Text by Eugene Tan
First mooted in 2005 and completed in 2013, the nature corridor was designed for plants to be dispersed, and animals to move between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment area. This creates a safe physical connection between both nature reserves which were split since the BKE's construction in 1986.
With an emphasis on efficiency, the Public Works Department in 1986 planned for the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) to cut through the Central Catchment area, splitting it from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve but creating a new vehicular link between the Causeway and Singapore's downtown.
Nature observers, in the years that followed, would lament the fragmentation of the two major high biodiversity nature areas. Plants were unable to be dispersed from one nature reserve to the other, and animals which attempted to cross the BKE risked being hit by vehicles.
In 2005, the nature community together with local authorities mooted the idea of a nature corridor to re-connect Central Catchment area and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. After some debate and feasibility studies, a location some 600 m north of Rifle Range Road, between the Pan-Island Expressway and Dairy Farm exits was selected as the site of this new biodiversity bridge, [email protected]
The first overhead ecological corridor in the region, [email protected] was put into planning with the aim of preventing genetic isolation of fragmented flora and fauna populations. It would encourage the interaction of wildlife by facilitating movement between the once separated forests and effectively expand habitat, mating and foraging ranges of flora and fauna.
Shaped like an hourglass and spanning some 50 m, the $17 million [email protected] is projected to improve the ecological connectivity of the two nature reserves. Government agencies, nature groups, and tertiary institutions worked closely with the National Parks Board and the Land Transport Authority to conduct feasibility studies and biodiversity monitoring surveys. Native trees and shrubs will be planted along the bridge for creatures to colonise. And though the bridge is closed off to human traffic for the time-being, there are plans are plans for a hiking trail which will also allow people to move between the two nature reserves.
Through the use of camera traps and nocturnal faunal surveys, it was noted that many animal species such as the Sunda Pangolin and Banded Leaf Monkey, vulnerable to local extinction were spotted within the immediate vicinity of [email protected] This bodes well for the two forests, as improved genetic diversity suggests a more robust ecology that will sustain the two previously-fragmented forests.