RAINFOREST IMPACT REPORT
As another semester is underway at Singapore American School, we wanted to update you on the SAS rainforest project. Thanks to your collective generosity, the rainforest project received over $300,000 SGD in donations in the 2014-15 school year. This represents half of the money for the scope of work outlined in the comprehensive rainforest and nursery proposal prepared in 2014 by Dr. Roopa Dewan and SAS science teachers and approved by Dr. Chip Kimball.
Over the summer, the facilities office commissioned a certified arborist to conduct a detailed survey of the major trees. The survey contains topographical measurements and the location, girth, and height of 229 trees. Now we know that there are at least 53 tree species in our 1.6 acre rainforest! The arborist proposed a plan for dead wooding and pruning several trees, as well as removing a number of invasive plants. Mr. Elango Velautham, Assistant Director of Arboriculture and Plant Resource at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Plant Resource Center, then visited the SAS rainforest to review the plan and give additional expert advice. The work plan was completed in October.
The facilities teams consulted an irrigation specialist, and upon his advice, two standpipes were installed at the highest part of the forest. These standpipes give SAS landscaping contractors access to a water supply point to manually water the plants and trees along the perimeter fence which have been the most severely affected by the loss of the buffer zone of trees outside the fence. For her senior Catalyst project, Micaela Tam investigated rainwater harvesting in the rainforest. As a result of her project, our facilities team is investigating the feasibility of installing a harvesting tank in the future.
PLANT NURSERY, CEMENT PATHWAY AND SIGNAGE
A temporary 80 square-foot shade structure with internal plumbing for misting small plants was purchased and installed in the space behind the band room. We anticipate that this space will be suitable for elementary school students’ seedling projects. Our next exciting project is to build a classroom-sized tentage at the nursery area complete with student worktables for planting seedlings and saplings. The cement pathway winding through the forest installed during the school's original construction has come to impede the growth of several trees, and short sections will be removed and replaced with raised boardwalk to resolve this problem. With the support of high school biology students, a labeling system will be developed to identify and tell the story of our most charismatic trees, and to follow the growth of all 229 trees in a long-term research study.
Building on our partnership with the Botanic Gardens, SAS science teachers organized two after-school trips to the Botanic Gardens’ Plant Resource Centre for hands-on activities. The first trip took elementary school students, and the second trip brought middle and high school students. Assistant Director Velautham and Ms. Kate Thome, a former seventh grade SAS science teacher, led the students through proper soil mixing, transplanting, and watering saplings of rare tree species. A guided tour of the gardens’ nursery followed.
The extended period of unhealthy haze we experienced in September reminds us how urgent it is to provide opportunities for our children to learn about forests in our ecosystem, and to develop knowledge and respect for nature by giving them ample opportunities to go into green spaces with rich biodiversity. Additionally, they can be active conservationists of our endangered native forest species.
Our teachers, staff, administrators, volunteers, and board members involved with the rainforest project are very grateful for your continuing support to transform the SAS rainforest into a outdoor learning laboratory for our children.