Pandan Mangrove revisited – back mangrove cut, less trash but still a sensitive site!

ICCS Pandan Mangrove Recce, 27 May 2013 by South Zone Captain Kelly Ong.

In support of our work at ICCS, my colleague Eric Kong has kindly offered to drive me all the way to the site again for the recce this year – thanks Eric!

We reached the mangrove around 3pm where there was a receding tide at 1.5m. The first thing which caught our attention was the clearing of the back mangrove vegetation behind bus-stop 25. What was the reason for that, I wondered?

Stumps and fallen branches of the trees were found in patches alongside the mangroves (see the photo below). This has made it easier to access the mangrove.


The trash load was medium-low – a great improvement since we first started cleaning up this mangrove patch some six years ago. But still an eyesore! We felt the itch to cleanup right away!

Items that we dispose of irresponsibly will end up in our waterways!

Lots of plastic bottles, food wrappers and containers, most likely washed in from the rising tide could be seen as usual.

A nice view of the mangrove if not for the trash!

Pandan mangrove will still be a good site for Organisers who want to present their participants with the added challenge of wading into the mud. Participants will have to walk mindfully to reduce impact to mangrove plant roots while removing the scattered trash.

A final recce nearer to the cleanup date with those who have chosen the site will be necessary to identity respective entry points.

Lets get ready for the action the 21st of September!

A burden of plastics relieved from Pandan mangrove – more than 900kg categorised, counted and removed!

High spirits filled the air under the beautiful early morning light and clear blue sky of the 8th of September 2012 as 90 volunteers from Wildlife Reserves Singapore, FMC Technologies, Nexus International School and Earthlink NTU gathered at Jalan Buroh bus stop number 25 for the fifth year of the annual Pandan mangrove cleanup for ICCS.

Site buddy Grace Ang got to serious work very quickly and inspired the young local and overseas tertiary students with her patient encouragement and by being a great and enthusiastic role-model.

Site buddy Grace Ang at work! Photo by Eric Kong

Our cool ‘lone ranger’ independent volunteer Nasrul turn up at the perfect timing and went all the way out into the mud to pick up any trash in sight!

Some interesting finds this year include a huge bag of shattered glass pieces and old furniture by Nexus International School.  The WRS ladies were as strong as the guys and impressed all with their muscle power and persistence in clearing a long heavy roll of nylon rope!

WRS folks huffing and puffing! Photo by Eric Kong.

Independent volunteer Nasrul waded into the mud
to remove abandoned crab traps!

Nasrul and I found two abandoned crab net-traps and during removal and we gasped when we saw a horseshoe crab beneath them! We were so glad it was alive and left it alone in the mud.

All in all, the 90 of us in total filled 65 trash bags with 5,004 items which we categorised and disposed, weighing more than 900kg of trash at Pandan Mangrove! Plastics bags numbering 1,881 and 676 food wrappers once again dominated the items collected at the fifth annual cleanup of this mangrove.

 FMC technologies’s professional trash weighing team! Photo by Eric Kong

After the hard work of the cleanup, smiles lit up everyone’s faces and I know it is a day each of us shall remember, making a difference for one of Singapore’s last remaining patches of mangrove.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore!

More photos:

  • Wildlife Reserves Singapore album – link
  • FMC Technologies – link

View the results – link

ICCS Pandan Top Ten Results 2012

Serenity in Pandan Mangrove. Photo by Eric Kong.

Examining the trash challenge at Pandan Mangrove

ICCS Pandan Mangrove Recce, 13 May 2011 – I brought my colleague along to the mangrove edge whilst working around the area, to share more about the ICCS programme that is part of my life! We reached Pandan mangrove during a nice low tide of <1m around 4pm.

Although there was some amount of trash littering this tiny and little known mangrove, the situation now is so much better than when we first started work here four years ago!

Common trash found are plastic bottles, food packaging, plastic containers that have been brought in by the waters or dumped illegally.

The Pandan Mangrove cleanup has always been anchored tackled by enthusiastic participants who dare to get dirty and do serious work. We sure look forward to another exciting clean up come 17 September!

Oh, and just before we left, here was what we saw:

The wonders of mother nature! : ) What a beautiful sight to end our recce!

How to clean Pandan with panache! (Reflections about the IAVE workshop)

The ICCS Otters kicked off their first event of 2011 on 22nd Jan with a cleanup cum workshop organized for delegates from the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Youth Volunteer Conference. Held in Singapore this year, the conference was attended by 439 youth delegates and started by joining local volunteer groups at their sites of action. Eighteen international and local youth volunteers got “warmed up” for the conference by joining us at Pandan Mangrove.

As our trusty South Zone Captain, Kelly Ong was in charge, I relished the respite from zone captain duties and looked forward to an easy and enjoyable time! The fun started at the pre-cleanup meeting at Coffee Club, Holland Village, where we were spurred to decide team names and chose cute ones inspired by mangrove creatures. I chose Team Crabby, alongside Teams Otty, Skippy and Snaky.

ICCS Otters arrive early at the cleanup site for preparations. L-R: Dinesh, Jayanthi, Kah Meng, Jag, Bee Yan, Siva; front row: Kelly, Jessica, Grace, Kai Scene and Manuela. Photo by Kenneth Pinto

During the pre-cleanup meeting, we also also confirmed the actual day’s sequence of events and the pre-cleanup brief for the delegates. We had to synchronise our sub-group activity carefully as we had very little time (3 hours) to complete a workshop before we waved goodbye to delegates.

This got me thinking deeper about how to cleanup Pandan Mangrove (or any other site, for that matter) with panache. In less flowery terms, what a smooth and educational cleanup effort entails:

You have to plan carefully for a safe and effective cleanup. And amidst the details of the logistics and event sequence, it is vital to think about the take-home message for participants – I felt I tend to forget about the latter particularly during our larger-scale operations.

Another highlight was the importance of the site recce – even on the actual day, which group leaders did by reaching Pandan Mangrove early, well before the delegates. This allowed us to establish a safe entry point (no hornet’s nest or other hazards) with minimal damage to vegetation and to assess the trash load.

Kah Ming conducting the pre-cleanup briefing

Once the delegates arrived, they were directed to our four small groups for the briefing and tackled the trash for just half an hour. We were using the data cards so that delegates had an impression of how ICC volunteers conduct operations around the world in September – collect trash, categorise and record data, weigh trash etc. During this time, it was important to engage participants, demonstrate how we carried out various procedures and clarify doubts.

Team Crabby at work!

Back at NUS a short bus ride later, with time running out, we abandoned plans about blogging and concentrated on logging data before Siva conducted a short lecture on various aspects about ICCS – marine life, impact of pollution, the link to our daily lives and public education as well as how to start something small and nurture it to something larger and sustainable.

The next important lesson I pondered that day was: the ability to improvise! Although we had planned a detailed schedule, we made changes comfortably to keep things enjoyable with one eye always on the objective.

Post-cleanup data logging

The last thing about a good cleanup (and my personal favourite) is the interaction a.k.a. the trading of “war stories”. These sessions do enhance the volunteer experience and IAVE actually agrees, as their objective is to “promote, strengthen and celebrate the development of volunteering worldwide”. A reason for the annual IAVE conferences, thus must be to facilitate sharing. So it was good that we set aside time too. I told them about the many tyres found during the first Pandan Mangrove cleanup and found out that one of the delegates had participated in ICC Port Dickson, Malaysia previously!

As we were about to wave our goodbyes, we setup a Facebook group as the quickest way to keep in touch.

So, would you want to execute a cleanup with panache? You would probably need more than one trial. The ICCS way has always been to start small and improve with each cleanup. And because familiarity breeds complacency, even “cleanup veterans” need to reflect back on what they do every now and then. While demonstrating to the IAVE delegates how ICCS runs a cleanup I got my refresher. It certainly feels like 2011 has started on the right note!

Biswajit @ Pandan mangrove [People at the ICCS]

Biswajit Guha standing in the mud at Pandan mangrove on Saturday morning, 11th September 2010. The Director of Zoology at the Singapore Zoo is an enthusiastic ICCS volunteer who never fails to get muddy at Pandan. This was the third year running and we’ve removed most of the larger items by now, leaving us to the back breaking removal of plastic bags, strapping bands and plastic pieces. Still it’s only 90 back-breaking minutes and he agrees the mud must be good for his complexion. Until our next mud bath in 2011 then, Biz!


It’s always a greatly enriching experience having good clean “dirty” fun
with friends while helping our local ecosystems!!
Photo by Ou Yang Xiuling

The “Phua Chu Kang” effect [People at the ICCS]

A clean and cheerful Stephane Bayen from NUS just before the Pandan mangrove cleanup trying for the “Phua Chu Kang” effect. He had rushed out to get yellow booties the previous night to ensue he could work effectively and his wife had suggested adding the mole and curly hair. Wigs were in short supply so he gamefully went for the squatting effect for the camera.


Photo by Lee Bee Yan

Stephane is an environmental toxicologist working on bio-amplification of toxins in the mangrove food chain. This day he decided to take a macroscopic perspective by contributing to the cleanup. He’s not stranger to volunteering at the mangroves, having guided with us for the Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk in 2002.

Tackling the ‘Trash Monsters’ of Pandan Mangrove

75 warriors from Wildlife Reserve Singapore, Oil Spill Response, Black and Veatch, Independents and NUS Biodiversity Crew & Raffles Museum Toddycats defeated a 1, 597 kilogram ‘Trash Monster’ of Pandan Mangrove today!

We undertook was tough mission indeed! And I’m not talking about the agony of waking up at 5am. Some of us were swallowed by the treacherous bog while others fended off the perpetual presence of mozzies while we fought hard to capture the ‘Trash Monsters’.

Heroic Mr Sivasothi, ICCS national coordinator showing off his muscles.

The ‘Trash Monsters’ today ranged from piles of dumped rubber insulation tubing, more than a thousand plastic bags and *drum roll* even a car bumper! (>.<”’)

We have fought these ‘Trash Monsters’ for three years 4.7 tonnes of the enemy has been removed thus far.

While we celebrate the success of 2010 warriors of Pandan Mangrove, we know that this monster will not stay defeated for long and will return again. The veterans agree, however, we have finally seen signs of it weakening – and will return to battle it once again next September!

Ou Yang Xiuling
Site Captain, Pandan Mangrove
ICCS South Zone

Happy campers at Pandan Mangrove!

South Zone Captain Kelly Ong and Site Captain for Pandan mangrove Ou Yang Xiuling celebrating the 3rd year of a successful cleanup at Pandan mangroves. Photo by Lee Bee Yan.

Data from the cleanup

  • Overall for Pandan – link
  • Black & Veatch (SEA) Pte Ltd – link
  • NUS Raffles Museum Toddycats & Biodiversity Crew – link
  • Oil Spill Response – link
  • Wildlife Reserves Singapore – link

Blog posts from the cleanup

  • “Tackling the ‘Trash Monsters’ of Pandan Mangrove,” by Ou Yang Xiuling. News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, 11 Sep 2010 – link
  • “The “Phua Chu Kang” effect [People of the ICCS],” by N. Sivasothi. News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, 12 Sep 2010 – link

Photos from the cleanup:

  • Raffles Museum Toddycats Album 1 (117 photos) – link [kpinto]
  • Raffles Museum Toddycats Album 2 (34 photos) – link [lby]
  • Raffles Museum Toddycats Album 3 (39 photos) – link [oyx]
  • Raffles Museum Toddycats Album 4 (18 photos) – link [klim]

Team SPF environmentalists takes on the Pandan Mangrove [James Chng]

On 12 Sept 2009, 19 senior officers from the Singapore Police Force went from protecting the nation to protecting the environment as they traded their revolvers for trash bags and got down to clearing the Pandan Mangrove, all in the name of environmentalism.

Coordinated by the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the Pandan Mangrove Cleanup attracted participants from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Raffles Museum Toddycats, the Department of the Biological Sciences (NUS) and independent volunteers as well. The cleanup was part of an international effort to cleanup and to collate information regarding marine litter.

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Our men in blue started their operation at 8.30am and got right into the thick of action. It was a first experience for many of the officers, but there was no hesitation as they trudged deep into the mangroves and deftly navigated the uneven terrain interjected by muddy mounts, exposed roots and an assortment of marine litter.


Working in groups of 3, the officers scoured the mangrove for all manner of refuse and promptly bagged any debris found. There were various non-biodegradable waste strewed all over the mangrove floor, with the most prevalent being plastic bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam pieces and other industrial building materials like plastic sheets, pipes and rubber tires. In fact, the number of plastic bags collected amounted to almost 50% of all debris collected for that morning.

While deep in the mangrove, one officer even had a surprise encounter with a small water snake that was entangled in the tire he was attempting to clear. Without delay, our officers cautiously freed the snake which promptly slithered away deep into the mangrove.

By the end of the cleanup, the team from the Singapore Police Force had filled a total of 43 trash bags with debris from the mangrove weighing a hefty 233 kg. The team had collected a total of 2,620 items from just a 50 meter stretch. Collectively, participants from the cleanup amassed a total of 3,759 items weighing in at a total of 1,745 kg – see data.

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In all it was an extremely enriching and educational experience for our officers as they were alerted to how marine debris can endanger the lives of many marine creatures like sea turtles, crabs and albatrosses. The waste that we carelessly discard might be accumulated in such mangroves, serving to proliferate the problem and escalate the level of threat to the precious myriad of marine life that inhabits these mangroves.

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By P/INSP James Chng
Police Training Command
Home Team Academy
501 Old Choa Chu Kang Rd S698928

More photos on Flickr.

Posted via email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore