Waterfront loop a biodiversity haven

It hugs waterways for much of its route and is home to water birds and a family of otters

Water birds such as the grey heron and the white-throated kingfisher caught the eye of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean when he took a stroll along the Sungei Serangoon park connector yesterday.

'NParks also told me there is a family of otters which makes guest appearances at some points along the loop,' he said.

DPM Teo, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, was in the area to launch the 26km North Eastern Riverine Loop.

He was impressed by the biodiversity found along the loop, saying that it is important to enhance this amid Singapore's dense urban landscape.

'Such biodiversity is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and provides opportunities for recreational activities like bird-watching,' he said.

Built at a cost of $57 million, the project was undertaken by three agencies - the National Parks Board, or NParks, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Board.

This latest loop links park connectors and parks within the Sengkang and Punggol areas for greater accessibility.

It is the fourth of seven loops completed, and also the most scenic to date.

For example, 80 per cent of the route hugs waterways, linking up waterside developments such as the Lorong Halus Wetland and the Sengkang Floating Wetland.

The array of flora - large clumps of lemon grass, Spanish reed and firecracker plants - scattered along the loop also performs double duty. Besides making the area more attractive, it is well-placed to treat storm water, help prevent soil erosion and to act as a flood-prevention measure.

The new loop also links up with the Punggol Waterway and the Punggol Promenade - a 4.9km stretch that links Punggol Point and Punggol East - opening up previously inaccessible stretches along the coast.

A new feature is the 2.4km Nature Walk, which has been left as rustic as possible, with existing trees and vegetation retained.

The promenade was also the site of a charity bike ride yesterday, which raised more than $55,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF).

More than 100 cyclists took part in the event, organised for the fourth time by Mr Han Jok Kwang, 57, an avid cyclist who last year became a SPMF Trustee.

keziatoh@sph.com.sg