A paddle through the Jalan Gemala Nature Area

15 12 2014

The Jalan Gemala area at Lim Chu Kang is as remote and wild as it can possibly get on the island of Singapore. Set along the banks of the upper reaches of the Sungei Kranji, once a tidal river lined with rich mangrove forests up to the extent of the tidal influence,  it finds itself at the edge of a reservoir of freshwater, created by the damming of the mouth of the Kranji River.JeromeLim-0667 2

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The river itself had in the past been one that served as a communication link, bringing in settlement to an area where early gambler plantations had been established. An area of mangroves – the river was lined with the watery forests up to the limits of the tidal influence, it now supports an area of freshwater marshes, wet grasslands and secondary woodland that is teeming with bird, plant and insect life – it is thought to support a colony of fireflies.

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The area was one of two identified in the 2013 Land Use Plan and subsequently the URA Master Plan for conservation as Nature Areas – the other being Pulau Unum and Beting Bronok.  The Land Use Plan has this to say about the area:

Jalan Gemala at Lim Chu Kang has varied habitats such as wet grassland, freshwater marshes as well as tall secondary woodland and freshwater reservoir that are near the area. Its addition as a nature area is significant given its rich wet grassland, with two rare plants (Leea angulata and Cayratia trifolia) being sighted. The inclusion of Jalan Gemala will also help secure the sustainability of the existing Kranji Marshes site at Neo Tiew Lane. The Pink-necked Green Pigeons and Mallotus paniculatus, a quick growing shrub that provides food for small birds are some wildlife species that can be found here.

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Based on information provided by the Nature Society (Singapore) the Jalan Gemala Nature Area is spread along a length of 4 to 5 kilometres and includes secondary forest, grassland and wetland running along the Kangkar inlet into Kranji Reservoir and is adjacent to Kranji Marsh.

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A blue-tailed bee eater in flight

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A rare blue-eared kingfisher


Works being currently bing carried out by NParks

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Surviving the tidal wave of development

24 12 2013

Among the many highlights at the URA’s Draft Master Plan 2013 exhibition at the URA Centre (which has been extended to 17 January 2014), is one which relates to the house over a beautiful house over sea in the beautiful and undisturbed world at Lim Chu Kang. Referred to as Cashin House and also known as “The Pier”, I had a chance to see the place, a former home of the late Howard Cashin, back in 2011. It is a house that is said to have played host to teatime visits from the Sultan of Johor and a place in which one is taken back to days of leisure by the sea in times we have well forgotten. It is nice to see that the life of the house, and its rustic surroundings, are being extended and not built around – as too many conserved buildings have unfortunately been. It will be a western gateway to what will be an expanded Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve that will link pockets, such as the Lim Chu Kang East mangroves adjacent to the Cashin House, up, along what is a mangrove dominated northwest coast with the first phase of the reserve east of the Cashin House.

The Pier (Draft Master Plan 2013)

More on the Cashin House can be found in a previous post: A lost world in Lim Chu Kang.

The Pier.

A Lost World in Lim Chu Kang.





A Kranji Heritage Trail

10 11 2011

The name Kranji brings to mind many things. Kranji War Memorial is one, named after an area in the far north of the island that is also associated with the beginnings of the railway through Singapore at the start of the twentieth century. There is a lot more to Kranji than that – Kranji Dam is another landmark associated with the area – part of a scheme launched in the early 1970s to increase Singapore’s fresh water resources and probably the first dam to be constructed across a river in Singapore for that purpose. The greater Kranji area – which the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) covers, does of course offer a lot more than that. Besides the area being one of the last areas accessible to the public in Singapore least affected by the rapid development of post independent Singapore where one can cycle or drive along country roads that once dominated much of rural Singapore, and the area which is now associated with re-establishing some level of self-sufficiency in food, the area is now the subject of the latest National Heritage Board (NHB) supported initiative to work with the private sector to develop the heritage industry – The Kranji Heritage Trail.

The Kranji Heritage Trail includes 14 markers which will each have a QR Code to access information on the spot via a smart phone.

The trail, developed under the NHB’s HI2P programme, and is the proud effort of the KCA with sponsorship by NTUC Fairprice Foundation, was launched at Yew Tee Point yesterday. The launch, which was graced by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, was led by the President of KCA, Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, KCA Patron Howard Shaw, Mr Seah Kian Peng – the CEO of NTUC Fairprice, and Mr Alvin Tan – Director, NHB.

Present at the launch were Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, President of KCA Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, KCA Patron Howard Shaw, Mr Seah Kian Peng - the CEO of NTUC Fairprice, and Mr Alvin Tan - Director, NHB.

The Kranji Heritage Trail intends to bridge past and present through a history of early farming in the area, besides the developing interest in historical sites such as the first Japanese invasion sites on the north-western shoreline in the dark days of February 1942 that led to the eventual fall of Singapore. The trail will comprise 14 trail markers, each of which will incorporate a QR Code – the first of Singapore’s heritage trails to do so. This will enable instant access to information relating to the sites with a QR Code reader installed on any smart-phone.

The former Kranji Level Crossing is among the 14 landmarks on the Heritage Trail.

The landmarks that would feature in the Kranji Heritage Trail are:

  1. Kranji War Memorial
  2. WWII First Landing Site of the Japanese
  3. Kranji Army Barracks
  4. Kranji Railway Train Crossing
  5. Neo Tiew
  6. Bollywood Veggies
  7. Hay Dairies
  8. Hausmann Marketing Aquarium
  9. Jurong Frog Farm
  10. Kok Fah Technology
  11. Lian Wah Hang Quail & Poultry Farm
  12. Nye Phoe
  13. Sungei Buloh
  14. Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle

The Pier, the house of the late Howard Cashin is on a World War II landing site where the Japanese invasion force suffered a number of casualties.

The Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is built around the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln which the Tan family has operated since 1965 is another of the 14 sites.

For those interested in exploring the trail this weekend, complimentary shuttle bus services and guided tours will be offered on 12 and 13 November 2011. Members of the public can register for tickets at the Information Counter of Yew Tee Point. Pick up would be at Yew Tee Point at 9am and 1pm on both days.