Bukit Timah Nature Reserve trail repair works to be done sensitively: Khaw

SINGAPORE - Repair works on the trails in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will be done "in a sensitive manner", National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post on Monday.

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Mr Khaw's blog post titled "Restoring Bukit Timah Nature Reserve":

 Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) is a gem. 400,000 visit it yearly.

Over the years, the Reserve has undergone natural wear and tear. Some slopes have suffered landslides, making it difficult for plants to flourish. Trails have undergone erosion, exposing tree roots and thus affecting the stability of the trees.

Public safety is paramount and NParks will begin a restoration process to repair the affected slopes and trails, from 15 September. We are sorry for the temporary inconvenience but will minimise it through phasing the works. We will start with the most commonly used parts of BTNR and strive to re-open the grounds to visitors as soon as possible.

NParks will start with stabilising the slope along the main tarmac road next to the visitor centre. These works are expected to be completed within six months.

After March 2015, the main tarmac road will be reopened on weekends, so that visitors can go up to the summit. However, NParks will close this road on weekdays for use by vehicles carrying construction equipment. All this planning is with the safety of visitors in mind.

Some have asked if the trails will still appear natural after these repair works are completed. While boardwalks will need to be installed in some areas to prevent further erosion, this will be done in a sensitive manner. The boardwalks will be cantilevered above the ground and in fact, the wooden planks used to construct the boardwalks will be hand carried, piece by piece, into the narrow paths of the Reserves. Natural vegetation along the trails will be restored and we hope that these efforts will help the forest trails recover.

Meanwhile, the mountain biking trail that runs around the periphery of BTNR will not be affected. It will remain open throughout the restoration process.

While NParks is working to restore the forest environment, another team will be working to improve the visitor centre. This way, when the BTNR fully re-opens, it will be a whole new experience for Singaporeans.