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N. Sivasothi,
a.k.a. Otterman,
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Fri 04 Nov 2005

How Bukit Timah got its name

Category : nature

In 2002, Joseph Lai at al. wrote "Tree of Time?" (Changi Heritage webpage, 2002) after they conducted a tree survey of Changi. In that article, he identified Hopea sangal as a candidate for the tree that gave Changi its name.

Now Joseph is feeling elated and jubilant! He lays claim to the solution of how did Bukit Timah was named in "Temak's Legitimacy Out of The Woods.".

"For as many years as one can remember, the root word for 'Timah' had been tossed up in speculation between two possible Malay words -- 'timah' for tin, or 'temak' for Shorea roxburghii. But none of these were found to be satisfactory; for no tin had ever been found on Bukit Timah Hill, and neither had any Shorea roxburghii trees been recorded for Singapore Island as well."

"Temak's legitimacy actually lies in one of the annal of botanical records for Malaya ... 'The Malayan Forest Records - No.5; Malayan Plant Names, J.G. Watson, 1928'; both Shorea macroptera and Shorea bracteolata were recorded as 'Temak' here."

"... it would be safe to assume that the recorded name 'temak' was correctly applied. If so, then any of these two trees present on Bukit Timah could have given their name to the hill. And since both species can also found in the rain forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens, it is quite logically followed that the entire Bukit Timah district got its name from 'temak' as well!"

Source: "Temak's Legitimacy Out of The Woods." By Joseph Lai. Earth , 4 Nov 2005.

Posted at 11:40PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Fri 22 Apr 2005

Zoo plants Hopea sangal sapling

Category : news

22 Apr 2005 - "Here is the lovely young Hopea sangal being planted by Dr Geh Min, the president of the Nature Society (Singapore). Melvin, the horticulturalist at the zoo and his team have done a great job of caring for it - it's over a metre and lush. It was lovely to see it, and it now stands opposite the sculptures made from its mother tree. "

- Vilma D'Rozario, NSS/Hopea sangal Working Group.

For earlier news about the Hopea sangal, see Habitatnews and the Changi Heritage Webpage

Photo by William Nai, WRS.

Posted at 10:44PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Fri 28 Jan 2005

Celebrity Investigation Agent

Category : tvradio

Celebrity Investigation Agent is broadcast every Wednesday, 8.00pm at Channel 8. See the TCS webpage for details.

It features Irene Ang (in a Sherlock Holmes like costume) and a celebrity friend on a hunt to answer some interesting questions from around Singapore.

They have already featured the Changi trees - the stories of the Hopea sangal and Sindora wallichi that are expained in the Changi Heritage webapge .

Thanks to Wong Yueat Tin and Wendy Sim

Posted at 1:18AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Wed 26 Jan 2005

Stiffer fines protect trees

Category : parliament

"Developers, contractors face stiffer fines for chopping down protected trees." By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia, 25 Jan 2005 [pdf].

"Anyone who damages the greenery in parks can now be slapped with a $10,000 fine, up from $5,000 previously.

This, after an amended Parks and Trees Act was passed in Parliament on Tuesday, which called for an enhanced protection for nature. The changes to the Parks and Trees Act also protect green buffers along what's known as Heritage Roads, while developers and contractors will face stiffer fines if they cut down protected trees.

A 150-year-old Hopea sangal Tree was chopped down by a property management firm more than three years ago. The firm was fined $8,000 for chopping down the tree and an additional $76,000 in compensation. Now, a similar offence could result in a $50,000 fine for chopping down the tree and even more in compensation.

And its not just contractors or developers who have to be mindful. "

More at:

  • Channel NewsAsia [pdf].
  • See also: "Heritage roads." By Joyce Teo, The Straits Times, 26 Jan 2005 [pdf].
    Ambience of selected scenic roads are to be preserved.
  • "Towards a city in a garden." By Derrick A Paulo, Today, 26 Jan 2005 [pdf].
  • For earlier news reports about Hopea sangal, see link.
  • Posted at 5:56AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Mon 08 Nov 2004

    Nanyang Girls High School prepare for Hopea sangal education workshop

    Category : nature

    Students from Nanyang Girls High School (NYGH) have completed a series of Hopea sangal education workshops conducted by members of the Working Group that looked after the felled tree's logs.

    The NYGH students now prepare for a workshop they will be conducting for two primary schools next week. In the photo below, students depict the events of 20 November 2002 when Sivasothi first visited the site of the rare Hopea sangal tree.

    UNable to find the rare, old tree, the scene of felled logs on the grass nearby made him call Joseph Lai for the specific location of the tree. Eventually he had to break the news to Joseph, who had rediscovered the tree with his team just a few months earlier - "All I saw was a stump".

    The felled tree logs are now a sculpture located the Singapore Zoo.

    Posted at 11:13AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Sun 07 Nov 2004

    MM Lee Kuan Yew plants Hopea sangal in Henderson

    Category : news

    Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew planted a very special sapling today.

    In 2002, a Hopea sangal tree, once listed as extinct, was rediscovered in Changi by Joseph Lai and friends. This tree was tragically felled in November 2002, but happily, before this happened, a batch of seeds was collected by alert members of the Nature Society (Singapore).

    Some of the seedlings were presented to NParks for safe keeping, and one other was presented to the Singapore Zoo together transformed logs, now sculptures. See the Hopea sangal timeline.

    One sapling was nurtured under special conditions to enhance its growth, and is now more than a metre tall.

    Joseph Lai and Angie Ng had measured the Changi trees for the original report, hunted for and identified the felled logs in the sawmills and ceremoniously handed over a Hopea sangal sapling on behalf of NSS to the zoo.

    This morning, Sunday 7th November 2004, amidst the tight security, they were there to witness MM Lee Kuan Yew plant the sapling in Henderson and share the moment with us today with this photo here and on the Earth webpage.

    Many of our lives have been entwined by the tree and an education programme, involving various members of the Hopea sangal working group with schools is in fact, still ongoing.

    Just last Friday, Joseph said, "The whole episode had been a real eye-opener for me, and this realization - of the wonderful dimension within the space of two years as well as in the undefinable space in the people's hearts - inspired me to write this final piece," Between Nothing.

    Posted at 3:08PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Thu 04 Nov 2004

    Hopea sangal sapling - update

    Category : news

    Some Hopea sangal seedlings rescued by Nature Society (Singapore) members were presented to National Parks Board after the tree was cut down in November 2002.

    NParks has been carefully nuturing the sapling at the Pasir Panjang nursery. This sapling was grown partiallly in a carbon dioxide-enhanced chamber and is now about a metre in height.

    This picture was taken on 28 October 2004 by Derek Yap.

    Posted at 9:36AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Fri 29 Oct 2004

    Axing trees may lead to higher fines

    Category : news

    "Axe trees illegally? Bigger fine likely." By Alexis Hooi, The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2004 [pdf].

    "A new law being considered in Parliament proposes to raise the maximum fine for those who cut down trees marked for conservation from $10,000 to $50,000.

    The move comes in the wake of a rise last year in the number of protected trees illegally cut down. A spokesman for the National Development Ministry on Monday said 28 trees were illegally felled last year, up from 17 in 2002. Most of the offenders were contractors and developers, added the spokesman."

    Interstingly, I read this as I was leaving for a workshop to teach students about the Hopea sangal - the extinct tree that was rediscovered in September 2002 and felled in November 2002. The culprit was fined $8,000 for the offense and paid the state $76,035 for the value of the tree.

    The presiding District Judge Kow Keng Siong in his court ruling stated "Unfortunately, having weathered more than a century of the forces of nature, it was not able to survive the senseless act of man."

    See the Hopea sangal timeline for details.

    Posted at 12:04PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Tue 13 Apr 2004

    Recent news reports - Hopea sangal sculpture and Pedal Ubin

    Category : news

    "Felled heritage tree is now art for all to see." By Sarah Ng, Streats, 08 Apr 2004. [pdf] "Said Dr Ho Yew Kee, deputy chief executive officer of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the parent company of the zoo: "With the planting of the seedling, we hope that over the next 150 years, the Hopea sangal tree will grow to its majestic height of 35m, giving future generations the opportunity to appreciate a live Hopea sangal tree.""

    "New nature-cum-heritage guided bicycle trail to discover Ubin." By Bridgette See, Channel News Asia, 11 Apr 2004. [pdf] "A group of cyclists and nature lovers have banded together to launch a free nature-cum-heritage guided trail called "Pedal Ubin". Instead of walking, the tours at Pulau Ubin will bring participants to the far ends of the island on bicycles. "Pedal because we want to sell (peddle) Ubin, and pedal because we want to cycle Ubin, so for Pedal Ubin we're selling Ubin on a bicycle," said Airani Ramli, Pedal Ubin's project manager."

    This project was resucitated to introduce to the public aspects of nature and heritage in Ubin beyond Chek Jawa. Sign up at the home page.

    Posted at 5:52AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

    Tue 06 Apr 2004

    Hopea sangal sculptures unveiled in Singapore Zoo

    Category : news

    The Hopea sangal sculptures have found a permanent resting place at the Singapore Zoo. They will be finally unveiled later today (7th April 2004: 9am) and a seedling collected as a seed in October 2002 will handed to the zoo by the Nature Society (Singapore).

    The tree was originally felled on 20th November 2002 and the recovered logs were made into a sculpture by October 2003. The complete timeline of events can be viewed here. This will be updated with photos later.

    Posted at 5:38PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Read more ...

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