Urban Tropical Ecology in Singapore

Bishan Wetlands and the National Museum of Singapore
by -- March 2nd, 2017

 

The Bishan–Ang Mo Kio Park is a gorgeously engineered wetland that was created to help mediate flooding during the wet season. The idea is that the vegetation surrounding the canal helps absorb and diffuse the water much more efficiently than concrete structures that were previously in place.

The Bishan–Ang Mo Kio Park is a gorgeously engineered wetland that was created to help mediate flooding during the wet season. The idea is that the vegetation surrounding the canal helps absorb and diffuse the water much more efficiently than concrete structures that were previously in place.

The majority of the plants chosen for this site are not native to Singapore. Most of the species come from Africa and Australia, and were chosen for their aesthetic value over their environmental contribution. When the park was being planned, they only accounted for how the plants would grow and the dragonflies they would attract. Now, this park is a productive ecosystem that attracts a number fish, birds and reptiles. It was also discovered that many of the plants chosen for this park attracted species of butterflies that were going endangered so now the park has been able to help those populations as well!

The beauty of the park also makes it a popular place for locals to come and walk around, go for a jog or ride their bike as they enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. It also made for a pleasant afternoon as our class took note of the various species were observed in the waters and surrounding vegetation and collected water samples for testing once back at the Marine Lab.

We were able to find a lot of turtles, a few different species of fish (tilapia, cichlids, and a couple catfish), a some cool shore birds hanging around the water.

As always in Singapore, the urban development of the city is never far away. There are always new development projects going on and the tall, beautifully engineered buildings provide the back drop for wetland areas like Bishan Park.

After all the samples were collected from the park we headed over to the National Museum of History where we learned about how Singapore came to be the country we see today. It was first recorded as an exotic island in the perfect location for trading spices until it was officially made a British Colony. They built up the ports and introduced European culture to this Southeast Asian Island. Singapore was also heavily influenced by Chinese culture, and then Japanese culture during its occupation in WWII until it finally received its independence in 1965. Singapore has only been an independent country for about 50 years now, and it was so interesting to see how far it has come in such a relatively short amount of time. They needed to learn how to become self-reliant and self-sustainable with the resource they have on this relatively small island, so they built up their industry and economy. Afterwards, they realized that part of self-reliance and sustainability means having a productive natural ecosystem as well, and even though they removed most of the natural areas of Singapore to make way for business, they have made incredible efforts to reclaim land for environmental purposes, and they have placed a lot of focus on protecting important species that were in danger of disappearing.

One of the most impressive things I saw while learning about how Singapore developed itself as a country in such a short amount of time is the cultural identity they were able to develop. Historically, Singapore has been comprised of travellers, immigrants and people coming from afar to visit, work or live on this beautiful island. They have been ruled by a couple different foreign nations such as Britain and Japan, which has also helped to shape their culture, and after becoming independent they simply embraced the various people and cultures that currently reside here. Singapore culture is defined by its people, and its people are made up of different locations, religions and beliefs. It’s really quite beautiful and inspiring. The parks and cultural divisions of their government hold celebrations in beautiful public places where people can come and show their fellow Singaporeans how they celebrate life and religion through dance, music or other displays of art. It is amazing to see how accepting the people are here and being given this opportunity to learn about the people of this country is incredible.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff