Urban Tropical Ecology in Singapore

Wetlands and Farms
by -- February 27th, 2017

View of the Kranji Wetlands

Unlike most days, today did not start with a bus ride to the MRT station. Instead, because we were headed towards Singapore’s countryside, we hopped on a private bus that would drive us the entire day. Our first stop was the Kranji Wetlands, which contains a reservoir created in the 1970s when the river was dammed. Overtime, the damming of the river had created environmental problems due to the destruction of the nearby mangroves and the subsequent sedimentation. The government feared that soon the fauna and flora would no longer sustain themselves in such an environment. Therefore, from 2008 onwards, Singapore’s environmental bodies began motoring the wetlands and creating a space with a dual purpose: animals like birds could keep their habitats and humans could enjoy the beauty of the park. I definitely noticed these two purposes of the wetland park. Bridges, paved paths, and cut weeds contrasted the kingfishers, fungi and insects we saw, demonstrating once again how the perceived dichotomy of nature and society are almost inexistent in Singapore.

A feeding king fisher!

From there, we made our way to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, where we walked along trails by the mangroves and on the coast of the straits of Johor. We spotted a small monitor lizard, along with various spiders, snails and fish. We also saw crabs who had climbed up onto the trees to protect themselves during low tide!

Part of the trail at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Growling stomachs and a desire for food guided us to our next location: Bollywood Veggies. Since Singapore became a sovereign nation, agricultural lands were lost and from then on, most of Singapore’s food has been coming from abroad. It was with the intent of creating a green agricultural space, where people could be close to the food they were consuming, that Ivy Singh Lim established Bollywood Veggies, the farm and restaurant where we had lunch. The “paradise on Earth” provided us with an incredible meal consisting of fresh vegetables, dal, rice, tofu and for the carnivores, various different types of meat, followed by an entertaining tour about the plants grown there. Our tour guide offered us fun facts about the trees in his mission to prove to us how plants were incredible. For instance, did you know that the spicy-ness in chili peppers is due to a response against a fungus that attacks the plant? Or did you know that some pollinators become addicted to the caffeine in the coffee plant? I think we can all agree that PLANTS ARE COOL!

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