Speech by SMS Desmond Lee at the Opening of Windsor Nature Park
I am very happy to be with you all today to launch Windsor Nature Park. For those of you who were with us from the beginning, you will know we have come full circle.
Two years ago, some of us celebrated Valentine’s Day here at the Windsor Nature Park site by planting trees at this location to enhance the Park’s habitat. Today, it looks very different, and we can see the fruit of all our collective labour.
But what we have helped to establish is an important green buffer that protects our Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It also serves as a refuge for our native biodiversity. So if you are lucky, you may see shy, forest-dwelling species such as the spotted wood owls and flying foxes. Windsor is also home to a number of Singapore’s dragonfly species, and we want visitors to appreciate this rich biodiversity up close, but also unobtrusively.
That is why NParks has enhanced existing trails and added elevated boardwalks. These boardwalks not only provide visitors with a better view of the forests, but they also minimise damage to tree roots. Because when we visit and we trample the ground, tree roots may be compacted and that may affect the forest trees.
Indeed, we have a number of unique trails that allow visitors to observe a variety of native flora and fauna. There are trails that run alongside streams. For example, there is a Sub-Canopy walk, which is an elevated trail that takes you through various habitats. It is located between the forest canopy and the forest floor.
Finally, there is the Hanguana Trail, and we will visit that later. This trail is named after the Hanguana rubinea, which is a recently discovered plant that can only be found in Singapore. When I was first introduced at Singapore Botanic Gardens to our Hanguana experts it was a top secret, but today we are proud to name a trail after Hanguana rubinea. This Hanguana species can only be found in Singapore and nowhere else, and so it is endemic. And I think we all look forward to spotting this species along the trail.
Habitat Enhancements and Conservation Efforts
At its core, Windsor Nature Park is a home for our plant and our wildlife. NParks has expanded and enhanced the overall habitat. For example, the area which is right in front of us was once entirely water-logged. Today, it has been transformed into a marsh, with reeds and other native plants, and we hope that several species will come to call this marsh their home.
Windsor Nature Park is also a vital ecological link between the Lower Peirce and MacRitchie nature areas. So a very important link and the role it plays. NParks has done extensive planting of forest trees like the Kayu Gaharu. Adding more trees will not only increase biodiversity, but will also facilitate the safe passage of animals between these two important nature areas. Now the point is to build up a thriving ecosystem that will assist in the long-term survival of our resident fauna and flora.
Importantly, NParks could not have done this without all your help. This park has been a collaborative community project from the very start. In fact, two years ago on Valentine’s Day we were here with the community, with our green volunteers, but also with residents living around the area, invested in the success of this Nature Park.
For example, NUS students helped to survey the stream and monitor species composition over several years, and our Ngee Ann Polytechnic students helped remove invasive plant species so that our local native species can establish themselves and thrive. Nanyang Junior College students and other volunteers helped to raise awareness about the negative impact of animal release in the nature reserves. I thank you all for being active and amazing contributors to our nature community.
Upcoming Nature Parks
With the opening of Windsor, we now have six Nature Parks. Last year, we shared our plans for Thomson Nature Park. And today, I am pleased to announce Rifle Range Nature Park, which will be open by 2020. The park will be an important green buffer to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or BTNR.
NParks is currently conducting biodiversity surveys for the site that will help to guide the eventual design of this Nature Park. For example, NParks is considering transforming the former Sin Seng granite quarry into a freshwater habitat with a look-out point where visitors can appreciate marsh birds.
Nature lovers will have much to look forward to in the next few years, but come and take an active part in the design, in the establishment, and in the care of this wondrous nature area.
Our network of Nature Parks is part of our commitment towards conserving our natural heritage in this City in a Garden, in biophilic Singapore. But the Nature Parks themselves are just one part of the conservation story. What will ensure that our rich biodiversity endures is the attitude of Singaporeans. We will need to reach out to even more of our fellow citizens to nurture an appreciation for our biodiversity and green spaces. It is only collectively that we can protect and nurture our natural heritage for future generations.
So I know the weather is wet, but umbrellas, raincoats and out we go. Please enjoy the morning, and enjoy the biodiversity that Singapore has to offer. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of National Development, Singapore