Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Why nature is catching on as “the thing to do” these days

SINGAPORE — The phrase, “Let’s go for a walk” used to invoke images of a lazy saunter taken on by couples who are enjoying their golden years. These days, going for a walk brings about a humming vibe of excitement — it involves sojourns deep into nature, treks through rugged terrain, and most importantly, it is an activity increasingly enjoyed by younger Singaporeans.

SINGAPORE — The phrase, “Let’s go for a walk” used to invoke images of a lazy saunter taken on by couples who are enjoying their golden years. These days, going for a walk brings about a humming vibe of excitement — it involves sojourns deep into nature, treks through rugged terrain, and most importantly, it is an activity increasingly enjoyed by younger Singaporeans.

Just take the popularity of places such as Coney Island, Kranji Marshes and The Green Corridor among the younger and trigger-happy set. These areas have been transformed by social media into the “Most Instagram-worthy Spots in Singapore” and see a constant stream of visitors. This increased lust for the outdoors is also something that has been noticed by those in the scene. And thankfully, the interest in nature goes beyond it functioning as mere photography backdrop.

Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, cited a 15 to 25 per cent increase in participation numbers for its activities last year, compared to 2014. The group organises between 45 to 65 trips per year, and activities include outdoor trekking, nature photography tours, nature exploration in Chek Jawa, and more. The Chek Jawa trip is its most popular one, and it organises between eight to 
12 trips per month, attracting some 24 to 36 people each trip.

Lee said while there is a “cool factor” attached to nature activities these days, he also feels people are more interested now because of greater awareness of Singapore’s vulnerability due to land scarcity. “Over the years, there was so much media coverage…relating to the importance of nature conservation (and) preserving nature heritage as well as the creation of many new nature parts and nature corridors,” he pointed out.

This might have attracted youths to get involved with “more worthy” causes or projects, he said, adding that youths could be drawn to the fact that they can be part of a community which they can learn from.

Agreeing, a spokesperson from the Naked Hermit Crabs, which is a group made up of volunteer guides, said social media has helped in boosting outreach numbers. “Singaporeans are definitely getting more appreciative of their surroundings and the environment as the world becomes more eco-minded,” she said.

The group does 12 to 14 free guided walks in a year. Currently, it is focusing on Chek Jawa and the 
Pasir Ris mangrove.

The group used to attract 50 to 60 participants for its nature walks, but numbers have grown to around 80 in the last couple of years, according to the spokesperson. Tours also tend to be oversubscribed especially during the school holidays where the group would get 200 or more sign-ups for tours that can only take 80 to 100 people, she added.

Ria Tan, who runs the Wild Shores of Singapore blog and volunteers as a guide for Naked Hermit Crabs, said she has encountered many parents who want their children to learn more about nature and to experience rustic Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa for themselves. “I think it’s good that Singaporeans want to learn more and experience their own natural heritage,” she said.

Wong Tuan Wah, Group Director, Conservation, from National Parks Board (NParks) said NParks organises approximately 200 tours this year, and response has been positive. Popular tours such as the Chek Jawa Guided Tour (incidentally one is running today, and allows a maximum of six groups of 15 pax per day) and the “What’s in my?” series of walks (which can take a maximum 20 pax each time, are often fully registered shortly after they are opened for booking — “indicating the public’s keen interest in nature”, said Wong.

“We are very encouraged by the enthusiastic response from members of the public. This is testimony of their interest in our rich biodiversity and support for our City in a Garden vision. We hope to create greater awareness in Singapore to encourage more people to help conserve our natural heritage and transform Singapore into a City in a Garden,” he added.

To cope with the strong public interest, Wong says NParks is working with the community to train more volunteer guides to share interesting information on the history, 
heritage, flora and fauna with groups they lead.

Another spokesman from NUS Toddycats, who are volunteers with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at National University of Singapore, said their walks are usually “maxed out” within 24 to 48 hours of opening up registration. The group runs a Love Our MacRitchie Forest Walk and it typically organises about 15 such free guided nature walks a year, with about 300 participants in total.

“We see concerned members of the public wanting to learn about conserving nature in the face of rapid development in Singapore,” said the spokesman.

“People in Singapore are generally interested and curious. As long as we provide the avenues for people to explore and make sure they know of it, they will respond,” she added.

Indeed, as Singapore becomes increasingly urbanised, it is only natural that one seeks out Mother Nature.

After all, according to the Naked Hermit Crabs, the standard of living in Singapore has gone up in the past decade or two, which gives people “time to move away from materialistic needs to reconnect with nature, as they realise that material goods can’t always buy 
you happiness”.

“More and more people seek experiences to rest and relax in our 
urban environment.”

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa