NParks Media Release: New Amenities At Chek Jawa Wetlands Now Open
- From 8 July 2007, Visitors Can Tour Chek Jawa Seven Days A Week

7 July 2007

Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, today launched several new amenities at Chek Jawa Wetlands, Pulau Ubin. To be opened to the public from Sunday, 8 July 2007, these new amenities will allow visitors to conduct their own DIY tour of Chek Jawa every day of the week. These include a visitor centre with a viewing jetty, a boardwalk (Mangrove and Coastal Loops) that is more than 1 km in length, and a 20-m viewing tower called the Jejawi Tower. They will constitute part of a long-term sustainable visitor management plan to protect the rich biodiversity there.

Speaking at the event, Minister Mah said:  "While we have developed very rapidly as a city to keep up with global economic competition, we have not forgotten to set aside green spaces and nature areas to create a quality living environment. Through such efforts, we have managed to conserve a very rich biodiversity in our densely populated urban environment. To protect the fragile ecosystems at Chek Jawa and yet allow visitors to enjoy it, the Government invested S$7 million to put in place a sustainable visitor management plan for Chek Jawa. We have built new amenities, so that more people can visit this treasure trove.

Prior to this, visits to Chek Jawa were controlled to minimise impact to the fragile ecosystems. A few times each month during low-tide periods, guided walks were organized for a small number of visitors. Since 2002, over 20,000 visitors have benefited from this interim visitor management plan. Now, visitors will be able to conduct their own DIY tour to appreciate the rich biodiversity at Chek Jawa seven days a week, between 8:30am and 6.00pm. Visitors who still prefer to go on the guided walks can check the dates of availability on the NParks website at www.nparks.gov.sg and call Tel: 65424108 to register.

New Amenities: Visitor Centre (House No. 1)
Located at the entrance of Chek Jawa, the visitor centre was converted from a Tudor-style house built in the 1930s. Fondly known as House no. 1 (its postal address in Ubin), the building was awarded conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in December 2003, and was carefully restored.

One of the unique features of the house is its genuine fireplace, which is probably the only one left in Singapore. The fireplace is no longer in use and is closed off as a family of Pouched Tomb bats currently reside in the chimney of the house. Another rare species of Malayan False Vampire bats can also be found in an old water tower just beside the house. The water tower and the bats were not disturbed, and a new water tank was constructed for use instead.

The HSBC Gallery on the ground level of the visitor centre features a rescue tank and educational exhibits. The rescue tank simulates the natural environment at Chek Jawa including the high and low tides. It serves as a temporary habitat to help injured marine organisms recover before being released back into their natural habitat. The educational exhibits include information panels and interpretive displays that depict the history and beauty of the natural heritage in Chek Jawa. The other facilities in the house include a refreshment corner on the ground level (which will be ready at a later date) and a workroom and research room on the upper level for NParks volunteers and nature lovers to carry out nature-related activities such as research and networking sessions.

New Amenities: Boardwalk and Jejawi Tower
From the visitor centre, visitors would be able to access two routes, the Coastal Loop (600m) and Mangrove Loop (500m) boardwalk with lookout platforms, a floating pontoon, and shelters. Educational panels and directional signs have been installed along the boardwalk to enhance visitors’ experience. Visitors would be able to complete both routes in about one and a half hours.

Along the way, visitors will be able to climb the seven-storey high (20m) Jejawi tower to view the tree canopy, or observe the biodiversity, such as birdlife. The viewing tower is named after the native tree (Malayan Banyan) that grows just beside the tower.

Green Mark Gold Award
The new amenities at Chek Jawa were developed with minimal impact on the environment. The use of environmentally friendly features in the design of the new amenities earned the Chek Jawa Wetlands development the Green Mark Gold Award. This includes the use of simulated timber for the planks of the boardwalk, as well as energy efficient lights, motion sensor lights, and solar powered battery cells. The design of the visitor centre also made use of natural ventilation and daylight. 

Partnership With People and Private Sectors
The plans for the project were developed by the Chek Jawa Working Group, which was established in 2002. The Group comprises representatives from NParks, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Nature Society Singapore, and Singapore Environment Council.

At the event, Minister Mah highlighted that the public has benefited from the efforts of this Group, as well as the many dedicated volunteers, groups, and organizations such as HSBC. In line with their commitment to nature conservation and education, HSBC contributed S$800,000 towards the Pulau Ubin Conservation Fund for various initiatives, including the setting up of the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub, the HSBC Gallery and the educational signage along the new boardwalk that depict the story of Chek Jawa and its fascinating inhabitants.

To encourage continued partnerships, Minister Mah said: “Moving forward, the people-private-public sectors need to continue this close partnership to sustain our precious natural heritage. This is the only way to ensure that our future generations too can enjoy the treasures that we have today."

See Mr Mah Bow Tan's speech and "Champagne at Chek Jawa." by N. Sivasothi. Habitatnews, 07 Jul 2007.

Chek Jawa webpage | Habitatnews webpage