SINGAPORE - Over 400ha of wetlands, marshes, nature parks and eco-corridors along the northern coast, which includes Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the upcoming Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Nature Park, have collectively become Singapore's second nature park network.
More than thrice the size of the wetland reserve, the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network safeguards wetland habitats and strengthens the conservation of wetland biodiversity in the northern region.
It will be complemented by the Round Island Route (RIR), an upcoming 150km recreational route around Singapore that will connect various green spaces through trails and park connectors. The RIR will be progressively completed by 2035.
The network is part of the country's aim to transition from a "city in a garden" to "a city in nature", when NParks aims to have at least an additional 200ha hectares of nature parks by 2030.
The Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network includes an 18ha coastal nature park formerly referred to as the Western Extension. Now named Lim Chu Kang Nature Park, it links the wetland reserve to the Lim Chu Kang mangroves.
"The wetlands have food sources and are important nursery grounds for fish and refuelling sites for migratory birds. Mangroves are also very important in carbon sequestration and in mitigating coastal erosion," said Dr Adrian Loo, group director of conservation at the National Parks Board (NParks) on Wednesday (Aug 19).
Surrounding nature parks act as buffers against urbanisation, helping to conserve and protect core biodiversity areas such as wetlands and marshes that are filled with indigenous flora and fauna.
For instance, 279 species of birds has been recorded in the 130ha wetland reserve and the surrounding habitats. Preserving these ecologically inter-dependent areas in the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network will enhance the conservation of these birds.
Providing green cover, nature parks can also serve as habitats for wildlife and migratory birds that come from the core areas and abroad.
The country's first nature park network is the 2,500ha Central Nature Park Network that protects the rainforest habitats around and within the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves.
There will be more than 15km of nature trails within the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network by 2022, when about 5km of new trails in the Lim Chu Kang and Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat nature parks are added.
The Lim Chu Kang nature park will feature nature-inspired play spaces for children, while heritage buffs can look forward to a new exhibition gallery in a colonial-era bungalow, Cashin House, along the trail.
Built in 1920 for the Cashin family, who came from Ireland, the 100-year-old bungalow currently stands vacant at the end of a jetty in Lim Chu Kang, which was used to transport rubber before Lim Chu Kang Road was built.
Cashin House has deteriorated beyond repair and suffers from dampness due its location over the sea.
The building will be reconstructed later this year, and is expected to be ready by 2022 to house a visitor gallery, seminar rooms for workshops and a seaview terrace.
The adjoining pier will also be reconstructed, and the areas surrounding the house will be kept rustic and existing vegetation retained and sensitively enhanced, said NParks.
Separately, NParks is working with the community to plant more than a million trees across Singapore over the next decade, in line with Singapore's city in nature vision.
It aims to ramp up the existing tree-planting efforts from 50,000 trees to 100,000 trees annually. So far, as part of the movement, over 48,000 trees have been planted islandwide.