HSBC bankrolls marine conservation project

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Pulau Semakau may be Singapore’s only remaining landfill. But if an ambitious environmental conservation project pays off, there are hopes the island could someday be upgraded to a marine park.

The three-year project is a S$600,000 community initiative bankrolled by HSBC.

Volunteers will be crucial to the success of Project Semakau.

It aims to mobilise over 3,000 volunteers to survey and collect data on the 350-hectare island’s inter-tidal shores.

“I hear about the loss of corals because of global warming and I think it’s important to preserve our marine life here,” said Jen Wong, one of the volunteers.

Dhavalakshmi Palanivelu, another volunteer, said: “We have very little natural landscape left here in Singapore, so we should preserve what we have left.”

At the project’s launch, HSBC handed its S$600,000 commitment to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

So far, about 50 volunteers have been trained by science experts from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

They will begin leading groups at the inter-tidal shores early next year to teach them the value of the island as a conservation site.

Volunteers will include the public and university students who will spread the message of balancing urbanisation with conservation.

Professor Leo Tan, National University of Singapore’s director for special projects, said: “We can have the biggest buildings and the highest ships and so forth and we can have a great economy, but unless the air is clean, the water is clean, the food is clean, we are not going to have any future at all.”