Over 50 species of native coastal plants to be introduced at Coney Island Park

Today Online 29 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — Over 50 species of native coastal plants, including critically endangered species, will be introduced to a four-hectare plot of land at Coney Island Park over the next five years.

The five-year habitat enhancement programme is a collaboration between the National Parks Board (NParks) and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC Bank), which will see primarily OCBC Bank management and staff donating S$250,000 to the fund the programme.

Among the species to be planted include the Small-leaved Nutmeg (Knema globularia), Silver Bush (Sophora tormentosa), and the Damak-damak Tahun (Scolopia macrophylla), which was believed to be extinct until its rediscovery on Coney Island Park in 2014.

NParks CEO Kenneth Er said: “(The Scolopia macrophylla) was previously last seen in 1953, more than 60 years ago. We subsequently found more individuals in its vicinity and took great care to conserve this rare find.

“OCBC volunteers helped to propagate more Scolopia saplings last month, so that we can re-introduce more of the plants here,” he added.

From May 31, OCBC volunteers have been partnering NParks staff to Coney Island Park to locate and propagate several endangered plant species.

OCBC Group CEO Samuel Tsien, who requested interesting and attractive plants be introduced as part of the habitat enhancement programme, said: “I want (our families, friends, and beneficiaries from our charity partners) to experience the excitement, and, for the older people, the pleasant recall of their childhood days – when they don’t have interactive cyber games such as Counterstrike, or Candy Crush to engage in, but interacting with the nature at parks and gardens which was part of the (growing) up process.”

Under the programme, more Scolopia specimens will be introduced to help re-establish a population. This, together with the other species, will make it the most diverse habitat enhancement project planned for the 50-hectare Coney Island Park since its opening in 2015, NParks and OCBC said in a joint statement on Thursday (June 29).

In turn, the seeds from the initial batch will help to regenerate and natural ecosystem and build plant diversity in the area, which will provide habitat for fauna such as the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, the Spotted Wood Owl and dragonflies like the Sultan and Lined Forest-Skimmer.

Donations from OCBC will also help to add additional features such as trails and benches to Coney Island Park in a sensitive manner.

“Conservation requires long-term effort from everyone, and such initiatives to enhance habitats are integral to our overall plan to conserve our native biodiversity,” said Mr Er.

“This project will go a long way in helping the natural ecosystem of Coney Island Park to recover and thrive.”

NParks partners OCBC in plant-restoration project
Yap Li Yin Straits Times 30 Jun 17;

The twin-apple tree, which is considered locally extinct in Singapore, has been planted back on the island, using saplings propagated from a mother tree that was kept in a National Parks Board (NParks) nursery for more than a decade.

Also known as Ochrosiaoppositifolia, two saplings of the species were planted in Coney Island Park yesterday at the launch of a programme which aims to introduce 50 species of coastal plants there over the next five years.

The twin-apple tree produces a fruit that looks like two green apples fused together.

Launched in partnership with OCBC Bank, the programme is part of NParks' ongoing habitat-enhancement efforts under the Nature Conservation Masterplan (NCMP).

The NCMP, announced in 2015, lays out Singapore's biodiversity conservation roadmap until 2020.

NParks said the project is one of the most diverse habitat-enhancement projects planned for Coney Island so far.

Other rare species such as the damak-damak tahun (Scolopiamacrophylla) - which was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2014 - will also be introduced to a 4ha land area.

Prior to the launch of the programme, site assessments had been carried out by NParks to document and understand the health of the habitats, and to determine suitable restoration techniques.

The plants introduced will then act as seed sources for the subsequent regeneration of the natural ecosystem.

"While we are only working on a 4ha plot of land, this can become a catalyst for the dispersal of the plants to the entire island," said NParks group director of parks Chuah Hock Seong.

Staff volunteers from OCBC will be working with NParks on different aspects of the habitat-enhancement process, from the collection and propagation of the plants, to outreach efforts such as conducting learning expeditions.

The bank management and staff also donated $250,000 to the Garden City Fund, a registered charity established by NParks, to support this programme.