SINGAPORE: To reduce its impact on wildlife and vegetation, changes were made to the future Mandai eco-tourism hub's plans, the project’s developer announced on Tuesday (Jul 26).
The area is now home to the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari, but will soon be developed into a nature and wildlife destination with two new attractions – the Bird Park, which will be relocated from Jurong, and a Rainforest Park. The development is expected to be completed by 2023, with the groundbreaking expected to take place at the end of 2016.
An Environmental Impact Assessment was commissioned by developer Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) to assess the project’s potential environmental effects and consider protection measures.
Among the changes made is the location of the new Rainforest Park, which was originally slated to be built in the southern area of Mandai Lake Road. The park will now be moved to the northern side to better protect the existing forest, as the mature trees can be integrated into the park’s design, MPH said.
An artist's impression of the new Rainforest Park. (Image: MPH)
The Bird Park will occupy the former Mandai Orchid Gardens, located in the south side of Mandai Lake Road. The land there, previously home to some villages and farmland, was "predominantly cleared", said the developers.
An old well seen in the south of Mandai Lake Road where villages and plantations used to located. (Photo: MPH)
Changes were also made to the visitors’ arrival area. Initially, the plan was to have a single arrival area for the public at the eastern side of the project area, adjacent to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
But to avoid introducing a large number of visitors to a single arrival area next to the nature reserve, two arrival points were created – one to the west and the other to the east. This means visitors will be sorted out and diverted away from sensitive areas around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, MPH said.
Instead of a single arrival area for the public, two arrival points will be created. (Image: MPH)
Another change was to the design of the nature-themed indoor education centre. It was originally designed to be housed in two different areas, but will now be combined into a single building on the site of an existing multi-storey carpark to reduce its footprint and avoid making an impact on an area of important vegetation.
"We want sustainability and conservation to be at the heart of the Mandai project. As we are committed to being a responsible steward for nature, we made a conscious effort to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment at the concept stage of the project to allow key mitigation measures to be built into the design of the new Mandai project," said MPH Group CEO Mike Barclay.
During the project’s development period, buffer zones – where no construction or human activity will take place – of between 45m and 50m wide will be provided between development areas and the nature reserves, to minimise disturbance to flora and fauna.
An eco-link will be constructed in the buffer zone to connect two parcels of the nature reserve, on either side of Mandai Lake Road. This will allow wildlife to move safely across.
"The moment you have human activity in anything, you will create an impact," said Professor Leo Tan, director of special projects at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science. "But it does not mean that impact is bad. It's just that you have to manage it, and that's the reality of life.
"That's why we're starting with already impacted land, and that's the key. This project avoids the central nature reserve completely and even provides a buffer - which means it eats into the development site of this project and therefore, we have to ensure it's commercially viable as well."
"It's not just a simple, straightforward 'somebody says must protect, and we protect'. We will protect sensibly and rationally," Prof Tan added.