Eco-Link@BKE – Reconnecting Our Biodiversity

Many busy commuters rushing to their destination may not notice the green lungs situated on both sides of the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) between the Dairy Farm exit and the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) exit. However, these days, it is hard to miss the engineering marvel that is the Eco-Link@BKE, a forest planted above the BKE for the purpose of reconnecting our biodiversity.



An aerial view of the Eco-Link@BKE, which is an hourglass-shaped ecological corridor which reconnects the two nature reserves on either side of the BKE.

Shaped like an hourglass, the Eco-Link@BKE is Singapore’s latest effort in promoting conservation and the first overhead ecological corridor in the region. It is projected to improve the ecological connectivity of the two nature reserves – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) and Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), which were once one continuous patch of rainforest before the BKE was constructed.

To prevent genetic isolation of fragmented flora and fauna populations, the bridge 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. Since the very beginning of the project, nature groups, tertiary institutions and government agencies have worked closely with the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to conduct feasibility studies and biodiversity monitoring surveys. The targeted taxonomic groups for the surveys include mammals, birds and insects (mainly orthopterans).



With the completion of the Eco-Link@BKE, it is hoped the Lesser Mousedeer (Tragulus kanchil), which is currently found only in CCNR, might cross into BTNR and establish viable populations there, thus expanding its habitat range.

Through numerous monitoring surveys, we have discovered new species and recorded rare and geographically restricted fauna. Five new species of orthopterans (grasshoppers and crickets) – Cardiodactylus singapura, Tremellia timah, Singapuriola separate, Micrornebius kopisua, Asiophlugis thaumasia – were discovered.

From camera traps and nocturnal faunal surveys, we also recorded several rare and geographically restricted mammals, such as the Lesser Mousedeer (Tragulus kanchil), and Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica). Understory forest birds, such as barbets and bulbuls, were observed in the vicinity of the Eco-Link@BKE. These species are vulnerable to local extinction and would rarely traverse the expressway in the absence of an ecological bridge.



Seen here are three of the five species of orthoptera discovered during the monitoring surveys for Eco-Link@BKE. (Left) Asiophlugis thaumasia was presumed extinct in Singapore and was rediscovered recently. (Top Right) Singapuriola separata, only recently described, belongs to a genus endemic to Singapore. (Bottom Right) Tremellia timah is an endemic cricket recently described and named after Bukit Timah.

With wildlife crossing the expressway from one nature reserve to another, the chances of pollination and dispersion of rare native plants could greatly increase. For example, the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis) and Singapore Walking Stick Palm (Rhapaloblaste singaporensis) are pollinated and dispersed by animals.



Transforming Eco-Link@BKE into a forested bridge not only demonstrates Singapore’s commitment to conserving biodiversity, but also provides motorists with a pleasant driving experience.

We also hope that the Eco-Link@BKE would also bring about greater interaction between individuals leading to a healthy exchange of genetic materials, thereby reducing the occurrence of inbreeding and increasing the long-term survival of our native species.


On 5 October 2013, some 100 representatives from various agencies and organisations planted 50 native trees on Eco-Link@BKE to kick start the greening of Eco-Link@BKE, a project that was completed in end-2013.Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, was the guest-of-honour at the event, where he planted a Singapore Kopsia (Kopsia singaporensis). At the event, MOS Lee said, "I think this represents at the symbolic level, a commitment by Singapore and Singaporeans to preserve what is precious about our biodiversity, because of itself and because of the importance of nature."

By Chung Yi Fei and Chenny Li
Photo of aerial view of Eco-Link@BKE by Eng Lee Pte Ltd
Photos of orthoptera by Tan Ming Kai.

Total Comments: 40

Anil Balchandani 2/1/2014 11:04:01 AM

wow, this is wonderful.

Raihanah Ghani 11/9/2015 7:55:20 PM

Hi, we are keen to register for ecolink@bke guided tour on 9 Jan. There are 14 of us. Understand only 20 slots for each tour. Couldn't find the link. How do we go about it?

Lee Mooi Hoon 1/21/2014 3:15:56 PM

How to get there? what are the activities we can do there? Thank you.

jenna 4/18/2014 3:15:54 PM

How should we manage the impacts of the eco-link?

JO 6/8/2014 5:02:35 PM

Are there any disadvantages of the eco link? Eg. any limitations.

hannah 6/10/2014 5:56:02 PM

so are there any bad points or limitations of the eco-link?

choong nee fock 11/16/2015 12:10:20 PM

Its amazing! By the way how could I join the eco link guide tour?

Li-San 6/13/2014 6:27:22 PM

Hi Jo and Hannah, The team has been studying the flora and fauna of the area even before the construction of the Eco-Link. The health of the ecosystem is important to us. While we have yet to discover any negative impact, we will continue to monitor closely the situation.

anoynymous 4/6/2014 3:45:19 PM

will the ecolink affect people and natural environment? just to ask

Li-San 2/4/2014 6:14:15 PM

Hi Alex, The planting plan for the Eco-Link@BKE is designed such that the planted vegetation will function like the forest environment seen on both sides of the expressway. We target to create a seamless forested corridor between the two nature reserves (Central Catchment and Bukit Timah) with the Eco-Link@BKE. This will encourage the animals to cross via the Eco-Link@BKE. Along the BKE expressway, there are existing dense hedge plants (<em>Ficus microcarpa</em>), storm drains and railings. They help deter animals from crossing the road. We are monitoring the effectiveness of the Eco-Link@BKE.

boy 9/17/2014 7:15:26 AM

same eh

Li-San 7/14/2014 6:34:55 PM

Hi Pete, Prior to the construction of the Eco-Link, feasibility studies and ecological monitoring surveys were conducted with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), nature groups and other partners. The team has been monitoring the situation closely since the opening of the Eco-Link.

Li-San 6/23/2015 8:56:39 AM

Hi Regine, Yes, the Eco-Link is only for animals as we hope it will help them spread their gene pool and increase their chances of survival.

Li-San 4/17/2014 6:42:03 PM

Hi Anonymous, The objective of the Eco-Link@BKE is to improve the ecological connectivity of two nature reserves – the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR). This connection will help to restore the forest ecosystem by preventing genetic isolation due to fragmentation of flora and fauna populations. These efforts, carried out over the long term will help sustain biodiversity and lead in conserving nature in Singapore. Through such linkages and connections, infusing pervasive greenery and conserving nature, people will benefit as they will be living in an increasingly pleasant urban environment akin to the feeling of being in a City in a Garden.

Felix Siew 11/26/2015 2:21:45 PM

Hello and thank you for your support in our activities! Response for the walks has been very good and the slots for walks for the next couple of months have already been filled. Monthly walks at Eco-Link@BKE will open for registration from March 2016 onwards, so please check back our website (www.nparks.gov.sg) and our Facebook page closer to that time, for further updates. We seek your understanding that we are unable to open up more slots at this moment because we want to ensure that human disturbance to the animals is kept to a minimal. Animals are very sensitive to smell, and are likely to shy away from using the bridge if there is a constant and heavy human scent in the area. Thank you!

Li-San 8/20/2014 9:36:43 AM

Hi Ber and Girl, The team is still monitoring the situation and it is still too early to tell if there are any negative impact or what areas need to be improved.

Alex Kum 1/30/2014 12:51:04 AM

I am impressed by the eco-bridge too. However, how to ensure that native animals will make use of the bridge instead of crossing the BKE directly along the stretch of road?

Pete 7/10/2014 1:48:09 PM

I would be very intrested in the monitoring of actual numbers that cross the bridge. Considering edge effects (especially from noisy roadways) I wonder how 'comfortable' fauna will be with using the bridge. How did you determine the location of the bridge (further up appears to be a water source, that I thought would have greater migration?

Li-San 1/28/2014 7:32:54 PM

Hi Arthur, The planting plan for the Eco-Link@BKE is designed such that the planted vegetation will function like the forest environment seen on both sides of the expressway. We target to create a seamless forested corridor between the two nature reserves (Central Catchment and Bukit Timah), with the Eco-Link@BKE as the key corridor to enable the safe crossing of all kinds of animals at all levels, from the ground all the way above the canopy. There will be herbs, shrubs, small trees and medium-sized trees planted on the Eco-Link@BKE to cater for different types of animals. Connecting nature reserves via a tree canopy lining the BKE will be unsuitable for many animal species and will not be effective as a fauna corridor. With high vehicular traffic along the expressway, animals that might accidentally fall from the canopy would be a hazard for drivers and the animals may also not have safe passage across.

Li-San 1/28/2014 7:29:13 PM

Hi Yee Min and Mooi Hoon, Public access to the Eco-Link@BKE will be restricted in the initial years to reduce human disturbance which is likely to discourage elusive animals from using the link. Eco-Link@BKE is an ecological corridor for population of native animals, such as flying suqirrels, monitor lizards, palm civets, birds and insects, to travel between the nature reserves to find new food sources, homes and mates. Plants which are pollinated and dispersed by animals will also benefit from the link. NParks is working closely with nature groups to organise guided walks where feasible in the future.

jailani 1/20/2014 11:01:38 AM

The size of the structure gave the impressions that another highway is being built. Im very happy with the gesture to build an eco-bridge. Hopefully more local wildlifes that have gone extinct or close to extinction could be re-introduced into our forests.

Chris Yeo 5/8/2015 8:32:26 AM

I see both ens of the bridge are fenced up, is it fully fenced up? If it is, how are animals going to cross?

Arthur Yeo 1/20/2014 11:36:21 PM

Would it not be more effective to have the overhead foliage of the trees lining the BKE to interlace - forming an aerial bridge for tree-dwelling creatures and plants to migrate between the 2 nature reserves - through the entire length of the BKE.

girl 8/17/2014 8:11:03 PM

what is the value of eco link what are its limitations

Ong 11/6/2015 8:19:30 AM

How do I sign up for guided tour ?

Jonas Tua 2/27/2014 9:21:17 AM

Can you show us pictures of what's inside the Eco-Link?

Li-San 7/7/2015 9:25:34 AM

Hi Andrew, We are still monitoring this project and hence there currently aren't any plans for more of such bridges across the BKE. Regarding the construction of the BKE, cost was probably a major part of the consideration when the project was planned. But that's a question better put to the transport ministry!

Bryan 11/4/2015 2:05:30 PM

Hi! Are there any volunteering opportunities/activities related to the Eco-Link? Just want to know Thank you Bryan

shine 8/24/2014 8:06:37 PM

How does the ecological link affect the people and the biodiversity

Felix Siew 11/26/2015 5:02:23 PM

Hi Ong, We are heartened by the very positive response given to the Eco-Link@BKE tours. As a result, all the slots available for the next few months have been filled. Currently, we plan to open registration for the next round of tours from March 2016 onwards, so please visit our website (www.nparks.gov.sg) and our Facebook page closer to that time, for updates. Ultimately, this bridge was built for the wildlife so we need to minimise human scent in the area, which might result in the animals shying away from the bridge. We seek your kind understanding on this matter. Thank you!

aug 6/26/2014 9:48:41 PM

Same geog workbook eh?

Felix Siew 11/26/2015 2:33:19 PM

Hi, and thanks for your interest! Members of the public have responded very favourably to the walks and hence slots for these walks over the next few months have already been filled. Currently, we plan to open registration for the Eco-Link@BKE from March 2016 onwards, so please visit our website (www.nparks.gov.sg) and our Facebook page closer to that time, for updates. Animals are very sensitive to smell, and are likely to shy away from using the bridge if there is a constant and heavy human scent in the area. This is why we are unable to open up more slots at this point in time, to minimise human disturbance to the animals. Thank you for your understanding.

boy 9/17/2014 7:16:16 AM

pg 61-64

Regine 6/20/2015 1:25:06 PM

ECO Link only for animals? Are we able to cycle or walk there?

Ber 8/19/2014 7:34:21 PM

Are there any limitations? How can it be improved and what is the value of the Eco-Link? Are there any disadvantages? How will it actually affect the nature?

Andrew 7/6/2015 10:30:49 AM

Are there plans for more Eco-link bridges across the BKE? I am just visiting Singapore and very impressed by this project; although I have to ask - was a tunnel considered in this area when the BKE was constructed?

Chong Yee Min 1/20/2014 10:47:23 AM

How can you access the Eco-Link@BKE?

Mr_Mercurial 9/28/2014 11:01:39 PM

What other improvements could be made at the Eco-Link?

frank 6/26/2014 11:45:45 AM

What is the value of the Eco- link? What are its limitations?

Li-San 5/22/2015 11:29:32 AM

The fence allows small animals to cross. We have started our monitoring programme and the initial results show that some animals may have started to use the Eco-Link.
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