Bird, nature lovers will have more to enjoy at Pulau Ubin

An artist’s impression of the new wetland platforms at Pekan Quarry, which will have nesting structures for herons.
An artist’s impression of the new wetland platforms at Pekan Quarry, which will have nesting structures for herons. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

NParks to set up new bird habitats, restore mangroves and boost wheelchair access

Bird enthusiasts and nature lovers will soon have more to enjoy in Pulau Ubin, where floating wetlands will be vastly expanded to provide more habitats for various species of migratory birds.

The mangroves at abandoned aquaculture ponds in the south-eastern part of the island will also be restored.

These are part of plans announced by the National Parks Board (NParks) yesterday, which will also include improved accessibility to Pulau Ubin for wheelchair users.

Starting next month, the floating mats in Pekan Quarry will be combined with hexagon-shaped modules developed by the Housing Board, so that the wetlands will have organic and natural shapes.

The floating modules are able to withstand loads of up to 80kg each, so that nesting structures can be incorporated for herons.

More than 6,000 floating modules will be used to form three clusters of wetland platforms, as well as another platform where 10 nesting structures for herons will be installed.

This will increase the size of the floating wetlands from 20 sq m to around 4,000 sq m by the middle of next year.

NParks is also working with the National University of Singapore to restore the mangroves in the abandoned aquaculture ponds.

The team will provide the right natural conditions for mangrove species to be regenerated, so that they have a better chance of self-sustaining in the long term.

NParks will also improve accessibility to Pulau Ubin for wheelchair users and those with low mobility.

One idea is to retrofit bumboats plying the route between Changi Point Ferry Terminal and Pulau Ubin, as well as vans on the island, with portable ramps or platforms.

A wheelchair-friendly floating pontoon jetty will also be built at Ubin Living Lab, which has calmer waters and facilities to accommodate wheelchair users and persons with low mobility.

The Lab is an integrated facility for field studies, education and research, and community outreach. It is located at the former Celestial Resort site on the south-western part of the island.

The detailed design phase for the jetty will commence in the third quarter of this year.

NParks and the Accessible Ubin group have consulted wheelchair users who have visited Pulau Ubin, as well as volunteer welfare organisations. Accessible Ubin is a ground-up initiative to make the island more inclusive, safer and accessible to the elderly, families and wheelchair users.

The plans were announced on Ubin Day 2019 yesterday, a culmination of Pesta Ubin. The Pesta Ubin festival is organised by NParks, Friends of Ubin Network members and the community.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who opened this year's Ubin Day, said: "Pesta Ubin continues to see strong support from the community in its eighth year... We saw a total of 4,500 people take part in 47 activities over the course of six weeks, including kayaking, nature walks, birdwatching, cycling, crafts and more."

A learning symposium to be held later this year will enable teachers to exchange ideas on how their students can learn more about the island's cultural and natural heritage.

NParks has also formed a Community Liaison Team to gather feedback from Pulau Ubin residents on various issues, address their concerns, and connect them to relevant services and assistance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 30, 2019, with the headline 'Bird, nature lovers will have more to enjoy at Pulau Ubin'. Print Edition | Subscribe