More Pulau Ubin kampong houses to be restored

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 16 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE: If you have been to Pulau Ubin, you would have seen the old kampong houses dotting the island. While they lend a rustic charm to the area, some are in a state of complete disrepair.

So, NParks announced on Sunday (Jul 16) that it is calling members of the public - especially interest groups with experts in architecture, heritage and nature - to join them in restoring these dilapidated wooden kampong houses - starting with House 63C.

The former home of Ubin resident Mr Tan Bak Tee for five decades was first built in the 1930s and then later converted for other purposes like a storehouse. It was returned to the state in the early 2000s.

When refurbished, NParks said the house, which is only left with a wooden and zinc skeleton, will retain the "cultural heritage and rustic character of the island". Enhancements will also be done sensitively and sustainably. What the house will be used for is still up in the air, and is open to proposals by interest groups.

Four other empty houses on the island, which have been returned to the state as well, are also earmarked for restoration. The idea to restore these kampong houses was first conceived through The Ubin Project meetings, organised by the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN).

But this is not the first time such a restoration has been done.

At the sixth Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee noted Pulau Ubin's long history, dating back to the Orang Laut who inhabited its shores before colonial times, and the island's granite quarrying and farming past.

"Since last year, we've embarked on initiatives that represent our commitment to further enhance the heritage, history and community of Pulau Ubin", said Mr Lee.

He pointed to House 363B, which was restored after it was returned to the state. The house, which once belonged to Mr Chew Teck Seng, was relaunched in his name to "give visitors a glimpse into kampong life on the island in the 70s."

"Many people have enjoyed visiting Teck Seng's place. The house and the specially curated memorabilia and photographs have triggered fond memories of how life used to be in the past", said Mr Lee.

He added: "Recognising the community's interest, we will be embarking on a more concerted effort to restore the kampong houses on the island. It is the existing community's way of life on Pulau Ubin that makes for the living heritage that is special to Pulau Ubin - and this is something that can be sustained only if we continue to anchor the active participation of the community on this island."

Ubin Day is the culmination of Pesta Ubin, which saw more than 8,000 participants taking part in over 10 weeks of activities.

Besides restoration works, NParks is also working with the research community to conduct a first ever comprehensive biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin late this year. There are more than 700 native plant species and over 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Some of them are only found on the island.

Over the next two years, they will be collecting data to update the species inventory of the island, which will be useful for research, habitat enhancement and species recovery projects. NParks added that the results will be used for long-term monitoring and management of the island.

The nature gallery, which greets visitors as soon as they step on the island, has also been renovated to include 3D displays of biodiversity found on Pulau Ubin, like the otters and dugongs.


NParks to lead restoration of kampung houses on Pulau Ubin
LOUISA TANG Today Online 17 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — Restored kampung houses, a comprehensive survey of biodiversity and a revamped nature gallery. These will soon grace — or are already enhancing — Pulau Ubin.

At least five disused kampung houses on the island will be restored to their former glory as part of years-long restoration efforts, led by the National Parks Board (NParks) along with community groups.

One of the houses, House 63C, was identified by the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) this year in a pilot 
project.

Built in the 1930s, it was the home of Mr Tan Bak Tee and his family for half a century before it was returned to the State in early 2000.

The restoration project was announced by Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee at Ubin Day yesterday. He said that the efforts will “sensitively enhance Ubin’s tangible living cultural heritage”.

He added: “Moving forward, we are exploring the possibility of allowing groups and individuals to use and manage unoccupied kampung houses that have been restored if they can demonstrate that they can work alongside the existing village community to contribute to our larger vision for a rustic and nostalgic Pulau Ubin.”

He also said that the project had been discussed and mulled over by FUN — comprising Ubin residents, naturalists, heritage experts and researchers — for some time. FUN members have worked with NParks to develop proposals on which houses to restore and how to do it.

Speaking to the media, NParks Group director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah said that the restorations are in “preliminary discussions”. “Once the first pilot is done, we will see how the community takes to it. The community will deliberate and decide what kind of activities will take place,” he added.

House 63C, among 70 kampung houses on Pulau Ubin, now stands in disrepair about five minutes away from the jetty. The nephew of its former owner, 63-year-old Mr Tan Chee Kiang, said that he was “very happy” to know that his childhood home would be restored. “To see the house go back up again, I am heartened … if it continues standing empty, it’d be dirty with snakes, mice roaming around,” he said in Mandarin.

For the first time, NParks will also be launching a two-year-long comprehensive biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin that will begin towards the end of the year, aided by volunteers, researchers from the National University of Singapore and citizen scientists from nature groups.

The survey builds on last year’s BioBlitz@Ubin, which resulted in the documentation of more than 450 species. Pulau Ubin is home to 720 native plant species and over 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as about 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and 
damselflies.

“This survey will allow us to reconfirm the baseline data for the species that we’ve already done, but will also allow us to get new data for species like bees, moths, ants and some other animals (for which) we haven’t got baseline data. This will help in the long-term planning of biodiversity conservation on Pulau Ubin,” said NParks manager for conservation Noel Thomas.

Mr Lee also unveiled the revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC, updated from a previous decade-old exhibition through a S$100,000 donation from HSBC. The revamped gallery now comprises information panels, educational displays, interactive touchscreens and 3D models of species found on Pulau Ubin, such as dugongs and oriental pied hornbills.


NParks to restore kampung houses on Pulau Ubin; biodiversity survey to start in late 2017
Samantha Boh Straits Times 16 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) will get to work restoring kampung houses in Pulau Ubin to their former glory.

NParks will work with community partners, including heritage experts and nature groups for the project.

Among the houses that will be restored is a disused structure built in the 1930s. House 63C - a five-minute walk from the jetty - is now hoarded up.

It was the home of one Mr Tan Bak Tee and his family for 50 years before it was returned to the authorities in the early 2000s.

Mr Tan Chee Kiang, 69, who is Mr Tan Bak Tee's nephew, said: "The house is old, dirty and the structures have broken down. There are even snakes there. It would be good to restore it and make it look nicer."

The exact number of houses that will be chosen for restoration is undecided. For now, Mr Tan's former house and four others have been selected. There are about 70 kampung houses on the island.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, speaking at the launch of the project, said it was "a first step in sustaining the unique charm of Ubin".

He said: "Moving forward, we are exploring the possibility of allowing groups and individuals to use and manage unoccupied kampung houses that have been restored, if they can demonstrate that they can work alongside the existing village community to contribute to our larger vision for a rustic and nostalgic Pulau Ubin."

Mr Lee, who is also the Second Minister for Home Affairs, was on the island to mark Ubin Day on Sunday (July 16).

Conserved kampung house, fruit orchard now open to visitors to Pulau Ubin

The Friends of Ubin Network has mulled over the restoration project for some time, and its members joined hands with NParks to develop proposals on which houses to restore, and how the restoration will be done, he added.

Dr Vivienne Wee, an anthropologist who does volunteer work with the Singapore Heritage Society, is among those who will help to identify the houses that are in a state of disrepair, and decide what is needed to restore them.

She said: "Many of the villagers still know how to do the repairs. That is also a disappearing body of knowledge that we need to conserve."

One possible use for the vacant houses after restoration, she said, would be to allow short stays for people who want to experience life on the rustic island.

NParks will also be starting a two-year biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin later this year, with the help of volunteers, National University of Singapore researchers and citizen scientists from nature groups.

It will be the first biodiversity survey to be conducted spanning the entire island. The results will allow NParks to update Pulau Ubin's species inventory. It will also help plan future research, habitat enhancement and species recovery projects, and long-term monitoring and management of the island.

There are about 720 native plants species and more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians on the island, as well as about 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

Mr Lee on Sunday (July 16) unveiled the revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC on the island. The gallery was upgraded with a $100,000 donation by HSBC.

The revamped exhibition features information panels, educational displays and an interactive touchscreen, including 3D models of flora and fauna found on the island such as the Asian small-clawed otter and dugong.


Kampung houses on Pulau Ubin to be restored
Exact number has not been decided; NParks to work with community partners on project
Samantha Boh Straits Times 17 Jul 17;

The National Parks Board (NParks) will get to work restoring kampung houses on Pulau Ubin to their former glory. NParks will work with community partners, including heritage experts and nature groups, for the project.

Among the houses that will be restored is a disused structure built in the 1930s. House 63C - a five-minute walk from the jetty - is now boarded up. It was the home of one Mr Tan Bak Tee and his family for 50 years before it was returned to the authorities in the early 2000s.

Mr Tan Chee Kiang, 69, who is Mr Tan Bak Tee's nephew, said: "The house is old, dirty and the structures have broken down. There are even snakes there. It would be good to restore it and make it look nicer."

The exact number of houses that will be chosen for restoration has not been decided. For now, Mr Tan's former house and four others have been selected. There are about 70 kampung houses on the island.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, speaking at the launch of the project yesterday, said it was "a first step in sustaining the unique charm of Ubin".

He said: "Moving forward, we are exploring the possibility of allowing groups and individuals to use and manage unoccupied kampung houses that have been restored, if they can demonstrate that they can work alongside the existing village community to contribute to our larger vision for a rustic and nostalgic Pulau Ubin."

Mr Lee, who is also the Second Minister for Home Affairs, was on the island to mark Ubin Day yesterday. The Friends of Ubin Network has mulled over the restoration project for some time, and its members joined hands with NParks to develop proposals on which houses to restore, and how the restoration will be done, he added.

Dr Vivienne Wee, an anthropologist who does volunteer work with the Singapore Heritage Society, is among those who will help to identify the houses to be restored, and decide what is needed to be done.

One possible use for the vacant houses after restoration, she said, would be to allow short stays for people who want to experience life on the rustic island.

NParks will also be starting a two-year biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin later this year, with the help of volunteers, National University of Singapore researchers and citizen scientists from nature groups.

It will be the first biodiversity survey to be conducted spanning the entire island. The results will allow NParks to update Pulau Ubin's species inventory. It will also help in the planning of future research, habitat-enhancement and species-recovery projects, and long-term monitoring and management of the island.

There are about 720 native plant species and more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians on the island, as well as about 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

Mr Lee yesterday unveiled the revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC on the island. The gallery was upgraded with a $100,000 donation by HSBC. The revamped exhibition features information panels, educational displays and an interactive touchscreen, including 3D models of flora and fauna found on the island, such as the Asian small-clawed otter and dugong.


New opportunities for the community to partner NParks in revitalising Pulau Ubin
NParks press release 16 Jul 17

- Launch of multi-year kampong house restoration effort on Pulau Ubin
- First comprehensive biodiversity survey of the island

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee today announced the launch of a multi-year kampong house restoration effort on Pulau Ubin at Ubin Day 2017.

The National Parks Board (NParks) will work with the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) and community groups to sensitively restore kampong houses on the island, starting with House 63C. First built in the 1930s, House 63C was the home of Mr Tan Bak Tee and his family for 50 years. After it was used for other purposes such as a storehouse, it was eventually returned to the State in the early 2000s. NParks will build on these community-led efforts by connecting interested groups with experts in architecture, heritage and related fields as well as volunteer networks through FUN. Apart from House 63C, NParks will also identify other kampong houses suitable for restoration.

The community-led restoration will be aligned with the overall look and feel of Pulau Ubin and retain the cultural heritage and rustic character of the island. Enhancements will also be done sensitively and in line with the “Sustainable Design and Practices” theme of the vision for The Ubin Project. Moving forward, the Friends of Ubin Network will explore the re-vitalisation of the Ubin community by allowing interested groups and individuals to use and manage these restored kampong houses, as long as they are able to contribute to The Ubin Project. FUN will be gathering feedback and suggestions from Ubin residents and heritage groups on these proposals.

Ubin Day 2017

Today marks the sixth time Ubin Day is being organised. First held in 2002, Ubin Day is a community event which celebrates the different facets of the island. This year, a host of activities such as kampong games, art workshops, and visits to kampong houses have been organised by the community in collaboration with NParks. Educational booths by community groups to promote biodiversity conservation and cultural heritage will also be set up. Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng is our guest-of-honour at the event.

Ubin Day is part of Pesta Ubin, a festival organised by FUN members and the community. This year’s festival saw a record number of more than 8,000 participants taking part in about 100 activities over 10 weeks. For more information on Pesta Ubin, please visit http://pestaubin2017.blogspot.sg.

Revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC

Activities and enhancements on Pulau Ubin are made possible through community efforts, including corporate involvement. One of these enhancements, the revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC, was also unveiled at Ubin Day. It showcases Ubin’s biodiversity conservation, research, heritage, nature-based recreation and sustainable practices. Located near the jetty, the previous exhibition was 10 years old and in need of updating.

The revamped exhibition comprises information panels, educational displays and an interactive touchscreen to enhance the experience of visitors. Enhanced displays include 3D models of biodiversity found on Pulau Ubin including the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus), Dugong (Dugong dugon) and Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris).

The newly installed touchscreen enables visitors to view the nature conservation masterplan for Ubin including maps highlighting its vegetation, biodiversity areas, habitat enhancement and species recovery sites, as well as the bird calls of 10 species that call the island home. The Nature Gallery is supported by a S$100,000 donation from HSBC through the Garden City Fund. For more information on the Nature Gallery, please refer to Media Factsheet A.

First comprehensive biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin

Minister Lee also announced that NParks will work with the research community on a two-year comprehensive biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin, starting in late 2017. It will be undertaken by NParks staff, volunteers, researchers from the National University of Singapore and citizen scientists from nature groups such as the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society (Singapore), Herpetological Society of Singapore, Entomological Network of Singapore and ButterflyCircle. This is the first time that a survey will be conducted on the biodiversity of the entire island.

Pulau Ubin is home to 720 native plant species and over 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as about 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Some of these species are only found on the island and not on the mainland. The comprehensive biodiversity survey will focus on plants and key groups of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, grasshoppers and katydids, as well as intertidal biodiversity.

The results of the survey will enable NParks to update the baseline data for taxonomic groups such as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and butterflies and obtain new baselines for other groups. The data will help to update the species inventory of Pulau Ubin and aid in the planning of future research, habitat enhancement and species recovery projects. The results will also be used for systematic long-term monitoring and management of the island.

Data from the first BioBlitz@Ubin, which was held from 3 December to 4 December 2016, helped to set the ground for the upcoming comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin. Organised as part of the NParks Community in Nature Biodiversity Watch series, more than 450 species were documented by 100 participants including members of the public, naturalists and researchers over 24 hours.

Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year Photo Competition

Last November, NParks launched the Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year (SGPY) photo competition where photography enthusiasts can submit photographs of what they think best represents the three themes: “Gardens and Landscapes”, “People and Nature” and “Our BiodiverCITY”. Theme 1 (Gardens and Landscapes) and Theme 2 (People and Nature) attracted more than 8,000 entries in total. The competition’s presenting sponsor is City Developments Limited, supported by Nikon and the Photographic Society of Singapore).

A Special Category – Fort Canning Park (People and Nature), supported by partners from Fort Canning Park, was introduced this year. Under this category, participants submitted photographs that depict activities at Fort Canning Park.

Minister Ng presented the top awards to the winners of these themes. For more information on the competition, please refer to Media Factsheet B.



Factsheet A: A Nature Gallery by HSBC

Factsheet B: SGPY 2017 Photo Competition

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