SINGAPORE - An "animal corridor", comprising a series of linked green patches between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Southern Ridges that wildlife can travel through, has been identified by the National Parks Board (NParks).
This route, called the Clementi Nature Corridor, will pass through a nature park that will be carved out from the western half of the Dover Forest site. The eastern half will be used for public housing.
Other sites along this corridor include forested plots in Clementi - including the Clementi Forest - Toh Tuck and Maju, as well as the Rail Corridor.
NParks said this corridor provides urban planners with an overview of how wildlife connectivity in the area can be maintained, even if developments take place in the area in future. It was identified through a scientific study.
Said NParks in a statement on Friday (July 30): "There are no immediate development plans for the Toh Tuck and Maju sites, and no immediate plans for residential developments at the Clementi site."
It added that the corridor also takes into account the future transport infrastructure options in Clementi Road, by the fringe of Clementi Forest, to support existing educational institutions and residential estates there.
Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Conservation Koh Lian Pin, who heads the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, said that in Singapore's fragmented forest landscape, connectivity is very important for the country's native flora and fauna.
"Such corridors and vegetated stepping stones allow birds, mammals and other wildlife to safely move between patches of forests to escape predators, forage for food, or even look for mates," he said.
This helps to maintain the genetic diversity of Singapore's wildlife, making them more resilient to threats such as diseases, Prof Koh added.
The Clementi Nature Corridor had been identified by NParks in consultation with a panel of local biodiversity experts, including Prof Koh, in an ecological profiling exercise.
This exercise essentially entailed the mapping out of vegetated areas islandwide, and then modelling the likely paths that six indicator species may take to move from plot to plot.
The six species include the Sunda pangolin and hill mynah, and were selected as they are sensitive forest dwellers that may venture out to forest edges, provided suitable habitat is created for them there.
NUS mammal scientist Marcus Chua, who was not involved in the scientific exercise, said that the ecological profiling exercise is a "clear sign of the application of scientific knowledge and methods to advise land use planning and making decisions that would be beneficial for Singapore".
He added: "I see it as part of continual improvement of how such decisions are made to balance land use decisions with regard to the need for environmental protection with other needs."