21 June 2010

Sungei Buloh to be bigger and better!

Have you visited Sungei Buloh and waited patiently for some shy animal to emerge. Only to have a crowd of noisy visitors scare it away? Or have you been at Buloh with your friends having a good time only to be 'shushed' by other grumpy visitors? These situations may soon be less frequent!
A Master Plan for a bigger and better Sungei Buloh as been unveiled! The Plan will make space both for wildlife and wildlife watchers AND others who prefer to enjoy nature out loud. How will this be possible?!

The Master Plan includes extending and developing the existing Kranji Nature Trail into a new 38ha Sungei Buloh Wetland Park.
Among the most exciting features of this new Park will be facilities to allow exuberant kids to be kids and learn about the mangroves through play, in mud and all!
Here's some artist impressions of the fun stuff kids and the young-at-heart can loudly and playfully explore at the new Park.
Other facilities include an education centre for school group learning activities including a freshwater pond where kids can muck about. Wireless learning trails will also enhance the learning experience.
There will also be extensive boardwalks with little nooks to stop and look at mangrove life.
Among the facilities, these cool 'O-Pods' -- which is what I think the Observation Pods should be called.
Even the hides will be stylish!

What about the existing Nature Reserve? Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve will become "a restricted access area to protect its biodiversity. This is a similar arrangement for Chek Jawa and Semakau eco-park, where special permits to visits the sites have to be obtained." according to media reports. Anyone can still enter, but you will need a guide, or do some preparation before you come," said James Gan, assistant director of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, NParks.
It is hoped that this move will help bring down the number of visitors to the Reserve from the current 140,000 visitors a year, to 100,000. It is feared that rising and unregulated visitor numbers may have a negative impact on the Reserve's rich biodiversity. "We are taking the proactive approach. We don't want to wait for signs of deterioration due to visitor impact before we take action," said James Gan.

Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at the National Parks Board, said nature enthusiasts often lament a lack of animal sightings at the reserve, and this could largely be due to congestion and noise from crowds within the reserve.

"It's like having a party in there, and that scares away the animals. So by having the segregation, the serious bird watchers and nature lovers have the opportunity to observe... It's no point for you to be able to go everywhere unrestricted, but you don't get to see or experience."

Thus, the Reserve will become a research and education hub. New facilities such as dormitories for researchers could be added, as well as meeting rooms to host conferences and workshops.

There are also plans for a new mangrove arboretum in the Reserve. A first in the region, it will be a collection of all 67 species of mangrove plants and trees found in Singapore. It will allow students and researchers to view all species easily within a single location. A freshwater pond will also be specially created to enhance the dragonfly population.

The Plan will also deal with the serious erosion that has been affecting the mangroves in the Reserve. More about the Master Plan on the wild shores of singapore blog.

The Master Plan exhibition is on at the Reserve until 1 Aug.

During the launch it was also announced that there would be a joint study to develop a cross-border tourist attraction involving Sungei Buloh and three Johor Ramsar sites.

And Dr Chua Ee Kiam's gorgeous new book "Wetlands in a City" was also launched.

See also

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