Category Archives: Mangroves Education

Mangrove campaigners battle to save the ‘roots of the sea’

“Mangroves sustain the people who sustain the mangroves”

~Pisit Charnsnah, the founder and director of Thailand’s Yadfon Foundation


This is an article written by Alfredo Quardo, the executive director of Mangrove Action Project (MAP). He remind the public on the important of mangrove. He mentioned how the mangrove benefits the people and how the mangrove was deforested in more rapid way than other ecosystem. He also witness in person on the illegal destruction of these precious ecosystem took place in a declared Ramar site.

He ends with a positive notes cited the co-operation between various NGOs, as well as the exciting news of Sri Lanka’s plan on giving mangrove full protection.

You can read the full article here.


Meet the stars of the bird-watching season



Birding season is here! Whether you enjoy photography or just simply enjoy watching them in their natural habitat, do some reading before you put on your binocular!

The migratory season usually starts from September until March. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is an important roosting and feeding ground for these migratory birds before they continue their journey to the South.

Here is some articles published by The Straits Times on migratory birds you can see in Singapore mangroves!

Read the rest of this entry

FREE Pasir Ris Mangrove Boardwalk Tours on 9th & 23rd June 2012

In collaboration with Naked Hermit Crabs, Mangrove Action Squad will be conducting free guided walks for the public at Pasir Ris mangrove boardwalk on  the 9th (Saturday) and on the 23rd (Saturday)  June 2012.

Join in the fun as we explore the magnificent mangrove and its wildlife on the boardwalk.

Learn more about the the mangrove ecosystem as you take a stroll on the boardwalk!

Curious visitors of Pasir Ris Mangroves having a look the fascinating mangrove animals and plants of Pasir Ris (Picture courtesy of Naked Hermit Crabs)

Take this opportunity to have a closer look at the mangrove fauna in Pasir Ris mangrove which includes some interesting animals such as…..


Blue-spotted mudskipper seen in Pasir Ris Park. (Picture courtesy of Kok Sheng)

White-collared kingfisher (Picture courtesy of David Behrens).

If we are lucky, rarely seen animals such otters and mud lobsters could be observed!

Mud lobster (Picture courtesy of Ron Yeo)

The amazing array of mangrove plants  in Pasir Ris Park  is also not be forgotten. Join us as we talk about these amazing plants, their structural differences and adaptations to the muddy soils of the mangroves!

The iconic Rhizophora prop roots are to be seen in Pasir Ris! (Picture courtesy of Ron Yeo)

Why certain mangrove plants grow these pencil-like structures? We will tell you all about these presence of these roots. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Cosgrove)

Flowers of a Sonneratia. Aren’t they pretty? (Picture courtesy of Ria Tan from Wild Singapore)

Bright red flowers of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza which are blooming in June will be an interesting sight to see in Pasir Ris mangrove

Besides the tour, children visitors will  also have a chance to express their creativity and thoughts on the amazing plants and animals  of Pasir Ris mangrove with a coloring session. Colour pencils and papers will be provided.

A child’s interpretation of the biodiversity of Pasir Ris mangroves (Picture courtesy of Naked Hermit Crabs)

Kindly sign-up for the 23th June walk  HERE.

Details of the walks

Who and how many can sign up for the walks?

ALL are welcomed including families, small groups or  individuals! The more, the merrier!

Dates & times

 9th June 2012  (Saturday) Time: 11am-12.30pm (Morning/Afternoon walk)
23rd June  2012 (Saturday) Time: 5pm-6.30pm  (Evening walk)

Meeting point: Pasir Ris Park, Carpark C, meet near the first toilets nearest the entrance to the carpark. The meeting point is a short stroll from the Pasir Ris MRT station. Pasir Ris is a very long park with many carparks from A to E. Do look at the map to be sure you are heading for the correct carpark, Carpark C!

Kindly sign-up for the 23th June walk  HERE.

Looking forward to your sign-ups and your presence during our walks!
Other FAQs (adapted from FAQ of Naked Hermit Crabs)

Q: Suitable attire?
A: Comfortable outdoors clothes, cap/hat (on a sunny day) and normal walking shoes. There may be mosquitoes in the mangroves, so you might want to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt or bring your own mosquito repellent.

Q: What should I bring?
A: Rain gear, sunglasses (on a sunny day), camera, lots of water (at least 500ml) and snacks (especially for those prone to low blood sugar). If you want to continue to explore the mangroves on your own after our walk, you might want to bring a small torch (for evening walks only).

Q: What if I am late?
A: Just catch up with us on the boardwalk! We will start from the entrance closest to Carpark C (with red star on the image below) and take the first right turn towards the Mangrove Jetty on Sungei Tampines. We will end the walk near the pond.

See map

Q: What if it is bad weather (rain and/or thunderstorms) ?
A: This is a rain-or-shine event. Mangrove Action Squad members will be there at regardless of the weather. Unless it is a heavy rain with thunderstorms, usually we are able to resume the walk once the rain stops. Please come prepared with rainwear (raincoat, poncho). You make your own decision whether to come or not in the event of bad weather.

New UN iPhone Application Highlights Role of Ecosystems in Tackling Climate Change


The UNEP application draws attention to the critical role played by ecosystems such as salt marshes, mangroves, tropical forests and seagrasses in tackling climate change.


Users can use the new iPhone application to calculate their personal carbon footprint for journeys taken by air, train or road.

Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) / Nairobi, 13 December 2011 – How many mangroves does it take to offset a transatlantic flight? What consumer actions can we take to reduce damage to rainforests?

Answers to these questions and many more are provided by a new iPhone application launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Eye on Earth summit in Abu Dhabi today.

The UNEP application draws attention to the critical role played by ecosystems such as salt marshes, mangroves, tropical forests and seagrasses in tackling climate change.

Users of the application can calculate their personal carbon footprint for journeys taken by air, train or road. They will then be shown the equivalent area of a particular ecosystem (such as a tropical forest) that can store this amount of carbon dioxide.

The free iPhone application, named Blue and REDD Carbon, is already available online in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

Blue and REDD Carbon

The iPhone application provides users with in-depth information on the vital role of coastal and terrestrial ecosystems in both storing and sequestering carbon.

The Blue Carbon concept aims to promote better management of coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, saltwater marshlands, which serve as vital ‘carbon sinks’, and can store, in the case of mangrove forests, up to 1,900 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare.

Information on other key climate initiatives, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is provided.

The UNEP application also highlights the valuable natural services provided by ecosystems, such as the protection of shorelines from storms, support for fisheries and provision of materials such as timber and medicine.

According to UNEP’s Forests in a Green Economy report, released earlier this year, forest ecosystems provide more than a billion people with incomes and employment and contribute approximately US$ 468 billion to the global economy. Equatorial rainforests also contain around half of all plant and animal species known on Earth.

Yet many of these vital ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate, due to deforestation, pollution from agricultural run-off, water diversion and other factors.

The Blue and REDD Carbon application provides a variety of suggestions and guidelines to show how individual actions (such as buying sustainably-sourced fish) can help limit the environmental degradation of coastal and terrestrial ecosystems.

One UN Pavilion at Eye on Earth

The application was launched during the official opening of the One UN Pavillion at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi. The four-day event, organized by the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and hosted by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency in partnership with UNEP, brings together experts from the worlds of philanthropy, business, government, data engineering and technology to address issues around access to environmental data and knowledge.

The summit is set to deliver a declaration towards the United Nations Conference on Sutainable Development (Rio+20), which will be held in Brazil in June 2012.

The One UN Pavillion at Eye on Earth will display information illustrating the work of the United Nations in the area of environmental data and its application in a wide variety of settings, such as environmental assessment work, humanitarian responses and peace building. Interactive exhibits will present visitors with a wide variety of scientific data on climate change, hazardous wastes and substances, ecosystems management and other topics.

The Global Pulse, the UN Secretary-General’s technology for development initiative, will also be highlighted. Global Pulse functions as an innovation laboratory, bringing together expertise from UN agencies, governments, academia, and the private sector to research, develop, test and share tools and approaches for harnessing real-time data for more effective and efficient policy action.

Note to Editors:

The iPhone application can be downloaded from the Apple Store.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, Acting Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information on Tel: +254 733 632755, +41 79 596 5737, E-mail:

Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 207623088 or Email:



New Record of Mangrove Crab From Singapore

Hoo-ray! NUS Honours Student in Life Sciences,  Lee Bee Yan and Director of Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Prof. Peter Ng have identified a new record of a pilumnid (hairy crab) mangrove crab  (Heteropilumnus  sasekumari) found in the mangroves of Singapore! Another concrete reason to conserve mangroves of Singapore-there maybe more new species of mangrove animals and plants!

Read more about this discovery in Nature of Singapore

Ecological Mangrove Rehabilitation Seminar by Ben Brown

On Friday (2nd February 2012), mangrove enthusiasts in Singapore gathered in Earth Lab, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore to attend Benjamin “Ben” Brown’s talk titled “Ecological mangrove rehabilitation – principles and case studies from Florida and Indonesia”.  The talk was hosted by Prof. Dan Friess a.k.a. Mangrove Man himself.

Introducing Dr. Ben Brown!

The audience (full house, by the way!) enthralled by Ben's seminar

Who is Ben Brown? Here is a brief introduction of Ben- he is  the Director of Mangrove Action Project (MAP) Indonesia. Hailing from Ann Arbor,Michigan,  Brown has been involved in coastal environmental education and community awareness for almost 20 years. Read more about  Ben here.

What is Mangrove Action Project (MAP)? It is a non-governmental organization which focuses on  conservation  and restoration of  mangrove forest (and other coastal ecoystems) worldwide while promoting community-based sustainable management of mangroves. MAP has several  regional offices in the U.S. and in some Asian countries, of which Ben is heading its regional office in Indonesia.

Ben telling the audience about programmes carried out of MAP Indonesia

The overall message of Ben’s seminar was to highlight the importance of understanding the ecology of mangrove establishment and mangrove geomorphology prior to mangrove restoration for  successful and cost-effective restoration of mangroves.

Here below are some highlights of the seminar:

Mangroves are losing out to human kind

They are being destroyed for multiple purposes mainly unsustainable developments including shrimp aquaculture (shrimp ponds), charcoal production and logging, oil exploration and extraction, tourism and urbanization and urban expansion. Shrimp aquaculture is the biggest threat to mangroves of Indonesia.

Blocking water bodies = mangrove death!

Mangrove death may occur when nearby mangrove areas are altered without the knowledge of hydrology, especially modification of tidal creeks or water bodies that support the vegetation area. From various case studies  pointed out in the talk, the blockage or damming of creek (e.g. dykes to prevent influx of saltwater into coconut plantations or isolation of shrimp ponds) have resulted in mangrove death by exposure of  hypersaline water (no input of freshwater) or erosion (loss of sedimentation input). MAP reinstates the flow of water i.e. the connectivity of freshwater and saltwater inputs in mangroves by drilling holes through the man-made dykes. Hydrology reinstalled!

Natural regeneration of mangroves seen after solving hydrological issues of a mangrove

Mangroves can be uplifted by the tsunami, if not destroyed!

Even mangroves may not survive from after-effects of a tsunami. Indian Ocean Tsunami in Year 2004 raised up elevation of coral reefs and mangrove areas in Acheh. This has lead to massive coral death (and bleaching) due to prolonged emersion/exposure to air and drying out of mangroves. Mangroves at higher elevations are now competing with terrestrial forests for space and survival. Even if the mangroves survive, their propagules will not be dispersed (due to little the no-longer existence of sea flooding for dispersal) nor established (due to the change in soil properties for e.g. soil type, temperature and soil moisture).

Mangrove survival depends on its flooding properties

-Mangroves establishment is highly dependent on frequency of its  inundation/flooding and inundation range, which in turn dependent on surface elevation (high, medium and low elevations).

Ben showing the inundation frequencies play a vital role in determining a mangrove survivability

-The knowledge of the surface elevation allow distinction of inundation zones within a mangrove, of which, mangrove species are selective towards specific inundation zones which they thrive in. For e.g., Avicennia spp. are pioneer species in Southeast Asian mangroves and would normally be found on low surface elevation/more frequently inundated zones.

Hmmh,  where I shall plant mangroves?

Ben also highlighted another mistake of other mangrove restoration projects. Most mangroves do not grow at low elevation i.e. below mean sea level. Although mangroves have the ability to tolerate lack of oxygen, prolonged lengths of water immersion (which may lead to accumulation of hydrogen sulfide toxicity) does not bode well for them, particular that of seedlings (young plants). Hence mangrove replanting  by other parties are often not successful as seedlings are planted at low elevation mangrove sites.

Planting Grass for Mangrove Restoration?

-Mangrove restoration at certain areas can be carried out with grass on bare grounds to assist natural mangrove recruitment when mangrove propagules are trapped by the grass. The grass will be removed eventually after the seedlings have grown.

Mangrove Restoration without replanting them. How?

-MAP approaches  mangrove restoration through  basic natural processes i.e. termed ecological mangrove restoration (EMR). Therefore,  contrary  to other mangrove restoration organizations, MAP does not implement nor advocate mangrove planting; the organization believes in natural establishment of mangroves from existing mangrove plants in a degraded site.

Therefore, it focuses to revert the modified topography and hydrology of a site to its natural conditions (prior to the modification) which in turn allows natural regrowth or succession of mangrove plants. This approach is more cost-saving (because mangrove propagules do not come cheap!) and  growth rate of planted mangroves  is slower than natural growth itself.

-A more detailed step-wise approach on EMR are simplified as below :-

    1. Understand the biology i.e. characteristics of  individual mangrove (tree or shrub) species and  their communities, especially that of reproduction patterns, distribution ranges and  seedling establishment;
    2. Understand the normal hydrology that controls the distribution and successful establishment and growth of targeted mangrove species;
    3. Assess the severity of the modified of the mangrove and  the causes that currently prevent natural regrowth of mangrove species i.e. natural secondary succession;
    4. Select appropriate restoration areas through application of Steps 1-3, that are both likely to succeed in rehabilitating a forest ecosystem and are cost effective. This includes recruitment of  labor to carry out the projects, including adequate monitoring of their progress and resolving land ownership/use issues necessary for ensuring long-term access to and conservation of the site;
    5. Design the restoration program and utilize natural volunteer mangrove recruitment for natural plant establishment and long-term assessment for the mangrove site.

    Read in more detail about EMR here.

Communities awareness and involvement in mangrove restoration and conservation

Ben ended his talk with by mentioning several approaches that have been conducted by MAP to raise awareness within the local community and get them involved in mangrove restoration, monitoring and conservation projects . In Indonesia, there is a need to convince locals to stop conversion of mangroves into shrimp ponds since they are regarded as short-term cash cows. Therefore, incentives are given to locals to convince them on keeping mangroves for the more valuable profits gained from its ecosystem services. Mangrove-based products and recipes are being introduced to locals.

Several examples of mangrove products made from mangrove plants

Woman groups are also  involved in monitoring mangrove restoration sites.

....including Acanthus (sea holly) tea!!!

After the talk, there were multiple discussions/chatter on-going among the mangrove enthusiasts from different walks of life-all hyped for future mangrove plans in Singapore!

Ria Tan (Wild Singapore & Intertidal Queen) engaging in a conservation with two NParks mangrove officers

Jeffrey Low(NParks), Huiying (Nparks), Wei Kit the Mangrove Warrior and Dr. Jean Yong having a great discussion on mangroves!

Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman talking to Dr. Ben Brown after the inspiring talk!

Kudos to Mangrove Man for being a great host!

In summary, the seminar was very informative and the multiple case studies in the seminar highlighted the efforts made by Ben, Iona and his MAP team. Kudos to MAP Indonesia! Terima Kasih (Thank you in Indonesian and Malay) Ben for the your inspiring talk and best wishes for MAP Indonesia from Mangrove Action Squad!

A Peek into the Mangroves of Sri Lanka (Part I: Chilaw Mangroves)

ආයුඛෝවන් (Ayubowan)

Ayubowan! (Greetings  in Sinhala, equivalent of saying “May you live a long life”).

Last December 2011, Rick a.k.a. the Mangrove Apprentice island-hopped from Singapore to Sri Lanka, which is  2601 kilometers away from the little-red-dot for a holiday. However, he couldn’t stray far away from mangroves upon touchdown in The Resplendent Land. He visited two mangrove sites which were physically and biologically different from each other and also to that of Singapore mangroves.

For this post (Part I), we shall highlight the first site that his journey at a  degraded  mangrove and restoration site.

It is located at the outskirts of Chilaw, within the Puttalam-Chilaw lagoons , Northwest of Sri Lanka.

Chilaw, like many parts of Sri Lanka, is rich in biodiversity. Besides  the mangroves, Chilaw-Puttalam lagoons are also famous for blue whale and dolphin watching, which are all-year round and resident animals in these lagoons.

Upon reaching the mangrove, Rick realized the mangrove vegetation in this site was very different than that of Mandai. Mangrove trees there were generally stunted in height and shrub-like. This observation may match the description of a degraded mangrove site; generally poor-nutrient soil (hence the stunted growth), the patchiness of mangrove species and poor diversity of mangrove species.

Riverine mangrove shrubs at Chilaw

A buta-buta or milky mangrove (Excoecaria agallocha) is easily spotted with its grey bark, uusally, mutliple trunked and  its convulated roots. Its distinguishing feature is that tree barks or damaged leaves releases white sap that may cause temporary blindness, hence the plant is named as buta-buta (blind)

Multiple trunked Buta-buta (Excoecaria agallocha) sighted

The roots of the Buta-buta in this mangrove was extremely convulated

Pointed leaves & small, round and clustered fruits-these secondary features of identifying a Buta-buta

A child posing for the camera in front of the Buta-buta

The second tree species found along the site was a Bakau (Rhizophora tree). Kindly click here to know more Bakau trees.

Ah-ha, Rhizophora tree spotted!

Perhaps it is a Rhizophora apiculata

Most probably a Rhizophora apiculata. Look at the buds

Venturing further away along the river, Rick  spotted a shrimp pond still in operation. Shrimp ponds  are an eye-sore to mangrove conservationists because mangroves are usually cleared out by shrimp farmers for short-term shrimp farming and they are usually abandoned after that.  Kindly click here to read up  more about the impacts of shrimp farming.

A shrimp pond adjacent to the river

A shrimp pond farmer showing his catch for the day

Shrimps caught in a tray net submerged in the pond

Given that an operational shrimp pond is located  only meters away from another mangrove site,  is there any hope for this mangroves of Chilaw? Yes, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is carrying several mangrove restoration in this site(pictured below). However, there is a need to better law enforcement and better governance in order protect mangrove areas from destruction in the first place. Education pertaining to the importance of mangroves would play a vital role to conserve mangroves for its many benefits.

Mangrove restoration by UNDP ongoing at the site

Next post will be Part II of Rick’s mangrove journey at Maduganga river! Be sure to catch the next post and other exciting news posts from this blog! Thank you!

Aboriginal use of mangroves

There are many uses of mangroves. They could be cooked for food, used for medicine or to made into tools.

This website shows the aboriginal mangrove use.

Most of the species listed could be found in Singapore shore too. However, the application of the medical use of mangrove on the website was not encouraged. Please don’t try that at home.

Anyway, some extra information for food use, “cooking with mangroves” recipe! Cool!

But…for your information, collection of mangrove propagules in Singapore nature reserves is illegal. Quote my Singaporean friend’s word, “like that, got money also cannot eat lah!”