Raffles Museum Toddycats were roped in by fellow-Toddycat and NUSSU SAVE Project Director Amanda Tan to participate in their “Campus in a Tropical Rainforest” project. Eventually twenty-three of us chipped in by the deadline to contribute two Cratoxylum cochinchinense trees.
Ong Say Lin
Junius Soh Hock Heng
Ng Kai Scene
Lee Shin Jia
Teo Kah Ming
Lim Chen Kee
Erica Sena Neves
Fung Tze Kwan
Enoka Priyadarshani Kuda Vidanage
The project effort saw 30 trees planted at Clementi Woods opposite the NUS campus this morning, including Pouteria obovata, Cratoxylum formosum (all species links are to “The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online”).
I had woken up really early this Sunday, planning to cycle up to Kranji mangroves before joining the tree-planting exercise. I examined the weather status and the map of Clementi Woods before closing my eyes ‘briefly’ – and suddenly it was 9.30am! I bolted out of the house and jumped into a cab., thankfully driven by someone who remembered the restaurant at Clementi Woods. I got out at the carpark where all was calm. Amanda was there and ready, complete with walkie talkie, her adrenalin coursing through her veins as she waited for the ever-pleasant mayor of the southwest CDC, Amy Khor.
When the lot of us reached the planting ground on the slope facing West Coast Road, I saw Toddycats Junius Soh – he had also organised CIT to sponsor a tree. A new Toddycats, Robert Balgrie stood out with his Rhodesian ridgeback dog, Kai. On the way in, I updated Lye Lin Heng (Law Faculty and NSS member) about the Hopea sangal tree from Changi in 2002 and agreed to host her MEM class for a session at the Raffles Museum gallery once again, later in the year.
NUSSU SAVE had arranged for the tree planting to be conducted at 10am on 10.10.10. Leo Tan made a gracious and passionate speech in which he called on the NUS’ Administration, represented there by the Deputy President (Administration), Joseph Mullinix, for stronger support for the students to realise this dream of a campus within a rainforest.
I listened with great interest as Leo Tan spoke, for I have witnessed the rise of concrete and its threat to anonymise and neutralise our feel for the campus since the 90s. Many green spaces have been choked off, leaving only the odd manicured margin. The interest and priorities of the NUS community hae changed since and this is reflected by the student’s efforts today, which I know have not been easy – as Amanda once lamented, “All I want to do is plant some trees!”
NParks provided a clear briefing about how to prepare the ground well, what the ideal soil level was how to prevent the tree sapling from being damaged. Leo Tan proved deft with the changkul as he planted the first tree along with Amy Khor, Joseph Mullinix and Amanda Tan. Then the rest of us got to work!
Robert (left) with the first Toddycats tree, a Cratoxylon cochinchinense, Ellie, Tackky & Felix with the tree for Freckles, also a Cratoxylon cochinchinense, with the Pouteria obovata tree I planted earlier in the background. In the foreground, right, I prepare the ground for the second Toddycats Cratoxylon cochinchinense. Biology undergrad Lee Gang behind me later helps adjust the hole depth with our bare hands after a miscalculation!
Robert Balgrie with the first Cratoxylum cochinchinense planted by Raffles Museum Toddycats. Amanda Galistan of NParks’ West Coast Park (right) spent her Sunday morning supervising us!
All thanks to Amanda who invited us to plant trees, her team-mates Low Pei Yee and Lim Pei Jin for their hard work on the project, NUSSU SAVE for setting this up and NParks staff and their contractors for ensuring the trees are well taken care of. I am looking forward to the next four years!
Feeling exhilarated by the activity, company, the park and the lovely morning, I joined Robert for a walk back to Holland Village with Kai, his Rhodesian ridgeback. It as a hot walk for Kai if not for the many planted trees along the way. I am quite sure he enjoyed the companionable walk which was a lovely end to the morning’ activities.
Walking down Clementi Road with Robert and Kai.
Photo album on Flickr
– N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman