SINGAPORE: The 50-hectare Thomson Nature Park was officially opened on Friday (Oct 11), becoming Singapore’s seventh nature park.
Located east of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and buffered by Old Upper Thomson Road, the park houses the ruins of the former Hainan Village, offering visitors a glimpse into life in Singapore in the 1960s.
The park is also home to a number of rare and endangered animals, such as the Raffles’ Banded Langur. A subspecies of the banded leaf monkey, the animal can only be found in Singapore and southern Peninsular Malaysia and is listed as critically endangered.
With the opening of the new park, the National Parks Board (NParks) hopes to reduce “visitorship pressure” on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve by providing the public with an alternative venue to enjoy nature-related activities, it said in a press release.
First announced in 2014, the Thomson Nature Park complements existing nature parks such as Chestnut, Springleaf and Windsor, extending the green buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said: “Establishing Thomson Nature Park is an important part of our efforts to conserve our natural heritage and native biodiversity. It is the fifth buffer park that we have planned as a ring around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
“The buffer parks that we have progressively opened over the past few years not only protect our nature reserves, but they also provide Singaporeans with more green spaces.”
Biodiversity surveys have found that animals, including the Raffles’ Banded Langur, frequently move between the nature reserve and Thomson Nature Park using trees, culverts or directly across the road, said NParks.
With this in mind, trees with spreading canopies have been planted and rope bridges installed along the road to facilitate the safe movement of some of these animals.
“NParks worked closely with the Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group to situate the rope bridges where langurs have been observed to habitually cross,” it said. “Small mammals such as pangolins and porcupine also move across the road safely through culverts.”
In addition, Old Upper Thomson Road has been reduced from a dual lane to a single lane road, said NParks. To ensure that the area is more “conducive” for nocturnal animals, there are plans to close Old Upper Thomson Road to vehicles from 7.30pm to 6am daily.
Along with NParks, the Land Transport Authority has also launched a 12-month trial of the Roadway Animal Detection System along Old Upper Thomson Road.
The system, which is the first of its kind, uses video analytics to detect animals when they are near the road and alerts incoming motorists to their presence through flashing road signs.
The system has been in place since the start of the month.
“I hope that more Singaporeans will have a greater appreciation for our biodiversity and green spaces,” said Mr Lee. “Such collective efforts help ensure that our natural heritage is protected for future generations to enjoy.”