Before this, my knowledge of the plants we have in our secondary forests remained as that—knowledge. It was much limited to the identification of common species we see along the Green Corridor or in our nature parks, but I didn’t really give much thought into it. After all, they were just trees, shrubs and climbers.
By through this activity, I learnt a lot more about the plants as well as the management of them:
1) Understanding the different “roles” plants have in the forest
It’s interesting to see how invasive and native species live together (or maybe not). It never did occur to me that invasive species would tend to have a better advantage since their successful attempt at taking root in a new country would validate its adaptability and resilience, thus posing as a threat to less aggressive native plant species. While it is not necessarily a zero-sum game, the competition between these two groups would bring about damage to the forests. I’m no expert in this field, but at least understanding the difference between the two helps me to put my knowledge of plants into perspective and to understand why there is a need for habitat enhancement.
2) Human’s interference in forests
One of our main tasks was weeding, targeting three main groups — invasive species, climbers and the usual weeds. It never did occur to me that these three when left untouched, could potentially bring about harm to the native plant species. I had always thought that in the wild, nature will just sort itself out, but sometimes to protect, there is still a need for human interference. But to think how initially, these invasive plants could have travelled into Singapore because of human activities (e.g. the Green Corridor). I guess the only conclusion I can make of this is that the human-nature interaction would always bring about good and bad, and that the best we can do is to minimise damage and do whatever is within our means to protect them. After all, someone has to help with getting rid of climbers and weeds once in a while, lest the strangle the life out of its host plant!
3) Precision required in management
The comparison between the 2018 and 2019 plots have taught me something important— that whatever you do for the environment, has to come with careful thought. A little bit more widely spread out and weeds grow more quickly; the reverse and there might be overcrowding. While the intentions of habitat enhancing are to engage the community in acts of nature and restore the native species to the park, skills and thought are also required beyond just time and strength. It struck a chord knowing that to carry out these acts, people really do put heart into it to get it right and minimise any trade-offs from this act of goodwill, and this thought and heart is something that I hope I will remember as I expose myself to more of such opportunities.
4) Planning nature parks as buffers
This is something new that I learnt about, and after visiting Chestnut Nature park and recalling other of such buffer parks, the effectiveness of such parks in connecting the public to nature while protecting our biodiversity from excessive and harmful human activities is truly remarkable. It’s in such spaces that I see how humans learn to appreciate and respect nature while having fun, and this sense of appreciation and care would hopefully be with them as they come across further human-wildlife issues. Honestly, just great urban planning strategy 😀
Overall, this experience has allowed me to reflect more on how human and nature should exist together. To end off, here’s a little tribute to a dead bat we saw while walking out to the bus stop :”