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First encyclopedia on Singapore’s biodiversity over 200 years

19 July 2011

(From left) Prof Peter Ng; Mr Poon Hong Yuen, Board Member & Chief Executive Officer of National Parks Board; President S R Nathan; Mr Mah Bow Tan, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC and former Minister for National Development; Prof Tan Chorh Chuan and Mr Didier Millet, Managing Director of Editions Didier Millet at the official launch

(From left) Prof Leo Tan, Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board; Prof Peter Ng, one of the General Editors and Prof Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large and Chief Advisor for the encylopedia

NUS researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences spearheaded a bold book project to consolidate almost 200 years of studies on Singapore’s natural history. This first-ever comprehensive reference work entitled “Singapore Biodiversity – An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development” was launched on 18 July 2011 by NUS Chancellor and Singapore President S R Nathan, in the presence of some 130 guests representing key stakeholders of environment conservation in Singapore.

The 552-page book highlights Singapore’s achievements in conserving its rich natural heritage despite the country being small in size and having a dense urban landscape. “It will serve as a very important resource and context, which will help inform our thinking and action to further improve our natural heritage. It also provides an interesting link to our long history of environmental conservation amidst rapid economic development,” said NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan.

Initiated by Prof Leo Tan, Director of Special Projects at the Faculty of Science, and Prof Peter Ng, Director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, the landmark publication also involved 65 contributors from the academia, government agencies and environmental activist groups in Singapore which include the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Ministry of National Development, National Environment Agency and Nature Society (Singapore).

Three NUS professors from the Department of Biological Sciences, Prof Peter Ng, Prof Richard Corlett and Assoc Prof Hugh Tan, were the general editors and Editions Didier Millet, the publisher.

In the first part of the book, manifold aspects of Singapore’s natural environment and other related topics, such as climate change, public policy and sustainable development, are discussed. The second part of the book offers an A-Z guide on Singapore’s biodiversity, with some 1,500 entries covering almost every known organism found in Singapore.

Generous donations amounting to S$1.1 million from ExxonMobil Asia Pte Ltd, Keppel Corporation Limited, Lee Foundation, Ngee Ann Kongsi, Mr Sam Goi and Mr Oei Hong Leong supported the production of the book, which is now on sale at bookstores islandwide. It is also available at NUS libraries and libraries under the National Library Board.