The Park stirred to life even before the day broke. The staff went about
their duties making sure that everything was in order for this big day.
Even the birds and animals seemed to sense the festive occasion and greeted
our guests with their candid appearances. The whole year of celebration
culminated on this day as the Park celebrated its 5th Anniversary.
Mr Koo Tsai Kee, (Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of National
Development), graced the birthday celebration as our Guest-of-Honour along
with Professor Leo Tan, (Chairman, National Parks Board), Mr Connal Rankin,
(General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, HongKong and Shanghai Banking
Corporation), Dr Tan Wee Kiat, (CEO, National Parks Board) and Mrs Lee Wai
Chin, (Deputy CEO, National Parks Board).
Some 300 invited guests were also present to witness the presentation of
prizes to the Grand Finalists of the yearlong Spot Art Competition.
Another highlight of the day was the launch of "Hardy Driftwood in A
Wetlands Adventure", an animation programme produced by HSBC to
promote wetland education for school children.
The high point, however, was reserved for the unveiling of a commemorative
mural entitled "Visions", made up of terracotta tiles each
depicting the eye of a species of fauna in the Park. Collectively, they
formed a larger human eye.
After the launch, the VIPs and invited guests were whizzed around the Park
for a tour.
Many activities were planned throughout the year in the countdown to the
Sungei Buloh Nature Park's 5th anniversary. All in the hope of augmenting
nature awareness at the Park. The event was a resounding success as many
left the Park knowing that we did and will continue to protect this
ecological jewel that we were entrusted with.
"Singaporeans live in a highly
urbanised environment. Nature areas, such as Sungei Buloh Nature Park, play
a useful role in according us the opportunity of being close to nature, be
it for recreation or simply for solace from the bustle and bustle of city-life.
As Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said when he opened this nature park 5
years ago, "Whenever possible, nature areas should be put to
complementary use so that Singaporeans can enjoy our natural heritage and
learn to appreciate nature."
Singapore's small size, however, posed a challenge for nature conservation.
There are many competing demands for land use—for housing, business,
industries, transportation and other infrastructure developments. Despite
our physical constraints, the Government has set aside land for nature
conservation because it recognises the importance of preserving our natural
But we must be practical and realistic. It is not possible to conserve
every nature area in Singapore or any area that is inhabited by wildlife.
It is the Government's responsibility to maximise the use of land in the
best interest of Singaporeans, while at the same time to strive to conserve
important nature areas for both our present and future generations.
The National Parks Board plays an important role in nature conservation.
NParks advises the Government on development proposals and on management
polices for the designated nature areas. It monitors and co-ordinates
measures to protect these areas. One key thrust of NParks is to promote
responsible conservation of our natural heritage. This is done by
monitoring and enhancing the biodiversity of nature areas and by generating
interest in nature through the provision of educational packages and the
sharing of experience and expertise with the public.
Sungei Buloh Nature Park is a testament to NParks' effort at promoting
nature conservation and increasing nature awareness. This 87-hectare park
is not just the only wetland nature park in Singapore; it is also one of
our largest conservation projects. It has been argued that our parks, being
man-made, do not exemplify nature conservation. Sungei Buloh Nature Park,
however, is a fine example of man working in harmony with nature. This park
was previously a prawn farming area that was zoned to become an
agrotechnology park. The Government decided to turn it over to the birds.
Today, the park is home to some 500 species of flora and fauna. It is an
important stopover point for migratory birds from as far as north of
Siberia during the northern wintry months. More than half of the bird
species in Singapore can be found here. The heronry on the park's
"Heron Island" is the breeding ground for over 100 pairs of the
Purple and Grey Herons.
I understand that as part of the 5th anniversary celebrations for Sungei
Buloh Nature Park, NParks and Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation had
put together a series of activities. Indeed, the countdown began on 30
November last year, kicking off with the "Care-for- Nature" Spot
Art competition and the setting up of Sungei Buloh Education Fund. Other
highlights include the launch of a new guidebook and new thematic trails
and guided walks to make visits to Sungei Buloh more memorable and
meaningful. This morning's celebration therefore represents the climax of a
full year of activities at Sungei Buich Nature Park.
Ladies and Gentlemen, NParks' efforts in developing Sungei Buloh Nature
Park have paid dividends. The park's biological diversity has been enhanced
over the past 5 years. Though still a relatively young park, Sungei Buloh
is carving a niche as a centre for wetland park management in areas of
conservation, education, research and compatible recreation.
I understand that the park is used extensively by schools and the community
for education, by researchers for their research and by the general public
for recreation. Of the 80 000 people who visit the park each year, some 40%
are students who come on specially tailored programmes to study the
mangrove and freshwater habitat, for birdwatching and for nature trekking.
I commend NParks for these successful outreach programmes, both for schools
and general public. To conclude, I would like to reiterate that the
Government remains committed to nature conservation. At times, decisions
made in the overriding national interest may not please all nature- lovers.
But this does not detract from the Government's appreciation of the need to
safeguard Singapore's national heritage wherever feasible for our future
generations. Thank you."
Mr Khoo Tsai Kee
Ministry of National Development
5th Dec 1998