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Chek Jawa has unique ecosystem
Leong Kwok Peng, The Nature Society
Straits Times Forum Page 24 Dec 01

We refer to the National Development Minister's Dec 20 announcement on the deferment of reclamation works at Tanjung Chek Jawa.

We were already delighted with the news of the gazetting of Labrador Park and Sungei Buloh last month.

We like to further applaud the government for this notable decision on Chek Jawa, and are sure that all nature lovers in Singapore welcome this piece of good news.

The decision is also unique in the sense that it covers part of the marine realm which has always been neglected in a predominantly land-based nature conservation policy.

There is no marine park or reserve so far in Singapore. The remaining marine habitats including coral reefs are in a dire situation due to reclamation and sedimentation.

Tanjung Chek Jawa is a unique ecosystem combining both terrestrial and marine aspects. It has mangrove forests, rocky beaches, sandy mudflats, and extensive seagrass beds, all rolled into one. The biodiversity there is mind-boggling. A recent survey reported rare coastal ]plants such as the sea nutmeg and seashore mangosteen, seven species of seagrass and 28 species of seaweed including a red algae—recorded for the first time in Singapore.

There is also an abundance of marine life, such as sea cucumbers, sand dollars, anemones, crabs, shrimps, nudibranch, worms and so on.

At very low tide, an enormous variety of multi-coloured sponges are exposed.

We see Tanjung Chek Jawa not only as a natural beach, but also as a microcosm of a marine habitat in a region known to have the highest marine biodiversity in the world.

We see its potential for research in biomedicine and life sciences. It is also an excellent natural outdoor classroom suitable for learning ecology, biodiversity, geography and so much more.

It is very much a part of Pulau Ubin, and it is a place we should treasure.
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