Singapore is a city-state with a land area of about 718.3 km2 located within the Sundaland biodiversity hotspot. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and yet, despite being highly urbanised, harbours rich native biodiversity within its borders.
The unique circumstances of Singapore present considerable challenges to the conservation of biodiversity, as there are many competing needs within a small land area. Conversely, it also presents opportunities for innovative solutions to address these challenges, including the development of expertise on urban biodiversity conservation.
The current state of biodiversity shows some signs of improvement, as there have been fairly significant increases in the numbers of species for certain groups of plants and animals, most notably vascular plants, birds, spiders, soft corals and some of the insects. Furthermore, many species once thought lost have been found again in local habitats and home ranges of some rare species have expanded. In addition to facing ongoing threats to biodiversity from scarcity of land, some other challenges to biodiversity conservation include potentially invasive species. These are being monitored for longer term impacts to habitats or are being studied more closely to find solutions.
There have been several key initiatives under the five strategies outlined in the 2009 version of Singapore’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Species conservation and recovery programmes, habitat restoration and enhancement initiatives as well as efforts to improve habitat connectivity are some of the ways in which Singapore safeguards biodiversity. The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 and Singapore’s land use planning process are examples of ways in which Singapore takes biodiversity issues into consideration in policy and decision-making. Knowledge of Singapore’s biodiversity is also improved through research and the information is managed using tools such as the BIOME database (Biodiversity and Environment Database System). Great emphasis is placed on enhancing education and public awareness, with various events being held such as the Festival of Biodiversity under the Community in Nature initiative. Singapore also works towards strengthening partnerships on biodiversity issues at the national, regional and international levels.
On the whole, Singapore has made good progress on the targets that are relevant, and this was assessed based on the initiatives carried out under the strategies of the NBSAP as well as Singapore’s score on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (SI). Singapore’s NBSAP is currently undergoing a review to develop nationally relevant targets which will allow better tracking of the state of biodiversity in Singapore.