11 May 2013

NParks Volunteers Dialogue, May 2013

Massive extension at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, upgrade of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve's visitor centre and facilities, and new signages at Pulau Ubin.
The volunteers of NParks gathered to learn more about these, and had a lively exchange of ideas at today's Volunteer Dialogue session.

Sharon Chan who leads at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve gave an update of the exciting developments on the Extension of the Reserve. The public often complain that the Reserve is a long way away from the main road. The Extension will literally bring the Mountain to Mohammed, by bringing the Visitor Centre to the Main Road!
The new Visitor Centre will have all kinds of fabulous facilities such as classrooms and interactive areas for kids to get muddy and wet and learn about wetlands and mangroves. As well as a large plaza for large groups. At the extension, everyone is free to be loud and have fun!
There will also be exciting developments to the area in front of the Reserve proper. With a brand new Nature Gallery, spruced up  and upgraded public facilities and additional rooms for public events and scientific work, including dormitories for overnight scientific work.
Here's a really broad view of the entire extent of the Reserve (on the left) and the new Extension which covers the old Kranji Nature Trail. Read more in my older posts about the Sungei Buloh Masterplan (which has more photos of artist's impressions of the new facilities) with updates given by the Reserve to volunteers in Aug 2010 and Dec 2010.
Joey Gan then shared exciting plans to spruce up the Visitor Centre at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The iconic building will be retained but made more airy and allow more natural light in.
A new extension block will be developed next to it with more restrooms and other facilities for sweaty joggers and hikers to refresh themselves.
Here's a look at the Extension Block.
The main exhibition hall will be divided into two parts, one with a permanent exhibition, the other for rotating exhibitions. While the rooms in the back will be spruced up to provide rooms to hold events.
Alan Tan also updated about plans to put up signages at Pulau Ubin.
There will be larger information boards.
He also shared about these new boxes of information located at the huts which are named after birds. Many people don't know this, so the boxes features the birds with photos and information about them.
There will also be a new gate at Chek Jawa featuring a seahorse!
The briefings were followed by a lovely teabreak kindly arranged by Shila. The volunteers then gathered for a lively dialogue session which covered various issues ranging from "Will there be an Adventure Park at Pulau Ubin?" - Answer: "No" to charging for parking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Also how volunteers can help to 'advise' visitors who are misbehaving or deal with poachers.  And bringing fireflies to our coastal parks.

In the course of conversation, the brand new critter cams at Sungei Buloh were mentioned. After the meeting, many of us decided to find out exactly where these cameras were. Loading up the livestreaming videos on our smart phones from http://www.nparks.gov.sg/animalcam, we figured out some of the locations. This one has a view of the otters' favourite resting spot near the pond at the Visitor Centre.
We guessed this one is the one at the Main Bridge.
After confirming what shows up on this camera by using a smart phone...
... the volunteers proceeded to behave badly by acting up within the camera shot. Apologies to anyone who might have been alarmed by this.
I notice the efforts to prevent erosion on the banks of the Sungei seems to be working. This work is another important aspect of that Sharon touched on during the briefing.
This is what it looked like in the past.
Erosion at the Main Bridge
Although I was dead tired from the predawn trip to Pulau Hantu today, I was glad I attended this lively and informative dialogue session. Now it's time for a short nap before I head out for another predawn trip to Big Sisters Island!

Want to be an NParks volunteer? Check out the NParks website for details.

MORE ways to volunteer for nature in Singapore on wildsingapore.

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