06 March 2009

Where are Singapore's Nature Areas?

Our Nature Areas and Reserves are designated in the Parks & Waterbodies Plan of the URA's Master Plan 2008.
On their website, click on the Parks & Waterbodies Plan link for a view of the areas.

What is a Nature Area?

From Skyline Mar/Jun 03 (newsletter of the Urban Renewal Authority)
Nature Reserves are "an integral part of our natural heritage and their bio-diversity makes them globally significant treasure troves for education, scientific and horticultural research. Measures are also in place for these areas to ensure that they are sustainable in the long run."

Nature Areas are "natural areas rich in biodiversity through the 1992 Singapore Green Plan, NParks and nature groups. This means that NParks has to be consulted for any development proposals in or near these Nature Areas and ecological studies may be required."
The legend to the URA Master Plan 2008 maps also says ...In the Master Plan 2008, some Nature Areas are coloured green and others are just plain white. And this is what the legend suggests.Being more partial to our shores, I started looking at the Nature Areas along our coasts.

On our Northern coast near the Second Link, there's patches of white NAs.In Poyan there are several.
In various shapes and sizes.A few tiny patches near Murai.
And a few tiny patches near Sarimbun.

Moving eastward towards the Causeway is Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a designated Nature Reserve, and Kranji Nature Trail, a NA next to the Reserve.Up the Kranji Reservoir are Kranji Marsh, a designated Nature Area.Continuing eastward, there's Admiralty Park another NA.
Khatib Bongsu, alas, is not a designated NA.
Some parts of Pasir Ris Park is a designated NA.
And just across the narrow Straits is Pulau Ubin, with some portions designated as Nature Areas. The NA that is white is on the Outward Bound Singapore portion of the island.The NA designation, however, does not extend to the intertidal flats of Chek Jawa. And the entire Pulau Tekong is not designated as a Nature Area.The shores of Changi are also not designated as a Nature Area, although there is a boardwalk at Changi.Moving directly to our Southern shores, There's Labrador Nature Reserve, nested within Labrador Park (which is not designated as a Nature Area). But some portions of Mount Faber and Kent Ridge Park are designated NA.Sentosa also has some designated NA but these do not cover the shores.And the Sisters Islands are our only designated Marine Nature Area. While St. John's Island has a portion designated as a Nature Area. Kusu Island and Lazarus Island are not designated NAs.None of our other Southern Islands have Nature Area status. Not even our favourite dive spot, Pulau Hantu or the location of much nature activities, Pulau Semakau.

Trekking inland, there are small portions of the Singapore Botanic Gardens designated NA.
And of course there's Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.Surrounded by small designated NAs, with one NA at Bukit Batok Nature Park.Sadly, the BKE separates the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from the rest of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, which has a few NAs on the edges. The Central Nature Reserve extends all the way up to Mandai, and down to MacRitchie. Various facilities there include the MacRitchie Trails, Lower Peirce Boardwalk and Tree Top Trail.

There's not much consolidated information about our Nature Areas. The information is rather scanty and scattered. Perhaps a good opportunity for student projects to fill the gaps?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Ria.

    I did some quick research and might be wrong, but it seems that unlike nature reserves, which have legal protection under the Parks and Trees Act, and are clearly marked as "NR" in the Master Plan [see http://www.ura.gov.sg/mp08/map.jsf?goToRegion=SIN], which is also protected from amendment at will by (not very stringent) statutory procedures in the Planning Act including some (minimal) mandatory opportunity for public feedback, nature areas do not appear in the Master Plan as such [see http://www.ura.gov.sg/MP2008/ims/legend.html], but only appear in the "Special and Detailed Controlled Plans" which appears below the "Master Plan". I was not able to find any indication that Special and Detailed Controlled Plans form part of the Master Plan.

    If the above is correct, the implication is that the designation of nature areas is non-statutory and merely administrative, and along with the Special and Detailed Controlled Plans and Singapore Green Plan merely represent only the prevailing intention of the executive (as opposed to legislative) arm of the government, and can be changed at will. So in theory, nature areas could be 'un-designated' at any time the government chooses, and without publicity.

    And because nature ares are non-statutory (unlike nature reserves), they do not need to have defined boundaries (and indeed they don't - just read the note at the bottom of the legend of the Parks and Waterbodies Plan legend - [see http://www.ura.gov.sg/MP2008/ims/PW.htm]). It is up to the URA to "interpret and determine" the boundaries of nature areas. I would say this makes it very convenient for the URA to fudge the boundaries when it is expedient to do so.

    "...ecological studies may be required"? Going by past track record, a lot of good these 'internal' studies do. Make the ecological studies accessible for public scrutiny, then we can take them seriously.

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