NParks bringing nature closer to Singaporeans

The National Parks Board (NParks) announced on 26 May 2012 that they would be developing a 30km cycling loop, a nature park and two towers around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to make nature more accessible to Singaporeans. NParks’ also announced new plans to bring nature closer to people, such as infusing more biodiversity into urban spaces. These developments are part of Singapore’tos transformation into a City in a Garden.

By 2018, nature lovers, hikers, joggers, and cyclists who enjoy long distance trails will be able to travel around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve via the new cycling loop, about 30km long. The new loop will also be linked to the Western Adventure Park Connector Loop and other park connectors. Visitors will be able to travel from heartland areas such as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, and other areas such as Dairy Farm Nature Park, to experience the majestic wonders of nature and catch a glimpse of our wildlife. The loop will be built around the perimeters of the forests to safeguard the high biodiversity cores of the reserve.

An 80-hectare plot of land just outside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will be developed into Chestnut Nature Park. Serving as a buffer to the nature reserve, the new park will include amenities for nature walks, hiking, and mountain biking. Through interpretative signage, visitors will learn about the park’s rich biodiversity, which includes the mousedeer, pangolin, monitor lizard and birds such as Striped Tit Babbler, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Sunbirds. Visitors will also enjoy panoramic views of the nature reserve at a new seven-storey tower. It will also enable NParks and its partners to conduct more research on animals that live among the tree canopies. The park will be completed by early 2015, and as part of its development, the community will be involved in enriching the biodiversity of the park by planting native plants and trees.

Another seven-storey tower will be built at MacRitchie Reservoir Park by 2018. Located near the car park and other amenities, visitors will be able to enjoy scenic views of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the reservoir.

NParks will be working with nature groups to infuse more biodiversity into the city’s urban landscape in a sensitive manner. Earlier efforts by NParks and its partners have been promising, with increased sightings of butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. Some new species that NParks hopes to attract into urban green spaces include the Crimson Sunbird, Common Birdwing Butterfly and Lesser Whistling Duck.

Another new initiative by NParks is the ‘Animal Cam’. Four cameras will be installed around the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to stream ‘live’ video to the NParks website. From mid September this year, visitors to will be able to view ‘live’ footage of otters frolicking in a pond, as well as migratory birds feeding at the wetlands via their computers or mobile phones.

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