Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour at the park's opening, noted that its site is also a historical marker of Singapore's early days. "It was formerly a kampung known as Chan Chu Kang, named after a headman, Chan Ah Lak, who acquired 18 hectares in 1850 to cultivate gambier and pepper," he said. "Even as we become more urbanised, we will continue to protect our nature reserves by establishing green buffers around them, and some of these buffers will come in the form of nature parks that are located at the reserves' margins."
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Here is the press release from NParks:
NParks launches Springleaf Nature Park
Today, Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, officially opened Springleaf Nature Park, the first of four new nature parks which will serve as green buffers to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. These parks - which include Chestnut, Thomson and Windsor Nature Parks - will help to reduce visitorship pressure on the Reserve by providing an alternative venue 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.
Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, said: "Nature parks, such as these, are good examples of how we can balance nature conservation and outdoor recreation. I am sure these parks will be welcomed, especially as the much-loved Bukit Timah Nature Reserve takes a break for restoration works."
The 6-hectare Springleaf Nature Park was formerly part of the Chan Chu Kang village - named after the headman Chan Ah Lak who acquired the land near Seletar River to cultivate gambier and pepper. With urbanisation, the Chan Chu Kang village and nearby plantations were left to rest and became nature corridors between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and surrounding green spaces. In addition to its rich history, Springleaf Nature Park is an area of high biodiversity due to its proximity to the Reserve, and serves as a habitat for over 80 species of resident and migratory birds. These include the White-throated Kingfisher, Long-tailed Parakeet and Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
Springleaf Nature Park includes amenities such as a rest shelter, toilets, carpark and a t rail network with an observation deck for bird-watching activities.
Grassroots Adviser Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, MP for Nee Soon GRC said: "Nature plays a key role in improving the quality of our living environment. I am confident that Springleaf Nature Park will be an endearing place for our community where residents can learn about our natural heritage and enjoy nature-related activities together."
Today, Mr Lee also announced that works for the new 80-hectare Chestnut Nature Park will commence by the end of t his year, and be completed by the third quarter of 2016. Plans for Thomson Nature Park and Windsor Nature Park are still in the early stages, and more details will be shared at a later date.
Some nature parks are created on the margins of nature reserves as green buffers to protect the reserves from the impact of urbanisation. They help to reduce visitorship pressure on the reserves by providing alternative venues for recreation and education. Currently, two parks have been created as buffers to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The first was Hindhede Nature Park, which officially opened in 2001, followed by Dairy Farm Nature Park in 2009.