Singapore’s largest purpose-built reef structures were installed on 8 November in the waters off Small Sister’s Island, within the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The project was initially announced in May 2018 as a collaboration between JTC and the National Parks Board (NParks). NParks is responsible for providing and enhancing the greenery of Singapore, while JTC is the lead agency in Singapore to spearhead the planning, promotion and development of industrial estates and related facilities.
Since the project was launched it has received support from 11 donor companies from JTC’s estates and developments with contributions ranging from SGD 5,000 to SGD 100,000 per company made towards the “Grow-a-Reef Garden” initiative under the Garden City Fund, NParks’ registered charity and an Institution of Public Character. The contributing companies include Chang Chun Dairen, Denka, ExxonMobil, GSK, Keppel Group, Mitsui, Oiltanking Asia, Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, Siltronic, Sumimoto Chemicals and Vopak Terminals.
The “Grow-a-Reef Garden” initiative is one of three identified by JTC, as part of its Industry for Sustainability program, the other two being “Plant-a-Tree” programme, and donations to the Seed Bank programme by the Singapore Botanic Gardens. A total of eight structures, including the one installed today, will be installed by the end of 2018 to form the JTC-NParks Reef Garden. The structures, pre-fabricated offsite, are designed to sit on the seabed without piling or major foundation works that would otherwise disturb the underwater environment. The structures replicate a reef slope by occupying the entire water column from sub-surface to the seafloor, and will provide numerous and diverse habitat niches for a wide variety of marine life.
The reef structures will provide around 1,000 sq m of additional reef substrate to the Marine Park by 2030 for the attachment and growth of coral. In addition, the spaces created within the matrix of the reef structures will provide suitable areas for the recruitment of various fish species. The graded stone pitching on the structure surface, created using rocks recycled from JTC’s projects such as Jurong Rock Caverns, increases the surface texture complexity for corals or encrusting organisms.
The project will complement NParks’ ongoing reef enhancement efforts. For example, to safeguard hard coral species found in Singapore waters, NParks’ in situ coral nursery will be established within the JTC-NParks Reef Garden. The nursery will play an important role in the conservation of coral species, so that locally rare corals that may be threatened by, for example, coral bleaching, can be moved to a controlled environment to ensure their survival. The reef structures will also provide opportunities for various research initiatives and serve as test beds for new technologies to study coral reef resilience.
(Sources: National Parks Board, Singapore; Straits Times)