Can Urban Mangroves Help Combat Climate Change? Gardens by the Bay Investigates

At the Kingfisher Wetlands, a new 15,000 sq m nature sanctuary at Gardens by the Bay, white-breasted water hens paddle leisurely amongst lotuses, while iridescent dragonflies dart above the water’s surface. Juat Ying and Rodricks, from the Gardens’ Sustainability Office, point out the various native mangrove species planted in the wetlands — a total of about 200 true mangroves and mangrove associates, including several species which are endangered or critically endangered.

Newly-created water cascades help to improve the overall water quality by creating more aeration and forms micro-habitats for biodiversity to flourish.

These mangrove wetlands are the site of the Gardens’ study on Blue Carbon Capture through Urban Mangrove Wetlands. This study, which is funded by the SG Eco Fund as well as Temasek, aims to determine the potential of urban mangrove wetlands to sequester carbon as a way to mitigate climate change — that is, how much carbon can mangroves remove from the air and how much can be stored in the wetland sediments and the trees themselves. Juat Ying shares: “Mangroves are natural carbon stores — in fact, mangroves are so good at it, they capture and store more carbon per square area than rainforests!”

Various native species of true mangroves and mangrove associates can be found at Kingfisher Wetlands — growing native species also serves to attract the native biodiversity that depend on them for food and shelter.

Beyond their carbon sequestration abilities, when planted in coastal areas, mangroves offer protection from waves and sea level rise as they buffer the tides with their root structure. They also support biodiversity by attracting pollinators and providing food and habitats for animals. In an urban environment, mangroves bring all the added mood-enhancing benefits of urban greenery — as many a tired CBD worker can attest, even a quick stroll amidst the gardens and mangroves of Gardens by the Bay works wonders as a perk-me-up.

A white-breasted water hen hops across lotus leaves at the Lotus Pond.

With such a multitude of benefits, Gardens by the Bay hopes that more mangroves can be planted in urban wetlands locally and in the region. If the study proves successful in establishing the potential of urban mangroves to sequester carbon, they plan to share the knowledge with other industry players to encourage scale-up. Now that’s a win-win for the climate and our biodiversity!

Do you have an idea that supports environmental sustainability and involves the community? You too can apply for the SG Eco Fund to help grow your green idea! Visit www.mse.gov.sg/SGEcoFund for more information.

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