Ecotourism Twinning Project ‘Waterland’

Malaysia’s RAMSAR sites in the south-western corner of Johor State (Sungei Pulai, Tanjung Piai and Palau Kukup), and Sungai Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore are mangrove and freshwater wetlands of international importance, which are also visually dramatic and full of iconic wildlife. Their different characters suggested to the Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore Joint Ministerial Work Group that they could be packaged together to form a potentially very strong regional attraction for nature-inspired tourism.

Working with Grant Associates, we produced a strategy for developing cross-border ecotourism between these sites.

Our study documented existing biodiversity, relevant laws and policies, management practices, and anthropogenic threats at each of the four sites and their relevant surroundings. We undertook multiple visits to the key wetland sites and their relevant ecological surroundings, trekking and boating through them to obtain an overview of the condition of ecological resources and factors affecting them. We also helped to organise and facilitate an international delegation to exemplar ecotourism sites around the world. This included Hong Kong Wetland Park, the Danube Delta and the much-acclaimed London Wetland Park and Darwin Centre.

The progressively urbanising context of the four sites meant that a new approach, which we referred to as ‘Waterland’, was required to protect, utilise, explain, and celebrate their impressive biodiversity. We helped to develop the ‘Waterland’ brand and concept for the four sites. Under this banner and approach we envisaged the sites becoming organising nodes for an expanding ‘green urbanism’ where the four key wetland sites, as well as neighbouring wetland habitats, are marketed and managed under a wider landscape-scale transboundary strategy, which also embraces sustainable urban and tourism growth. Without such an approach there is a serious risk that the ecological integrity of the wider ecosystem will become increasingly degraded and tourists, which seek out destinations with both pristine environmental conditions and attractive relevant context, will go elsewhere.

Ultimate Client
Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore Joint Ministerial Work Group

Proximate Client
Grant Associates

Design Team Leader
Grant Associates

Landscape Architect
Grant Associates


Site Area
Greater than 100 Hectares