SINGAPORE: A new nature park network covering more than 400ha, triple the size of the existing Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, will be established in the northern part of Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Wednesday (Aug 19).
The Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network will comprise the Wetland Reserve, the Kranji Marshes, nature parks and eco-corridors, and nature areas such as Jalan Gemala and Kranji Reservoir.
The Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat will also be part of the network and projected to be completed in end 2022.
The network will be complemented by the upcoming recreational Round-Island-Route, which will connect the various green areas through trails and park connectors.
The nature park network will also include a new 18ha Lim Chu Kang Nature Park to the west of the Wetland Reserve, linking it to the Lim Chu Kang mangroves which is expected to be established by early 2022.
The new nature park, formerly referred to as the Western Extension, will feature outdoor nature-play spaces to encourage children and youths to “spend more time outdoors and reconnect with nature” said NParks in a press release.
Cashin House, also located in the nature park, will be “enhanced sensitively for both natural and built heritage” and will be used for educational programmes. It will include new facilities such as an exhibition space, seminar rooms for workshops and a seaview terrace.
NParks will call a tender for works on Cashin House and its surrounding areas shortly, with construction expected to commence in the fourth quarter of this year and will be completed in early 2022, subject to the COVID-19 situation.
With the new nature park network, more than 15km of nature trails will also be open to the public.
In a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, NParks' group director of conservation Adrian Loo said: “The Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network will be very important in extending our natural capital in our 'City in Nature' vision."
"The network itself will extend the habitats available for wildlife, importantly for wildlife such as birds that migrate globally and use Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves as a stopover."
“It also allows for our park users and our residents to actually enjoy more parks and be close to nature, without impacting the core areas too much," said Dr Loo, adding that the new network will help reduce the visitor pressure to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Kranji Marshes, as well as Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat.
“Especially during the COVID-19 period, people are seeking solace or safe recreation in our parks as we have safe distance measures within these areas,” said Dr Loo.
Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee had announced in March that by 2030, there will be another 200ha of nature parks, which will act as complementary habitats and buffer nature reserves from urbanisation.
In the press release on Wednesday, NParks said that the decision to safeguard buffer zones and complementary wetland habitats around the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was determined through “extensive research that established the ecological connectivity and complementarity between the sites”.
For example, the Wetland Reserve and the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Nature Park are important refuelling sites for migratory shorebirds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
“Wetland habitats also provide a wide variety of goods and services such as serving as a food source and nursery ground for numerous marine organisms, storing carbon and mitigating coastal erosion,” said NParks.
A total of 279 species of birds have been recorded in the Wetland Reserve and the surrounding complementary habitats, and conserving these “ecologically inter-dependent” areas in the nature park network will enhance the conservation of these birds and the associated ecosystems, it added.