A natural role for the Rail Corridor

The joint efforts of the National Parks Board (NParks) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to preserve and upgrade the Rail Corridor for public use is to be applauded (Take a peek at plans for Rail Corridor by 2021; Oct 22).

However, I feel that special attention can be paid to the corridor's role within Singapore's natural environment.

Due to its location along Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it harbours potential to be integrated into Singapore's natural ecosystem, both ecologically and physically.

This ensures that there is wider propagation of flora within the reserve, allowing the natural ecosystem to expand beyond its current boundaries.

The expanded reserve would also act as a buffer against the surrounding infrastructure. Not only does this reduce the chances of friction between man and wildlife, it also reduces the stress on wildlife within the reserve by alleviating noise and light pollution.

This integration may be achieved by striking a delicate balance between the built and natural environment.

Starting from the planning stage, extensive research may be done by agencies, such as NParks and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), on the natural propagation and circulation of the flora and fauna within the reserve. This is to ensure that the plans along the corridor do not disrupt these natural processes.

Due to its location along Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it harbours potential to be integrated into Singapore's natural ecosystem, both ecologically and physically.

As for the built infrastructure along the corridor, planners and architects may devise ways to tread the ground lightly. For example, amenities and walkways could be elevated above the ground to maintain the soil ecosystems and the wildlife living within. Furthermore, ample garbage bins can be placed along the corridor to ensure accessible and efficient waste disposal.

In terms of landscaping, the agencies may let nature take its course and minimise encroachment onto the natural landscape.

For illustration, the agencies could refer to National University of Singapore Assistant Professor Hwang Yun Hye's 2016 research on local vegetation, which revealed that native tropical plants could flourish with minimal human aid.

Ultimately, the Rail Corridor exhibits boundless capacity to enrich the natural ecosystems within Singapore, thus conserving both national and natural heritage.

Ahmad Nazaruddin Abdul Rahim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'A natural role for the Rail Corridor'. Print Edition | Subscribe