biodiversitychallenge, biodiversitychallenge2019

PARTY TIME @ BFF Challenge 2019 Closing

The second BFF Challenge has come to an end! BFF Challenge alumni from 2018 and 2019 were invited to drop by the Red Box on a Friday evening on 2 Aug 2019 for a pizza party with games.

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The evening started off with a pizza party with pizzas, wings, chips and fruit tarts, where everyone was busy eating and mingling with each other, and certificates were given out to 10 of the 12 BFF Challenge alumni. Great job BFF Challenge 2019 graduates, we hope you’ve learnt more about Singapore’s wildlife and also made new connections and friends from this experience!


Following that, BFF Challenge mates had the chance to play “Wildlife Encounters”, a game designed by BFF Challenge 2018 graduate and her coursemates from NUS’ Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) programme. This was the time to score points by doing the right actions when you encounter a wildlife around Singapore, or sabotage your friends into making poor choices which may result in a negative Human-Wildlife interaction.

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All smiles from this group!

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Sneak preview of the game, which will be available for play in the Forest Discovery Centre at the upcoming Gallop Road extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

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Time to take out the chip stash, before tabulating the scores!

Thank you Charlotte, Yudhish, Christabel and Lorraine for creating the game and facilitating the session with BFFers!

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After which, Tina (BFF Challenge ‘18) and familiar OtterWatcher gave everyone a crashcourse on “How to be an effective AV crew”, drawing on her learning points from organising the recent Mangrove, Macrobenthos and Management 2019 Conference. A nice summary and many useful pointers brought up for everyone to reflect on.

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Last but not least, Siva ended off the session with a Q&A about Stakeholder Engagement, for BFFers to ask any questions about the process when large development projects happen, typically involving various stakeholders including nature groups, researchers and relevant parties. While the topic was new, we hope more are interested in the process, given its recent spotlight from development projects such as the Cross Island Line and the Mandai Project.

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That’s it, cheers to all the Challenge participants, we hope you join this growing network of youths passionate about biodiversity and conservation of our natural heritage through the BFF Programme, and will be interested to be involved in the organisation of future events and workshops.

In the meantime, look forward to upcoming workshops to build capacity and relationships in the last quarter of the year!

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Walks for the Biodiversity Challenge 2019

This year, participants of the Biodiversity Challenge 2019 are being offered a series of curated walks by members of the nature community. In addition to the exploration of a diversity of ecosystems and wildlife, each trip involves engagement with Facilitators who will act as a human library, and with each other, to build a network of natural history enthusiasts.

We have visits to forests, mangroves, inter-tidal areas, and participants will learn about macaques, crocodiles, otters, pythons, birds and wildlife rescue, from March to May 2019:

  1. Labrador Walk with N. Sivasothi aka Otterman (NUS Toddycats)
  2. Crocodile Watch with Bernard Seah (SBWR Volunteers)
  3. Monkey Walk with Joys Tan and Quek Xiao Tong (JGIS)
  4. Bird Walk with Xu Weiting (NUS Toddycats)
  5. ACRES visit w/python talk by Sankar Anantharayanan (HSS)
  6. Intertidal Watch with Cheo Pei Rong (NParks)
  7. Love MacRitchie Walk with Chloe Tan (NUS Toddycats)
  8. Otter Walk with Chong Marjorie & Tina Liow (Otter Working Group)

We are also pointing participants to other walks, workshops and festivals offered by the community in Singapore, and will guide reflections and discussions about their experiences and the landscape in Singapore.

Thanks to the community for their nurturing support of enthusiastic new individuals!

biodiversitychallenge, biodiversitychallenge2019, workshop

The 2019 BFF Biodiversity Challenge Workshop!

Sat 23 Feb 2019 – the BFF Biodiversity Seminar & Workshop was held at Ridge View Residential College, National University of Singapore. It was exciting for us to host, once again, some 50 like-minded individuals who came together to learn about and discuss biodiversity issues in Singapore.

Our lovely registration duo (Srishti and Karl) registered our participants before guiding them to breakfast. Over toast and coffee, participants, facilitators and mentors warmed up to each other as they interacted on a personal level.

Partners in black – Srishti and Karl

Sivasothi aka Otterman chatting with two of our participants

After breakfast, the session began in Multi-purpose Room. Linda Goh, Director of the Biodiversity Information and Policy Branch at the National Parks Board, kicked off the session with a thoughtful and soothing account of her experience in engaging Singaporeans to discover and enjoy nature.

Linda Goh sharing with youths some of her early experiences in biodiversity

To allow our participants a feel of the BFF Biodiversity Challenge, Tina Liow, alumni of the BFF Biodiversity Challenge 2018, highlighted her main takeaways of her BFF challenge journey and the joy at raising awareness about biodiversity in Singapore –  starting with just the simple step of reaching out to family and some highly urbanised friends!

Tina’s inspiring talk about her personal experiences during the BFF Biodiversity Challenge 2018,
and the joy of a friendly network of nature enthusiasts.

Majorie Chong, an otter-watching member of the public, shared how her regular observations otters has been translated to wildlife management through contributions as a member of the Otter Working Group. The stories from behind the scenes of monitoring and action was exciting and an eye opener to how various groups work together to ensure wildlife in Singapore is protected while educating Singaporeans who delight in our aquatic residents.

Majorie’s passion and expertise shone through her sharing about her otterwatching experiences.

The lecture on “Changing Landscapes in Singapore” and its impact on local biodiversity and civil society was delivered by N. Sivasothi aka Otterman, resident coordinator of the BFF programme and experienced advocate for nature conservation in Singapore.

Sivasothi delivering the “Changing Landscapes in Singapore” lecture

Sivasothi conducting the “Changing Landscapes in Singapore” lecture which underpins the BFF programme

Participants listening attentively to Otterman speak

Then the discussions began! Our participants were broken up into focus groups of four or five and brought through three activities by games-master Sivasothi to gain a better understand biodiversity issues in Singapore. The small groups encouraged participants to engage and interact more with our facilitators and mentors and the relaxed atmosphere helped tremendously.

Through discussions and hands-on activities, participants looked up various resources which broaden their knowledge about wildlife and biodiversity –and help them, answer questions!

Participants identified various local animals, worked out their origin categories, as well as their global and local red list statuses, informal and formal groups in the local conservation scene, including agencies and ministries. This helped them understand the stakeholder engagement mechanism underway in various projects.

BFF participants in their focus groups

One of the focus groups and their facilitator, Majorie, classifying the images of animals provided according to criteria set by game-master Siva

Shirlene Chiam, a BFF Biodiversity Challenge alumni and now facilitator, helping to classify the images of animals provided according to the various criteria called out by game-master Siva

Facilitator Xu Weiting, explaining the different IUCN conservation statuses to the participants

One of our facilitators, Tan Boxin, explaining the different IUCN conservation statuses while participants referenced the IUCN Red Date List online.

Mentor Stephen Beng from NSS’ Marine Conservation Group, was n hand to provide valuable insights and chat with participants.

Rounding up a fruitful workshop, Joy Wong briefed participants about the diversity of activities offered by the BFF Biodiversity Challenge 2019. And then there was lunch – another chance to network with each another as well as our mentors and facilitators.

Joy, closing off the session.

It certainly looked like most enjoyed themselves and we are looking forward to their personal journeys with the BFF Biodiversity Challenge 2019!

(Photo credits: Lesley Chng)

Thanks to the team: Our Facilitators – Ivan Kwan, Joleen Chan, Karl Png, Lesley Chng, Majorie Chong, Sankar Anantharayanan, Shirlene Chiam, Srishti Arora, Tan Boxin, Tina Liow & Xu Weiting. Our Mentors – Alvin Wong, Stephen Beng, Linda Goh & N. Sivasothi. Our Secretariat – Joy Wong & Rena Tan

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Register now for the 2019 Biodiversity Challenge!


Empower: Attend the BFF Seminar & Workshop on Sat 23 Feb 2019 [sign up here: link]

Equip: Attend five curated field trips offered by mentors, log your experience in a field journal and attend a reflection session.

Engage: Attend a Festival of Biodiversity (FoB) 2019 preparation workshop (in May) and engage the public at FoB on 25 & 26 May 2019.

Enable: Conduct Acts of Nature to contribute towards Singapore as a more enlightened space for Human-Wildlife Coexistence.

Read about the BFF programme in this article: “Making BFFs at the Biodiversity Friends Forum, by Joy Wong. Mygreenspace, Vol 1 (40) 2019.