Emeritus Professor Chou Loke Ming receives ASEAN award for biodiversity

Passionate about marine life since youth, Emeritus Professor Chou Loke Ming from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) received the ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Award for his pioneering work on coral reef restoration and management. He was presented with the award in a ceremony held at Bogor, Indonesia, in November 2022. 

The ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Award recognises the work of individuals who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation in their respective countries. This is the second edition of the Award since it was first introduced at the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in 2017.

Prof Chou has made significant contributions to marine research and is the founder of the Reef Ecology Lab and the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS.

In an interview with The Straits Times, Prof Chou recounted how he used to go snorkelling with his friends and fellow students from the then University of Singapore. “The water was so clear we could see so many different things”. This was in the late 1960s.

This changed however, when intense urban development in subsequent decades resulted in increased sedimentation in Singapore’s waters which affected the health of coral reefs. Prof Chou reflected that there was a lack of containment measures to reduce the impact on marine wildlife for development projects at that time. However, with advocacy and research by conservationists, there are more protections in place regarding the landscape of coastal development.

While Prof Chou believes that Singapore’s move towards better valuing of nature is heartening, he does not think that the state’s relationship with nature ends there. “Our present strategies of mitigating damage to nature are the consequence of viewing nature as part of us... But I still believe that we can go one step further, of beginning to view ourselves as part of nature,” he said.

Read more about Prof Chou’s journey here.