Thursday, December 30, 2010

Singapore Mangroves "Smelly, Dirty"?

Ron Yeo, who writes the nature blog The Tide Chaser, has written a paean to Singapore's under-appreciated mangrove swamps for The Online Citizen.

The mangrove habitat is a staple for school field trips and biodiversity classes, but being 'in the choir' (the one that is being preached to, in the idiom), I and maybe many of this blog's readers tend to forget that:
Dark, smelly, dirty, muddy, scary, mosquito infested, illegal immigrant infested… Ask the usual Singaporeans what they think of our mangroves, and these are some of the common responses. In fact, I even had a friend telling me that he did not like going to mangroves because he was afraid of snakes dropping down from the trees.
Yeo suggests that we should get people to break from these preconceived notions and actually go to see it for themselves. But let's be honest, mangroves do smell funky, and even if you do manage to get your city slicker friends or family to take a trip down to see what all the fuss is about, they might still complain about the heat and remember mostly the mosquitoes, especially if your stories aren't captivating enough or the otters are a no-show. Singaporeans can be a hard lot to please, right?

So I might add to what Yeo's suggests: if you care about nature in Singapore and spend time in our parks and forests, bring a camera and with just a little bit of luck you'll have some pretty pictures of flowers or animals to share online. Then you can answer the question "Singapore forests got anything to see, meh?", and show that appreciating nature is as much about how closely you look, as where you go. In this digitally-driven age, seeing it first on the computer screen might just be the 'hook' to bring people outdoors to see with their own eyes.

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