It was in the news not too long ago that the Government is planning to build a Nature Park at Chestnut Avenue area, next to the species-rich Central Catchment Nature Reserve. When completed next year, the park will have biking and hiking trails, a viewing tower, meeting pavilion and carpark. It is being built to bring Singaporeans closer to nature, but looking at the pitiful state of Sungei Buroh Nature Reserve where very few people are visiting the park despite being free entrance, I am not very optimistic about the success of such a plan.
Furthermore, any development and construction work will have significant impact on the flora and fauna of this rich biodiversity site. A good example is the Tree House Condominium at Chestnut Avenue. About 4 to 5 years ago, it was just a piece of wetland greenery with small slow flowing stream attracting many species of damselflies and dragonflies such as Crenulated Spreadwing (Lestes praemorsus decipiens), Ornate Coraltail (Ceriagrion cerinorubellum), Black-tipped Perch (Diplacodes nebulosa), Pond Adjutant (Aethriamanta gracilis) and Scarlet Pygmy, the smallest dragonfly in Singapore where the males change its colour as they mature. A very rare damselfly species known as Blue Slim (Aciagrion hisopa) was spotted here on 1 August 2009. Since then, I have not seen anyone sighting this species in Singapore. This could be the only last site to find this species but this place was destroyed to make way for the condominium. I wonder whether this species can still be found in Singapore.
Nevertheless, I am glad to read that NParks has called a tender for a biodiversity impact assessment. The study will assess how streams, flora and fauna may be affected by the development and use of the 80ha forested site here, slightly larger than our Botanic Gardens. Similarly to the construction of Cross Island MRT Line where I highlighted the possibility of extinction of Singapore’s most beautiful damselflies, I would like to share the various bugs, insects and wildlife that I had photographed at Chestnut Avenue over the past 6 years. All these beautiful creatures would potentially be destroyed by the construction work of the new Nature Park.
In the forested areas of Chestnut Avenue, there were plentiful of greenery, small and big streams, “waterfall”, etc.
Where we can find butterflies and caterpillar: Different species of beetles, red hopper, long-horned hoppers, katydid, etc., Spiders such as Lynx spider, Crab spider, St. Andrew Cross spider, Huntsman spider, Two-tailed spider, etc. A few Praying Mantis species, some as large as more than 10 cm, while the tiny boxer mantis is just about 1 cm in size.
Dragonflies and damselflies of which some of them are uncommon species such as the large Camacinia gigantean and the Handsome Grenadier. We can even find beautiful wild mushrooms of different colours and sizes. Aren’t they look delicious? Chestnut Avenue Nature Trail is one of my favourite macro sites and I have visited this place many times. I have also led a few informal macro photography outings here including the recent one just 2 days ago where I was fortunate to capture a decent shot of a photogenic Green Crested Lizard.
I like the untouched natural beauty and given such a rich biodiversity in this area, I hope our National Parks Board will find ways to ensure minimum disturbance to this piece of nature reserve.