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Artist impression of rainforest park.(Source : temasek.com.sg)

Mandai development plans changed to reduce environmental impact

The project's developer of Mandai eco-tourism hub announced that some plans need to be changed in order to reduce the impact caused by the construction toward habitats, wildlife and vegetation, and it also cause pollution.

Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari are currently occupied the area. But two new attraction will be added, and by 2023, the 126ha mega-attraction will be home to a nature-themed education centre and eco-sensitive lodging and several changes has to be made according to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) commissioned by Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) on 26 July.

The first one will be the Bird Park. This attraction will house nine aviaries and the construction will cause "great disturbance". It will be placed on the southern side, which was previously home to some villages and farmland, because the area is "predominately clearer" than the northern side of Mandai Lake Road, where it was initially planned. The Bird Park is expected to draw 14,300 visitors a day at its peak.

The second one will be the Rainforest Park. It was initially planned to be built in the southern area of Mandai Lake Road. But the mature trees in the northern side of the road can be integrated to the park's design, therefore the construction can protect the existing forest.

MPH said that it was initially going to make one arrival area, neighboring the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, for public at the eastern side of the project area. But it was decided to add another arrival area in order to divert some visitors from environmentally sensitive areas around the Central Catchmen Nature Reserve. According to EIA, about 10,200 visitors at its peak are expected to visit public areas around each arrival point when the construction is done.

The next one is the changing in the design of the nature-themed indoor eduction centre. It was initially planned to be built in two different areas, but the company decided to combine the two buildings into one on the site of an existing multi-storey carpark, instead of along the reservoir edge as initially planned as there was concern about the impact on a patch of forest, so that it can reduce its footprints and avoid making impact on an area of important vegetation.

The company will provide buffer zones, an area between 45 metres and 50 metres where no construction or human activity will take place, between development areas and the nature reserves to minimize disturbance to flora and fauna. On each side of Mandai Lake Road, an eco-link sill be constructed so that the wildlife will be able to move safely across.

MPH Group CEO, Mike Barclay, said, "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."

The EIA was conducted by consultancy firm Environmental Resources Management in March 2015. Professor Leo Tan, director of special projects at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science said, "The moment you have human activity in anything, you will create an impact. 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.