SINGAPORE: Singapore may be known as a thriving modern city, but it is also home to a diverse, rich ecosystem.
In January, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced a 10-year action plan to strengthen Singapore's rainforests and facilitate regeneration in secondary forests in buffer nature parks.
Additionally, more green spaces will be introduced across the island and a series of new park connectors and trails will make these areas more accessible than ever.
If you're looking for an adventure in nature or a mere change in scenery, away from the bustling cityscape, you may want to plan a visit to these new and upcoming sites.
COAST TO COAST (C2C) TRAIL
Opened on Mar 30, this trail stretches from Jurong Lake Gardens in the west to Coney Island Park in the north-east.
The 36km trek will see you traverse parks and nature areas such as the Bukit Batok Nature Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Jurong Lake Gardens.
Some highlights of the trail include Adam Road Food Centre, Punggol Waterway Park’s Adventure Bridge and the upcoming water facilities at the Jurong Lake Gardens. And you'll be happy to note that are also numerous shelters and restrooms along the way.
Visitors can choose to follow NParks’ trail guide or download the Coast to Coast (C2C) app, NPark’s first augmented reality (AR) app, to explore the parks and nature areas with a DIY trail guide.
Using the AR scanning mode at various checkpoints will launch 3D animated animal characters that gives visitors information on the native flora and fauna that can be found along the trail, as well as surrounding places of interest.
Additionally, visitors can take part in activities within the app to earn points, which can be used to redeem rewards such as F&B vouchers, products and services.
RIFLE RANGE NATURE PARK
Located south of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, this 67ha park will serve as a buffer to reduce edge effects on the nature reserve, as well as an alternative venue for visitors to connect with nature.
A ramble through this forest habitat may see you chancing upon its eclectic inhabitants – native fauna species such as the Sunda pangolin and Horsfield’s flying squirrel can be found here. Crabs, frogs, fish and snakes can also be seen in the streams.
Restoration works on habitats in the park began in January this year, to be completed in 2020.
As part of the Forest Restoration Action Plan, the regenerating secondary rainforests will be “enhanced with native plants to improve the habitat for native biodiversity in the area”, said NParks in a press release.
To help animals cross to neighbouring parks safely and aid their chances of long-term survival, aerial rope bridges and underground culverts will be installed across Rifle Range Road. Nest-boxes for flying squirrels will also be set up as part of habitat enhancement works.
In addition to these, the former Sin Seng Quarry will be restored.
This is to allow visitors to learn more about Singapore’s native biodiversity, said NParks. Visitors will be able to access the quarry via an elevated walkway, which will be “sensitively implemented”, the authority added.
Existing trails will also be improved to stop soil erosion and compaction. Designated trails will be bordered by railings to discourage visitors from straying away. Doing so can help prevent footpath widening into the forest, as well as minimise soil impaction on tree roots and trampling on leaf litter organisms.
If heritage sites interest you, take a walk along the 24km Rail Corridor, which runs from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south.
Enhancement works on the railway will be completed in phases by 2021, starting with Rail Corridor (Central), located between the Hillview and King Albert Park MRT stations on the Downtown Line.
This area is known for lush natural landscapes and elements of rich wildlife heritage.
Following the handover of the railway land to Singapore authorities in 2011, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has been collecting feedback from the community on how it could be improved to suit their needs.
A number of landmarks along the trail, including the Bukit Timah Railway Station, have been gazetted for conservation.
The railway station will be converted into a heritage gallery and visitor centre, while an F&B outlet will be housed at the nearby station master’s quarters. Railway artefacts will also be restored and adapted for reuse.
Want more than just a nice selfie along the tracks? The railway can also be used for activities such as learning journeys, heritage walks and nature walks.
Here you can also find a diverse cast of animals, from birds such as the Sunda Scops Owl and Laced Woodpecker to pangolins.
Flora complementing the existing vegetation around the nearby Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will also be planted on the Rail Corridor (Central)’s landscape. Additionally, habitats of existing flora and fauna will be enhanced to create an environment that would help them thrive.
MANDAI MANGROVE AND MUDFLAT
Bird watchers will want to break out their gear and make a stop at this upcoming site, located about 3km east of Sungei Buloh Wildlife Reserve.
Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat is one of the richest wetlands in Singapore, and one of the few mangrove habitats left in Singapore with an extensive mudflat exposed at low tide.
In 2018, NParks announced that it will be conserved as a nature park that will act as an outdoor education, learning and research centre. This is slated to open in mid-2022.
According to NParks, this site is home to 20 mangrove plant species, of which 16 is threatened, as well as threatened species of seagrass and horseshoe crabs.
Visitors can expect to see migratory shorebirds feed on the diverse and abundant supply of mollusks, crustaceans and worms found on the mudflat.
To minimise impact on the mudflat, visitor amenities at the site will be kept to a minimum. These include bicycle racks, a nature trail and bird hides, which will be strategically placed so that visitors can watch these migratory birds without disturbing them.
The 72.8ha nature park is ecologically linked to the wildlife reserve. These two sites, together with the Kranji Marshes, safeguard a variety of complementary wetland habitats to strengthen the conservation of wetland biodiversity in north-western Singapore, said NParks.
These habitats include mangroves, freshwater marshes and mudflats.
NParks added that it will “sensitively provide opportunities for research and education” in the park, to allow visitors to learn more about the biodiversity in the wetland and to play a part in its conservation.
As part of the upcoming Round Island Route (RIR) and Rail Corridor, the park will be accessible to users exploring both routes.
Those keen to explore more of the area can make their way along the RIR, as the park will be located at a section designated as an eco-discovery corridor. This corridor highlights lesser known ecological locations in Singapore.
ROUND ISLAND ROUTE
Ever wanted to walk from one end of Singapore to another?
The Round Island Route (RIR) is a continuous park connector that goes around the island. It will link existing sites and provide opportunities for recreational activities such as cycling, jogging and skating, said NParks. This, it added, will enhance the “City in a Garden” experience for residents.
The 150km route was conceptualised in 2011, after members of the public suggested a green corridor that goes around Singapore that will link parks and park connectors. The next year, plans to develop the route were announced.
On Mar 30, NParks launched Rower’s Bay, part of the route’s first phase of works. Rower’s Bay features a wetland, lookout pavilion and a boardwalk.
Three heritage trees and a shelter with charging points are located along a 3km path connecting this area to Seletar Aerospace Park. When completed by 2020, this phase will connect Rower’s Bay to Gardens by the Bay via Changi Beach Park and East Coast Park.
By the following year, another 60km of paths between Rower’s Bay and Gardens by the Bay will be connected, making a loop of 120km. Part of this will run along the upcoming Rail Corridor.
The RIR is expected to be progressively fully completed by 2035.