NParks opens Chestnut Nature Park (South)
02 Apr 2016
Launch of Friends of the Parks scheme to provide greater opportunities
for community stewardship of green spaces
Singapore, 2 April 2016 — The National Parks Board (NParks) launched the first phase of Chestnut Nature Park today. About 17 hectares in size (26 football fields), Chestnut Nature Park (South) extends the buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and improves the ecological network for biodiversity. Chestnut Nature Park (South) is Singapore’s first nature park with separate mountain biking and hiking trails, measuring 1.6km and 2.1km respectively.
Friends of the Parks Community
NParks also launched the Friends of the Parks community to encourage greater community stewardship of green spaces. This community was conceptualised after participants at the SGfuture dialogue sessions in Jan 2016 expressed strong support for the idea that park users should play a bigger part in designing, stewarding and programming our parks and green spaces. Consisting of local communities of regular park users and stakeholders, Friends of the Park members will play an active role in promoting active and responsible use of our parks through ground-led programmes and initiatives.
The community builds on the success of the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN). FUN members come from a wide spectrum of the community, including nature enthusiasts, architects, historians, students, educators, bloggers, Pulau Ubin residents, educators, and representatives of heritage and recreation groups. FUN members have contributed many useful ideas and implemented ground-led initiatives at Ubin.
The community will start with Chestnut Nature Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and the Park Connector Network. For Pulau Ubin, the existing Friends of Ubin Network will also come under the Friends of the Parks community but will continue operating without any further changes. This will be gradually extended to more parks to encourage community stewardship.
Joining in the event was Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, Desmond Lee, who planted the Braided Chestnut tree (Castanopsis inermis) to mark the occasion. He said, “The concept of the Friends of the Parks community was first mooted at the SGfuture dialogues in January this year. I remember meeting many participants who expressed a desire to volunteer their time or play an active role to shape and manage our green spaces. The community will bring together a variety of stakeholders to tap on their diverse expertise and ideas, and better structure our community of regular park users and NParks volunteers to make their efforts more fruitful.”
The community’s inputs were actively sought in the development of Chestnut Nature Park. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Mayor of North West District Teo Ho Pin, as well as Members of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa, held an exhibition in 2014 where public feedback on Chestnut Nature Park was gathered. Suggestions such as shelters, mapboards as well as hiking and biking trails were all implemented.
Amenities and activities at Chestnut Nature Park (South)
As a shared community space for different users, visitors to Chestnut Nature Park (South) can look forward to a range of recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking and bird watching. Bird lovers will be able to spot globally threatened species such as the Straw-headed Bulbul, globally vulnerable species such as the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, as well as species such as the Banded Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Little Spiderhunter. Chestnut Nature Park (South) is also home to animals such as the Spiny Hill Terrapin and the Cinnamon Bush Frog.
The biking trails at Chestnut Nature Park (South) are classified as moderately difficult to extremely difficult. There are also shelters with informative map boards. From mid-2016 onwards, park users can look forward to a kiosk where they can rent and wash bikes as well as buy pre-packaged snacks. When the 64ha Chestnut Nature Park (North) is completed in late 2016, there will be a total of 5km of hiking trails and 6km of biking trails.
As part of the ongoing habitat enhancement programme to augment NParks’ biodiversity conservation efforts. Chestnut Nature Park has been planted up with native tree species. Examples of these native tree species are the Braided Chestnut (Castanopsis inermis), Singapore Walking-Stick Palm (Rhopaloblaste singaporensis) and the Jelutong (Dyera costulata). These native tree species will allow animals to thrive by improving the ecological connectivity between green spaces so that animals may move around safely.