While Sentosa has borne the brunt of feverish development over the last 50 years, Pulau Ubin has stayed relatively intact with its slow and sleepy village ways. The island to the north-east of Singapore has thus earned devotees, who cite its rustic kampung charms as its main attraction and who are deeply vested in keeping the island unchanged. Earlier this year, there were grumblings that too many rules have affected business on Ubin and hurt its appeal with visitors.
Recent development plans announced by the National Parks Board (NParks), which manages the island, should come as welcome news to fans worried about Ubin's long-term prospects. NParks will work to restore mangroves at the south-eastern end, with the aim of encouraging herons to nest there. The plans to increase floating wetlands from 20 sq m to 4,000 sq m will no doubt encourage more migratory birds to roost. When it comes to conserving nature in land-scarce Singapore, every metre counts. Retrofitting Ubin's abandoned aquaculture ponds as nature sanctuaries is a good way to (pardon the pun) kill multiple birds with one stone. It repurposes the sites by reintroducing nature and keeping the rural feel intact. Besides plans for fauna, NParks is also ensuring better accessibility for people. Wheelchair-bound and low-mobility visitors will find it easier to access Ubin once a wheelchair-friendly pontoon jetty is built and bumboats and vans are outfitted with access ramps.