Raised platform to be built to protect soil and animals
Access to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will be limited for about two years from Sept 15.
This is because the National Parks Board will carry out repair and restoration works on the reserve's slopes, trails and forests.
The reserve has been hosting some 400,000 visitors yearly, which is five times the figure for 1992, and the heavy human traffic has resulted in soil compaction and erosion.
Such conditions hinder forest regeneration as they expose tree roots, making tree falls more likely.
The exposed roots can also pose a danger to hikers.
More than half the length of the trails (over 4.5km) will be repaired and more native plants will be planted on them.
To further reduce the impact of trampling, 1.3km of raised boardwalks will be constructed.
Slopes will be stabilised as a pre-emptive measure to stop them from collapsing, which would cause forest loss and endanger public safety.
The visitor centre will also receive a new exhibition area, bigger function rooms, more washrooms and a kiosk.
For the first six months, the entire reserve will be closed to the public. After that, only the Main Road trail leading to the summit will be re-opened to visitors on weekends.
The rest of the reserve will be closed for another 18 months until works are complete.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Joseph Koh, chairman of the Nature Reserves Scientific Advisory Committee, said of the boardwalks: "Superficially, this sounds intrusive. But from the scientific point of view, boardwalks are useful to protect forest litter (floor).
"By building more boardwalks, we actually safeguard the soil, the forest litter and the plants and animals that live there."
Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai, 51, who has explored Bukit Timah for more than 33 years, told The Straits Times: "The reserve has suffered from the impact of the construction of the Bukit Timah Expressway, the increase in human traffic and developments in the area.
"The (restoration) works will help repair some of the damage and minimise future impact."
By building more boardwalks, we actually safeguard the soil, the forest litter and the plants and animals that live there.
- Mr Joseph Koh, chairman of the Nature Reserves Scientific Advisory Committee