T oday, NParks nurtures over 350 parks, four nature reserves and our extensive streetscape – all to uphold Singapore’s identity as a City in a Garden. Together with its community partners, NParks plays a large role in enhancing our country’s lush greenery.
NParks scholar Zhou Boyi tells us how he helps NParks achieve its unique goals. He also shares about the opportunities he has been given under the NParks Scholarship, and the nuggets of wisdom he would like to impart to aspiring NParks scholars.
Yvonne Lin contributes to the fraction of first-class honours graduates this year. The Singapore Polytechnic (SP) graduate tells us about her SAA-GE journey, and the things she looks forward to in her career.
Tell us more about NPark’s role in managing Singapore’s green spaces and environment.
Zhou Boyi: NParks strives to make Singapore a City in a Garden, so that generations of Singaporeans will be able to enjoy a healthy living environment rich in biodiversity. To safeguard our biodiversity, NParks takes an evidence-based approach in the physical planning of green spaces and implementation of biodiversity conservation programmes. Besides this, we work closely with the community and various partners (such as schools, artists and non-governmental organisations) on conservation programmes to help conserve our natural heritage.
What sparked your interest in Ecology and Environmental Biology?
Boyi: As a kid, I always felt an inexplicable affinity towards nature. I used to enjoy exploring the outdoors and learning about animals through nature documentaries! In JC, I was trained as a nature guide under the Biology Club, and through this, gained a deeper appreciation of Singapore’s biodiversity. Singapore is home to a fascinating diversity of wildlife despite being urbanised. I felt a calling to do my part in protecting our natural habitats and the wildlife within, and also wanted to share what I had learnt with the rest of the community so they could appreciate the living world as much as I did.
NParks Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Manager (Biodiversity Information & Policy)
What opportunities have you enjoyed as an NParks Scholar?
Boyi: When I was a student, I had the opportunity to learn from leading ecologists and gained insights into conservation and resource management practices around the world. NParks has also been supportive of the courses I took at Imperial College, enabling me to broaden my understanding of ecology and conservation biology. Over the course of my three-year degree programme, I got to participate in expeditions and field courses at various places, where I picked up valuable field research skills and gained a deeper understanding of conservation challenges faced by different parts of the world.
Share with us some highlights from your scholarship journey with NParks.
Boyi: In my first year of study as a research assistant, I participated in a research expedition in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru. The surveys were conducted deep in the forest, far from any form of civilisation. I remember travelling up and down the river every single day to count river dolphins, caimans, macaws, and different species of monkeys!
The trip also shed some light on the challenges that developing countries face in protecting their wildlife. One of the causes is poaching, which is difficult to control because it is a multi-million dollar industry. Another issue is that many locals depend on bushmeat for subsistence, which may lead to unsustainable harvesting of wildlife in their forests. During my time there, some of the turtle nests we were monitoring were raided by illegal poachers right under our watch!
What do you do at work today?
Boyi: A key part of my job is to support the Community in Nature (CIN) initiative, a national movement to connect with and engage communities in conserving Singapore’s national heritage. I organise various education and outreach programmes to raise awareness of our rich biodiversity in schools, among families and within the general public. One example is the Biodiversity Week for Schools, through which I planned and implemented a range of biodiversity activities for preschool, primary school and secondary school students.
A large part of my job also involves training volunteers to conduct biodiversity surveys, which help to monitor and document our wildlife in our parks. These citizen science programmes allow us to involve the community in collecting large amounts of data, which help us formulate conservation and management strategies. In turn, our volunteers get to learn more about our biodiversity! To promote such citizen science, I was involved in the development of the SGBioAtlas, a mobile app that helps users identify and submit sightings of our flora and fauna to our database. I also organised the inaugural NParks Butterfly Count, where I trained volunteers to conduct butterfly surveys in 40 parks across the whole of Singapore. Over the course of a fortnight, over 2,400 butterflies were identified and counted. It is still a work in progress as I am still analysing the data!
What do you look forward to in the future?
Boyi: I hope to continue playing an active role in the conservation of Singapore’s rich biodiversity and share my appreciation of our wildlife with the rest of the community. Hopefully, more individuals will be inspired to take action and contribute to conserving our natural heritage.
What would you like to tell aspiring NParks scholars?
Boyi: It can be daunting for ‘A’ Level graduates to make key decisions about scholarships and their undergraduate degrees. However, if you have a genuine passion for Singapore’s greenery and the environment, I would advise you to take the leap of faith and follow your dreams. Working in a job you feel strongly about just makes it so much more enjoyable and meaningful. NParks also offers a wide range of career options due to our varied roles and responsibilities, so there’s always something new and exciting to do! s