Nature Ways are routes planted with specific trees and shrubs to facilitate the movement of animals like birds and butterflies between two green spaces. These routes also connect areas of high biodiversity to urban communities, create immediate habitats and bring nature closer to residents. Besides enhancing the living environment, these green corridors help to create a greater appreciation of the rich biodiversity within our City in a Garden.
Nature Ways are designed to replicate the natural structure of forests as close as possible.Trees, shrubs and groundcover are planted along the streetscape to re-create habitats,similar to those found in natural forests. Greenery along these routes is also enriched with flowering plants which attract butterflies and support their breeding. The Nature Ways are planned to include four important layers:
Canopy layer – rainforest trees such as Dipterocarps. When fully matured, these trees provide food for canopy-dwelling insectivorous birds, and nesting sites for eagles and raptors.
Mid-canopy layer – existing roadside trees. These trees provide shelter and food for insectivorous as well as nectar-loving birds and butterfly species,.It is due to some of these trees being flowering species such as Cassia fistula and Tabebuia rosea.
Understorey layer – smaller fruit-bearing trees. These trees produce small berries that are source of food for frugivorous or fruit-loving birds. Some of these trees are also host plants for butterflies.
Undergrowth layer – comprising flowering shrubs that provide nectar for butterflies and some nectar-loving birds. Some of these shrubs are also host plants for various species of butterflies. This layer also provides a habitat for the insects and spiders that birds feed on. As most of these shrubs are colourful flowering species, and because of the wildlife they attract, this layer would also provide a visual treat to pedestrians and road users.
Currently, there are 18 Nature Ways in Singapore, stretching 80km in total (as of FY17). They connect areas of high biodiversity, such as the Western Catchment (SAFTI Live Firing Area), the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. By 2020, NParks aims to increase this to 180km.