SINGAPORE - Visitors to the Singapore Botanic Gardens can now explore the attraction seamlessly by using a 200m-long pedestrian bridge, which links two sections of the gardens previously separated by Tyersall Avenue.
With the opening of the HPL Canopy Link on Thursday, the gardens will be more accessible to all visitors, including families with young children and those with mobility issues, who no longer need to exit the gardens and cross the road to go from one section to another.
The bridge links the Gallop Extension to the Learning Forest, which are both located in the Tyersall-Gallop Core. The 18ha core is the latest addition to the Botanic Gardens and serves as a buffer for the Unesco World Heritage Site against urban development.
The opening of the bridge marks the completion of the core, which brings the total area of the gardens to 82ha, the largest in its 163-year history, according to the National Parks Board (NParks).
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said at the bridge’s opening that Singaporeans rediscovered green spaces here during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think many, including myself, have come to appreciate even more the amount of (greenery) in Singapore,” he said, adding: “The bridge’s design encourages a longer walk to experience the nature around, so I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it.”
The bridge begins at the Learning Forest’s collection of more than 30 species of tropical bamboos, meanders into the canopy of a lowland forest habitat commonly found in South-east Asia, crosses over Tyersall Avenue and takes visitors into the ridge-top forest habitats at the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge of the Gallop Extension.
Visitors can view plants of South-east Asia up close on the HPL Canopy Link. These include the Yang Na tree, which produces an oily resin used by indigenous people in the South-east Asia region to waterproof baskets and boats, and the Malayan crape myrtle, with its pink and purple flowers that fade to a creamy-white with age.
The bridge, supported by Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) through NParks’ registered charity Garden City Fund, cost about $1.25 million.
Due to a shortage of manpower and materials, as well as safe management measures during the pandemic, the construction of the bridge was delayed, said NParks coordinating director Thereis Choo. The bridge was originally planned to be opened by 2020.
Building the link was challenging, she added.
“We had to be sensitive to the environment around it. There are forests on both sides,” Dr Choo said. “We took our time to make sure we did it properly and carefully.”