Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum


Photo credit: Wang Luan Keng


Rivers are defined by their flowing volumes of water, much greater in width and depth than freshwater streams. Most rivers in Singapore, however, are shallow, narrow and short, experiencing far-reaching tidal influence and with extensive water flow in and out of the system.

Due to Singapore's small size, there are no large rivers in Singapore. The largest rivers in Singapore were rivers of up to a few kilometres in length, including Sungei Kranji, Sungei Seletar, Sungei Kallang and the Singapore River. These rivers are now heavily modified into canals. Some have been dammed up for the purpose of building freshwater reservoirs. In particular, the Singapore River has been used for commerce for more than a century, leading to a loss of all its original riverine habitats and wildlife associated with the habitats. Though the river has been cleaned up extensively in the 1990s, the original biodiversity still could not be restored.

There are a few rivers which are not dammed, including Sungei Buloh Besar, Sungei Api Api, and Sungei Tampines. These rivers are estuarine in nature, connected to and influenced by the sea. These rivers support some aquatic diversity, consisting of molluscs and worms on the river beds, benthic organisms, crabs and prawns that are commercially important, and plankton, which also draw in squids and fishes.

Rivers in Singapore have been facing a number of threats ranging from developmental activities to pollution. This has negatively impacted the biodiversity of river habitats.



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