Bringing nature closer to residents

In the pipeline: 80ha park, viewing towers, 30km cycling loop at central catchment area
Amelia Tan Straits Times 27 May 12;

Nature buffs will have greater access to flora and fauna in Singapore with a 30km cycling loop to be completed by 2018.

The circuit will go around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve which covers the Upper Seletar, Upper and Lower Peirce, and MacRitchie reservoirs.

It will be formed by joining 10.5km of existing park connectors and biking trails that go around the northern and western borders of Central Catchment Nature Reserve to a new 19.5kmpark connector. This connector will encircle the reserve's southern and eastern borders.

The new cycling loop was announced yesterday by Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin at the launch of the Festival of Biodiversity at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

He also announced that the Government will be developing a new 80ha park, named the Chestnut Nature Park, just outside of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The park, which will be ready by 2015, will have forest trails, shelters and educational signs.

Two seven-storey towers will also be built to allow nature lovers to enjoy panoramic views of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

One tower will be located in the Chestnut Nature Park and the other will be built by 2018 in MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

Mr Tan said the developments are part of the Government's objective of bringing people closer to nature and noted that almost half of Singapore land's surface is covered by greenery.

He said: 'Our parks are easily accessed by residents, with most homes within a short walking distance of a park. That is something that we'll work towards.'

He said the Government will continue to engage Singaporeans on new ideas about adding diversity to the urban environment.

He added: 'There will be areas where we can't always agree on, but there is also so much more space that you have found that we can work on together.'

Commenting on the new developments, National Parks Board director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah said: 'Some people say they have no time to enjoy the outdoors. Since you have no time, we will bring the outdoors to you. And if you have more time, we can help you to learn more with things like signages at the parks.'

The cost of the new developments is not confirmed.

Nature groups and the public welcomed the new plans.

Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore), said: 'The Chestnut area is rich in biodiversity but is currently visited mostly by scientists or serious nature buffs. I think more people will be encouraged to visit the area in the future because of the park; it makes it more accessible.'

Teacher Germaine Foo, 46, said: 'I will consider getting my children to use the cycling loop in the future during their school holidays because part of it is near our home in Yio Chu Kang.'

Yesterday was the start of the two-day Festival of Biodiversity. The event, held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, features exhibitions, workshops and guided tours for the public.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam launched the festival yesterday.


Video cameras are to be installed to give people at home a glimpse of the animals and birds that live in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Four of them will be placed in the wild by the National Parks Board, and will stream live videos of wildlife to its website.

The videos can be watched from the middle of September by clicking on the link:

Animals that can be viewed include otters and migratory birds which feed at the wetlands.

Amelia Tan

Nature reserves made more accessible to public
Alvina Soh Channel NewsAsia 26 May 12;

SINGAPORE: Members of the public can look forward to several new amenities at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin says these developments aim to make nature more accessible to Singaporeans.

Chestnut Nature Park, an 80-hectare park, is ideal for hiking and mountain biking.

The park features two seven-storey observation towers, offering scenic views, and a 30-kilometre cycling loop allowing residents to cycle from the heartlands to the nature reserves by 2018.

The loop will be built around the perimeters of the forests to safeguard the biodiversity cores of the reserve.

NParks says these new features aim to make nature reserves more accessible.

Wong Tuan Wah, Conservation Director of NParks, said: "The intention is to bring nature closer to people and people closer to nature. Very often, people say they have no time to see nature, so these initiatives allow people the opportunity to experience nature at their homes."

These developments, NParks says, are part of Singapore's transformation into a City in a Garden. They are also aim at enriching biodiversity.

Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society of Singapore, said: "So what do we have in Singapore? We have eating, shopping, it's world-class. We have nature which is equally world-class and it just takes getting to know it a little bit better. There's just so much variety but the difficult part is that it's sometimes inaccessible."

And for those who rather appreciate nature from the comforts of their own home, there's good news.

NParks plans to install four cameras around the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve from mid-September.

Viewers can catch "live" footage of otters frolicking in a pond via their computers or mobile phones.

The park will be completed by early 2015, while both the towers and cycling loop are expected to be completed by 2018.

- CNA/de

New trail around Singapore's green heart
Today Online 27 May 12;

SINGAPORE - Come 2018, nature lovers, joggers and cyclists will have a verdant new trail to explore in the green heart of Singapore.

The 30km loop around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will be linked to the Western Adventure Park Connector Loop and other park connectors, and join up with the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and the Dairy Farm Nature Park, among other areas.

The loop will be built around the forest perimeters "to safeguard the high biodiversity cores of the reserve", said the National Parks Board (NParks).

The plan was one of several announced by Minister of State (National Development and Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday to bring Singaporeans closer to nature - and vice versa.

Speaking at the inaugural Festival of Biodiversity, Mr Tan also revealed that an 80ha plot outside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will be developed into Chestnut Nature Park.

The new park will feature amenities for nature walks, hiking and mountain biking. It hosts a rich biodiversity of wildlife, including the mousedeer, pangolin, monitor lizard and birds. There will be panoramic views of the nature reserve to be enjoyed at a new seven-storey tower - which will also facilitate research on animals that live among the tree canopies.

The development of the park - due to be finished by early 2015 - will involve the community in planting native plants and trees.

Another seven-storey tower will be built at MacRitchie Reservoir Park by 2018, to offer visitors more scenic views.

NParks will also work with nature groups to infuse more biodiversity into the urban landscape.

Noting the success of efforts to re-introduce the Oriental Pied Hornbill - which was locally extinct for more than 100 years, until artificial nesting boxes were set up in recent years - Mr Tan said NParks aims next to attract more species such as the Crimson Sunbird, Common Birdwing Butterfly and Lesser Whistling Duck into Singapore's urban green spaces.

"In 10 years' time, perhaps Singaporeans can have pleasant encounters with biodiversity on a daily basis," he said. "This is where I have to encourage all of you who are happy to see the birdlife returning back to Singapore, to encourage your neighbours and friends, who may sometimes complain about the birds' droppings ... It's a happy problem to have."

The Festival of Biodiversity is also on today at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. There are free activities for the public, such as exhibitions, workshops and guided walks.