Speech by SMS Desmond Lee at the Opening of the Ubin Living Lab

Feb 27, 2016

A very good morning to everyone.

I see many familiar faces from the Friends of Ubin Network, as well as students and other members of the community. Thank you for taking the time to be with us here today. 

Many of us have been eagerly anticipating the opening of the Ubin Living Lab. It is an example of what the community and the Government can do, together, in partnership. 

The idea to establish an educational and research centre on Pulau Ubin for heritage and biodiversity conservation as well as green, sustainable practices was first mooted by some members of the Friends of Ubin Network (or FUN), as part of the Ubin Project, sometime in 2014. 

During our public engagement and consultations starting from March that year, many Singaporeans had also suggested that we consider such a facility. 

A few months later, at a subsequent meeting, a team of FUN members made a presentation and got the support of all stakeholders. This led to a detailed study. 

Eventually there was an announcement on Ubin Day in 2014 that we would establish such a centre. 

With the completion of the first phase of the Ubin Living Lab today, school students, researchers and the nature and heritage community will have a space they can call their own to study the heritage and rich biodiversity on Ubin and conduct research on sustainable technology, exchange ideas with one another and actively participate in conservation initiatives. 

So I’d like to say a very big “Thank you” to a number of our FUN members and Nparks colleagues for making this a reality –

• Joseph Koh for suggesting the need for a place for field studies in Pulau Ubin.

• Beng Chiak and her team of educators for submitting a detailed proposal to FUN to promote environmental education.

• This was timely because the former Celestial Resort was available for use and it was decided at FUN to locate the Ubin Living Lab here.

• Special thanks also to Sivasothi from NUS, Shawn from NSS, as well as Prof Peter and Marcus from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for their efforts in making the Ubin Living Lab a reality.

• Many NParks colleagues also went on to help develop the facilities that we see today – Robert, Sunshine, Kannagi and Yurika.

• I would also like to thank our partners from the MOE Co-Curricular Activities Branch, as well as the many Singaporeans who contributed ideas and encouraged us to undertake this project. 

Today, we have students from Republic Polytechnic and ITE College East joining us. They have also made valuable contributions to the Ubin Project. Let me tell you how. 

As part of the public consultation exercise, a number of Singaporeans wanted us to protect our native biodiversity and enhance natural habitats on Pulau Ubin. 

After studying the feedback, the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) announced in 2014 that we would carry out species recovery work and habitat enhancement. 

Our friends from the Republic Polytechnic Environmental Science faculty worked with us to design bat box prototypes, which they will install on Pulau Ubin to help strengthen local populations of the Ashy Roundleaf Bat and the Lesser False Vampire Bat. 

And our ITE College East Electrical Engineering students have helped us to build nest boxes for the brightly coloured Blue Throated Bee-eater. 

Their commendable efforts show how the community can actively contribute to the island, so that it remains home for our native flora and fauna, and a green oasis for many Singaporeans. 

Over the next few months, several exciting plans will be rolled out. 

Community in Nature programmes such as coastal clean-ups, field studies and nature workshops will be held here, using the Ubin Living Lab as a focal point and launch pad. 

A mangrove arboretum will be set up by NParks and the community within the Ubin Living Lab, near Sungei Puaka. 35 mangrove species will be introduced as part of the ongoing reforestation efforts under the Ubin Project, of which 8 are critically endangered. 

With more of us using the ULL and continually sharing suggestions and feedback, we will continue to enhance the programmes and facilities. 

When that happens, we can look forward to enhanced utilities and also pilot projects of sustainable technologies such as water treatment systems. 

The objectives of the Ubin Living Lab are at the very heart of what we hold dear about Pulau Ubin and I hope you’re as excited as I am to see these ideas turn from suggestions into reality. 

I look forward to seeing more incredible discoveries by our students and researchers. 

The opening of ULL is just a part of the exciting events taking place on Pulau Ubin. This year, we have lined up a year-long series of activities to “Celebrate Ubin”. 

These programmes and initiatives to enhance Ubin, such as reforestation and habitat enhancement, help shape Pulau Ubin as an endearing, rustic respite from the city for us and our future generations. Do keep an eye out for those too! 

Do enjoy the Ubin Living Lab and give us ideas on how we can make it better for everyone. Have a wonderful day ahead.