February Events in Singapore

Check out the green events in Singapore this February. Let’s raise awareness, take action, connect with nature, join the environmental movement, and meet like-minded people.

cover-photo

1. Edible Garden Volunteers

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sun, 11th, 18th, and 25th of Feb.

Location: Roof Top Garden @ 506, 506 Yishun Avenue 4, Singapore, 760506

Organiser: Tony the Farmer

Description:

Visit the community garden and help out with basic garden chores like weeding, composting preps, harvesting, soil mixing, and watering. Produce from the garden goes to the community fridge, which helps families in need.

Click here to learn more. .

2. Litter Vanture (Clean up)

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Sat., 17th Feb.

Location: Boon Keng MRT Station (NE9), 900 Serangoon Road, Singapore, 328260

Organiser: Stridy

Description:

Get an hour of walking exercise in, maybe meet some interesting people, do some good and learn all about the waste management challenges in Singapore.

Litter picking equipment will be provided so you won’t get your hands dirty.

Click here for more information.

3. Urban Farming Workshop

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., 23rd Feb., 2024

Location: Choa Chu Kang Public Library – Programme Room 1 (Level 4), 21 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, Lot One Shoppers’ Mall, #04-01/02

Organiser: GoLibrary | National Library Board

Description:

The programme will cover Singapore’s food story as well as the “30 by 3o” mission. Participants will learn about urban farming and the science behind Controlled Environmental Agriculture.

Learn more about the event here.

4. NUS Social Impact Catalyst: Project Demo Day

Time: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., 24th Feb., 2024

Location: 180 Kitchener Road #06-10, Singapore, 208539

Organiser: NUS Social Impact Catalyst

Description:

NUS Social Impact Catalyst’s annual Project Demo Day (PDD) showcases top-tier student talent and explores groundbreaking student-led projects focusing on sustainability and innovation.

Witness a competitive pitch battle where NUS students contend for grants totaling $65,000, driving their projects towards real-world impact.

Learn more about the event here.

5. Plastic: Remaking Our World

Time: 23rd Jan. – 23rd Jun., 2024

Location: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road Singapore

Organiser: National Museum of Singapore

Description:

Plastic: Remaking Our World examines the history and future of this controversial material: from its meteoric rise in the 20th century and its environmental impact to cutting-edge solutions for a more sustainable way of using plastic. The exhibition features over 300 objects, posters, films and photographs from the Vitra Design Museum and its partners, including rarities from the dawn of the plastic age, objects of the pop era and contemporary designs and projects, with additional content on the use of plastic and sustainability in Singapore.

Learn more details here.

6. Zero • Market

Time: 9:00 – 14:00, 1st and 3rd Saturday & Sunday

Place: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, 30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768796

Organiser: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre 慈济人文青年中心

Description:

The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! They are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

Learn more here.

7. Repair Kopitiam

Time: Sunday, 25th February 

Place: Various locations 

Organiser: Repair Kopitiam 

Description:

Repair Kopitiam is an initiative designed to combat the disposable culture by offering a platform where individuals can mend their personal belongings with guidance and assistance from volunteer “Repair Coaches”. This do-it-yourself (DIY) repair event takes place on the final Sunday of each month at different locations throughout the country. To participate, attendees need to schedule a specific timeslot and are allowed to bring up to two items for repair during each session.

Booking opens on 9th February through 21st February. Read event house rules here.

Fostering Communities of Change, One Repair at a Time

In the vibrant city-state of Singapore, a transformative initiative known as Repair Kopitiam has been quietly revolutionizing the way residents approach their belongings.

cover-photo

Introduction

In the vibrant city-state of Singapore, a transformative initiative known as Repair Kopitiam has been quietly revolutionizing the way residents approach their belongings. Founded in 2014 by Veerappan Swaminathan and Farah Sanwari and currently run by SL2 Impact, the non-profit arm of Sustainable Living Lab, Repair Kopitiam has evolved into a force combating the prevalent “Buy and Throw Away” culture. By encouraging residents to repair rather than discard, the initiative aims to create a sustainable society that redefines the lifecycle of products.

Monthly Repair Meetups

The heartbeat of Repair Kopitiam is its community-driven approach, evident in the monthly repair meetups held on the last Sunday of each month. At these events, diverse groups of people converge, bringing with them malfunctioning or broken household items in need of repair. The initiative not only addresses the immediate issue of item repair but also fosters a collective responsibility towards a circular economy.

Volunteer Repair Coaches

Central to the success of Repair Kopitiam is the passionate volunteer Repair Coaches who guide participants through the repair process. The transfer of knowledge from those proficient in repairs to eager learners forms the backbone of a sustainable community model. Beyond one-off repair events, Repair Kopitiam offers workshops where participants delve into the intricacies of tinkering, gaining technical prowess and the mindset of a lifelong learner.

Community Impacts

With a cumulative impact of training approximately 4,500 volunteer Repair Coaches since its inception, Repair Kopitiam currently operates with over 100 Repair Coaches across nine event locations. The initiative serves as a filter for recycling, focusing on the importance of repairing items before resorting to recycling. By promoting pre-repair maintenance, replacing broken parts, and salvaging functional components, Repair Kopitiam seeks to lower the barrier for the general public to engage in repair activities.

A Vision for the Future

Repair Kopitiam recognizes the pivotal role that the youth play in shaping the future, and as such, the initiative actively engages this demographic through collaborations with educational and youth organisations in Singapore. Extending beyond the monthly repair meetups, these programmes emphasize the importance of pre-repair maintenance, instilling in the youth a proactive mindset regarding the maintenance and repair of everyday items.

Conclusion

photo: Repair Kopitiam

In the hands of Repair Kopitiam, discarded items find new life, and communities are woven together through shared experiences of repair and resilience. Repair Kopitiam stands as a powerful exemplar of grassroots initiatives, showcasing that by addressing the specific needs of individuals within communities, a ripple effect of positive change can be sparked, fostering a collective ethos of responsibility and environmental stewardship.

The Weird and Wonderful: Coral Reef

Much of Singapore’s coral reefs have experienced significant impact due to extensive land reclamation and coastal development over the past five decades. From 1922 to 1993, the extent of coral reef areas was reduced by nearly 50%. 

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Are corals rocks, plants, or animals?

Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems that play a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of marine environments. These living structures serve as foundation keystone species and ecosystem engineers, providing habitat and shelter to a multitude of marine species. Despite occupying less than 1% of the marine floor, coral reefs support over 25% of the world’s marine life.

Although corals permanently attach themselves to the ocean floor and “take root” like most plants do, and they don’t have distinct faces or body parts like most animals do, they are animals. 

As foundation species, hard corals play a transformative role in shaping their surrounding environments by building coral reefs that many other organisms use. Coral reefs are made up of hundreds to thousands of small, delicate marine organisms known as coral polyps. These tiny coral polyps secrete a hard outer skeleton of calcium carbonate that attaches to rock or the dead skeletons of other polyps. Over time, as the calcium carbonate accumulates and corals reproduce, the size of a coral reef grows. They are built over hundreds of thousands of years. 

Coral polyps live in a symbiotic relationship with a specific type of algae called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues. The coral provides the plant-like organism with a protected environment, sufficient sunlight, and nutrients in the form of the coral’s metabolic waste for photosynthesis, the process by which plants make their food. In return, the zooxanthellae produce oxygen, remove wastes, and supply the coral with the organic products it needs to grow and thrive. 

Not all corals are reef builders; soft corals do not build stony skeletons and don’t have a symbiotic relationship with algae. 

Corals are communal animals related to sea anemones and jellyfish. Each tiny coral polyp uses their stinging tentacles to capture creatures like zooplankton or organic debris that float by. Their symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae allows them to get additional energy. Remarkably, the zooxanthellae transfer approximately 90% of the organic material they produce to the host coral tissue, enhancing the coral’s nutrient intake.

A symbiotic relationship is a close long-term relationship between two species, where one or both species benefit from the interaction. There are four main symbiotic relationships, mutualism, commensalism, parasitism, and competition.

Threats faced by coral reefs

Despite their many strengths, coral reefs are fragile and extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. They need clean, clear water to survive and have been especially vulnerable to a diverse range of human activities, including coastal changes and pollution. Today, the challenges faced by coral reefs are further exacerbated by two global trends: increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, primarily caused by climate change.

Zooxanthellae, in addition to supplying corals with vital nutrients, contribute to the distinctive and vibrant colours observed in many stony corals. When corals undergo physical stress, such as high temperatures, they expel their symbiotic zooxanthellae, losing their main food source. They also lose their colour, resulting in a bleak white appearance. This is commonly described as “coral bleaching”. Prolonged periods without zooxanthellae (and if bleaching events happen too frequently) can lead to the death of the coral colony.

The first global bleaching event occurred in 1998 and killed about 8% of the world’s coral. In the last four decades, there has been a noticeable decrease in the abundance of corals, accompanied by a more frequent occurrence of bleaching incidents and an increase in algae levels within our oceans, which suggest a decline in the overall health of coral reefs. Recent studies, however, have found that reef systems do not respond uniformly to bleaching events and post-bleaching recovery can occur at different degrees. 

What do we know about coral reefs in Singapore?

Much of Singapore’s coral reefs have experienced significant impact due to extensive land reclamation and coastal development over the past five decades. From 1922 to 1993, the extent of coral reef areas was reduced by nearly 50%. Consequently, these activities led to a rise in levels of turbidity and sediment in the marine environment.

Surprisingly, Singapore’s waters host a remarkably diverse array of marine life, boasting a diverse range of over 250 species of reef-forming hard corals that are habitat to over 100 species of reef fishes. Most of the coral reefs are found along the southern shores of Singapore––surrounding the islands, on tidally-exposed areas along the Singapore Straits, and along the last remaining rocky shore on Labrador Beach. There has also been unexpected diversity along man-made seawalls, which cover over 70% of Singapore’s coastline. 

Turbid coral reefs, characterised by high levels of turbidity, are often found in shallow coastal waters close to urban areas like Singapore. They have shown an incredible ability to endure and survive under chronic sediment stress and low-light environmental conditions. It has also been suggested that Singapore’s urbanised reefs can recover quickly from thermal stress events, compared to reefs in more remote areas. 

As climate change continues to drive increases in ocean temperatures, the frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves and severe bleaching events are also on the rise. Additionally, rising sea levels are resulting in deeper waters above shallow reefs, reducing the amount of light that reaches the corals, and potentially threatening reefs around the world.

While our coral reefs demonstrate remarkable resilience and adaptability in coping with challenging conditions of reduced light and high temperatures, there can still be negative impacts on their overall health and growth. The survival of these vital marine ecosystems depends on our proactive and innovative measures and solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. By acting now, we can work towards preserving and safeguarding these valuable ecosystems.

How can you contribute to protecting and conserving our coral reefs?

  • Practice responsible snorkelling and diving. Avoid touching or stepping on corals and maintain a safe distance from marine life
  • Choose reef-friendly sunscreen. Use mineral-based sunscreen that is free of harmful chemicals known to cause coral bleaching.
  • Reduce pollution and waste to prevent pollutants from entering the marine environment.
  • Support sustainable seafood practices to reduce the demand for destructive fishing practices.
  • Contribute to reef restoration efforts. Volunteer or donate to organisations that actively work towards restoring damaged reefs and promoting their conservation. Explore WildSingapore’s list of opportunities for individuals to contribute their assistance.
  • Respect marine protected areas. Observe and adhere to regulations when visiting Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. 

If you come across coral reefs in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

Further reading:

🇸🇬 100,000 corals to be planted in Singapore waters, Big Sister’s Island to reopen in 2024

📋 Scientists Are Learning How to Help Coral Reefs Save Themselves

The Weird and Wonderful: Sea Star

Sea Stars, commonly called Starfish, are not fish. They don’t have gills, fins, scales, and no backbone. These star-shaped invertebrates are related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers, which all belong to the group Echinodermata––meaning spiny skin.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Sea Stars

Sea Stars, commonly called Starfish, are not fish. They don’t have gills, fins, scales, and no backbone. These star-shaped invertebrates are related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers, which all belong to the group Echinodermata––meaning spiny skin. Echinoderms have hard calcified skin that helps them protect them from most predators.

Sea stars can be found in every ocean of the world. Most species have five long arms that join a central disk, although some may have more like the Eight-armed Sea Star!

Common name: Eight-armed Sea Star

Scientific name: Luidia maculate 

The Eight-armed Sea Star is native to the Indo-Pacific region. It is one of the largest species of sea stars in Singapore and can grow up to 60cm across in diameter. The number of arms can range from five to nine, but it is commonly observed that they have eight arms. It is often spotted in sub-tidal waters or near areas with seagrass or coral rubble in Northern shores. It feeds on both algae, rotting plants, mussels, clams, snails, worms, and other small creatures.  

Sea stars are known for their five-point radial symmetry. Some sea stars have arms so short and stubby that they resemble a pentagon, like the Cushion Star.

Common name: Cushion Star

Scientific name: Culcita novaeguineae

The Cushion Star is a small sea star that grows up to 5cm. It has very short, broad arms and a puffy appearance, resembling a pentagonal pin cushion. It varies in colour and can be found in tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific. It feeds on algae, barnacles, and other invertebrates. To catch its food, the cushion star inflates its “cushion”, and deflates on top of its prey.

Sea stars have hundreds of suction-bottomed tube feet on the underside of their arms. These tube feet serve various functions such as helping sea stars move, attach to surfaces, and collect food.

Most sea stars are carnivores, feeding on sea urchins, clams, oysters, crabs, and snails. They display a scavenging behaviour, devouring nearly anything they can grasp with their arms.  Certain species are omnivores, also incorporating algae and decaying plant matter in their diet. 

In numerous ecosystems, sea stars play a vital role as keystone species, contributing to the maintenance of a healthy marine ecosystem. Their position as natural predators of sea urchins enables them to effectively control the population of sea urchins. Sea urchins have a voracious appetite for kelp and other vegetation, which serve as critical habitat and a food source for a wide variety of species. If sea stars were to decline or die off, the sea urchin population would multiply unchecked, leaving them to consume kelp uncontrollably. In Northern California, for example, the sunflower sea star’s disappearance has turned kelp forests into “urchin barrens”. 

In any ecosystem, including marine ecosystems, a keystone species plays a vital role in maintaining the overall structure and function of the system. Without their presence, ecosystems would experience significant alterations and may struggle to adapt to environmental changes. The disappearance of a keystone species can have far-reaching consequences, potentially disrupting the intricate balance and stability of the entire ecosystem. 

Sea stars face a range of threats, including habitat loss in reef flats and seagrass habitats due to human activities such as coastal development, land reclamation, and dredging. In addition to these localized threats, the broader issue of global warming and rising temperatures poses a significant risk to sea stars as well.

Sea stars have a unique respiratory system as they do not rely on gills or lungs to breathe. Instead, they absorb oxygen through specialized structures called papulae, or skin gills, which are distributed all across their outer surface. These papulae enable the sea stars to facilitate the process of oxygen diffusion. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University highlights that current ocean conditions have created an environment favourable for increased bacterial growth. Unfortunately, this excessive bacterial growth has led to a depletion of oxygen in the surrounding water––essentially depriving sea stars of the oxygen they need to survive. 

That being said, sea stars are incredibly resilient. They possess an incredible ability to regenerate parts of their body. Even if they lose an arm or a significant portion of their body, they have the remarkable capacity to regrow those sections. As long as at least one-fifth of the central disk and one arm remain intact, the sea star can fully recover. The process of regeneration may take up to a year.

There are at least 31 species of sea stars on the shores of Singapore. Here are two more remarkable species you might be fortunate enough to spot!

Common name: Knobbly Sea Star

Scientific name: Protoreaster nodosus 

The Knobbly Sea Star, also referred to as the Chocolate Chip Sea Star, stands out as one of the largest sea stars found in Singapore, growing up to an impressive 30cm in diameter. It has distinctive brown knobs that look like chocolate chips on its body and arms. These sea stars are commonly observed in areas abundant in coral rubble. Their diet consists of a diverse range of food sources such as clams, snails, sponges, as well as organic matter such as dead plants and animals.

Common name: Common Sea Star

Scientific name: Archaster typicus

The Common Sea Star, which is also known as the Sand Star, is typically found in the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Despite its name, this sea star has become increasingly rare on the shores of Singapore. With a maximum diameter of around 15cm, these sea stars usually exhibit gray or brownish colors. They prefer habitats in shallow, sheltered areas with silty or sandy substrates, often in proximity to seagrass beds and mangroves. Their diet consists of decaying plant matter as well as small creatures. One fascinating aspect about them is their ability to swiftly move using their tube feet, accomplishing speeds of up to 70cm per minute.

A key consideration when you spot a sea star: don’t pick it up!

You may have heard of the Starfish Story, where a man throws sea stars back into the ocean to save them. Contrary to this tale, picking up sea stars is not encouraged. Sea stars have soft and thin tissues and can become contaminated with bacteria passed on through human touch. The sunscreen or oils on our hands may also harm them.

Sea stars have a crucial dependence on seawater and have limited survival capabilities outside of their watery habitat. Notably, according to Ria Tan from Wild Singapore, if you happen to come across sea stars outside of water, they are likely alive and belong to intertidal species accustomed to enduring periods without water during low tide.

All sea stars that you see are probably alive, [since] dead sea stars disintegrate quickly and don’t leave behind whole skeletons.

Ria Tan, Wild Singapore

If you come across sea stars in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

References and further reading:

Sea Stars – Wild Singapore

Predator Overlap Keeps Prey From Getting out of Control

The Weird and Wonderful: Dragonfly

With their voracious appetite, dragonflies help regulate the populations of insects that potentially carry diseases, reducing the need for chemical insecticides.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies play a crucial role in ecosystems––their roles as predators and indicator species contribute to environmental health.

Dragonflies are a predatory species that eat all types of small insects­­. They primarily feed on mosquitoes, gnats, and flies. They are extremely skilful as hunters and catch up to 95% of the prey they go after–– much higher than other predators. Their impressive success rate is attributable to their exceptional flying skills, spectacular eyesight and lightning-fast neural systems. 

Dragonflies have two pair of wings that extend out horizontally at rest, much like an airplane. They can flap and beat their fore and hind wings independently and hover and fly in any direction, including backwards. They see much faster than we humans do. Each compound eye covers most of the dragonfly’s head, and allows it to see almost 360 degrees around it. Once dragonflies focus on a prey, they can predict its future location and swoop in on it with great accuracy.

Even as nymphs, baby dragonflies eat small aquatic creatures like mosquito larvae, worms, tadpoles, and even small fish!

With their voracious appetite, dragonflies help regulate the populations of insects that potentially carry diseases, reducing the need for chemical insecticides. A team of researchers from Nparks and the National University of Singapore are conducting a study on how to maximise the potential of dragonflies as natural pest control to combat dengue in Singapore. 

Dragonflies play a vital role as indicator species. They are highly sensitive to changes in water quality and habitat conditions, and dragonfly larvae require clean, unpolluted water to thrive. By monitoring dragonfly populations in certain areas, scientists can assess the health of aquatic ecosystems. A decline in the population or a decrease in diversity may be a sign of pollution, habitat loss, or other environmental disturbances. On the other hand, a good population of dragonflies is an indication of a healthy ecosystem. 

The presence, absence, or abundance of an indicator species reflects on a specific environmental condition. They can signal that something has changed or is going to change in the ecosystem and diagnose the health of an ecosystem.

Dragonflies also serve as an important food source for other animals including a wide range of birds, fish, frogs, and spiders. Their larvae are often prey to fishes and frogs. 

According to Nparks, there are over 123 dragonfly and damselfly species in Singapore. Dragonflies and damselflies belong to same order of insects called Odonata, meaning toothed jaws. Sometimes, they are both collectively referred to as dragonflies. You can tell a dragonfly from a damselfly by looking at how its wings look like at rest. Unlike the dragonfly, whose wings rest horizontally, the damselfly’s wings fold back in line with its abdomen. Damselflies also have a thin body and smaller eyes than the dragonfly.

Common dragonfly species you may spot in Singapore:

Common name: Crimson Dropwing

Scientific name: Trithemis aurora

The Crimson Dropwing is a common native dragonfly species that can be found in urban wetlands––in ponds and lakes. The males are a luminous fuchsia pink and females are golden yellow with black markings on the side.

Common name: Blue Dasher

Scientific name: Brachydiplax chalybea

The Blue Dasher is an abundant native species. They live near still calm bodies of water and particularly like lotus ponds. The males are a chalky blue colour with a black tip at the end of its abdomen and females are black with yellow stripes along the side and top.

Common name: Common Scarlet

Scientific name: Crocothemis servilia

The Common Scarlet is a common native species and are one of the larger red dragonflies found in Singapore. The males are red from head to tail and the female is light brown. Both males and females have a dark vertical line down the centre of their abdomen.

Common name: Common Parasol

Scientific name: Neurothemis fluctuans

The Common Parasol is the most common dragonfly species in Singapore. The males are reddish brown with maroon wings and transparent tips. Females are a dull brown with clear wings.

Common name: Yellow-barred Flutterer

Scientific name: Rhyothemis phyllis

The Yellow-barred Flutterer, also known as the Yellow-striped Flutterer, is common throughout Singapore and have been spotted far away from water. Swarms of the Yellow-barred Flutterer are often seen fluttering over grassy field in search from prey. Both males and females look similar. They are dark with a metallic sheen and have distinctive yellow and black bars on the base of their hind wings.

A key consideration when spotting dragonflies:

Watch your step near water bodies, keep your distance, and be careful not to stomp on dragonflies. The best time for dragonfly watching is from 9 am to 5 pm!

If you come across dragonflies in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

Further reading:

Motor Control: How Dragonflies Catch Their Prey 

Enhancing the Diversity of Dragonflies in Urban Areas

January Events in Singapore

As we welcome 2024, check out the green events in Singapore this coming January. Let’s raise awareness, take action, connect with nature, join the environmental movement, and meet like-minded people.

cover-photo

1. Textile Recycling Drive

Time: 9:00 – 21:00, 3rd Jan.

Location: NTU Alumni Club, Chill@5 at NTU@one-north
11 Slim Barracks Rise, Executive Centre #05-03

Organiser: NTU Alumni Club & Green Square

Description:

NTU Alumni Club is back with its annual textile recycling drive! Declutter your wardrobes and give your preloved clothes a second home! Recyclables collected will be handed over to second-hand textile importers in various developing countries.

Items collected include clean clothes, towels, bedsheets, curtains, cushion covers, functional bags, and belts.

Click here for more information.

2. The Opening of the New Children’s Biodiversity Library by S.E.A. Aquarium

Time: 12th Jan., 2024

Location: B1, Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street

Organiser: National Library Board, Singapore

Description:

The Children’s Biodiversity Library by S.E.A. Aquarium will be open on January 12th. It is Singapore’s first learning space dedicated to marine biodiversity for children in a public library.

In partnership with the National Library Board and Resorts World Sentosa, this unique space provides educational programmes every month that bring the magic of vibrant marine life closer to our young learners.

Check out all the programmes.

3. Ecological Visions: Singapore’s Evolving Landscape | Lit for the Planet

Time: 14:30– 16:30, Sun, 21st Jan.

Location: B1, Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street

Organiser: National Library Board, Singapore

Description:

Embark on a cinematic journey that delves into the relationship between Singapore’s status as a city-state with its island ecosystem. The compelling trio of films examine various knowledge systems at different points of history – the indigenous knowledge of the Orang Pulau, the practice of Mohammad Din, an artist-mystic and the observations of ornithologists. Their narratives capture the nuances of human-nature relationships and the transformative impact of urban development on indigenous communities across sea and land.

Reserve your ticket here.

4. Living with Tropical Birds

Time: 15:00, 21st Jan.

Location: Singapore Courtyard, Level 2, City Hall Wing, National Gallery Singapore

Organiser: National Gallery Singapore

Description:

Have an engaging exploration of the intersection between art, nature, and conservation, as avian veterinarian Dr Neo Peici delves into the world of macaws. Dr Neo will share her in-depth research about these captivating creatures, shedding light on the care and maintenance they require. Beyond the individual level of care, Dr Neo will also provide valuable insights into broader conservation strategies that can be actively embraced by avian keepers and enthusiasts in Singapore.

Learn more details here.

5. Plastic: Remaking Our World

Time: 23rd Jan. – 23rd Jun., 2024

Location: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road Singapore

Organiser: National Museum of Singapore

Description:

Plastic: Remaking Our World examines the history and future of this controversial material: from its meteoric rise in the 20th century and its environmental impact to cutting-edge solutions for a more sustainable way of using plastic. The exhibition features over 300 objects, posters, films and photographs from the Vitra Design Museum and its partners, including rarities from the dawn of the plastic age, objects of the pop era and contemporary designs and projects, with additional content on the use of plastic and sustainability in Singapore.

Learn more details here.

6. Zero • Market

Time: 9:00 – 14:00, 1st and 3rd Saturday & Sunday

Place: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, 30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768796

Organiser: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre 慈济人文青年中心

Description:

The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! They are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

Learn more here.

7. Repair Kopitiam

Time: Sunday, 28th January 

Place: Various locations 

Organiser: Repair Kopitiam 

Description:

Repair Kopitiam is an initiative designed to combat the disposable culture by offering a platform where individuals can mend their personal belongings with guidance and assistance from volunteer “Repair Coaches”. This do-it-yourself (DIY) repair event takes place on the final Sunday of each month at different locations throughout the country. To participate, attendees need to schedule a specific timeslot and are allowed to bring up to two items for repair during each session.

Booking opens on 12th January through 22nd January. Read event house rules here.

The Weird and Wonderful: Saga Tree

The Saga, also known as the Lucky Red Seed or Red Bead Tree, is an iconic tree in Singapore’s landscape. It is a large tree that grows up to 20 metres tall. It belongs to the legume family and, like other legumes such as soybeans and peanuts, their seeds come in a pod.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la 🎵 🎶

It’s holiday season! There are many traditions associated with the Christmas season. And many of these traditions involve plants. Evergreen trees are typically used as Christmas trees, poinsettias are well-liked for their red ornamental leaves, and holly adorn the halls with its bright red berries. However, it is worth noting that these plants do not thrive in tropical regions and are certainly not found in the Singapore landscape.

Saga

Common name: Saga

Scientific name: Adenanthera Pavonina

The Saga, with its lush green foliage and vibrant red seeds, resemble the holly in some ways.

Both plants have evergreen leaves, which means they retain their green colour throughout the year. The holly has red berries and spiky leaves and adds colour to the dark days of Yule. It symbolises peace and goodwill during the holiday season.

The saga is best known for its brilliant red seeds. The glossy heart-shaped seeds symbolise love in many cultures and are used as decoration or as lucky charms.

In the past, saga seeds were tools used to measure silver and gold in ancient India and Sri Lanka. The seeds have a uniform weight and size: four seeds make up exactly 1 gram.

The Saga, also known as the Lucky Red Seed or Red Bead Tree, is an iconic tree in Singapore’s landscape. It is a large tree that grows up to 20 metres tall. It belongs to the legume family and, like other legumes such as soybeans and peanuts, their seeds come in a pod.

The saga bears long curved fruit pods. When young, the fruit pods are green and nearly straight. As they mature, they transform into a woody brown colour, curl and twist, and eventually split open to reveal the striking red seeds.

The saga is native to India and Southern China , but has been naturalised in many countries in the tropics––throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Africa, Pacific and the Caribbean Islands. It is grown for forage, as a medicinal plant, or an ornamental tree in gardens and park. Its young leaves can be cooked and eaten, and the raw seeds are toxic but maybe be eaten when cooked.

Naturalised plants are plants that have been introduced to non-native environments and are able to grow and reproduce in the wild in their new home. All “alien invasive plants” or “non-native invasive species” are considered naturalised.

The saga is a common shade tree. It has a large spreading crown, and light feathery foliage, and are ideal for providing cover. It is hardy, fast growing, and easy to care for. They grew along the roadsides in Singapore during the 1970s and 1980s.

The leaves of saga trees undergo seasonal shedding for brief periods every 6-8 months, when the pale-green leaflets turn yellow and fall off. However, due to the significant amount of leaf litter and seeds they drop, saga trees have been deemed unfit for roadside locations. They can make roads messy and pose risks to motorists. Furthermore, saga trees are susceptible to damage in cases of strong winds.

Today, saga trees can be found in secondary forests, but few remain in our urban landscape. Several aged saga trees have become landmarks across Singapore, and serve as symbols of historical significance.

A saga tree with Heritage Tree status is at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, near the Lady on a Hammock sculpture. It is a large tree with a girth of 4.68 metres and a height of 13.1 metres. According to Nparks, this tree is believed to be well over 100 years old. 

You will also find a saga tree grove at Gallop Extension. Spot the larger-than-life saga seeds by Singapore-based contemporary artist Kumari Nahappan that mark the grove. Amongst the cluster of Adenanthera Pavonina saga trees, there is one much rarer native Adenanthera malayana species whose saga seeds are black and red.

If you come across saga trees in the wild, we encourage you to capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

Sustainable Gift-Giving Practices for a Green Christmas

The festive season is a time for joy, gratitude, and sharing love with family and friends. It is also an opportunity to practise sustainable gift-giving that shows appreciation not only to your loved ones but also to our planet. Here are some ideas that can get you started.

cover-photo

The festive season is a time for joy, gratitude, and sharing love with family and friends. It is also an opportunity to practise sustainable gift-giving that shows appreciation not only to your loved ones but also to our planet. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Mindful Gift Selection

Choose gifts with a minimal environmental impact. Opt for items made to last longer and from eco-friendly materials. Products that encourage a sustainable lifestyle, such as reusable stainless steel straws, bamboo utensils, or beeswax wraps, not only delight your loved ones but also contribute to a greener planet.

Experience over Materialism

Consider shifting the focus from material possessions to memorable experiences. Gift tickets to the zoo, spa vouchers, or cooking classes for an eco-friendly alternative that creates lasting memories. Experiences often come with a smaller environmental footprint, aligning perfectly with the spirit of sustainable living.

Sustainable Packaging

Use sustainable wrapping options such as recycled paper, fabric gift bags, or reusable wrapping materials. Encourage recipients to further reduce waste by reusing or recycling the packaging.

DIY and Upcycled Gifts

Embrace your creative side by making your gifts or upcycling old items into something new and useful. Handcrafted presents, whether it’s a knitted scarf or repurposed ornament, not only express thoughtfulness but also reduce the need for mass-produced items. Your efforts will be appreciated, and your gifts will carry a unique charm.

Regifting with Grace

Regifting, often considered a taboo, can be an environmentally friendly way to share items that might have lost their appeal for you but could be cherished by someone else. Ensure that the gift is in good condition, matches the recipient’s tastes, and doesn’t carry any sentimental value that might be awkward if revealed. Regifting allows for a more sustainable circulation of items and reduces the need for new production.

This holiday season, let’s celebrate not just with joy and warmth but also with a commitment to sustainability. May this season be a time of meaningful connections, shared experiences, and a dedication to living in harmony with our environment.

The Weird and Wonderful: Seagrass

Seagrasses are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and are vital for climate change mitigation. Seagrass ecosystems can sequester up to twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as land forests.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Seagrass

Seagrasses are underwater plants that are commonly found in both tropical and temperate coastal waters. Seagrass is often confused with large seaweed. Unlike seaweeds, which do not have a root system and reproduce by releasing spores, seagrasses are true flowering plants and belong to the same group of plants as land grasses and lilies. They have leaves, roots and veins, and produce flowers and seeds––the roots absorb nutrients from soft sediment and the leaves make food through photosynthesis. Seagrasses thrive in shallow, protected coastal waters with sufficient sunlight. They can exist as a few plants or clumps, but generally form dense underwater meadows.

Seagrass habitats provide crucial services such as acting as shelters and nursery areas for numerous species––including animals like seahorses and juvenile fishes of larger commercially valuable fishes and marine creatures, contributing to nutrient cycling, improving water quality, stabilising sediments for coastal protection, and playing a big part in carbon sequestration by retaining carbon within their leaves and roots.  

In addition, seagrasses support a complex food web. They serve as the primary food source for sea turtles and dugongs in our waters. Sea turtles and dugongs eat seagrasses, including the seeds of the plants, and play a role in seed dispersal as they pass the seeds through their digestive systems and excrete them. Seagrasses also indirectly contribute to the food chain by hosting microscopic algae on their leaves. Smaller animals feed on these algae and, in turn, are prey for larger animals.

Seagrasses are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and are vital for climate change mitigation. Seagrass ecosystems can sequester up to twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as land forests. They store large amounts of carbon through photosynthesis by trapping them in their stems. And when parts of the plants die and decay, they collect on the seafloor, eventually getting buried in sediment and effectively trapping carbon for hundreds of years. Although seagrasses account for less than 0.2% of the world’s oceans, they sequester roughly 10% of the carbon stored in ocean sediment annually.

Over the past fifty years, there has been significant and widespread decline in global seagrass cover, primarily attributed to human activities such as changes in land-use, coastal changes, dredging, and declining water quality. They are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems, experiencing an annual loss of approximately 1.5%. and accelerating in recent decades. It is estimated that at least 29% of the global coverage of seagrass meadows have been lost. The ecosystem services they provide make seagrasses a high conservation priority.

Seagrasses were previously abundant on Singapore’s shores, but their diversity and extent were never rigorously documented until recently. There are three major seagrass meadows in Singapore. They are at Chek Jawa Wetlands, Pulau Semakau, and Cyrene Reef.

Locations where seagrass (including total number of species) has been reported from around Singapore.

There are about 72 different seagrass species in the world. These are some of the species that are found in Singapore.

Common name: Tape Seagrass

Scientific name: Enhalus acoroides

Tape Seagrasses have long ribbon-like leaves that can grow up to 150cm long. They are often found close to mangrove forests. Tape Seagrasses are abundant at Pulau Semakau and Cyrene Reef.

Common name: Smooth Ribbon Seagrass

Scientific name: Cymodocea rotundata

Smooth Ribbon Seagrasses have flat narrow leaves that look like straps with a smooth rounded leaf tip.

Common name: Serrated Ribbon Seagrass

Scientific name: Cymodocea serrulata

Serrated Ribbon Seagrasses have a similar shape as Smooth Ribbon Seagrasses, with slightly wider leaves and a serrated leaf tip instead.

Common name: Sickle Seagrass

Scientific name: Thalassia hemprichii

Sickle Seagrasses have hooked curved-shaped leaves with short black bars on its leaf blade.

Common name: Noodle Seagrass

Scientific name: Syringodium isoetifolium

As its common name suggests, Noodle Seagrasses mimic spaghetti. The leaves are cylindrical and grow up to 30cm long.

Common name: Needle Seagrass

Scientific name: Halodule uninervis

Needle Seagrasses are long and narrow with a leaf tip resembling the letter “W”. They are the preferred food for Dugongs.

Common name: Fern Seagrass

Scientific name: Halophila spinulosa

Fern seagrasses look like… ferns! Tiny leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, and the “fronds” grow up to 15cm long. They can be found at Check Jawa.

Common name: Hairy Spoon Seagrass

Scientific name: Halophila decipiens

Hairy Spoon Seagrasses have small oval leaves and leaf hairs on both sides of the leaves. They were discovered on Singapore shores only in 2007.

A key consideration when visiting seagrass meadows:

The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of seagrass are often buried in sand or mud. When trampled on, the underground stems can damage and take a long time to recover. So keep off the seagrass!

Join a conservation initiative!

Consider becoming a part of Team Seagrass–– a volunteer team working in collaboration with the National Biodiversity Centre of the National Parks Board and Seagrass-Watch. Help contribute to the monitoring of seagrasses along Singapore’s shores!

If you come across seagrass in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

References and further reading:

🌱 What are seagrasses? (Team SeaGrass)

🌱 Seagrasses on the Shores of Singapore (Wild Singapore)

📄 The Diversity And Distribution Of Seagrass In Singapore

📄 Seagrass habitats of Singapore: Environmental Drivers and Key Processes

COP28: A Milestone for Greening Education

COP28 marks the first global political acknowledgment of the role of education in climate action. 42 Member States endorsed the groundbreaking Declaration on the Common Agenda for Education and Climate Change, committing to integrating education into their national climate strategies.

cover-photo

The 28th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28), hosted in Dubai, stands out as a historic moment with a focus on the role of education in addressing the global climate crisis. A groundbreaking Declaration on the Common Agenda for Education and Climate Change was endorsed by 42 Member States, marking the first global political recognition of the crucial part education plays in climate solutions. This declaration positions education as the building block for a sustainable future.

The Threefold Commitment: Adapt, Mitigate, and Invest

The climate education declaration sets forth a threefold commitment, urging Member States to take action in key areas: adapt, mitigate, and invest. This commitment outlines a comprehensive path for nations to weave education into their national climate strategies. The emphasis is on developing climate-smart education policies and enhancing financing to construct robust and climate-resilient education systems.

Commitment Area 1: ADAPT

In the first commitment area, countries pledged to identify vulnerabilities and implement national education strategies addressing climate risk. This involves adopting adaptation measures and building resilient education systems. The commitment extends to incorporating education into national adaptation strategies, emphasizing its role in equipping learners with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes needed to adapt to new climate realities and innovate for a sustainable future.

Commitment Area 2: MITIGATE

The second commitment area focuses on developing comprehensive strategies to build climate-smart and resilient education systems. The goal is to prepare all learners to actively engage in climate mitigation. Countries commit to including education in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and leveraging education to achieve net-zero emissions.

Commitment Area 3: INVEST

The third commitment area underscores the need for strong cross-sectoral collaboration to increase global finance for education. This includes support through climate funds and institutions to promote education recovery and climate adaptation and mitigation measures within education systems. Countries commit to encouraging both domestic and international education financing, addressing existing gaps, and creating systems and learners that are climate-ready. This commitment involves investing in global education funds, partnerships, and innovative financing mechanisms.

Looking Ahead

Declaration on the Common Agenda for Education and Climate Change signals a united front in the face of climate challenges. It is a call for innovative solutions, collaborative efforts, and a substantial increase in investments dedicated to education. However, this commitment must translate into concrete action from all stakeholders. The urgency of the situation demands not just rhetoric but tangible steps towards a sustainable and resilient future, ensuring that the lessons learned today become the tools for a brighter tomorrow.

Read the full declaration.