Kranji Marshes along the northwestern shore of Kranji Reservoir. Source: channelnewsasia
The Kranji Marshes, which at 57-hectares is the largest freshwater marshland in Singapore, was officially opened this week with guided tours starting at the end of the month.
Next to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, the marshland lies along the northwestern shore of Kranji Reservoir and more than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies use it for their habitat. Singapore is midway through its migratory season. The marshland also serves as a filter for water entering Kranji Reservoir.
Among the birds recorded are nine critically endangered species, such as the straw-headed bulbul; 10 endangered ones, including the purple heron and red-rattled lapwing, and three vulnerable species.
Kranji Marshes is divided into a public area and one that is restricted to tour groups.
The National Parks Board said this area was considered ecologically sensitive.
“We just completed development and vegetation has not grown back yet and the wildlife are still coming back,” said Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation. “So we want it to establish itself first for the next six months to one year, and we’ll establish how the conditions are like.”
Visitors can climb the 11-metre Raptor Tower for a view of the marshes and other hides.
Enthusiasts should plan well in advance as there will be only two guided tours each month to study biodiversity and bird watching.
“In our dense urban landscape, nature conservation and greenery provision are key to the high quality physical environment that we are so proud of,” said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee at the opening ceremony.
Lee said through conservation and development, the authorities and community partners were working to minimise harm to wildlife.
“For example, the structures installed were carefully considered and sensitively designed to blend into the existing landscape. To minimise any impact on wildlife and their habitats, we always worked 50 metres away from sensitive areas and prefabricated most of the structures off-site before assembling them on-site,” he said.
Teo Chong Yean, director of projects at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said: “The Raptor Tower was prefabricated into four sections. It was brought in one piece at a time and assembled on-site.
“The other prefabrication that we did was to use a floating boardwalk, instead of a timber or concrete footbridge, across the marsh as that would require piling and it means we would disturb the habitats.”
Visitors can take a 1km stroll along Neo Tiew Lane 2 through the Neo Tiew Woods.
The marshland was created when Kranji reservoir was dammed in the 1970s. That caused the surrounding low-lying areas to become flooded, attracting wildlife.
Wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai said clearing vegetation was important as some birds required open water surfaces to hunt for food.