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  The Straits Times 13 Dec 06
Lazarus beach makeover wins firm top landscaping award

Spartan reclaimed 1km strip on island is given 'natural and wild' look
By Tan Hui Yee tanhy@sph.com.sg

TAKE a bare reclaimed beach, throw in 1,000 swaying coconut trees, clever landscaping work, and nine months later, Lazarus Island has that lush, tropical look.

Once only a rocky, hilly outcrop, reclamation work had resulted in the creation of a beach.

The beach's subsequent makeover by local firm Nature Landscapes was so impressive that it won a gold award for excellence this month. Seven other projects and one nursery also won gold awards from the Landscape Industry Association, which will give out the awards next year.

The concept for Lazarus Island was not just to 'green' its 1km reclaimed beach - the landscaping had to simulate a natural environment. It had to look 'natural and wild', said Nature Landscapes' senior project manager, Mr Gordon Lam.

So, vast amounts of soil - enough to fill 5,000 lorries and measuring two storeys high when piled up - were brought in by barges.

Nature Landscapes bought an entire coconut plantation in Malaysia and trucked and shipped about 1, 000 trees over to the island. Even then, about 50 of the coconut trees had to be replanted because they were initially too evenly spaced apart. It was a tedious process, requiring about an hour for each tree.

Other hardy trees, shrubs and grass like the pongamia pinnata, lallang, cow grass and carpet grass were added to complete the natural look.

The company then found it needed about 36 cubic metres of water every day to keep the plants growing, but there was no running water on Lazarus. The contractor excavated a 400-sq-m-wide pond to collect rainwater and tapped ground water from a natural well there.

Workers were stationed on the island around the clock because the barges carrying plant material could dock only at high tide. When the barges came, the workers had only a two- to three-hour window to unload all the material before the tide receded again.

The hard work paid off, and the beach on Lazarus now looks 'natural and wild'.

The crew had other visual feasts too: wildlife like sea eagles, dolphins, monitor lizards and snakes were spotted. The workers also caught fresh fish like mullet and red snapper for their meals.

Nature Landscapes' award-winning nine-month project is part of $60 million worth of reclamation and infrastructure work on the southern islands of Pulau Seringat, Kias, St John's, Lazarus, Kusu and Sisters' islands.

This is the second year that the Landscape Industry Association is giving out awards. The other winning projects this year included landscape maintenance work for Water Place Condominium by Island Landscape & Nursery; and maintenance of the Singapore Polytechnic Stadium's soccer pitch by Turf & Irrigation Services.

Mr Lam, who has been a landscaper for three years, said Lazarus Island was his favourite project.

'When it was going to rain, you were surrounded by clouds of black. You felt the power of the universe,' he said.

How much does it cost to re-create nature? It doesn't even include the loss of the natural wildlife that was there before the reclamation.
More photos of Lazarus on the beachfleas page

Related articles on Southern Islands Development Plans including the Sentosa IR
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