Hands on with The Green Volunteers

By Carlyn Law, a PR consultant by day and off duty, she is always on the prowl for good food, green pastures and cats around the globe.

Every Saturday, you can find members of The Green Volunteers, including its founder Grant Pereira, busy planting, weeding and watering part of the garden at Pasir Ris Park.

Lately they have created an open concept butterfly garden with a variety of host and food plants to attract butterflies like the colourful Plain Tiger and Peacock Pansy. A whole array of volunteers is hard at work under the blazing sun, from curious school children to retirees and young families in between. The butterfly garden is entirely run by them and it is always evolving to include more diverse plant varieties. It has become a popular spot on weekends with photographers flocking to take photos of these beautiful ‘flying flowers’.

The Green Volunteers

The Green Volunteers is an independent green group founded about 12 years ago with less than 50 volunteers. Today they have more than 5,000 volunteers who range from school children to retirees. The volunteers mainly do long-term hands-on projects like mangrove clean-ups and replanting, reforestation projects (mostly overseas), setting up bird, butterfly and wildlife gardens to bring back both native flora and fauna.

Grant, who has been involved with conservation work for more than 30 years, is also active in animal conservation issues both locally and overseas. On the international front, The Green Volunteers work with the well-known international anti-whaling group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to dissuade and educate the public about eating highly endangered species like sharks, bluefin tuna, dolphins and caviar. They recently launched a very successful campaign to stop Resorts World Sentosa from bringing in a whale shark for display.

The Green Volunteers are very much a ‘hands-on’ group and have very little time for organised green conferences, ‘where everyone moans and groans about global warming and climate change and does very little about it,’ Grant quips. He calls these meetings and conferences ‘feel-good preaching to the choir get togethers’.

Ongoing Projects

S.P.R.O.U.T.S. (Singaporeans Proudly Replanting Our Unique Trees and Shrubs)

S.P.R.O.U.T.S plans to bring back our native flora and fauna to our parks, schools and open spaces. The Green Volunteers do so by looking after a stretch of native trees (many endangered) at Pasir Ris Park (carpark C) near their butterfly garden and have also started butterfly gardens at Fort Canning Park, MacPherson Primary School and Siglap Secondary School.

Butterflies & Beyond

Butterflies And Beyond was started to cultivate plants, trees and shrubs to bring back the 4B’s – birds, butterflies, bees and bats – to the local parks and open spaces. The Green Volunteers train nature guides and give regular walks at Pasir Ris Park, Fort Canning and Tampines eco-parks.

Regional Projects

Social and Conservation Work in Northern Thailand

Grant is active in the conservation of the Borneo orang utans and Thai elephants.

On a regular basis, he brings students and other groups to Northern Thailand to do social and conservation work.

These trips range from 1 to 3 weeks. A 3 week trip to Northern Thailand includes 1 week for elephant conservation and study and a second week is spent at a remote hill-tribe village doing social work with the village and the school, bringing medicine, food, school books and helping build toilets, libraries or classrooms. The last week is strictly for reforestation projects where fruit trees are planted around the schools to improve the children’s nutrition, as well as herbs and medicinal trees for the villager’s needs. Bamboo is also planted to make handicraft and to supplement the elephants’ diet and teak trees are also planted in the forest to replenish a badly depleted teak population due to over logging.

This year December 2011, Trees n Trunks will be helping the Thai community at large. It will encompasse two main components: helping the Karen Hilltribe as well as working with the Elephant Nature Park. They are hoping to raise $5,000 by December 2011 to cover part of the project costs. Support them here.

Over the last 12 years, the volunteers have planted more than 250,000 teak, fruit and other trees.

Prostheses Foundation of Thailand

They also support the work of the Prostheses Foundation of Thailand by bringing up aluminium can tabs to Chiangmai. These can tabs are melted down and made into artificial limbs for those who need them. They are given away free to anyone irrespective of race, nationality or religion. Many are landmine and accident victims and diabetics. Limbs have not only been supplied throughout Thailand but also to Burma, Laos, Cambodia and even Malaysia.

Hornbill Conservation Project in Johor

Nearer to home, they have a hornbill conservation project in Johor, Malaysia. This project is to provide sanctuary and protection for the southern pied hornbill and to encourage natural reproduction. This long term project is supported by Sebana Cove Resorts.

Join the Green Volunteers Today!

If you want to be kept informed or join the activities of The Green Volunteers, email to Grant grant@singapore.com with your name, mobile and date of birth.

You can make a difference to our environment by starting Today!

‘Anyone can join The Green Volunteers; all you need is a desire to make Singapore and the world a cleaner and greener place and be prepared to get your feet wet and hands dirty’ – Grant Pereira