SAS celebrates 20 years of ICCS by tackling a new site: Kranji East Mangrove

This year will be the 20th for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and fittingly, 20-year stalwart Singapore American School will not be resting on their laurels, but tackling a new site which promises a heavy load. Their site for the past decade at Kranji Mangrove along Kranji Nature Trail will be inaccessible in September to undergo works under the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve masterplan.

As we reviewed the north-west shore last year, a candidate site for SAS was the Kranji East Mangrove, just east of the lip of the Kranji Reservoir. It is a tiny but picturesque pocket, with piles of trash lingering along the high water strand line, largely out of sight and waiting all these years for some hardy souls to tackle the problem.

Runkeeper plot of the recce this morning

Kranji East Mangrove

Gunung Pulai towers over Sungei Skudai River in the distance

There is an old tradition of allocating SAS students from the Middle and High Schools the toughest sites in the ICCS which require sensitive hands and careful data collation. This site fit the bill and it took us just a few minutes to decide that there was enough at the site to keep the expected 100-150 students from SAS busy in September.

The few of us on the morning recce were Organisers/Site Captains from the Singapore American School, Martha Began and Steve Early, Recce Captain Andy Dinesh and Deputy North-West Zone Captain Lee Bee Yan. The third SAS Organiser and founder of ICCS, Kate Thome was unfortunately called away so will visit the site later.

Dinesh, Martha, Bee Yan and Steve making their way into the site

Later in May and June, the north-west zone coordination team will map the site in detail and divide it up into sectors, identify an assembly area, insertion points to reduce trampling, evaluate the trash load and type to ensure volunteers in each sector are safely prepared and prepare a safety plan and update logistic requirements (gunny sacks for glass) – amongst other things.

We will ask NEA for support for bulk trash removal and get permission from the industry nearby to get permission to access the plot through their backyard – no more crawling past concertina wire each time we visit! SAS will revisit the site with us in May when the detailed recce is done and we will brief Sector Leaders in August before operations commence in September.

Once September’s cleanup is done and the procedure validated, we are likely to open the site to year-round, small-scale cleanups. A slow and steady approach is adopted with all mangrove sites to minimise impact and after several years, the difference will be apparent.

Part of the trash line; it’s worse in some parts!

Ria Tan, after one of her inter-tidal patrols, highlighted the problem of this site on just recently on Wild Shores Singapore. More than half of her post was devoted to the sight of the trash. The accumulations over years is considerable.

We have so very few precious pockets of mangrove and we’d like to subject each to some tender loving care. And what better way for SAS to celebrate 20 years of the ICCS than to lift the curse marine debris in Kranji East Mangrove.

Some TLC is in order for Kranji East Mangrove