New species of fauna are not something usually associated with urbanised Singapore. Yet the first comprehensive Ubin biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin has discovered a spider species new to science, documented six animals not seen here before, and 13 others that are firsts for Ubin. The survey’s preliminary findings, released in September, are heartening for several reasons.
First, they are a vivid reminder of Mother Nature’s resilience. Pulau Ubin, despite its associations with rustic charms, has seen much human interference, primarily from granite mining. Its current abundance is a sign that nature can recover – and fairly rapidly. Second, Ubin’s success as a wildlife sanctuary is testament to how a civil society and government partnership can work for the benefit of all, as the example of preserving Chek Jawa in the early 2000s also showed. Third, the island is a capsule that offers ongoing lessons for Singapore as it strives to become a biophilic city under the National Parks Board’s 10-year vision, which entails not just a more intensive greening of this concrete jungle but also recognition on the part of citizens of the value of our natural environment.