Kranji Nature Trail
In a $50 million boost to conservation, Singapore’s Kranji Nature Trail will be developed to help handle the increasing volume of visitors keen to see the reserve’s over 220 species of birds. Soon to be known as the Sungei Buloh Wetland Park, the Trail’s development is a result of the Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education’s desire to bring the public and nature closer together.
The Sungei Buloh was made a nature reserve in 2002 and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. According to a Straits Times article, a reference guide is available that features 70 species of birds and provides information about their migration patterns. In November 2008, a local birdwatcher even spotted a Nordmann’s Greenshank, a bird with only 600 to 1,000 individuals existing in the wild and generally not found in Singapore.
The $50 million will aid in improving conservation practices and controlling access to the 138-hectare reserve. To help manage the impact visitors have on the park’s wildlife, visitors will have to apply in advance to visit the reserve.
According to the Sunday Times, the masterplan for the completed reserve is to divide it into four zones. Access to two of the zones will be minimal, meaning that visitors will require the assistance of a certified nature guide or that it will be limited only to researchers. The other two zones will include floating boardwalks, outdoor classrooms, childrens play areas, and a new look out tower for birdwatchers. Construction is expected to start this year and finish in 2013. It is hoped the improvements will increase the number of visitors to 200, 000 per year.
Overtime, the Kranji Nature Trail and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve has received increasing support. In 1997, HSBC became the corporate sponsor for the reserve and created the Sungei Buloh Education Fund. By 2003, Sungei Buloh had become Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park.
The development of the Kranji Nature Trail and renaming of the reserve to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve marks the move toward a more educational site that will allow visitors to be more in tune with nature. The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve illustrates that conservation alone is only half the story – it is also important to educate the public.