07 October 2011

Volunteers needed at Mandai mangroves!

Volunteers are needed to help Rick and Wei Kit map and measure 5,000 trees at Mandai mangroves! Today I was back out with them.
This study is important to better understand and thus protect this amazingly diverse mangrove forest! It's also lots of fun, and a great way to get a glimpse of a special mangrove forest.

One of the ways volunteers can help is to carry all the cool survey equipment to the survey site. It's a bit of a walk along the now dismantled railway track. I'm old, so I can't help much here.
Then it's a little adventure through leafy meadows, crossing tree trunks to finally reach to the mangroves.
Before we start work, we have to set up the awesome Total Station thingy that I still haven't wrapped my brain around. This cool equipment very accurately measures the location and elevation of the trees.
In order to set up a new monitoring station, Wei Kit has to pound in a large wooden stake.
Then Wei Kit walks around with the 'wizard stick' which has a crystal on it so Rick can get readings of all trees with a trunk diameter of 5cm and above.
The three of us had a fun and efficient time documenting the trees. We were really getting into the swing of things when the wet weather forced us to stop. We managed to cover about 40 trees in the short working time. Hopefully, with better weather and more hands, we can get this monumental survey done!

Mandai mangroves have a LOT of trees. I did a very unscientific look at the mangroves in April and there are lots of of interesting and rare trees and plants here. Here's my map with GPS points for some of the rare plants (red=Critically Endangered, yellow=Endangered, light blue=Vulnerable).
Here's my points of the big trees (trunk diameter more than 2m) that I saw. They were nearly everywhere!
Despite my many earlier trips, I continue to find interesting plants every time I visit Mandai. Today, some delightful surprises I found included this curtain of Wax plants (Hoya sp.)! Unfortunately, there were no flowers so I couldn't find out exactly what species they are. Perhaps they are one of the rare ones?! Here's an old article in Nature Watch about some of the beautiful Hoyas of Singapore. Near the Hoyas, Rick also showed me an enormous Portia tree (Thespesia polpunea)! I think it's the biggest one I've ever seen.
Another nice surprise, possibly a young Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata)!
And another young tree that might be Tengar merah (Ceriops zippeliana). It sure looks like the young one that Dr Yong pointed out to us on our trip earlier this week.
As we were working, a man walked past with a net and a very long stick. Possibly to harvest Mud crabs (Scylla sp.)? He was accompanied by four large but friendly dogs which happily splashed about in the water.
There are many threats to beautiful Mandai mangroves. Rick's study will help us better understand and hopefully protect them. Find out more about Rick's study on his awesome Mangrove Action Squad blog featuring the very macho Mangrove Mafia. Better yet, volunteer to help in his study by filling out this form. You'll get a glimpse of Mandai mangroves, learn more about our mangroves and make a difference for them!

More about Mandai mangroves

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