Nature Society S'pore hopes to work with OBS to conserve nature on & around Coney Island campus

To have nature appreciation as one of [email protected]'s key focuses.

Fiona Tan | June 16, 2021, 02:44 PM

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The announcement by Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) on June 4 that construction will commence on Coney Island for its new campus, [email protected], was met with some outcry from the public.

Those who sounded out questioned the need for a new campus and the extend of the impact that construction would have on Coney Island's nature and wildlife.

In response to the public interest and assurances by OBS that the natural environment will be protected as far as possible, Nature Society Singapore (NSS) issued a statement saying that it hopes to work together with OBS in nature conservation efforts on Coney Island.

Multi-fold challenge

The NSS Facebook post on June 12 highlighted that the eastern part of the island's vegetation will be partially cleared to make way for [email protected]

At the same time, other parts of the vegetation will be partially incorporated into the new campus.

Image from OBS/FB.

Image via URA website.

NSS expects the development of [email protected] to be a "multi-fold challenge".

Three-step approach

NSS wrote that it hopes to work with OBS, government agencies, and "everyone who cherishes nature and heritage" in three ways:

1) Include areas of coastal habitats

Firstly, NSS proposed incorporating "sizeable areas of restored native coastal habitats" within the [email protected] campus.

According to NSS, the inclusion of coastal habitats would act as a reservoir for Singapore's native species and, ultimately, benefit the "ecosystem of the entire island".

2) Nature appreciation as a focus

Secondly, NSS proposed for nature appreciation and stewardship to be a key focus within the new OBS campus.

In doing so, OBS and stakeholders are required to instil these values within [email protected]'s ethos and programming.

3) Sharing with others

Lastly, NSS proposed to share "the benefits of an ecologically enhanced Coney Island with all who enjoy and care for the island".

About [email protected]

Occupying about 10 per cent of Coney Island, OBS wrote in their June 4 Facebook post that the new campus was "a necessary expansion".

With new advanced obstacle courses, the campus is said to add on to the existing Pulau Ubin campus.

An OBS spokesperson told Mothership that the new campus is part of the government's efforts to expand outdoor adventure education, and increase capacity to provide quality outdoor opportunities for all children.

[email protected] is part of the National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), according to the OBS website.

The area used to develop [email protected] is on reclaimed land, which has been zoned for sports and recreation use, OBS said.

OBS also said it will be working closely in consultation with NParks, nature groups, and other stakeholders, to minimise any adverse impact to flora and fauna on the island during construction works.

According to the OBS website, [email protected] has three concepts:

  1. Conservation of mature trees to create a "forest" buffer zone that minimises disturbances from the campus to the parkland
  2. Shaping of landscape to harvest rainfall onsite and reduce potable water consumption
  3. Diversification of planting to help create new habitats for a range of fauna species

The announcement made by OBS on June 4 has also led to an online petition signed by people who are against the construction.

Close to 1,400 people have signed the petition in the past week.

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Top image from OBS/FB