Prince William visits TreeTop Walk in Singapore’s largest nature reserve
Surrounded by the chirping of birds and buzzing of cicadas, Britain’s Prince William and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong visited the TreeTop Walk in the island’s largest nature reserve on Wednesday morning.
This was part of Prince William’s four-day work trip to Singapore, which included attending 2023 Earthshot Prize on Tuesday, an initiative that he founded to give £1 million (S$1.67 million) each to five winners to help them scale up solutions tackling the biggest environmental challenges.
Guided by National Parks Board (NParks) director for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve Ling Han, Prince William and Mr Wong walked along the 25m-tall suspension bridge connecting the two highest points of the reserve, offering a bird’s eye view of some of the richest forests in terms of biodiversity.
During the hour-long visit, the pair met four representatives from NPark’s Youth Stewards for Nature programme. The volunteer programme launched in 2021 to aid young people in implementing nature-related projects to solve real-world problems in research, outreach, biodiversity conservation, or horticulture.
Speaking to the group, Prince William joked: “Sorry, it took us awhile, we’ve been chatting and sweating and doing a lot of walking.”
Recounting the presentation of their projects with Prince William, youth steward Muhammad Nasry Abdul Nasir, 24, said: “It fills us with a lot of hope that a figure like him is supporting our cause, which is typically relegated to the sidelines in the national conversations on policy.
“So having that sort of support is really meaningful to us.”
The second-year Environmental Earth Systems Science student at Nanyang Technological University helped organise this year’s World Wildlife Day Regional Youth Symposium, the second iteration of the initiative that raises awareness about conservation efforts in South-east Asia.
The casual nature of the conservation with the Prince surprised the stewards, added Mr Nasry, who also leads the Singapore Youth Voices for Biodiversity, a group that represents youths in consultation with government agencies on local biodiversity policy.
For example, a cempedak, or jackfruit, tree, behind the hut that the stewards were presenting at reminded Prince William of his experience eating durian due to similarities between the fruits, they said.
Ms Alexis Goh, 24, a youth steward currently working at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, said: “He was also very candid with us and shared with us about how he actually tried eating durian in Singapore.
“He was not too fond of it but at least he tried it.”
During the walk, the Prince of Wales also met Ms Isabelle Lackman, a finalist from the 2022 Earthshot Prize. She co-founded Hutan, a research organisation based in Borneo that studies and monitors the region’s biodiversity, from wild orangutan and elephant research to hornbill and frog surveys.
Introducing the organisation to Mr Wong, Prince William said: “They do fantastic work with orangutans.”
The five winners of the 2023 Earthshot Prize were announced on Tuesday evening at Mediacorp Theatre, which marked the first time the ceremony was held in Asia.
The winners are: S4S Technologies in the Build A Waste-Free World category. California-headquartered soil carbon marketplace Boomitra, which won in the Fix Our Climate category; Hong Kong-based sustainable battery firm GRST (Clean Our Air); the marine programme by San Francisco-based wildlife conservation organisation WildAid (Revive Our Oceans), and forest-restoration initiative Accion Andina, which is based in the Andes mountains (Protect And Restore Nature).
Prince William, who leaves Singapore on Wednesday, also attended the United for Wildlife Global Summit on Monday. The Prince and the Royal Foundation launched United for Wildlife in 2014 to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.