New opportunities and platforms to allow for more to participate in nature-based recreation at Pulau Ubin
29 Jun 2019
- Community-led efforts include Accessibility Plan to make access points wheelchair-friendly and a learning symposium for educators to strengthen experiential learning on Pulau Ubin
- Continued improvements to Pulau Ubin made through set up of a dedicated Community Liaison Team to engage residents on their needs and conservation works to enhance nature and biodiversity
The National Parks Board (NParks) today announced that members of the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) are working closely with NParks to put together an Accessibility Plan and a learning symposium to make Pulau Ubin more accessible to all segments of the community. The Accessibility Plan will make access to and within the island more inclusive. The inaugural learning symposium, which will be held in late 2019, is a platform for the teaching fraternity to exchange ideas on how their students can learn more about the island’s cultural and natural heritage. In addition, as part of continued improvements to Pulau Ubin and its residents, NParks has set up a dedicated Community Liaison Team which will assist with the needs of the residents. At today’s Ubin Day, NParks also announced conservation efforts for wetland biodiversity at Pekan Quarry and mangroves in the south-eastern part of Pulau Ubin.
Making Ubin more inclusive
NParks and Accessible Ubin group, a ground-up initiative led by FUN members, are working on an Accessibility Plan which aims to make Pulau Ubin more accessible for people from all walks of life. Community efforts led by Accessible Ubin and Wheels@Ubin have been bringing wheelchair users to the island. Accessible Ubin has brought former residents on wheelchairs to the island for community events such as the recent Pesta Raya@Ubin on 16 June. Passionate volunteers from Wheels@Ubin have also brought wheelchair users on tours of the island. The most recent tour was in March 2018.
The Accessibility Plan is a result of insights gleaned from these events and consultations with wheelchair users, volunteer welfare organisations and Accessible Ubin to understand their needs and how they wish to experience the island. The plan will include making access points wheelchair-friendly, and improving transportation to, from, and within Pulau Ubin. Accessible Ubin is exploring if bumboats plying the route between Changi Point Ferry Terminal and Pulau Ubin, and vans on the island, can be retrofitted with portable ramps or platforms. A wheelchair-friendly floating pontoon jetty will be constructed at Ubin Living Lab (ULL), which has calmer waters and facilities to accommodate wheelchair users and persons with low mobility. The floating pontoon jetty at ULL will also enhance boarding safety for these users, and act as an alternative access point for other groups to easily reach areas in Pulau Ubin designated for learning. The detailed design phase for the jetty will commence in Q3 2019.
Education initiatives at Pulau Ubin
An educational initiative for students to learn about the heritage of Pulau Ubin through multi-disciplinary and experiential learning journeys has been piloted over the last year by a group of teachers led by Ms Tan Beng Chiak, a FUN member. Following from the learning journeys, a learning symposium in late 2019 is being planned by teachers and master teachers, and supported by NParks. The symposium aims to inspire educators with Pulau Ubin’s rich biodiversity and heritage and will include a guided tour around the island and student project presentations. A teaching package for learning journeys on Pulau Ubin conceptualised and developed by the teachers would also be shared at the symposium. The teaching package will be a starter kit for school groups to organise more of such learning journeys. This is aligned with the “Education and Research” thrust of The Ubin Project, and will increase awareness of the island’s rich natural and cultural heritage amongst our youth.
Improved techniques for habitat enhancement
To conserve Pulau Ubin’s rich biodiversity, NParks is adapting and innovating on the techniques used in habitat enhancement and restoration. In Pekan Quarry, NParks had piloted floating wetlands since 2015. More floating wetlands will be introduced to provide additional habitats for wildlife such as herons, crakes, rails and kingfishers to seek shelter, forage and nest. These wetlands will also benefit other animals such as otters, turtles, dragonflies and frogs.
The improvements will build on the floating wetlands system designed and developed by the Housing & Development Board (HDB), by combining its hexagon-shaped modules with floating mats used in the existing floating wetlands in Pekan Quarry. With this new system, the floating wetlands will achieve organic and natural shapes. The floating modules, which are used to form light-weight honeycomb structures with high strength and rigidity, are able to withstand heavier loads of up to 80kg each, so nesting structures can be incorporated. This project is expected to complete in mid-2020.
Mangrove forests are another important habitat on Pulau Ubin, as they protect the shoreline from erosion and serve as habitats to a wide range of biodiversity. NParks has been working with the National University of Singapore (NUS) as part of the Restore Ubin Mangroves (RUM) initiative to study the profile of a former aquaculture farm at the south-eastern part of Pulau Ubin. The Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) approach will be applied based on science-informed methods, taking into consideration site characteristics and environmental factors to regenerate mangrove populations. The study that begun in 2016 has given rise to proposed next steps for this restoration effort, such as changing the site profile to be suitable for natural recruitment of mangrove tree species.
Community Liaison formed to focus more on residents’ needs
NParks has been working closely with FUN to engage Ubin’s residents and respond to their feedback. A Community Liaison Team, dedicated to address the needs of residents, has been set up. Importantly this team will gather feedback on issues in the community, and coordinate the improvement of facilities and services to meet community needs. The team will also coordinate with grassroots and other agencies for resources and programmes for the residents. These efforts will help to preserve the Ubin way of life and cultural heritage.
Ubin Day 2019
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development today opened Ubin Day 2019. First held in 2002, this is the eighth time Ubin Day is being organised to celebrate the different facets of the island. Ubin Day is the culmination of Pesta Ubin, a festival organised by NParks, FUN members, and the community. During the six week-long festival this year, more than 4500 participants took part in 47 activities on Pulau Ubin. For more information on Pesta Ubin, please visit http://pestaubin2019.blogspot.sg.