Sustainable development

Rescuing trees from extinction: Giving students hands-on experience of rainforest conservation

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A family’s visionary focus on sustainability is rescuing endangered tree species from the edge of extinction. The Kirtida and Bharat Mekani Environmental Sustainability Fund supported the creation of specialised rainforest nurseries across both campuses at UWCSEA.

A family’s visionary focus on sustainability is rescuing endangered tree species from the edge of extinction. The Kirtida and Bharat Mekani Environmental Sustainability Fund supported the creation of specialised rainforest nurseries across both campuses at UWCSEA.

Since 2014, rainforest nurseries on both campuses have provided a vibrant home to more than 1000 endangered plant species. The installation of a water-efficient irrigation system allowed the College to create conditions that are suitable for rigorous academic research and ensuring higher survival rates of seedlings. Students in the UWCSEA Rainforest Restoration Project have been working closely with partners at Yale-NUS and Singapore Botanic Gardens to collect data from tree samples and monitor the impact that trees have on the local and global environment.

IfP_-_timor_2014-143The nurseries also provide a wealth of educational experiences. High and Middle School students who work in the nurseries are invited to attend nursery training programmes at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Plant Resource Centre. The specimens grown and cultivated in the nurseries are used for research and presentations during the Grade 5 Exhibition of Learning and provide campus-based research material for coursework and academic research for students interested in horticulture, biology for conservation.

The students work to enhance cultivation and raise awareness of environmental issues saw the UWCSEA Rainforest Restoration teams invited to take part in the inaugural Singapore EarthFest 2015 – a festival celebrating all things eco-friendly in Singapore. They took the opportunity to showcase their work and encourage organisations, as well as the wider public, to be involved in practical rainforest conservation in Singapore.

Through this wider outreach, the project capitalises on learning and educating opportunities – highlighting not only the importance of conserving our natural heritage but also the need to offer opportunities to young and old to be actively engaged in this essential work.

Going beyond UWCSEA, the long-lasting impact continues as the project reaches out of Singapore by developing opportunities with the Singapore Botanic Gardens to expand the partnership into a reforestation project in Cambodia and collaborate with the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre in Malaysia.

“Essentially, what we are able to do now is not just talk about problems and be ‘slacktivists’- we are able to walk the talk- to carry out conservation work hands-on and fight the extinction of species by ourselves.” Arjun Krishnan, Grade 11 and member of the Rainforest Restoration Project.

This exceptional project is providing an enriching, hands-on experience in conservation and helping to make environmental stewardship a significant part of every student’s education.