SINGAPORE: Twenty new species of fauna have been recorded on Pulau Ubin during a biodiversity survey of the island, including a type of spider that is new to science, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee in a Facebook post on Friday (Sep 25).
Six of the fauna species are new to Singapore, comprising four types of spiders, a butterfly and a bird.
The Comprehensive Ubin Biodiversity Survey (CUBS) also recorded 13 species of fauna new to Pulau Ubin such as bats, birds and dragonflies.
"The unique biodiversity found on Pulau Ubin is fascinating. This has been confirmed by the new findings from our (CUBS)," said Mr Lee.
"More than 160 field surveys, involving citizen scientists from various nature groups, researchers and NParks, have been conducted since CUBS commenced in 2018. Since then, 20 new species of fauna have been recorded, including the Piranthus sp, a new species of spider recorded for science."
The new species of spider was first collected in Brunei in 2012 and identified then as part of a different genus. It had also been collected in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, mangroves in Lim Chu Kang.
A specimen of the spider was also discovered in a secondary forest in Pulau Ubin during the biodiversity survey, and researchers identified it as a new, undescribed species under the Piranthus genus.
The first two pairs of legs in the female spiders are bright reddish-orange.
The survey is still in progress for the other taxonomic groups, including phasmids (leaf and stick insects), mammals as well as moths. It is targeted for completion at the end of this year. More than 200 individuals have been involved.
In his Facebook post, Mr Lee also announced that NParks is starting on a reforestation project, with more than 16,000 trees from more than 70 native species planted progressively at three sites on Pulau Ubin.
The sites - the 10-hectare Balai Quarry South, Sungei Teris (5ha) and Jalan Jelutong (1ha) - were previously used for granite mining and aquaculture and have since been abandoned.
Currently, the sites are covered with non-native invasive plant species and do not support a high diversity of wildlife.
This reforestation effort is part of Singapore’s One Million Trees movement. As its name suggests, the movement aims to plant more than 1 million trees in Singapore over the next 10 years.
Reforestation at Pulau Ubin has been ongoing since 2001 at several sites across the island.
In addition, the floating wetlands project at Pekan Quarry in Pulau Ubin has been completed.
The quarry is home to many wetland species that reside on the island. In order to enhance it as a habitat, NParks piloted a floating wetlands system at the quarry in 2015.
The total size of the new floating wetlands system is now more than 4,000 sqm, increasing the size of the floating wetlands at the quarry to cover about 20 per cent of its water surface.
Apart from enhancing the biodiversity of Pulau Ubin, various measures are in place to assist villagers on the island, said Mr Lee.
These efforts include a plan to make Pulau Ubin more accessible for people from all walks of life, improvements to a makeshift "taxi stand" on the island as well as repairs to homes.
"We want to make Ubin inclusive for everyone. We have plans to construct a floating pontoon jetty at Ubin Living Lab, where wheelchair users can embark and disembark smoothly," Mr Lee said.
"Accessible Ubin, with the support of FUN and NParks, (has) drafted a proposed design for the floating pontoon jetty following consultations with stakeholders such as the community and agencies. We will finalise the design soon, and start construction works thereafter."