Bringing wildlife back to the city: Singapore’s idea

Sheralyn Tay, Today Online 30 May 08;

ULTRA-URBAN Singapore has a proposal for the world: Create :a City Biodiversity Index.

To better enhance the conservation of urban biodiversity — the variety of plant and animal life in an urban ecosystem — Minister of National Development Mah Bow Tan raised this idea yesterday :in Bonn, Germany, at the 9th conference of the parties to the convention on biological diversity.

Said Mr Mah: “Currently, there are no well-established indices to measure biodiversity in cities. Such a City Biodiversity Index can assist cities in the benchmarking of our biodiversity conservation efforts over time.

“It can help us to evaluate our progress in reducing the rate of biodiversity loss.”

He noted that Singapore, urbanised as it is, has managed to not only set aside 10 per cent of land for parks and nature reserves — it has even increased the green cover, consisting of parks, park connectors, streetscape and waterfront greenery, to 50 per cent.

This is a 10-per-cent increase over the past 20 years, despite a 70-per-cent growth in population, he said.

Other testaments to Singapore’s convervation efforts is the creation of an on-site coral nursery alongside an offshore landfill.

And the Oriental Pied Hornbill, which disappeared from Singapore for: more than 50 years, is now establishing healthy populations on Pulau Ubin.

Conservationist Mr N Sivasothi, of the biological science department at the National University of Singapore, welcomed the index concept as it would raise awareness of Singapore’s biodiversity on a macrolevel, he said.

At the micro-level, it will help inform decisions such as how to integrate existing nature with urban projects, he felt.

Singapore proposes establishment of City Biodiversity Index
Channel NewsAsia 29 May 08;

SINGAPORE : Singapore has proposed the creation of a "City Biodiversity Index", and National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said this will help cities evaluate progress in reducing biodiversity loss.

Mr Mah was addressing delegates at a conference hosted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn, Germany.

While many technical details needed to be worked out, Mr Mah said the proposed index could be set up under the convention's auspices and serve as a benchmark for biodiversity conservation efforts.

The city-state has offered to host the first meeting of an expert panel to kick-start the development of the new index.

Touching on Singapore's efforts, Mr Mah cited a successful conservation project which saw the return of the Oriental Pied Hornbill to the republic after more than 50 years. - CNA /ls