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Eco-bridge at Mandai to be ready by 2019

SINGAPORE — The “eco-bridge” allowing wildlife to safely cross a road in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will be completed in 2019, it was revealed yesterday.

Eco-bridge at Mandai to be ready by 2019

Artist's impression of the Mandai Eco-Link. Photo: Mandai Park Holdings

SINGAPORE — The “eco-bridge” allowing wildlife to safely cross a road in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve will be completed in 2019, it was revealed yesterday.

Work on the link, which will cross Mandai Lake Road and connect the Reserve’s northern and southern reaches, began last month as part of the first phase of development for a new nature attraction in Mandai.

The first phase of works will also include a western visitor arrival area and a new bird park.

When the whole development is ready in 2023, it will house five parks: The Rainforest Park, the Bird Park — which will be relocated from Jurong — and the existing Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and River Safari.

Efforts to lessen the environmental impact of the attraction’s development works have been in the spotlight.

The new bridge will be 9m high, 110m long and 44m wide.

Mr Philip Yim, senior vice-president (project lead) of Mandai Park Development, told a press conference yesterday that while it is being built, an area next to the nature reserve, which is segregated from construction works, has been set aside as a temporary crossing for wildlife.

During this time, artificial crossing aids such as poles and rope ladders will also be erected along Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal animals — those living in trees — and gliding creatures, such as colugos, to cross.

Measures are in place to reduce vehicle speed along the road, such as lower speed limits, speed bumps, indicators and yellow-and-black wildlife crossing signs.

Mandai Lake Road separates the north and south sides of the nature reserve and the new bridge, like the Eco-link@BKE, aims to reduce roadkill by allowing wildlife to cross safely.

Eco-link@BKE was built for animals to move between the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment reserves. The Mandai bridge will feature a forest floor for butterflies and insects, logs and root balls to provide shelter for some animals, glider poles for mammals to traverse along the bridge, as well as flower and fruit trees.

In the first half of 2019, native trees and shrub species will be planted before the bridge opens to wildlife. As well as arboreal animals such as squirrels, it is also hoped that ground-roaming animals such as pangolins and lesser mousedeers will also use the link, along with birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

In July last year, Mandai Park Holdings, which oversees the attraction, announced changes to its original plans for the place after it commissioned an environmental impact study.

These includes widening the eco-link beyond the proposed 30m, and swopping the sites of the Rainforest Park and Bird Park.

Other efforts to ensure sensitive development of the area include training site workers about biodiversity to familiarise themselves with different species and what to do if they see them. There is also a response protocol in place to activate wildlife specialists to handle these animals professionally and safely.

Steps are also taken to preserve trees of conservation value. Wildlife will be shepherded away from sites by trained workers and volunteers before development works begin.

So far, the team at Mandai has covered 23ha of the sites for the western arrival area and the new bird park, in their attempts to move wildlife away.

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