SINGAPORE: Singapore’s newest park connector, forming part of the Lornie Nature Corridor, opened on Saturday (Nov 21) as a “Rewilding Plan” to introduce more naturalistic landscapes was announced.
The 1.76km nature corridor is part of a 10km “rewilding stretch” linking Kheam Hock Road to Upper Thomson Road, the National Parks Board (NParks) said in a media release.
It creates a “rustic environment” for recreation, while also strengthening the ecological resilience of the adjacent Central Catchment Nature Reserve and protecting it from the effects of climate change, the agency said.
Speaking at the opening of the nature corridor, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said it would improve the experience along the Coast-to-Coast trail, which stretches from Jurong Lake Gardens to Coney Island Park.
“Residents around the area, as well as users of the trail can look forward to using the corridor as a green route between MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Adam Road,” he said.
It will also link up with Kheam Hock Nature Way to form an ecological corridor connecting the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, he said.
“It will allow our native biodiversity to move easily between these key habitats and help to strengthen their populations,” Mr Lee added.
The rewilding efforts involve a “curated planting palette” of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, as well as some common and naturalised wildflowers, NParks said.
Some native tree species planted at Lornie Nature Corridor include the Jelutong, Singapore Durian and Red Dhup, it said.
“The planting verges on both sides of the road and other pockets of greenery are planted up with more than 100 species of trees and shrubs in a multi-tiered manner that mimics a rainforest,” said the agency.
“In time, this will result in a forested corridor when the planting matures, restoring nature into the highly urbanised area.”
REWILDING PLAN TO BE ROLLED OUT AT 32 NATURE WAYS
Singapore’s “Rewilding Plan” will be rolled out progressively at 32 stretches of “nature ways” and along roads, as well as various habitats in parks and green spaces over the next three years, NParks said.
A key part of the country’s “City in Nature” vision is introducing more naturalistic landscapes, which attract biodiversity, encourage ecological connectivity and enhance stability, the agency said.
The “rewilding process” is one way to achieve this, it said.
NParks added that the recent COVID-19 “circuit breaker” period provided a unique opportunity for its horticulturalists to observe how such naturalistic landscapes fared.
“Coupled with the encouragement and support from members of the public who expressed appreciation for such landscapes and its accompanying fauna such as butterflies, this affirmed NParks’ direction to introduce more naturalistic landscapes in selected areas across the island through a Rewilding Plan,” the agency said.
Upcoming rewilding sites include those along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Kheam Hock Road, Old Choa Chu Kang Road, and Upper Thomson Road, and in parks such as Bedok Reservoir Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, NParks said.
“We will allow vegetation to grow naturally at these sites to support ecological connectivity. The native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers will provide lush and beautiful greenery for the public to enjoy,” Mr Lee said.
“We will also selectively prune and remove undesirable plant species that are more prone to fire and storm risks. This approach allows us to manage our landscapes in a more sustainable manner that better supports biodiversity, while continuing to ensure public safety.”
TENSIONS BETWEEN DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVATION
Mr Lee noted that the nature corridor was the result of reclaiming part of the old Lornie Road, made possible by the completion of Lornie Highway.
However, the construction of Lornie Highway also affected part of the Bukit Brown Cemetery, he said.
“As many of you might remember, this brought to the fore tensions between development and conservation. We had to grapple with trade-offs between improving our transportation networks, providing amenities for Singaporeans and conserving our heritage and biodiversity,” he said.
These difficult issues opened up conversations and allowed stakeholders to “deepen the partnership” between the Government and civil society groups, Mr Lee said.
It resulted in government agencies working with heritage groups and volunteers to document and commemorate Bukit Brown Cemetery, he added.
“We will continue this spirit of collaboration through our greening efforts at the Lornie Nature Corridor,” Mr Lee said, with community members partnering NParks to plant trees at the corridor as part of the One Million Trees movement.