Protect Clementi Forest from urbanisation

Protect Clementi Forest from urbanisation

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roxane uzureau started this petition to Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore

Dear sirs and madams of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA),

We are writing on behalf of many concerned citizens and residents who are signing this petition. We are raising our concerns/apprehensions about the threat of Clementi Forest being subject to redevelopment plans. This issue was raised in an article by Mothership written by Zhangxin Zheng on October 26, 2020.

The URA's Master Plan 2019 (MP 2019) available here shows

the statutory land use plan which guides Singapore's development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years [...] reviewed every five years and translates the broad long-term strategies of the Concept Plan into detailed plans to guide the development of land and property. The Master Plan shows the permissible land use and density for developments in Singapore. URA, 2020

We observed on URA’s zone map that Clementi Forest is indeed destined to become zoned as a residential plot (URA MP; updated 5 September 2020 at the time that I/we write this letter).

We fully concur with Nature Society Singapore’s (NSS) proposal to designate Clementi Forest as a nature park instead, to serve both conservation and recreational purposes. As NSS stated, Clementi Forest is our country’s second-largest patch of wildlife habitat, and is “the most important and largest unprotected patch of forest/woodland contiguous to the Corridor".

As noted by Zheng, Clementi Forest is “extremely rich biodiversity but remains unprotected from development plans. It is about 85 hectares in area, bounded by King Albert Park, Clementi Road, Old Holland-Ulu Pandan Road and the main Rail Corridor.”

Clementi Forest is home to many endangered or rare species. Prioritizing human profits by developing homes will demolish the natural habitats of our wildlife.

 Zheng highlighted the recorded wildlife at Clementi Forest, as observed by NSS (quoting the article):

  • 98 species of vascular plants were recorded by a survey conducted by botanists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2012. These include a terrestrial orchid, Dienia ophrydis, that was previously thought to be extinct in Singapore.
  • 90 bird species, resident and migratory, were recorded. This is almost one-fifth of the bird species recorded in Singapore. Among these, there are 13 threatened or rare species which include hornbills, owls, and eagles as well as Straw-headed bulbuls which are endangered on both national and global levels.
  • 61 species of butterflies were recorded, including 20 uncommon species and 10 forest-dependent species. There is also a rediscovered species, Malay Yeoman, that is also nationally threatened.
  • There are further aspects of ecological importance detailed in the article which we invite you to read. 

Climate change is a threat worldwide. Singapore is particularly at risk of rising seas and heat. The sensation of the latter is exacerbated by the ambient humidity resulting from our small country's dense urban areas and land surrounded by/in close proximity to water.  

Importantly, forests and green spaces are vital to the cleanliness of our air. They act as carbon sinks and offer natural cooling mechanisms to counter the rising heat of climate change.

If green spaces such as Clementi Forest are eliminated, we reduce natural carbon dioxide mitigators, are more likely to experience extreme temperatures, as well as an increase in heat-thriving airborne diseases, endangering:

  • the more fragile members of our society with lower immune systems (elderly, sick, or disabled);
  • our wildlide (as their habitats disappear and/or are unable to adapt to rising heat, with the reduction in once species having the potential to disrupt the entire ecosystem); or
  • our nation’s ability to produce outdoor farmed food (affected by extreme and unpredictable weather patterns).

With their habitats destroyed, wildlife will enter developed areas. This trend will only worsen as we reduce their natural habits to nil. Then who’s at fault if a monkey waits at a cafe to steal food, threatening meal patrons? Such incidents have already been reported several times, and I also personally witnessed. ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society), is already overwhelmed by the calls for help with wild animals encountering humans. The uneasiness of cohabitation will be more challenging moving forward if we keep destroying natural habitats. Finally, we don’t need to be reminded that COVID is a result of a lack of respect and boundaries with wildlife. 

It’s a shame - we would add ironic and deplorable - that Singapore’s aim to be a “City in Nature” seeks only to preserve artificially-created natural spaces (e.g., Gardens by the Bay). Yet, natural reserves and habitats are destroyed, in favour of property development. 

As such, on behalf of all nature-loving and life-loving residents of Singapore which we call home, we ask that MP 2019 be urgently updated. MP 2019 obviously neglects to care for our environment. 

For the safety and well-being of everyone, people and animals alike, please add protecting Singapore's natural green spaces to MP 2019’s agenda, and rezone Clementi Forest as a natural park. We concur and with the NSS and propose to designate Clementi Forest as a nature park that will serve both conservation and recreational purposes.

Your prompt attention to this critical matter is appreciated.

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