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NParks to Start New Comprehensive Survey of BTNR

14 Feb 2015

14 February 2015 – Today, Minister of State for National Development, Desmond Lee announced that the National Parks Board (NParks) will be starting a two year comprehensive biodiversity survey in March 2015, to better understand the conservation status and distribution of plants and animals in the 163-hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR). The last time a survey of similar scale, covering the entire BTNR, was conducted was some 20 years ago between 1993 and 1997. Information gathered from this latest survey will help NParks to continue to sensitively manage this ASEAN Heritage Park, which was first established as a Nature Reserve in 1883.

This survey will be undertaken by NParks staff, scientists from academic institutions and individuals with domain knowledge of some of the taxonomic groups. The BTNR Survey will focus on key groups of animals and plants that are integral to the rainforest ecosystem. For animals, these include mammals, reptiles, butterflies, fishes, spiders, birds, amphibians, dragonflies, and aquatic invertebrates. The survey will extend into the primary forest core, which contains one of the largest forest patches in Singapore that has never been cleared by man. HSBC has pledged a donation and staff volunteers' support for the survey.

Over the years, ad-hoc research and surveys on varied species have been carried out by different researchers, organisations and NParks, allowing for substantial knowledge and expertise to be built up for the various taxonomic groups. This new survey will build upon this knowledge, as well as the baseline information gleaned from the 1993 Survey. It will delve deeper, focusing on interactions between a larger variety of taxonomic groups and harness new technology such as updated GIS for analysis.

To facilitate continuity and comparability of data, researchers and experts in the field who were involved in the 1993 Survey will be involved in this new survey. The results from this survey will be used for systematic long-term monitoring and management of BTNR which contains at least 40% of Singapore’s native flora and fauna even though it occupies only 0.2% of its land area.

BTNR is home to more than 840 flowering plants and over 500 species of animals. This includes rare and native species such as the Singapore Freshwater Crab (Johora singaporensis), the Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) and the Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus).

New Coffee Table Book “Rainforest in a City”

Many of the animals found in BTNR were featured in a new coffee table book launched by Mr Lee today. Published by NParks and written by Dr Chua Ee Kiam, an active NParks volunteer and passionate nature writer-photographer, the “Rainforest in a City” is a 200-page book that showcases the habitats and unique biodiversity of BTNR and CCNR. Featuring some 477 photographs taken by Dr Chua and his team of over a hundred photographers and contributors, the book provides interesting details of more than 200 species of animals and more than 80 species of plants. The book highlights many species that have rarely, if ever, been photographed before. In celebration of Singapore’s golden jubilee, a special section pays tribute to plants and animals that are named after Singapore, or found only here. (See Media Factsheet – Coffee Table Book: Rainforest in a City for more information)

Mr Lee shared, “Flipping through this book, I was captivated by the myriad of fascinating plants and animals captured through the lenses of Dr Chua and his photography buddies. This is photographic evidence of the rich biodiversity that exists in our nature reserves. … It is timely to embark on another survey of our nature reserves now. I am happy to announce that NParks has initiated the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Comprehensive Survey, which will be carried out over two years beginning this March. … The findings will form a sound basis for systematic long-term monitoring and management of the nature reserve, and help us to ensure a sustainable nature reserve for future generations to enjoy.” (to check against delivery)

Planting trees as part of reforestation efforts for the new Windsor Nature Park

The announcement of the new BTNR Survey was made at a reforestation activity at the site of the new 75-hectare Windsor Nature Park. Together with grassroots advisor Hri Kumar and some 200 residents, NParks volunteers and school students, Mr Lee planted 100 trees to enhance the forest habitat there. Works on the new nature park will commence in mid-2015 and be completed in late 2016.

The current 75-hectare site is largely forested and rich in biodiversity. It serves as a habitat to many animals, both native and migratory. These include frogs, squirrels, dragonflies and damselflies. The freshwater streams in Venus Drive are also home to many native species such as the Malayan Forest Betta (Betta pugnax), the Common Barb (Puntius binotatus) and the Tree Fern (Cyathea latebrosa).

The intent is to sensitively enhance the forest habitats and restore existing trails. One such enhancement will be the inclusion of boardwalks to complement existing trails. Basic amenities such as restrooms and shelters will also be provided. (See Media Factsheet – Windsor Nature Park for more information)

Windsor Nature Park is one of four new nature parks which will serve as green buffers to the CCNR. These parks will help to reduce visitorship pressure on the nature reserves by providing interesting alternative venues for the public to enjoy nature-related activities. The development of these nature parks is part of a holistic approach to conserve the biodiversity in Singapore’s nature reserves.

The other three new nature parks that were recently announced to serve as buffers to the CCNR are Springleaf, Chestnut and Thomson Nature Parks. Springleaf Nature Park was officially opened in November 2014. Works for the new 80-hectare Chestnut Nature Park have commenced since the end of year, and the park will be completed by the third quarter of 2016. Plans for Thomson Nature Park are still in the early stages, and will be shared at a later date.
Last updated on 21 July 2021

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