From the urban jungle to forest science

The minute you place yourself in a truly international, distinguished institution like ANU, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

When it comes to land, Singapore’s biggest challenge is being small.

One man who is working to alleviate the impact of Singapore’s land constraints is ANU alumnus, Mark Wong.

Through his work with the Singaporean National Parks Board, Mark is trying to ensure the sustainability of Singapore’s natural habitat while also exploring the potential of urban greenery.

"Despite having little land to work with, we strive to keep the city of Singapore lush and green. So one of the most pressing issues is learning to balance urban development with creative greening initiatives and the preservation of natural ecosystems.

“I wanted to study forest science at ANU to learn how to tackle such complex challenges.”

So in 2011, Mark left the urban jungle of Singapore and headed to Canberra to gain a qualification that would help him make a difference.

Mark studied forest science with honours in biology, a degree which he says gave him “a diverse set of skills to take with me to my workplace.”

He learned academic report writing, research skills and critical thinking. But one of the most valuable skills he gained was the art of science communication.

“It’s hard to communicate science in a way that is digestible to the layman and these are things that we do every day here in Singapore and in the government.”

While Mark’s time at ANU was rewarded with an impressive resume, it also gave him an experience of a lifetime.

“Those were the best years of my life. I miss them every day,” he says.

“The quality of education at ANU is of the highest calibre because you don’t just receive information from your tutors and your professors, but you get to really participate and make novel discoveries on your own.”

To any students considering moving to Australia to study, “I would say don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone. Go experience the sheer majesty of Australia’s natural landscape, Australia’s culture and of the international community.”