Singapore, Singapore
City population: 5704000
Duration: 2009 – 2012
Implementation status: Completed
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: unknown
Type of area: Public Greenspace Area
Last updated: October 2021

The redevelopment of the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (Singapore) saw the naturalisation of the previously channelised Kallang River, as well as the installation of wetland cells as water cleansing biotopes and creation of butterfly habitats (Ref. 1). The Kallang River was previously confined to a concrete canal that ran to the southern edges of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (Ref. 1). The channel segregated the two residential areas situated on either side of the park, with the river's 2.7km continuous concrete channel being crossable at only certain defined points (Ref. 3). Following its naturalisation, culminating in 2012, the now 3.2km meandering river is considered the park's highlight, "merg[ing] seamlessly with the park's greenery" (Refs. 1 & 6), and creating a "blue-green recreational network which is well-integrated with nearby residential areas" (Ref. 2).

Kallang River before and after naturalisation
https://www.archdaily.com/964460/6-urban-design-projects-with-nature-based-solutions

Overview

Nature-based solution

  • Grey infrastructure featuring greens
  • Riverbank greens
  • Parks and urban forests
  • Large urban parks or forests
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Rivers/streams/canals/estuaries
  • Wetlands/bogs/fens/marshes
  • Green areas for water management
  • Rain gardens
  • Swales and filter strips
  • Sustainable urban drainage systems

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Flood protection
  • Stormwater and rainfall management and storage
  • Improvements to water quality
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Habitat and biodiversity restoration
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Regeneration, land-use and urban development
  • Promotion of naturalistic urban landscape design
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Social cohesion
  • Social interaction
  • Environmental education
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation

Focus

Creation of new green areas, Creation of semi-natural blue areas, Maintenance and management of urban nature, Management of rivers and other blue areas, Ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems, Improved governance of green or blue areas

Project objectives

The main aims of the intervention included: "address the dual need for water supply independence and flood protection while creating access to a thriving waterscape within a dense urban area" (Ref. 8); as well as: "transform the country’s network of utilitarian drains, canals, and reservoirs into vibrant and beautiful streams, rivers, and lakes, seamlessly integrated with their adjacent land developments" with the goal of creat[ing] new spaces close to the water for recreation and community bonding" and "turn[ing] Singapore into a vibrant city of gardens and water" (Ref. 3). Other goals included (Ref. 8): • Create natural and vegetated river banks, while freeing the Kallang River from a concrete channel and integrate it into the park; • Increase aquatic and riparian biodiversity; • Increase the number and types of microhabitats; • Promote the resilience of the species and guarantee their long-term capacity to survive; • Prevent soil erosion from reducing the green and recreational spaces within the park; • Provide multiple and flexible water storage facilities; • Ensure that the constructed infrastructure will resist floods and remain in good conditions; • Maximise land, monetary, and human resources; • Create a new space for different communities to encounter and for recreational purposes; • Bring people closer to water; • Create a positive perception and sense of stewardship towards the environment; • Offer space in the heart of urbanity where people can observe, preserve and nurture wildlife; • Contribute to the liveability of the city; • Design friendly spaces for all kinds of visitors, especially for children, pet owners, and seniors.

Implementation activities

The primary activity implemented to achieve the above-outlined objectives and targets centred around the ecological restoration of the Kallang River. Following the demolition of the concrete river channel, a new riverbed was excavated which incorporated features of a natural river design such as meanders, width variations, pools, riffles and rocky obstacles (Ref. 8). Such an approach was taken to create different flow patterns, promote varying water velocities and improve habitat diversity (Ref. 8). Through the use of soil bioengineering techniques, vegetation at the site was increased and the risk of soil erosion minimised (Ref. 7). The creation of wetlands was undertaken to provide a nature-based cleansing biotope which would improve water quality within the river itself and therein the reservoir into which the river flows (Refs. 1, 7 and 11). In 2012, volunteers and residents were enlisted to specific plants which would create butterfly habitats within the park (Ref. 1).

Climate-focused activities

Climate change adaptation:

  • Implement measures that prevent/manage desertification, soil erosion and landslides
  • Implement solutions to capture/store water to increase its availability and prevent shortages from droughts
  • Increase or improve urban vegetation cover to help reduce outdoor temperature
  • Restore wetlands and/or coastal ecosystems to dissipate the effects of flooding and/or storms
  • Create or improve outdoor spaces to help people escape from urban heat
  • Implement sustainable urban drainage infrastructure (e.g. to make space for water)
  • Renaturalization of rivers and other water bodies

Biodiversity conservation or restoration-focused activities

Biodiversity restoration:

  • Rehabilitate and restore damaged or destroyed ecosystems
  • Restore species (native, endangered, or unspecified)

Main beneficiaries

  • Citizens or community groups
  • Young people and children

Governance

Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • National government
  • Public sector institution

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys)
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)
  • Citizen monitoring and review

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

The project was co-led by Singapore's national water agency (PUB) and the National Parks Board (NParks) (Ref. 9) Acting as a flagship initiative under PUB's ABC Waters programme, the park restoration and naturalisation of Kallang River illustrated "how government agencies with different disciplines (for example, parks and water) can work together to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of them" (Ref. 3).

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? No
... a national policy or strategy? Yes (The intervention was a flagship project for the 'Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters' initiative, a long-term programme launched by Singapore’s national water agency (PUB) which aims to "transform the country’s water bodies beyond their functions of drainage and water supply, into vibrant, new spaces for community bonding and recreation" (Ref. 5). See Ref. 11 for the fourth edition of the ABC programme's Design Guidelines.)
... a local policy or strategy? Unknown

Financing

Total cost

More than €4,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • Public national budget

Type of funding

  • Other

Non-financial contribution

Type of non-financial contribution
  • Provision of labour
  • Provision of other services
Who provided the non-financial contribution?
  • Citizens (e.g. volunteering)
  • Other

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Climate, energy and emissions
  • Lowered local temperature
  • Strengthened capacity to address climate hazards/natural disasters
  • Environmental quality
  • Improved soil quality
  • Water management and blue areas
  • Improved water quality
  • Increased protection against flooding
  • Improved stormwater management
  • Enhanced protection and restoration of freshwater ecosystems
  • Green space and habitat
  • Promotion of naturalistic styles of landscape design for urban development
  • Increased green space area
  • Increased conservation or restoration of ecosystems
  • Increased conversion of degraded land or soil
  • Reduced biodiversity loss
  • Increased number of species present
  • Restoration of derelict areas

Economic impacts

  • Reduce financial cost for urban management

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Improved social cohesion
  • Improved access to urban green space
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Increased involvement of locals in the management of green spaces
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Gain in activities for recreation and exercise
  • Cultural heritage and sense of place
  • Improvement in people’s connection to nature
  • Education
  • Increased support for education and scientific research
  • Increased knowledge of locals about local nature

Type of reported impacts

Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system

Yes

Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records

References

Kallang River before and after naturalisation
https://repos.hcu-hamburg.de/bitstream/hcu/130/1/Valladares_Valeria.pdf
Aerial view of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Kallang River
https://www.nparks.gov.sg/-/media/cuge/ebook/citygreen/cg5/cg5_09.pdf
Cleansing Biotope
https://www.nparks.gov.sg/-/media/a_nparks_bishanamkparkbrochure_r18_fa_p(lowres).pdf?la=en&hash=5C671733088638D8FEBFF4DB1D407097BF42759F
Bridge connecting two previously segregated residential areas
https://www.nparks.gov.sg/-/media/cuge/ebook/citygreen/cg5/cg5_09.pdf
Information about this nature-based solution was collected as part of the UNA global extension project funded by the British Academy.