The Beginner’s Guide to Singapore’s Nature Reserves

04 April 2016
<p>Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore</p>

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore

Singapore’s green spaces

There is no lack of green spaces, even in urban Singapore. From the manicured lawns of Gardens by the Bay to the rustic trails within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, there is a shade of green to suit every fancy.

 But while all green spaces are important, some may be more equal than others.


Parks and nature reserves – what’s the difference?

Parks are man-made environments that support a smaller diversity of species, as compared to nature reserves, which are original native environments that are biologically diverse.

There are certain species of plants and animals that visitors can only find in nature reserves. A five-banded gliding lizard and a slender squirrel, for instance, are animals you would not be able to find in Singapore’s local parks.

There are more than 300 parks in Singapore, but only four nature reserves, namely, the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as well as the Central Catchment, Bukit Timah and Labrador Nature Reserves.

Nature reserves are protected areas for the conservation of Singapore’s biodiversity, and visitors should take more care when visiting them. Here are some tips for planning a visit to the nature reserves.

image: @yingxuehuang


1. Opening hours

Unlike parks, entry to the nature reserves are restricted to certain hours, so check the National Parks Board’s (NParks) website for the opening hours before making a trip down.


2. Attire

image: @silhouette0704

Nature reserves are less “sanitised” than parks, in the sense that the trails open to the public within the reserves are often dirt tracks instead of concrete paths, so dress appropriately.

Sturdy, covered footwear are important for navigating routes which may be littered with rocks. Long pants or tops with long-sleeves would also help visitors avoid getting bitten by insects or scratched by protruding branches.

Try to avoid using stick-on insect repellent patches, as these tend to fall off clothes and become litter. Covering up is the best option to avoid getting bitten, but if not, use gel or spray repellents.


3. Activities

image: @nparksbuzz

Nature reserves are home to some species of animals that are elusive and very shy, such as the Sunda pangolin or birds like the chestnut-winged babbler.

So mass activities such as exercise programmes, family days and organised runs tend to scare them off. When visiting a nature reserve, keep noise to a minimum, to avoid scaring off the animals.

Soak in the cacophony of nature instead of plugging into an MP3 player. This will also help you to be more in tune with your surroundings, and is a safety precaution. Keep your ears pricked, particularly after a rain, as you may hear the tell-tale crackling of branches about to fall off.

And no matter how cute or interesting a plant or animal seems, whether in a park or nature reserve, avoid touching or handling plants and animals. Doing so may harm the wildlife, and animals may also fight back in retaliation.

Remember the old adage: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.


By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 11 March 2016

Cover image:


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