NParks opens Windsor Nature Park, Singapore’s sixth nature park, and announces plans for a new Rifle Range Nature Park
22 Apr 2017
22 April 2017 – Today, the National Parks Board (NParks) opened the sixth nature park in Singapore, the 75-hectare Windsor Nature Park. A green buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, its existing habitats have been sensitively enhanced over two years. With its opening, visitors can explore new trails including the specially curated Hanguana Trail that is lined with rare native plants, some of which are named after Singapore, and the Drongo Trail, which features a sub-canopy walk where visitors can catch a glimpse of the fauna that are found under the canopy level, in addition to examining the understorey of the regenerating secondary forest.
Some of the unique plants visitors get to see along the Hanguana Trail are two recently discovered forest plants – Hanguana rubinea and Hanguana neglecta, the endemic Singapore Ginger (Zingiber singapurense) and the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis), as well as the native Memali (Leea angulata), Lowland Fox-Glove (Radermachera pinnata), Pulai Basong (Alstonia pneumatophora) and Stilted Simpoh (Dillenia reticulata). One hundred trees comprising 10 native species, including the Kayu Gaharu (Aquilaria malaccensis) and Kayu Arang (Cratoxylum cochinchinense), were planted at the Hanguana Trail two years ago. More native plants have also been planted since then. Some of the special flora and fauna visitors may encounter along the Sub-Canopy Walk include the Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea) and the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus). Restored trails and new boardwalks allow visitors to also discover other highlights of Windsor Nature Park such as a marsh habitat and several freshwater streams. At the Visitor Pavilion, visitors can join workshops to learn about Singapore’s natural heritage and ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts.
During the opening ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee also unveiled plans for a new 67-hectare Rifle Range Nature Park, which will serve as the southern buffer for Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
NParks undertook sensitive enhancements of the existing habitats at Windsor Nature Park. A marsh habitat was created using the natural terrain, and planted up with native plants such as the Spiny Lasia (Lasia spinosa) and the Aquatic Ginger (Alpinia aquatica) to provide an additional wetland habitat for the biodiversity associated with the existing stream network. Here, a rich diversity of dragonflies can be seen. Since 2008, NParks and researchers have recorded 56 dragonfly species in Windsor Nature Park, which is nearly half of the 122 dragonfly species found in Singapore. Three of these species – the Nighthawker (Heliaeschna crassa), the Lesser Nighthawker (Heliaeschna uninervulata), and the Spear-tailed Duskhawker (Gynacantha dohrni), are new records for Singapore. Other native freshwater fauna that visitors can look out for are the Masked Rough-sided Frog (Pulchrana laterimaculata), the Malayan Pygmy Halfbeak (Dermogenys collettei), and the Malayan Freshwater Prawn (Macrobrachium malayanum).
In addition, the forest habitat was sensitively enhanced and planted with more than 400 trees including native plants such as the Cratoxylum maingayi, the Penaharan Pianggu (Horsfieldia irya) and the Penarahan Gajah (Horsfieldia sucosa), as well as native plants salvaged from the Central Catchment Nature Reserve such as the Kembang Semangkuk Jantung (Scaphium macropodum). Planting these trees will help to attract more biodiversity, which in turn, will help to sustain a thriving ecosystem, that supports a wide variety of native fauna including the Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) and the Mangrove Snake (Boiga dendrophila) inhabit.
As part of the enhancements, NParks repaired existing trails and added new trails and raised boardwalks, to minimise compaction on tree roots, to complement the existing trails and enhance visitors’ experience.
NParks worked closely with educational institutions in the development of Windsor Nature Park. For more than seven years, students from National University of Singapore participated in surveys to monitor the area’s species composition. Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic have also been working with NParks to create an environment conducive for our native biodiversity by removing invasive plant species. NParks also worked with Nanyang Junior College and volunteers to share the impacts of animal release through a simple survey.
Increase in Ecological Linkage
The development of Windsor Nature Park is part of a holistic approach to strengthen the conservation of the biodiversity in Singapore’s nature reserves. Like other nature parks, it will help to reduce visitorship pressure on the nature reserves by providing interesting alternative venues for the public to enjoy nature-related activities. Windsor Nature Park lies between the northern and southern parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and forms a green buffer for the Reserve. By forming an ecological link between the Lower Peirce and MacRitchie areas, it facilitates the safe passage of fauna between green spaces.
Plans for Rifle Range Nature Park: Buffer for Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
To be completed by 2020, the new 67-hectare Rifle Range Nature Park is one of three nature parks – the others being Hindhede and Dairy Farm – that serve as green buffers to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Biodiversity studies for the upcoming nature park are underway. These studies will help NParks and the Friends of Bukit Timah to sensitively enhance the nature park, while providing a range of recreational activities for different groups of users.
Many native animals including the Horsfield’s Flying Squirrel (Lomys horsfieldii), the Malayan Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) and the Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella) currently can be spotted at the site.
A freshwater habitat will be created in a section of the nature park to attract wetland fauna. Aerial rope bridges across Rifle Range Road will be provided to allow animals to move safely between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Rifle Range Nature Park. Basic amenities such as restrooms and shelters will also be provided.
Visitors will be able to easily access Rifle Range Nature Park from Beauty World via the Sky Garden, which is an elevated walkway that provides a seamless experience through the canopies of the regenerating forest en route to Sin Seng Quarry.