As Unkariaother recent rediscoveries and plant finds have mainly occurred in nature reserves with the largest native species-dominated forests: the 163-hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, which covers more than 3,000 hectares.
Dr Neo said: “The figures show that the remaining fragments of original forests, which already have a long history of protection, can actually serve as oases or refuges for biodiversity.”
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which has the largest tract of virgin forest in Singapore, was designated as a nature reserve in the late 19th century. Although the Central Catchment Nature Reserve was officially gazetted much later, much of it was protected by an agreement at the time to preserve vegetation along streams and bodies of water, including Macritchie Reservoir.
The largest number of rare species was found in the largest and least disturbed forest area in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. 44 rediscoveries and 22 species new to Singapore were recorded.
This was followed by the last significant patch of freshwater swamp forest, the Ni Sun Swamp Forest in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, with 43 rediscoveries and 17 new records.
Several rediscoveries have occurred as a result of the restoration of secondary forests and parks that buffered these reserves, such as Windsor Nature Park in the Upper Thomson area. This shows how heavily disturbed forest fragments can still support some rare native species, the researchers say.
Secondary forest refers to the vegetation that arose after the complete removal of the previous forest.
Since most of these rediscovered plant species are classified as endangered in Singapore, conservation action is definitely needed, say the researchers.