S1E2: Visit to East Coast: How reclamation will shape up against rising sea levels

  • 21 Jun 2024

While the future Long Island will guard against sea level rise, the trade-offs to marine life and the East Coast’s character must be addressed, stakeholders told host Shabana Begum. 

Synopsis (headphones recommended): By end-century, Singapore’s mean sea level is expected to rise by up to 1.15m. Now a top attraction in the area, East Coast Park would be a place to avoid if nothing is done. 

Frequent floods are likely to put the beach underwater in the future, as climate change continues to exacerbate rising sea levels. And if exceptionally high tides or storm surges were to hit, seawater levels could rise up to 5m, breaking through the coast. The entire park, East Coast Parkway, vehicles and void decks at housing estates like Marine Parade in the vicinity could be submerged in water. 

To prevent this reality, there are plans to have a defence offshore. That is Long Island, twice the size of Marina Bay reclaimed off the east coast, with a reservoir in between.

But such a mega project raises many uncertainties and questions. How would reclamation for Long Island change the East Coast landscape? What are the implications for nature and marine life nearby? What do young people - who will live to see the project taking shape - have to say? 

As the June 14 oil spill has shown, human activity - if not managed properly - can threaten coastal and marine habitats, including the biodiversity-rich Southern Islands. 

In this second episode of Green Trails, our team heads to East Coast Park and a lesser known habitat near Marina Barrage - important to threatened species and likely to be threatened by reclamation - to find answers. 

At the heart of East Coast Park, ST journalist Shabana Begum meets with representatives from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Water Agency PUB - Mr Lee Wai Kin and Mr Thoo Jung Chee. Both agencies are spearheading the Long Island project.

At the little-known Marina East Drive habitat, Shabana uncovers the wildlife there when she takes a walk with Mr Lester Tan, who chairs Nature Society (Singapore)’s Marine Conservation Group.

In the evening, Shabana returns to East Coast Park to speak with Mr Maximus Tan, 22 and Mr Crispus Tan, 27. These youths - who will live to see Long Island taking shape in the next few decades - voice their aspirations for Long Island. 

Read our previous article about Long Island: https://str.sg/ixC7

Find out more about the mega project here: https://str.sg/6zoP

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:43 What will happen to East Coast if nothing is done to protect the shoreline? 

4:00 How will Long Island defend Singapore from rising sea levels?

11:07 How will the authorities minimise the impact of reclamation on marine life? 

16:13 What are the lesser-known biodiversity havens of the East Coast?

22:04 Lester on whether marine life along East Coast will eventually return post-reclamation

26:22 Reactions from Crispus and Maximus on East Coast's changing landscape

32:53 Crispus and Maximus on life on Long Island, their hopes and ideas

Listen to other Green Trails episodes: 

Ep 1: A visit to Sungei Buloh - https://str.sg/BrqS

Host: Shabana Begum (nshab@sph.com.sg)

Trail producers: Lynda Hong, Hadyu Rahim, Teo Tong Kai, Eden Soh

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

Executive Producers: Ernest Luis (ernest@sph.com.sg) & Audrey Tan (audreyt@sph.com.sg)

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