Working to restore the balance of the ecosystem

Cristina can be seen watering plants.

Hi everyone! I am Lantian Christina Ma, a rising senior at the United World College of South East Asia  in Singapore.  

As a kid, I loved listening to Sir David Attenborough’s voice in those BBC documentaries ever since a young age. However, as more clips were consumed, I realized I couldn't just sit there and listen to the stories of how our productions have degraded such colorful, vibrant, and lively ecosystems to some barren land with lonely debris of tree trunks. I began to use my own efforts to help restore the balance of the ecosystem after coming to Singapore a few years ago.  

Singapore went through a period of rapid development and industrialization in the 1960s and 70s, often at the cost of the natural environment. Today, the Singaporean government launched the One Million Tree Project to restore nature on the highly urbanized island through planting a million more trees by 2030. This effort would also count towards a positive change to addressing climate change.  

The Rainforest Restoration Project (RRP) in my school is in partnership with National Parks Board Singapore (NParks) to protect indigenous species in Singapore and help NParks achieve its One Million Tree Project goal. The RRP follows the mission of Think Global, Plant Local with our work linked closely with SDG Number 13, Climate Action, and Number 15, Life on Land.  

I was inspired, delighted and honored to take up the position as the chair of RRP. We directly support the ecosystem by nurturing over 700 indigenous tree saplings in the school nursery, and periodically attend tree-planting sessions organized by NParks along the rail corridor. It is wonderful working with those who are passionate about environmental protection and to finally see the saplings thrive under our care.  

Besides the hands-on approach, we also organize awareness-raising campaigns within the school community. From setting up a scavenger hunt of indigenous species in our school to delivering tropical “Christmas Trees” to more than 50 classes from kindergarten to high school, we try to bring the connection with trees to our school community and work towards the sustainable future stated in our school mission.  

With all the direct and indirect work done to help the local environment, I sought to amplify my voice. Standing on the stage of the 2022 Caixin Summit Singapore in front of many business and political leaders, including the former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and many key Chinese business figures. As a Voice from the Future, I shared how my takeaways from my work at RRP could be applied to addressing climate change, and what I felt the world leaders should do about this pressing global issue: action, collaboration, and education among nations, businesses, organizations and individuals and work towards the common goal. 

I hope that step by step, we can start by planting the seed of a small idea or issue we want to address, and carefully raise it to a high canopy above by establishing a sustainable system.