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Straits Times 6 Nov 04
Take a stroll in the treetops:
New suspension bridge in MacRitchie lets visitors and researchers get close to nature in the forest canopy
By Alexis Hooi
SUSPENDED 25m above ground, the stretch of cable and steel crosses no rivers or valleys, seems to lead nowhere and is smack in the middle of primary forest.
But the 250m-long suspension bridge in the MacRitchie area will allow nature lovers and researchers to come up close to the rich flora and fauna of the forest canopy. Unlike other such bridges, this $1.6 million one, which opened yesterday, is not anchored to trees, and is the first such suspended pathway in Singapore and the region, said the National Parks Board (NParks) in a statement yesterday.
At the opening, NParks chairman Leo Tan told more than 100 guests: 'Unless you're a bird, monkey or tree-climbing arborist, it's not easy to get around in the treetops.'This bridge will therefore play an important role in not only helping to facilitate surveys and plant identification work, but also furthering our understanding of how forest ecosystems work.' Those who walk the highway will be among 80 species of birds, including the elusive Drongo Cuckoo, eight types of reptiles - such as the Black-bearded Dragon and Clouded Monitor - and 18 rare trees and climbers.
The new attraction also provides a breathtaking view of the Upper Peirce Reservoir and lush greenery.
The suspension walkway can be reached via two hiking trails. One starts from MacRitchie Reservoir Park off Lornie Road, the other from Rifle Range Road in Bukit Timah.
It is open from 9am to 5pm daily, except on Mondays, when it is closed for maintenance and for researchers studying the forest canopy.
For the sake of safety and comfort, the bridge is one-way and only 30 people are allowed on it at any one time. NParks rangers are also on hand.
NParks said some trees were trimmed to make way for the bridge, but none was felled for use in its construction. To make sure there was minimal damage to the environment, materials for the bridge were brought into the forest using an old-fashioned pulley system instead of heavy machinery.
Nature Society of Singapore president Geh Min said the bridge offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature, as it allows 'Singaporeans to appreciate the bio-diversity of the forest with respect and reverence'.
Straits Times 5 Nov 2004
Tree-tops walking trail opens to public
A 2.3km-long, off-the-ground nature trail in the heart of the central catchment area around MacRitchie Reservoir has been declared open. The nature trail, a free-standing steel suspension bridge, connects the two highest points in MacRitchie and offers a bird's eye view of the plants and animals that live in the forest canopy.
The HSBC TreeTop Walk, as it has been called, will also play an important role in forest canopy research, because it gives researchers access to areas well off the ground. The nature trail is about 25m high at its highest point. It sits amid mature secondary forest and is accessible through MacRitchie Reservoir Park or Rifle Range Road.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has also donated S$300,000 towards the setting up of a fund to support community programmes and activities for conservation and education. The money will be used for programmes for school children, workshops for teachers, training of nature guides as well as the production of educational materials to harness the value of the nature trail as a living classroom.
A statement jointly released by the bank and the National Parks Board explained that the site for the trail was carefully chosen to ensure that plant and animal communities were not disturbed during the building of the bridge.
Work on the S$1.6m bridge began in August 2002 and was completed in July 2004. The trail is open to visitors between 9am and 5pm (with the last visitor allowed on it at 4:30pm), but is closed on Mondays for maintenance and for researchers to do their work.
Fact sheet on the Tree Top Walk with links to more articles.
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