Singaporeans will have better access to the Kranji Marshes when the area reopens in 2016 with shelters and trails.
The National Parks Board (NParks) has started works to improve the 56ha freshwater marshland, including clearing the ponds of weeds and replanting vegetation to attract more birds.
The wetland on the outskirts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is well loved by nature lovers, and especially rich in marsh birds. The plans are part of Phase 3 of NParks' Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve masterplan, which also includes improving the western end of the reserve by 2017.
Within the next few years, NParks will spruce up the currently disused Cashin House - a former residence extending out to sea in Lim Chu Kang. Nature trails will also link the reserve to the house, which is historically significant as it may have been the first landing point of the Japanese in Singapore during World War II.
Yesterday, the agency spelled out its plans as it celebrated the completion of the masterplan's second phase, which involved a 31ha extension to the 130ha reserve.
The extension includes a new visitor centre, a mid-canopy walk through a secondary forest, a coastal boardwalk and other attractions like the Mud Experience, where visitors can step onto mudflats during low tide to get up close to creatures living in the mud, such as mudskippers.
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, opened the extension yesterday. "Sungei Buloh is a unique place not just for birds, but also for us city dwellers who need a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life," he said.
Fourteen NParks volunteers were also given long-service awards yesterday. NParks said its volunteer ranks have grown by 50 per cent in the past year and number some 1,500 people today.
The agency also paid tribute to a group of about 50 former and current volunteers who have helped contribute to Sungei Buloh's growth since the 1990s.
One of them, nature guide Kwan Sau Kuen, 60, said she was motivated to volunteer because she noticed visitors leaving the reserve disappointed that they could not spot any birds.
"What they didn't know was that the patches of brown they thought were soil were actually birds. That was when I knew I had to do my part."
She added: "Sungei Buloh is one of the few places in Singapore that has been kept rustic and natural. It is important to conserve the wonders of the mangroves for the next generation to enjoy."
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