Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives
Thu 03 Nov 2005
Biodiversity Symposium of Singapore 2003 remembered
Category : Singapore Naturalist
Since end-2001, Chek Jawa had been conserved, two nature reserves declared, the Changi tree felled, and public response to all of this significant. It was time to regroup and get a bird's eye view of the situation and the players. Hence BOSS 2003 (themed "What's Up?" was held on the 11th and 12th of July.
This was the first symposium of its kind that brought together people in conservation, education, research and management and an evolution of a 1997 workshop. So we decided to pile the plate - we launched the Chek Jawa Guidebook, conferred a special symposium award to Lady McNeice, and made a very surprised Ria Tan and Chua Ee Kiam Raffles Museum Associates and invited the Ministry of National Development to grace the occasion.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan gamely did the honours and was pleasantly surprised by the crowded Lecture Theatre 25 in Science Faculty, early that Friday morning.
We finished the simple ceremonies so quickly, the caterer had not setup the food yet, so we conducted an impromptu tour of the Raffles Museum before releasing the VIP group to the food.
SARS loomed but happily a company was invited to try out some new machine which enabled temperature screenings to be done smoothly. A kitten we had picked up, Blackie, died after just a few days, the night before the symposium and made everything else seem unimportant.
Student volunteers who stepped to usher and help with registration paid the $10 symposium fee like everyone else, including the volunteer symposium committee (adults paid $20). But they were all thanked with a free copy of the Chek Jawa Guidebook.
We had 30 speakers that Lekowala managed, in four sessions over two days with eight chairpersons - two interesting people per session! The education session was easily the most soulful and the best exchanges with the audience were carried out during the last session on Saturday evening. The Changi tree featured significantly in that session!
The Raffles Museum speakers were suitably riotous, in keeping with our image but my favourite speaker and secret weapon was kept for last - Juggie did his spiel on advertising that I still remember today, and provided much needed food for thought.
Early birds each morning were treated to coffee, and there was more time than was usual to discuss new ideas as two tea breaks pre day were scheduled, each 30 minutes long. The last evening, Ladybug's calculations resulted in Spinelli's coffee for all!
Industrious use of iView Media Pro saw eight hundred-odd photos put up immediately each night - see the galleries.
The entire symposium cost us about $5,000, which a donation from the Lee Foundation covered. Although conceived years earlier, preparations, including recruitment of the symposium committee that included Lekowala and Ladybug, began six weeks before the symposium when MND said, "we will come!"
Enough reminiscing for now, but what a blast!