Monday, February 23, 2009

Natural and Human Impacts on Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

…flashes of lightning light up the darkened sky with harsh, intermittent glares. There! A clap of thunder resounds, muffled only by the steady torrential rain which streams down relentlessly… …

Safe at home, we close our windows; the usual drill when it pours. It’s just another storm to most of us, but for trees, storms – especially those charged with lightning – spell bad news.

With no place to seek shelter, trees are sitting ducks. As one of the tallest structures around, they are naturally more susceptible to lightning strikes. What’s more, Singapore has one of the highest rates of lightning activity in the world, so trees often get hit and die. Forest fires have also been known to be ignited by lightning.

Home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) was gazetted as a nature reserve in the 1800s. Its summit stands at 163 metres, making it Singapore’s highest hill. With tall trees and high elevation, the forest is undoubtedly a victim of lightning activity which can result in the loss of species especially when these are localised in one area.

The Visitor Centre is a prominent landmark and also one of the first things seen upon entering the reserve.

Human activity has also impacted BTNR negatively. Many a time, irresponsible visitors go off the trail even when large notices have been put up to warn against doing so. It might seem like a harmless action, but where too many footfalls land ultimately result in trampling, which damages and even kills flora and fauna. I've also seen temporary barricades which have been knocked down in order to gain access to the closed trail.

Please be a responsible visitor. Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints (on the opened trails only).

i. Lightning activity in Singapore -
ii. wild shores of singapore: Lightning: the scariest thing on the shores -

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