Chek Jawa (or Tanjung Chek Jawa or just Chek Jawa) is a point on the south-eastern extremity of Pulau Ubin, an island off the north-eastern coast of Singapore’s main island, and the name of its 100-hectare wetlands. Chek Jawa is one of the few remaining natural rocky beaches in Singapore.
The wetlands are remarkable in that they contain a variety of ecosystems like a sandy beach, a rocky beach, a seagrass lagoon, coral rubble, mangroves, and coastal forest in one location. The location is part of the Ubin–Khatib Important Bird Area (IBA), which BirdLife International designated – because it supports several visiting and resident species, some of which get endangered.
Chek Jawa was previously totally unknown, and it was only in the early 2000s that the area’s abundant biodiversity during a nature outing at low tide.
The news of the government’s anticipated land reclamation work in the – area spurred a rare public-led and coordinated push to reverse the reclamation plans.
Months before the region get reclaimed in 2001, a group of volunteers led by botanist Joseph Lai (who initially found Chek Jawa’s diverse ecosystems in December 2000) did a biodiversity assessment. Eric Lin Youwei’s documentary Remember Chek Jawa documented this survey. After that, the volunteers wrote a report and petitioned the government to protect the natural ecosystem.
The Ministry of National Development worked to protect the land through conservation measures. From 2002 to 2007, NParks offered free guided tours to Chek Jawa a few times a month during low spring tide periods, with approximately 20,000 people involved.
Chek Jawa Wetlands is home to a variety of wildlife
Flora and fauna abound in the Chek Jawa wetlands.
- Mud Lobsters (who build a volcano-shaped mound for their homes), Fiddler Crabs (called after their fiddle-shaped claws),
- Mud-fisher (who utilize their fins for skipping and movement), and
- the Paradise Sea Snake
They are among the most spectacular nature critters discovered here. The Kingfisher and Grey Heron are two other popular species that frequent the Chek Jawa Wetlands.
Keeping track of visitors
Despite the MND’s recommendation not to visit Chek Jawa once news of its impending reclamation spread, several travelers arrived in the area, wanting to view Chek Jawa before it – got reclaimed. The enormous crowds put an unnecessary strain on the ecosystem, causing NParks to take steps to minimize visitor numbers. These include a visit booking system, specified routes, the requirement of a guide’s company, the wearing of proper equipment such as rubber boots, and restrictions prohibiting littering, touching, or taking specimens.
Since July 2007, visitor amenities have been in place at Chek Jawa, including a visitor centre with a viewing jetty, a 1km boardwalk (Mangrove and Coastal Loops), and the Jejawi Tower, a 21-metre viewing tower. This project is part of a long-term sustainable visitor management plan to preserve the park’s rich biodiversity. Between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m., visitors can take their self-guided tour along the boardwalks at Chek Jawa to experience the abundant biodiversity.
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