10 July 2012

Mandai mangroves: Lessons for Southeast Asia’s mangroves

What can we learn from Mandai mangroves? Lots!
There were communities living at Mandai until until the late 1980s
A fascinating paper "Mandai mangrove, Singapore: Lessons for the conservation of Southeast Asia’s mangroves" has just been published in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology that is packed with information about Mandai's past, present and future. And how lessons from Mandai can help us understand threats to mangroves in Singapore and beyond. PLUS find out how you can make a difference for Mandai and other mangroves!

From the paper, I learnt that Mandai mangrove was once part of an extensive mangrove complex that stretched as far as Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Buloh to the west. Prior to the colonial period, this mangrove supported seafaring peoples such as the Orang Seletar and the Orang Biduanda Kallang.

Although much of the Mandai mangroves have been lost, they still provide critically important habitat for local flora and fauna, and continue to offer new discoveries of the region’s mangrove zoology and ecology. And the scientific importance of Mandai has “been recognised for many years by local and overseas scientists”.

From the abstract: Vital for their diverse ecosystem services, Southeast Asian mangroves are the most biodiverse in the world and are critically threatened, yet they remain woefully understudied. A notable exception is Mandai mangrove in Northwest Singapore, a hotspot of research for decades, with an intensive contemporary research agenda. It provides not only a baseline of mangrove research for the region, but exemplifies the threats facing mangroves across Southeast Asia: changing sediments and currents, insect pests, genetic disconnection from other mangrove patches, land reclamation, and future sea level rise. Many of these threats are unique to mangrove ecosystems, but associated data gaps prohibit informed mangrove conservation across the region. Mandai mangrove is one of Southeast Asia’s few mangrove sites with the baseline and contemporary research capable of elucidating these broad threats to the region’s mangrove systems.
Read more in Mandai mangrove, Singapore: Lessons for the conservation of Southeast Asia’s mangroves. D. A. Friess, J. Phelps, R. C. Leong, W. K. Lee, A. K. S. Wee, N. Sivasothi, R. R. Y. Oh and E. L. Webb.  [pdf, 1.84 MB]

I've been lucky to spend time with Dr Dan Friess (right) and Rick Leong (left) at Mandai mangroves.
Their paper really drives home the point of how precious Mandai mangroves are! Bravo!

To learn more, Dan recently gave a talk about Singapore's mangroves, and Andy Dinesh uploaded a video clip of his talk.

Rick runs the Mangrove Action Squad and among the outreach activities he and his team have done include free guided walks for families at Pasir Ris mangroves.

You CAN make a difference for our mangroves! Ordinary people can help with a project to collect, count and sort mangrove seedlings at Sungei Buloh. Rick also welcomes volunteers to help with his ongoing work at Mandai mangroves May-Dec 2012: online sign up sheet here.

Or just come and see our fascinating mangroves for yourself. The Naked Hermit Crabs conduct free monthly guided walks at the mangroves of Chek Jawa. It's a fun walk specially for families and kids. The next one is this weekend.

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