of coastal ecosystems
much have we lost?
Land reclamation which increased Singapore's land area by 17% has
buried much of Singapore's coasts. Most of our natural sandy
shores have been lost to reclamation. Construction of reservoirs
by damming rivers and draining wetlands have also badly affected the
habitats near river mouths and on intertidal shores.
These have reduced coastal ecosystems drastically. Mangrove forest
cover has been reduced from an estimated 13% in the 1820's to only
0.5% of the total land area. Many of the original 60 offshore islands
and patch reefs around Singapore have been reclaimed. Some were merged
into larger islands. Since 1986, most coral reefs in Singapore have
lost up to 65% of their live coral cover.
The massive changes to our shoreline means than many of our coastal
areas are no longer complete ecosystems. The original habitats are
fragmented and separated from one another. Animals at the top of the
food chain have long since disappeared affecting the balance in the
remaining habitats. For example, we no longer have tigers in our mangroves.
And animals such as crocodiles are no longer common. Dugongs, dolpins
and sea turtles are also less commonly seen.
High levels of coastal activity (shipping, dredging and continued
reclamation and coastal construction) also contributes to sedimentation,
or murky waters. While visibility underwater in the 1960s was 10m,
nowadays, this has been reduced to 2m or less. Sediment in the water
reduces the light penetration into the water. This affects photosynthesis
by seagrasses and other plants, as well as corals which rely on their
symbiotic algae for products of photosynthesis.
But this does NOT mean that all our shores are dead. The remaining
shores are still very much alive. It is not yet too late to protect
and preserve them.
From Hugh Tan et. al., "Conservation of marine habitats still
lags behind somewhat compared to the efforts on land, although this
is not from want of trying. We have yet to establish a Marine Protected
Area despite many attempts to do so. The main reason is that the southern
shores, where most of the best reefs are located, are also the hub
of our important shipping activities and our growing port facilities,
Singapore being the world's busiest port."
Reclamation of reefs at Sentosa
for the Integrated Resort.
Sentosa, Jul 07
Massive dredging off Cyrene Reef
Cyrene Reef, Aug 08
Petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom
from Labrador, Nov 08
Major shipping lanes near our shores.
Cyrene Reef, Nov 08
Major reclamation works
next to Labrador shore.
Labrador, Nov 08
The petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom
taken from Pulau Jong.
from Pulau Jong, Nov 08
of threats to Singapore shores
- Tan, Hugh
T.W. L.M. Chou, Darren C. J. Yeo and Peter K.L. Ng. 2007. The
Natural Heritage of Singapore. Second edition. Prentice
Hall. 271 pp.