A Campaign to Protect Dover Forest!

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I am Sydney Cheong, a long time resident of Dover Estate (since 1976) and an environmentalist. I am appealing to the Housing Development Board and the relevant authorities  to conserve  Dover Forest by converting it into a nature park. It would be a huge loss to the natural heritage and biodiversity of Singapore if a forest of this statue is destroyed and cleared. Also, many plants and animals will not survive when the forest is removed and we will lose the many benefits of a forest ecosystem. If you believe that the remaining natural areas in Singapore must be protected and spared from development, please sign this petition. 


Location & Brief History

Dover Forest is a 33 ha forest located along Sungei Ulu Pandan, starting from Ghim Moh Link Road to Clementi Road and is at least 50 years old. The land used to be part of a rubber plantation and was abandoned during World War 2. In the 1950s, it contained a small kampung and a sundry tree cultivation area. Thereafter, a secondary forest developed naturally and 10 years ago, parts of it were converted into Ghim Moh Link Estate and a school.

 

Development Plans for Dover Forest

The forest is zoned as "Residential" according to the URA Master Plan, and is likely to be developed into a HDB estate in 2021. An Environmental Baseline Study was completed in 2017, revealing the high biodiversity present in Dover Forest: 158 species of fauna and 118 species of flora. 


The HDB has asked for public feedback on the development of the Ulu Pandan Estate until 16th January 2021. Before any development actually occurs, I hope to make known to more people in Singapore that Dover Forest deserves to be protected as it is a wildlife haven in Singapore. If you enjoy nature and desire for more undisturbed wild places to visit in Singapore, please support this campaign to save Dover Forest! We must make our collective voices heard to highlight the importance of this forest and the need for it to be protected.


Why is Dover Forest and other remaining mature forest patches in Singapore important?

I am not against developing the economy and infrastructure of Singapore. In addition, development should occur on reused land and not on the few remaining natural areas as far as possible. While some might argue that Singapore’s housing needs and infrastructural development should take precedence over biodiversity conservation, the latest scientific evidence on the climate and ecological emergencies suggest that further destruction of forests will negatively impact our health, sustainability and resilience as a nation.

These are many important free benefits and services that forest ecosystems provide. Below is a list (non-exhaustive): 

  1. Help to combat climate change.
    Forest ecosystems are a natural asset to combat climate change as they are carbon sinks. However, largely due to deforestation and rapid land use change, Singapore’s forests have now become a source of carbon.
  2. Mitigates urban heat island effect.
    The temperature difference between urban and mature forested areas can reach up to 7°C. This means forests help to cool our nation, especially since most of Singapore’s land area is urbanised, which increases warming along with the effects of climate change.
  3. Rich in biodiversity.
    Dover Forest is home to 158 species of fauna, including 18 endangered species of plants and animals. Mature forests in Singapore have been found to support more species of birds and butterflies than manicured gardens and roadsides trees. About  38 species of wildlife found living in Dover Forest are woodland dependent, meaning that they cannot survive outside of woodlands. Hence, Dover Forest is very  important for the conservation of these species and also acts as a wildlife connector. 
  4. Improves physical and mental wellbeing.
    Studies indicate forest environments improve mental and physical health by reducing stress, strengthening the immune system and can even assist in the illness recovery process. This is evident today when many people who are unemployed, upset or anxious due to the COVID-19 situation seek relief in the parks and islands.
  5. Aesthetic and recreational value.
    Forests soften the harsh urban landscape and offer scenic beauty to the residents living nearby. It also attracts people to engage in recreation, for example, jogging at the adjacent Ulu Pandan Park Connector. 
  6. Mitigates flood impacts and soil erosion.
    Recently Singapore has been facing intense rainfall and some flooding events. Forests, through increasing infiltration improve flood resilience and also slow down the rate of soil and slope erosion. This helps to reduce the millions spent on diversion canals and the removal of soil and silts from water bodies. 
  7. Absorbs air pollution.
    Apart from absorbing carbon emissions, forests can filter other toxic air pollutants and provide us with clean, breathable oxygen.
  8. Supports water catchment supply. 
    Through evapotranspiration, forests help regulate precipitation levels hence strongly enhancing our water catchments. By filtering water pollutants, they also help to ensure cleanliness of our water resources.
  9. Improves environmental friendly behaviours and reconnects people to nature.
    How can we protect and save that which we don’t know and love? Studies have shown that spending time in nature can translate to more sustainable, environmentally friendly behaviours. To save our environment, reconnecting with the natural world is essential so that the next generation has knowledge about nature and biodiversity, and hence what needs to be safeguarded.

We have already lost numerous species and thousands of hectares of forests in Singapore as a result of land development. As climate change and loss of biodiversity exacerbate, we need to think long-term to ensure a good quality of life for all Singapore residents and to build a sustainable nation. This would require reconsidering whether we should be destroying our natural and cost-effective assets or conserve them so that they will protect us from ongoing and emerging environmental challenges.

“Nature is our biggest ally and our greatest inspiration. If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us. It's now time for our species to stop simply growing, and instead to establish a life on our planet in balance with nature — to start to thrive." - David Attenborough, A Life On Our Planet.

How can you help?