate of recognition and a photo update every six months on the progress of the REUs on the Garden City Fund website for a period of three years.

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