Khatib Bongsu Park: The Background
On the 4th March 2020, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced the new vision that in the next 10 years, the National Parks Board (NParks) aims to transform Singapore from a “city in a garden” to a “city in nature”.
He made the announcement during the debate on his ministry’s budget on Wednesday (March 4), saying the key strategy here is to enhance and extend Singapore’s natural capital.
Singapore will be transformed into a greener city in the next decade, with more plant life and nature integrated into urbanised areas.
He said: “We want to transform Singapore into a city in nature. To provide Singaporeans with a better quality of life, while co-existing with our flora and fauna. Indeed, with climate change, more extreme weather conditions, increased urbanisation, we must do more.”
This will be done through four key moves, said Mr Lee. These are:
- Extending the nature park network,
- Intensifying nature in gardens and parks,
- Restoring nature into the built environment, and
- Strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces.
The nature park network, which currently covers 350ha, will get an additional 200ha of nature parks by 2030.
These nature parks serve as buffers to protect the nature reserves against the impact of urbanisation and human activities. Besides providing clean air and water, Singapore’s four nature reserves – Bukit Timah, Central Catchment, Labrador, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – safeguard primary and secondary rainforests and are core habitats for native biodiversity.
Mr Lee said: “Singaporeans can look forward to more places such as Rifle Range Nature Park for nature-based recreation, such as hiking, and bird watching in future.”
For example, a 40ha nature park will be established at Khatib Bongsu, a rich mangrove and mudflat habitat in the north-eastern coast of Singapore.
The 40hectare Khatib Bongsu Nature Park is equivalent to the size of 56 football fields.
Khatib Bongsu Park: An Earlier Visit
Back in Dec 2014, Minister Desmond Lee met up with Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Louis Ng, as well as various stakeholders from the nature, heritage and recreation community such as researchers, educators, students and volunteers to discuss how Khatib Bongsu can be sensitively enhanced.
Khatib Bongsu, which is located near Yishun and Sembawang, consists of mangroves and mudflats.
Members of the public can kayak through the dense network of mangrove waterways
The area used to be for prawn farming, and has since become a treasure trove of mangrove and other flora and fauna. After detailed surveys and careful study, the Ministry decided earlier that year to protect Khatib Bongsu as a Nature Park.
The new Nature Park will likely be ready by early 2024. Khatib Bongsu is a precious and beautiful area with overlays of biodiversity and heritage that is worth conserving.
Khatib Bongsu Park: Extending the Nature Park Network
As part of the strategic plan to transform Singapore from a “city in a garden” to a “city in nature”, the first of which is to extend the Nature Park Network.
NParks will safeguard Singapore’s four nature reserves and enhance our natural capital by extending our Nature Park Network. Our nature reserves safeguard primary and secondary rainforests, and core habitats for native biodiversity. Nature parks are being established as complementary habitats, and to buffer the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves to protect them from the impact of urbanisation. They will provide more spaces for nature-based recreation, such as hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching. NParks will extend this network to all our nature reserves and core biodiversity areas, and aims to have at least another 200 hectares of nature parks by 2030.
One such nature park will be at Khatib Bongsu, a rich mangrove and mudflat habitat on the northeastern coast of Singapore. The upcoming 40-hectare nature park will be an important stopover for migratory shorebirds and complements the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Intensifying nature in gardens and parks
Beyond the nature reserves and the extended network of nature parks, NParks will curate the landscapes in gardens and parks to make them more natural. For instance, NParks will incorporate natural designs and planting in new and redeveloped parks and gardens, re-creating the look and feel of Singapore’s natural forests. About 140 hectares of such gardens and parks will be rolled out over the next five years. In addition, the waterbodies within our gardens and parks will be naturalised. This nature based-solution will contribute towards Singapore’s resilience in addressing the challenge of sea-level rise and inland flooding due to climate change. Beyond these, NParks will establish 30 therapeutic gardens across Singapore by 2030. These can be programmed for seniors, as well as to cater to diverse conditions such as ADHD and dementia. Finally, NParks will also conserve over 70 more native plant and animal species over the next 10 years. Taken together, these initiatives will bring Singaporeans closer to nature, thereby bringing forth benefits to health and well-being.
Restoring nature into the built environment
NParks will also restore nature into the built environment. A concerted effort will be made to intensify the greening of our streetscapes through the implementation of multi-tiered planting which will create a forest-like structure along our roads.
Roads with such planting are known as Nature Ways. This will make Singapore’s streets cooler and more comfortable for pedestrians, and more resilient to the effects of urbanisation. NParks aims to have 300 kilometres of Nature Ways by 2030. Over the long term, NParks aspires to make every road a Nature Way. At the same time, NParks will increase the implementation of skyrise greenery and focus on greening Singapore’s industrial estates, which are currently among the hottest areas on the island. NParks will plant more than 100,000 trees in industrial estates over the next 10 years. NParks also aims to have 200 hectares of skyrise greenery by 2030, an increase from the current 120 hectares. These efforts will mitigate the urban heat island effect, resulting in cooler temperatures, while helping to improve air quality and beautify their surroundings.
Strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces
NParks will strengthen the connectivity between Singapore’s pockets of green spaces through the Park Connector Network and the Nature Ways. There are currently 340 kilometres of park connectors, and Singapore will have 500 kilometres of park connectors by 2030. This effectively means that every household will be within a 10-minute walk of a park by 2030, making our gardens and parks even more accessible.
Khatib Bongsu Park Connector
Khatib Bongsu Park Connector starts at Yishun Ave 1/ Yishun Ave 2 and runs along Yishun Central and Yishun Ring Road before ending at Yishun Ave 6.
The length of the Park Connector is 4.5km.
Starting from the junction of Yishun Ave 1 and Yishun Ave 2, Khatib Bongsu Park Connector runs along Yishun Ave 2 and goes past Khatib MRT station before turning right towards Yishun Park. It then makes another right to run along Sungei Khatib Bongsu.
Teeming with biodiversity, this scenic stretch brings residents and visitors closer to nature. Visitors can also attempt the Canopy Walk, which is managed by SAFRA, at Yishun Park, where they can attempt aerial obstacles that are five metres above the ground.