Construction Starts for Southeast Asia's First Ecological Corridor. Eco-Link@BKE to Link Two Nature Reserves Across the Expressway
30 Jul 2011
Singapore, 30 July 2011 - The National Parks Board (NParks) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) broke ground this morning to mark the start of construction for Eco-Link at Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE). Eco-Link@BKE will be Southeast Asia's first ecological corridor that connects two nature reserves over an expressway.
Enriching our natural habitats through a green corridor
The construction of Eco-Link is part of Singapore's efforts to conserve biodiversity in our urban landscape. The hourglass-shaped Eco-Link will be built across the BKE to connect Singapore's largest primary and secondary forests, the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment nature reserves. It is important to preserve the habitats in the nature reserves because they are home to three quarters of our native plant species and more than 1,000 animal species.
"These two nature reserves have been separated by the BKE for more than 20 years since BKE was constructed. When completed, the Eco-Link will enable animals, birds and insects to move freely along the connecting bridge, allowing for the effective exchange of native plant and animal genetic materials between the two nature reserves. In the longer term, the Eco-Link will help restore the ecological balance in these fragmented habitats and provide a conducive environment for our biodiversity to thrive", said BG(NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower at the groundbreaking ceremony. [To check against delivery]
Linking two high points on opposite slopes of the nature reserves and measuring 50 metres at its narrowest point, Eco-Link will be a forest habitat in itself. When ready in 2013, populations of native animals such as flying squirrels, monitor lizards, palm civets, pangolins, porcupines, birds, insects and snakes, will be able to travel between the nature reserves to find other food sources, homes and mates. This will also help plant species to propagate by way of pollination and dispersal by the animals.
Eco-Link will not only benefit wildlife, human visitors will also be able to enjoy guided walks. For the first few years, it will be restricted to the public while ecological monitoring is conducted to assess its effectiveness as a wildlife corridor. When ready, NParks will consider public access in the form of guided walks on the bridge and the areas around it.
There are also plans to have educational and outreach activities to raise the awareness and appreciation on biodiversity conservation. Already, students are helping to carry out various reforestation planting works, engaging in plant and animal surveys as well as undertaking project work to study aspects of the ecology of the forest.
A partnership project with the community at large
The community's commitment in biodiversity conservation has made the Eco-link possible. Since the start of the project, nature groups, non-governmental organisations, tertiary institutions, volunteers and government agencies, have been working closely with NParks and LTA to conduct feasibility studies and ecological monitoring surveys. This close partnership will continue even after the construction of Eco-Link is completed.
"The Eco-Link is a landmark project in many ways, but its value goes far beyond the conservation of the wildlife of our Nature Reserves. Firstly, it has already been a catalyst to bring wildlife and forest experts together to work toward a common purpose - documenting the plant and animal life of the area at a level of detail never attempted before and not possible without a coordinated effort. Perhaps even more importantly, Eco-Link's impressive and considerable physical presence sends out a very clear message - that the protection and conservation of natural heritage is meaningful, that it is taken seriously by Singapore, and is something that merits consideration and action by all of us", said Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore).
The total cost of the project is S$17 million. This includes construction, survey, research and planting works.