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New Bukit Batok nature parks to raise ecological connectivity between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Tengah

SINGAPORE — Two spaces in Bukit Batok have been designated new nature parks in an effort to increase ecological connectivity between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve near the city centre and the forested areas of Tengah in the west, Mr Desmond Lee said on Monday (Dec 7).

New Bukit Batok nature parks to raise ecological connectivity between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Tengah

Artificial rock steps are seen at the abandoned Bukit Batok Hillside Park in November 2020.

  • The two parks will add 25ha to the network of green spaces in the area
  • The move came in the wake of concerns about the impact of upcoming developments in Bukit Batok and Tengah on biodiversity
  • Minister Desmond Lee said the Govt aimed to strike a balance between development and nature conservation

 

SINGAPORE — Two spaces in Bukit Batok have been designated new nature parks in an effort to increase ecological connectivity between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve near the city centre and the forested areas of Tengah in the west, Mr Desmond Lee said on Monday (Dec 7).

The National Development Minister said the two parks — the 9ha Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park and the 16ha Bukit Batok Central Nature Park — will add 25ha to the network of green spaces in the area.

The Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park, between Bukit Batok West Avenues 2 and 5, will open in 2024. Details about the opening of the Bukit Batok Central Nature Park, near the Civil Service Club@Bukit Batok, are still being ironed out.

Monday’s announcement came in the wake of concerns from nature enthusiasts about the impact of upcoming developments in Bukit Batok and Tengah on biodiversity. A petition started in September to conserve a 17ha secondary forest, also known as the Bukit Batok Hillside Park area, has drawn more than 10,900 signatures as of Monday.

Acknowledging the public's concerns, Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, said that the Government aimed to strike a balance between development and nature conservation in its planning approach.

“While we need to develop to meet Singaporeans’ needs for housing, infrastructure, healthcare and jobs, we also aim to protect as many of our green spaces as we can.

“Any decision to clear forest cover is made only after careful study of the trade-offs and alternatives,” he said. “Where development cannot be avoided, we aim to carefully manage the possible environmental impact, and develop and implement suitable mitigation measures.”

Mr Lee said the two new nature parks would remain rustic and forested, and the National Parks Board (NParks) would carry out habitat enhancement to further support the biodiversity there.

The new Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park and Bukit Batok Central Nature Park will increase ecological connectivity between the Central Nature Park Network and the future Tengah Forest Corridor in the west of Singapore. Map: National Parks Board

NParks said that since 2014, it has been working with agencies to increase the ecological connectivity between the Central Nature Park Network — which surrounds Singapore’s Central Catchment and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve — and the future Tengah Forest Corridor in the western region of Singapore. 

Nature enthusiast Jimmy Tan, who launched the petition to save the Bukit Batok Hillside Park area, told TODAY he was heartened by the addition of the two nature parks.

“It is an encouraging move because I feel like the authorities are taking the issue of conservation more seriously,” added the 47-year-old, who said he would press on with his petition to conserve as much greenery as possible in the area. 

With the addition of the two nature parks, the Bukit Batok Nature Corridor will comprise more than 125ha of parks and 10km of nature ways and park connectors, which will serve as ecological connectors along the corridor between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Tengah.

NParks added that the expansion of Singapore’s network of nature parks would extend the country’s natural capital and beef up connectivity between green spaces. This, in turn, would make biodiversity more resilient to the impact of climate change, and provide people with more recreational and educational opportunities.

On Monday, Mr Lee and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Foreign Affairs Minister and Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency, were at the Dairy Farm Nature Park in Upper Bukit Timah. 

While there, they planted four native trees under the decade-long One Million Trees movement, announced in March as part of Singapore’s goal to build a “City in Nature”.

So far, more than 80,000 trees have been planted under the movement. 

On Dec 7, 2020, National Development Minister Desmond Lee launched a new permanent exhibition and improved trail (above) featuring the late English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY

Mr Lee also launched a series of community efforts, including:

  • A new permanent exhibition and improved trail featuring the late English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, allowing visitors to discover more about Wallace and the significance of Singapore’s natural heritage. The exhibition is the largest in Singapore on Wallace as well as his discoveries of native biodiversity in the city-state and the Malay Archipelago, which includes other Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei and Indonesia. There is also the Wallace Trail, which has been extended to Hillview MRT Station on the Downtown Line to increase accessibility

  • A “community nursery” at Dairy Farm Nature Park, the first of about 10 such spaces that will be launched islandwide in the next three years to allow the public to propagate and nurture plants that will count towards the One Million Trees movement 

  • A book titled Celebrating Our City in Nature — a compilation of award-winning photographs from the 2017 and 2019 Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year competitions organised by NParks. The photos represent what it means to live in a city where nature permeates the urban landscape and where people benefit from a connection with nature

Related topics

Bukit Batok park Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Tengah Desmond Lee

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