Partnering the community in reforestation efforts
NUS students fighting weeds at Chestnut Nature Park
True to their mission to nurture students with sustainability education and to empower action in conservation, NUS Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) has been spearheading reforestation efforts at Chestnut Nature Park (CNP).
Today, their consistent conservation efforts with the community have made headway – restoring CNP’s degraded forests could otherwise take over a century to recover naturally.
Located next to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, CNP is Singapore’s largest nature park spanning 81 hectares of land. It is home to native tree species that improve the ecological connectivity between green spaces. These expansive spaces allow animals to thrive, and the local community to enjoy a range of hiking and mountain biking trails through scenic woodlands.
Their labour of love started three years ago when the park opened. RVRC founded a community initiative called Friends of CNP, in partnership with the National Parks Board (NParks). Students from different disciplines were initiated into CNP’s reforestation efforts, with RVRC Director of Studies Mr N Sivasothi at the helm as Chairman and RVRC Lecturer Dr Chua Siew Chin as forest ecologist advising on the restoration of degraded forests.
They also formed an interest group RV FoRestore, inspired from “forest” and “restoration”. Student leaders helped to organise various activities including weeding, monitoring the growth of planted trees, growing forest seedlings, as well as host annual events such as wildlife recording, and tree planting during the NUS Day of Service. They also engaged RVRC peers on the nature and wildlife around the college’s surrounding forests by conducting bird watching sessions and nature walks, while documenting these activities on Facebook and Instagram.
“Our vision is to increase the awareness of local forest restoration work beyond tree planting, and get more of our peers on board in these efforts,” said RV FoRestore President Lim Yi He, an NUS Science student.
Through different restoration strategies, data was gathered to improve future restoration work. Leveraging the flexible format of the Year 2 programme, Dr Chua designed a short course for students to collect information on the restoration plot at CNP, as well as to experiment with different nursery propagation techniques.
“Our discoveries from this short course and the RV FoRestore activities were showcased at the Forest Restoration Workshop, co-organised with NParks,” said Dr Chua.
The Forest Restoration Workshop was opened to the public, targeting school teachers and students who were encouraged to join RV FoRestore’s activities at CNP.
“We hope to expand the forest restoration work beyond NUS to other schools in Singapore, where interest groups such as RV FoRestore can also be started and sustained,” added Dr Chua.