Nature, heritage groups back green corridor plan

(From left) Architectural historian and conservator Yeo Kang Shua, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and the Urban Redevelopment Authority's director of projects Teo Chong Yean at the Bukit Timah Railway Station yesterday.
(From left) Architectural historian and conservator Yeo Kang Shua, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and the Urban Redevelopment Authority's director of projects Teo Chong Yean at the Bukit Timah Railway Station yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Nature Society president says planned elevated linear park could rival New York's High Line

The idea for the Bukit Timah Canal to serve as a green corridor has been around for some years, and work to spruce up the adjacent Rail Corridor may finally turn it into reality, said Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore), yesterday.

Dr Lum, who backed the idea in a 2016 interview with The Straits Times, noted that the canal intersects with a number of large green patches, "so linking them up and adding appropriate landscaping would be really interesting".

Plans for an elevated linear park suggest that it could rival New York's High Line, which is also a park built on a former railroad, he added.

Members of the nature and heritage community largely supported the plans unveiled yesterday to create a new green corridor that will link Singapore's three national gardens, and to spruce up the Bukit Timah Railway Station on the Green Corridor.

But there have been some concerns voiced over proposed additions to the Rail Corridor, such as fencing on either side of the conserved truss bridges to enhance safety.

Said Ms Teresa Teo Guttensohn, president of non-governmental organisation Cicada Tree Eco-Place: "Having too high a fence may not be necessary, and it's not nice aesthetically. Our view is that there should be as few urban constructs as possible."

URA executive architect John Wan said feedback was taken into consideration in the finalisation of plans for the Rail Corridor's Bukit Timah Railway Station node.

"Mood lighting", for example, will be used between 7pm and 10pm to showcase the architectural features of the station's heritage buildings. After 10pm, the lights will dim to minimise disturbance to wildlife.

Heritage blogger Jerome Lim said he felt that the plans struck the right balance.

"The buildings have been sitting there for some years without being used - at least this will take people there to learn about their history," he said.

 

Student Tanvi Dutta Gupta, who has visited the Rail Corridor regularly for a decade, created a website last year to help visitors to the Rail Corridor identify wildlife in the area.

The website, railwild.org, catalogues 96 species of creatures commonly found along the corridor. Nature lovers can identify and learn about animals they encounter by selecting their features.

Ms Dutta Gupta, a member of the Nature Society, noted that green corridors are crucial for wildlife conservation in Singapore.

The 18-year-old gave the thumbs up to plans for the railway waypoint.

But she added: "Anything that gets people more excited about nature in Singapore is a good thing. I just hope it leaves room for the wildlife too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 01, 2019, with the headline 'Nature, heritage groups back green corridor plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe