Best of our wild blogs: 17 May 18

13 June (Wed): FREE Public Talks on Seagrass!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Pulau Sekudu with Intertidal Watch
wild shores of singapore

Endangered Species Day
BES Drongos

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Singapore to create 'largest' artificial reef at Sisters' Island

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 17 May 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s largest artificial reef habitat will be created at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park by the end of this year, announced JTC and the National Parks Board (NParks) on Thursday (May 17).

The project will see between four to eight giant artificial reef structures being pre-fabricated off-site and sunk in the waters off Small Sister's Island, within the Sisters' Islands Marine Park. The number of structures will depend on the final design.

Each reef structure will be made from materials including concrete, steel and rocks recycled from other JTC projects.

Standing at 10m, the equivalent of a three-storey terrace house, the structures will occupy the entire water column from sub-surface to the seafloor, sitting on the seabed. To avoid disturbing the underwater environment, no piling or major works will be carried out, said NParks and JTC.

Mostly bare with a sandy substrate, the area where the structures will be placed was chosen in consultation with relevant government agencies, experts, as well as members of the Friends of the Marine Park Community.

Expected to contribute some 500 sq m of additional reef area to the Marine Park, the project will also help to support existing habitat enhancement and reef restoration efforts to conserve marine biodiversity.

Finding solutions to conserve marine reefs is important, given rising temperatures which will lead to more coral bleaching.

"If we can find strategies now, we can hedge against future climate change challenges," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine branch at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

Professor Chou Loke Ming, a coral expert from the National University of Singapore (NUS), stressed that exploring ways to restore and sustain coral habitats is paramount.

"Size for size, Singapore has one of the largest variety of marine species in the world. However, development and the fast-changing climate remain constant threats to our marine ecosystem," said Prof Chou.

Currently, more than 250 species of hard coral are found in Singapore's waters, which accounts for about one-third of the world's hard coral species.

Beyond enhancing reefs and expanding habitat restoration efforts, the project will also provide opportunities for various research initiatives to be implemented and serve as test beds for new technologies to study coral reef resilience.

Going forward, JTC says it hopes to work with NParks to double the artificial reef areas created at Sisters' Islands, bring it to 1,000 sq m by 2030.

Source: CNA/zl(hm)

Undersea housing for marine life to create Singapore's largest artificial reef

Noel Low Straits Times 17 May 18;

SINGAPORE - "Terrace houses" for coral and marine life will soon have pride of place in the waters off the Southern Islands, in an ambitious effort to create the nation's largest artificial reef.

The National Parks Board (NParks) and JTC Corporation are working on the project at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, which will see 10m high structures placed in the waters by the end of the year. They will be made from concrete and recycled rocks from JTC's other projects.

The idea is to transform what is now bare seabed into a thriving marine ecosystem by giving corals a place to take root, which will in turn attract fish and other sea life.

Singapore is home to more than 250 species of hard corals, about one-third of the worldwide diversity. Singapore reefs have also responded more resiliently against recent bleaching events, compared to other parts of the world.

NParks Director for Coastal and Marine at the National Biodiversity Centre, Dr Karenne Tun, said the location of the artificial reef is ideal for a "source reef" due to the geography and current flow.

"It's spawn will reach other areas and feed the other reefs in Singapore."

Noted JTC's deputy director for Engineering and Operations John Kiong: "It's akin to a three-storey terrace house lowered into the sea." To avoid environmental impact, the structures, which will be off Pulau Subar Darat (Small Sisters island) will behave anchor pins to hold them in place without the need for piling. The structures also require no maintenance.

While previous research projects used artificial structures to renew parts of existing reefs, this is the first time an entire reef will be created. It will have a total surface area of 500sqm, and pave the way for future projects.

Coral reef scientist Professor Chou Loke Ming, who is the project consultant, said he expects to see "coral recruits" - or tiny coral colonies, forming just six months after the structures are installed. This could be even faster if coral fragments are transplanted from other reefs.

Nparks also has a nursery where corals are bred, which can then be introduced to the artificial reef. It hopes to introduce rarer species and increase the variety of corals at the reef.

JTC said the project is part of its commitment to responsible development. Its engineering expertise also comes in handy with the building of the reef structures.

The project was also designed with input from the public, such as Friends of the Marine Park Community.

Prof Chou said that he was excited by the size and scaleability of the project.

Stressing the the importance of sustaining marine biodiversity in the face of rapid urbanisation and climate change pointing out that 60 per cent of Singapore's natural reef area has already been lost due to development.

He added that sedimentation has also compressed the coral growth zone. Corals previously grew at water depths in excess of 12m, but are now restricted to around depths of 8m because sunlight, which the corals need to survive, does not penetrate deeper.

Dr Tun added that active intervention is needed to sustain marine biodiversity. Giving one example, she said that that researchers found a specimen from the rare coral species, Stylophora pistillata, in 2006, and monitored its growth in the wild. Unfortunately, the coral died in 2010.

"It showed us that we needed to step in", Dr Tun said.

Nparks has managed to breed six offspring of another rare coral species, Gardineroseris planulata, in the nursery.

The announcement coincides with the start of NPark's Biodiversity week. Members of the public are invited to the Festival Of Biodiversity on 2 and 3 June, at the open space between Tampines MRT and Tampines mall. A prototype of the artificial reef will be on display.

Sisters’ Islands Marine Park to get Singapore’s biggest artificial reef by the year end
CHEN LIN Today Online 17 May 18;

SINGAPORE — Sisters' Island Marine Park will be home to the Republic's largest artificial reef by the end of this year.

The project is jointly launched by JTC and the National Parks Board (NParks) to support Singapore's Year of Climate Action 2018 on Thursday (May 17). It will see the marine park get an additional 500 sq m of reef area to support existing habitat enhancement and reef restoration efforts to conserve marine biodiversity.

The red-boxed area is where the first artificial reef structures will be placed. Source: JTC.

The artificial reef, covering an area slightly bigger than a basketball court, will be formed by pre-fabricated concrete structures about 10m tall that will be sunk in the waters of the park.

Occupying the entire water column from sub-surface to the seafloor, the structures, which are the size of three-storey terrace houses, are designed to provide numerous and unique habitat niches for a wide variety of marine life.

Recycled rocks will also be attached to their surfaces to increase surface complexity and promote the growth of coral, which will in turn attract fish and other sea life.

The artificial reefs are also designed to be self-sustaining, requiring minimal or no maintenance.

It is hoped that the seafloor, which is currently mostly bare with sandy substrate, can turn into a thriving marine ecosystem.

The structures, which would sit on the seabed without piling or major works, are conceptualised to minimise impact to the existing marine environment.

The project's proposed site was chosen in consultation with relevant government agencies, academic experts and members of the Friends of the Marine Park community.

JTC, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, is contributing its engineering expertise to support NPark's work in marine reef conservation.

And JTC and NParks' aim is to double the artificial reef areas created at Sisters' Islands to 1,000 sq m by 2030.

They hope the artificial reef would also provide opportunities for various research initiatives to be implemented as well as serve as test beds for new technologies to study coral reef resilience.

For example, they could be a platform for transplanting corals that have been grown in the nursery, and some of these may include locally rare species, such as Gardineroseris planulata.

While the public can access dive trails at the marine park during designated dive windows, NParks said there are no plans to include the artificial reef into the trails, as they need areas that are managed and monitored, for the healthy growth of corals.

Coral at the marine park have been bleaching due to climate change, and can only be accessed only during designated dive windows to protect the reefs.

Addressing concerns that artificial reefs may cause pollution to seawater and their ineffectiveness in increasing biodiversity, Mr John Kiong, deputy director of JTC's Engineering and Operations Group, said the main material used, concrete, has been shown to support marine biodiversity.

Furthermore, coral reef scientist Chou Loke Ming from the National University of Singapore said that while it is true that artificial reefs can attract fishes from other coral reefs initially, after a few years, the fishes will redistribute and establish their own populations on various reefs.

"So (the presence of artificial reef) does not lower the population on the natural reefs," Professor Chou added.

Such active intervention is needed to sustain marine biodiversity, said Dr Karenne Tun, director (coastal and marine) at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

Citing an example of how researchers discovered a rare species of coral not seen in local waters for a very long time in 2006, despite active monitoring, it bleached and died in 2010.

"That was when we realised it is not just about monitoring, it is about active intervention," Dr Tun said.

The project is launched in conjunction with NPark's Biodiversity Week. For more information on the series of events, visit

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Indonesia: Greenpeace to cut ties with APP after allegations of deforestation

AUDREY TAN The New Paper 17 May 18;

International environmental group Greenpeace is cutting ties with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) over allegations that it is still linked to the destruction of forests for pulpwood.

The announcement puts an end to about five years of collaboration between them. Greenpeace had advised APP on the implementation of the latter's forest conservation policies.

"Greenpeace International has put these allegations to APP/Sinar Mas. The group failed to provide a credible response or take meaningful action.

"As a result, Greenpeace has ended all further engagement with APP/Sinar Mas," Greenpeace said yesterday.

Sinar Mas Group is the parent company of APP, Indonesia's largest pulp and paper company, which was linked to the severe haze in South-east Asia in 2015.

Following the crisis, APP beefed up its fire-suppression strategies and reaffirmed its commitment to the zero-deforestation pledge it made in 2013.

But an analysis of satellite imagery and company deeds showed that almost 8,000ha of forest and peatland had been cleared in two concessions owned by pulpwood company Muara Sungai Landak and a Sinar Mas mining company, Golden Energy and Resources, said Greenpeace.

Both concessions were linked to APP and the Sinar Mas Group, a claim which APP has disputed.

The latest allegations follow an Associated Press report last December that implied APP had covered up links to suppliers that practise deforestation or illegal slash-and-burn methods. APP rubbished the report when it was published.

Yesterday, an APP spokesman said an unnamed independent auditor had in 2014 concluded that Muara Sungai Landak had no relationship with APP.

"However, as a result of the allegation made in the Associated Press report, we conducted an investigation and found that three of (the company's) shareholders, and not two as stated in... Greenpeace's statement, had relationships with APP."

Two were former employees, and one was an employee who had not declared his shareholdings and position within Muara Sungai Landak.

"The employee was terminated with immediate effect," said the APP spokesman.

He said he was unable to speak on behalf of Golden Energy and Resources, as it "operates independently from us and does not supply wood to APP".

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