More options for nature lovers even as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve closes

Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 13 Sep 14;

SINGAPORE: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will be closed from Monday (Sep 15) for restoration works, and will reopen partially during weekends in April next year. Repairs will only be completed at the end of 2016, but nature lovers can still visit the adjacent park.

The reserve will undergo repair and restoration works to its slopes, trails and forests. NParks will also upgrade its visitor centre - which is more than 20 years old - during this period.

The closure of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from Monday does not mean it is the end of the road for nature lovers, hikers, runners and bikers. The adjacent Hindhede Nature Park and the mountain bike trail will still be open to members of public.

Visitors may also choose to explore routes less travelled. The three-kilometre Kampong Trail and the Rail Corridor - which ends at the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station - are nearby.

NParks has started holding tours for the public twice a month on Saturday mornings. The tours explore Kampong Trail - where squirrels, monkeys and rambutan and durian trees are among the highlights. Another highlight of the trail is the Singapore Quarry.

The free tours can be booked on NParks' website.

- CNA/xq

Nature reserve closing? Try other trails
Jalelah Abu Baker The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Sep 14;

From elderly joggers to young nature lovers, they came yesterday to bid a temporary goodbye to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which will be closed for a two-year renovation starting tomorrow.

But lesser-known sites around the reserve will still be accessible during the makeover to firm up the soil on trails, plant more trees and install more toilets.

The Hindhede Nature Park, Kampong Trail, Rail Corridor and mountain bike trail will remain open to the public till works end in 2016.

The 164m-high summit of Bukit Timah Hill will be accessible through the reserve's tarmac road on weekends from April next year.

Explaining the need for the repair works, Ms Sharon Chan, deputy director of the Central Nature Reserve, told The Sunday Times: "Slope failures and landslips are happening all the time. If we don't do anything, in the end, visitors won't even have the main road to walk on."

She explained that the works will take two years because they need to be done in stages so as not to disturb the ecological balance in the area and drive the animals out.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at the National Parks Board, said visitorship has increased from 80,000 a year in 1992 to 400,000 now. The changes will help the reserve cope with a rise in human traffic.

In the meantime, visitors will get the chance to discover three walking trails they may otherwise have ignored. Along the way to the nature reserve along Hindhede Drive is a dirt slope that leads to the scenic 24km Rail Corridor.

Further up is the Kampong Trail, which is still rife with fruit trees. There will be guided tours for this trail on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month till November.

Retired public relations veteran Goh Shih Yong has turned up at the reserve for his hike at 11am every Saturday for the past eight years with a group of seven to 10 friends.

He is excited at the possibility of starting his hike at the Kampong Trail, which leads to MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

"We will try it out first. We have to see if the trail suits our age. We are all in our 60s," he said.

It's time for a big facelift
Darishini Thiyagarajan The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Sep 14;

He last visited the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve 10 years ago..

When he learnt it would be closed for about two years to undergo major renovation works, he decided to visit it one last time.

The 163ha reserve will be closed from Monday, the first time in its 22-year history.

Heavy rainfall and the increase in the number of visitors over the years have taken its toll on the reserve.

Half of its 9km trail will be repaired.

A visitor who wanted to be known only as Johnny, 73, said he last visited it a decade ago with his friends.

He went yesterday with a neighbour.

He said: "We both wanted to see this place before they close it down. Two years is a very long time to wait, and we didn't want to wait."

When The New Paper visited the nature reserve yesterday morning, nature enthusiasts had flocked there to spend time at the only hill dipterocarp (a family of hardwood trees) forest in Singapore.

A group of women aged between 50 and 65 were practising yoga as early as 7am at the Kruing Hut, which faces the Hindhede quarry.

They said they were sad about the closure.

The yoga instructor, Madam Joo Nguee, 50, said: "We met through yoga, and we've been coming here four times a week for four years now.

"But with the closing of the reserve, we might have to meet somewhere else."

On the other hand, Mr Mike Rehu, who was walking up the trek with two of his children, said the closure would not be affecting him as much.

Having made it a point to visit the reserve thrice a week for the past four years, Mr Rehu, in his 50s, said: "I will still be able to walk the dogs around the reserve, and my kids like going to the West Coast Park.

"Maybe we'll spend more time there before it (the reserve) reopens."

Three main areas will be repaired - from Simpang Hut to Police Repeater Station; from Quarry Road to TAS Station; and the main road between Kruing Hut and Simpang Hut.


In addition to the upgrading of the visitor centre, a 1.3 km-long raised boardwalk at Dairy Farm Loop and Summit Path will be built for visitors.

At the summit, many nature lovers were seen taking a rest with their loved ones before heading down.

Mr Alan Chan, 56, was greeting everyone with a smile. The retiree has been visiting the nature reserve every Monday for the past two years, and would like the restoration works to be finished as soon as possible.

He will be going to Jurong Lake for walks in the meantime.

The trails will be open to the public during the weekends after six months.

Mr Chan said: "It gets too crowded on weekends, and I would like some peace after I reach the top of the hill.

"But I can't wait to see the reserve after its restoration works."