Residents near the Upper Thomson side of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve can now go to a new nature park for birdwatching, table tennis and other activities.
The 6ha Springleaf Nature Park officially opened yesterday and is the first of four new nature parks to be built around the reserve.
By providing alternative venues for people to enjoy activities in nature, the National Parks Board (NParks) hopes to reduce the number of visitors to the reserve to minimise the impact on its vegetation and wildlife.
Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour, noted that Singapore's four nature reserves safeguard key ecosystems here, such as tropical rainforests, freshwater swamp forests, mangroves and coastal hill forests.
"Even as we become more urbanised, we will continue to protect our nature reserves by establishing green buffers around them," he said.
Two nature parks around the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve serve the same purpose.
The Hindhede Nature Park opened in 2001 and the Dairy Farm Nature Park followed in 2009.
Mr Lee said that the new Springleaf Nature Park is also important for its history.
"This site... was formerly a kampung known as Chan Chu Kang, named after the headman Chan Ah Lak who acquired 18ha in 1850 to cultivate gambier and pepper near the Seletar River," he said.
Residents near Springleaf Nature Park said it was a scenic place to take walks and observe birds.
According to NParks, it serves as a habitat for more than 80 species of resident and migratory birds.
"It's nice and clean, and I like that the trail is flat and not undulating," said 57-year-old housewife Roselyn Lim.
"I can come for walks in the evenings and bring friends who are visiting."
Construction of the second of the four new parks - the Chestnut Nature Park - will start soon.
The park will be completed in 2016. At 80ha, the much largerpark will have hiking and biking trails and a seven-storey tower to give visitors a panoramic view of the greenery.
This article was first published on Nov 2, 2014.
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