The Mandai rejuvenation project, driven by Mandai Park Holdings (MPH), involves the development of two new wildlife parks - a Rainforest Park and the new Bird Park, a nature-themed indoor attraction, accommodation offerings and public green spaces. These will join the existing Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari to form a new integrated nature and wildlife destination at Mandai.
“Besides being home to our Living Collection, our existing wildlife parks at Mandai are already sanctuaries for local wildlife in the area, as indicated in our regular biodiversity surveys conducted in our parks. It is our vision for the future precinct to continue providing conducive habitat corridors for local wildlife to find shelter in our parks and to connect with the adjacent Nature Reserve,” said MPH Group CEO, Mike Barclay.
“This is part of our larger Biodiversity Enhancement and Management Strategy, which includes specific plans to enhance connectivity for wildlife, as well as measures to conserve and manage flora and fauna during the development process.”
The Mandai Eco-Link
Currently, the north and south sides of the Nature Reserve are separated by Mandai Lake Road, which leads up to the Singapore Zoo and its neighbouring wildlife parks. Measuring up to 44m wide and 110m long, the new Eco-Link is being built over the road, providing local wildlife with a safe passage that avoids the hazards posed by passing traffic.
Carefully curated tree and shrub species, native to Singapore, will be planted on the Eco-Link to create a conducive, sheltered passageway for animals. The vegetation will include trees and plants of various tiers within the canopy, to cater to the needs of different wildlife species. Planting for the Eco-Link will take place in the first half of 2019, giving some time for the vegetation to establish before the bridge opens for animal usage towards the end of the year.
Fencing around the precinct will act as a barrier from the road and will guide animals towards the bridge, which is designed with wider ends for greater accessibility. Local wildlife expected to use the bridge include arboreal animals like colugos and squirrels, terrestrial animals like pangolins, lesser mousedeer and lizards, as well as aerial animals like birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
Other wildlife connectivity measures
Besides the Eco-Link, thousands of trees will be planted across the precinct, providing a continual canopy connection and foliage to facilitate local wildlife movement across the Mandai precinct. Two landscaped decks, the west arrival and east arrival nodes, will offer additional shelter and foraging opportunities for animals, especially after dark when human activity is reduced.
While the Eco-Link is being constructed, artificial crossing aids like connectivity poles and rope ladders will be put up along Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal and gliding animals such as squirrels and colugos move across more easily. In the longer-term, these crossing aids will also be deployed at locations around the precinct to aid wildlife connectivity within parks.
Conserving and enhancing the habitat
The Mandai rejuvenation project is being carried out outside of the Nature Reserve, on impacted land which used to house villages, farms, and more recently, the former Mandai Orchid Garden. Steps will be taken to rejuvenate the habitat as part of the development works, including the removal of invasive plant species and unwanted remnants of the old settlements of the past, such as old furniture and garbage.
As a key development principle, efforts are being made to preserve trees of conservation value. In the design and planning the parks, MPD takes into account the natural vegetation on the project site. Trees on site are surveyed and tagged by arborists based on their species, health, size and conservation status. Trees of conservation value are identified to be conserved and incorporated into park designs where possible, or transplanted into other parts of the development. During construction, each tree to be retained on site will be protected by a tree protection zone erected around it to minimise any damage, and thereafter, regular maintenance checks will also be conducted by arborists.
Saplings that are suitable for transplantation are also being salvaged and transplanted within the development. Some decomposing logs, root balls and other suitable plant material are being moved to areas that need soil enrichment. Soil augmentation will also be carried out to enrich the ground in the area closest to the Nature Reserve.
Sensitive development of project
Development works for the Mandai rejuvenation project started in February 2017, and piling works for the west arrival node and Eco-Link are currently underway. An extensive range of measures is being taken alongside the works to ensure that the development process is sensitive to the surroundings.
Before development at each part of the site can commence, trained staff and volunteers would carefully shepherd animals out of the zone to safe areas. This process is conducted before each zone is completely hoarded up.
Wildlife inspections are also conducted before any tree transplanting or removal can be done. Wildlife specialists inspect the trees to ensure that there are no active bird nests, tree hollows or burrows, and other animals present on the tree, before any related works can proceed.
To ensure appropriate understanding and behaviour, workers at the project site have to undergo biodiversity awareness training to familiarise themselves with local wildlife species and learn how to respond to any sightings. In the event of such situations, a response protocol is in place for MPH’s wildlife specialists to be activated to handle wildlife professionally and safely.
“With the new Mandai nature precinct, it is our vision to bring Singaporeans and other guests closer to nature and wildlife through experience and education. As we work towards realising this vision, our priority is to ensure that the project is developed sensitively and in careful consideration of the neighbouring Nature Reserve and local wildlife in the area. Guided by the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) completed last year, we are putting in place a series of measures to minimise impact to the surroundings. We take this role very seriously, and will continually refine and enhance our measures as the project progresses,” said Philip Yim, Senior Vice President (Project Lead), Mandai Park Development.
About Mandai Park Holdings (MPH)
MPH is driving the rejuvenation of Mandai Precinct into an integrated nature and wildlife destination, through its development arm, Mandai Park Development (MPD). MPH also oversees the business and strategic development of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the operator of Singapore’s award-winning Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo. For more details about the proposed concept for the rejuvenation of Mandai, please visit www.mandai.com