Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: new features you should know about

By Hannah   — November 05, 2016
  • New features added
    1 / 5 New features added

    The trails at the newly reopened Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are now safer for users, thanks to the non-slip trail surfaces and boardwalks that have been added.

    When The New Paper visited the reserve on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, many middle-aged joggers – some part of walking groups – were seen exploring the reopened reserve.

    Mr Tan Wee Yeow, 57, the founder of walking group W4F (Walking For Fun, Fitness, Food with Friends) who organises weekly walks every Friday, told TNP that he appreciated the changes made to the reserve.

    The retiree said: “It’s much safer now. There used to be some muddy stretches, big roots of trees and we would have to navigate around them, and it would be slippery.

    “Some parts were also not protected by the rope and railings we see now. The pavement was quite worn down with soil erosion, but now, there are the reinforcements of steps, which makes it easier to walk on.”

    Click on arrows for more. 

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  • Reopened after 2 years
    2 / 5 Reopened after 2 years

    Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was fully reopened last Saturday after being closed since September 2014 for restoration works.

    The reserve was closed due to the badly eroded trail network.

    Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at the National Parks Board (NParks), told TNP that they noticed people straying off the trail often.

    He said: “They would try to avoid certain puddles of water, so they’d walk off the trail and on the soil. Over time, this caused the trail to widen and hinder plant growth. Soil erosion also occurred.”

    Rope handrails along some stretches of the trails have been added to keep visitors on track.

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  • A smoother walk
    3 / 5 A smoother walk

    Other new features NParks added were boardwalks over swampy areas, a non-slip trail surface made of a porous mixture of soil and a synthetic polymer that allows rainwater to reach roots underneath.

    Weak slopes have also been reinforced using micro piles driven into the soil and biodegradable geotextile netting covering the slopes that allows plants to grow through.

    Visitors can also learn about Singapore’s natural heritage and biodiversity conservation efforts at the upgraded visitor centre.

    NParks’ director of central nature reserve, Ms Sharon Chan, said that since the agency took over the management of Bukit Timah in 1992, the number of visitors annually has increased from fewer than 100,000 to 400,000, thanks to successful outreach programmes.

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  • Not all change is good
    4 / 5 Not all change is good

    However, some visitors prefer the way it was before. A visitor who wanted to be known as Mr Alvin, 52, is an experienced climber who has been climbing mountains for three years.

    He said the trails at the reserve do not feel as “natural” any more.

    He told TNP: “I climb mountains in Malaysia and the environment feels natural. I can’t really get that here.

    “Here, the steps aren’t really nice. They’re very steep and will hurt your knees especially if you’re going downhill. Serious climbers won’t like this kind of setting, but it’s good for people who climb for leisure.”

    NParks’ Mr Wong said intermediate steps were added at some areas to make climbing easier.

    He said: “Some people like the challenge of high steps, but we give them the option of intermediate steps as well.”

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  • Easier for all
    5 / 5 Easier for all

    But visitors were appreciative of the efforts made by NParks.

    Mr Tan said he liked wide variations of terrain from the gentle slope of Serapong Link to the challenge of steep steps at Rengas Path and those in between, like the Dairy Farm Loop.

    He said: “The steps at Rengas are most challenging. They’re very steep and it gets your heart pumping. In the past, where there were steps, they were actually much higher, further apart, and sometimes irregular.

    “I prefer it much more now that they’ve added more steps and kept them at more regular intervals, which is important for runners, the very old and very young hikers.”

    A version of this story first appeared in The New Paper 

    (Photos: TNP)

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