Monday, February 06, 2006

Boardwalk to get you close to nature in Ubin

For those unaware, a broadwalk is currently being constructed at Chek Jawa and should possibly be completed in a year.

Boardwalk to get you close to nature in Ubin
By Alexis Hooi, Straits Times
30 April 2005

Walkway among features planned on island to let public enjoy nature

RISING 3m above the ground, the 2.5km wooden boardwalk will traverse the shoreline and nature areas of Chek Jawa, home to one of Singapore's richest collections of plant and marine life.

When completed by next year, the walkway will bring visitors up close to the inhabitants of the mudflats, mangrove forest and other habitats of the area in Pulau Ubin, without threatening them.

The feature is part of plans, unveiled yesterday, to build new facilities to help the public enjoy Singapore's last few nature enclaves on the northern island.

Strolling on the boardwalk, visitors will also be able to stop and appreciate more fully Chek Jawa's biodiversity, with lookout platforms, shelters and a seven-storey-high viewing tower.

A Tudor-style English cottage there, built in the 1930s, will be restored and used as a visitor centre, with a seminar room and research facilities.

West of Chek Jawa, 7.5ha of land - larger than 10 football fields - has been set aside as a third campsite on the island. The existing two are at Noordin and Mamam beaches in the north.

And further west, the 14.4ha Ketam Quarry area will be used for mountain-biking activities.

Contributing to these projects, which cost close to $10 million, is HSBC. It donated $800,000 to a fund set up to support nature conservation, outreach and research activities on the island.

The fund will also be used for a resource centre that will coordinate and promote volunteerism in these areas.

Touring the site of some of the projects yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said these efforts were an example of how Singapore needed to balance its development imperatives with safeguarding its rich natural heritage.

He said: 'Our approach has always been... pragmatism. Conserve as much as possible, but bearing in mind that we have to cater to our economic development.'

Mr Mah cited Chek Jawa as a prime example of how Singapore could strike that balance - reclamation plans were put on hold four years ago to conserve the area.

At the same time, he said, more was needed to develop new parks and enhance existing ones for Singapore to realise the vision of becoming a 'City in a Garden'.

Such moves include linking up major parks and nature sites to form a 'green necklace', and enhancing greenery along streets.

Mr Mah also stressed the importance of a public, private and people partnership in such a vision.

Addressing concerns on how the new features could increase visitors but threaten Chek Jawa's ecosystem, Mr Mah said it was a way to accommodate as many visitors as possible while also protecting the area.

'I hope the visitors who come will enjoy Chek Jawa without destroying it, loving it to death as it were.'

(c) 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

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