Nature Conservation and Nature Society (Singapore): 13. MacRitcie Forest

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Earlier posts: 1. Introduction; 2. Sungei Buloh; 3. Kranji Heronry; 4. Khatib Bongsu; 5. Senoko; 6. Marina South; 7. Punggol Grassland; 8. Lower Peirce; 9. Chek Jawa; 10. Bidadari; 11. Bukit Brown; 12. Albizia Woodland.

MacRitchie forest (Photo credit: Wang Luan Keng)
MacRitchie forest (Photo credit: Wang Luan Keng)

In January 2013 the Land Transport Authority unveiled plans to run a Cross Island Line cutting through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve LINK. Specifically the line would run under the MacRitchie forest, the oldest patch within the reserve LINK. This saw the Nature Society (Singapore) Council member Tony O’Dempsey taking the lead in opposing the plan. The society’s position paper can be viewed HERE.

Straits Times May 16th 2013
Straits Times May 16th 2013

BESG started a series on Save MacRitchie Forest to showcase the flora and fauna of this forest – just type “Save Macritchie Forest” inside the search box and all 22 of the series will appear. The first of the series is found HERE.

Many green groups came together to oppose the plan but specifically to raise awareness of the serious damage to the rainforest. All suggested that the rail line should run around the forest rather than through it.

The Cicada Tree Eco-Place organised walks, produced a video of “Love Our MacrRitchie Forest” and had its debut at a radio interview.

Children of Singapore Chorus walking across the bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Photo credit: Dr Vilma D'Rozario)
Children of Singapore Chorus walking across the bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Photo credit: Dr Vilma D’Rozario)

Why the massive protests to the plan? For one, the area is a Nature Reserve protected by an Act of Parliament. The forest is a few centuries old with patches of relic primary rainforest very much older, similar to that found in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. As such the biodiversity is extremely high, very much higher than all the patches of vegetation suggested by the Nature Society for conservation since the late 1980s.

Soil tests above ground and underground tunneling would cause irreparable damage to the fragile ecosystem, especially the freshwater streams that are home to numerous freshwater organisms, microscopic as well as macroscopic.

The government’s EIA report found that there would be “moderate” impact on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve when work on preliminary soil test for the Cross Country Island Line start in the third quarter of 2016 LINK. Well, “moderate” may mean anything.

Straits Times July 19th 2013
Straits Times July 19th 2013

So far Tony O’Dempesy is doing an excellent job talking to relevant government agencies, providing background information, persuading, pleading even…

Strangely the Conservation Committee was nowhere to be seen. I find this strange that our second most important Nature Reserve is under threat and this committee that had been lobbying government since the late 1980s was totally uninvolved.

Nature Society’s Conservation Committee was similarly not involved in the late 1990s when Lower Peirce forest was under threat of being cleared for a golf course. I was the Founding President of the newly formed Nature Society (Singapore) then and I sent a message to Dr Ho Hua Chew, Chairman of the Conservation Committee, to oppose the plan. He was not interested. So I took charge LINK.

Currently the project has yet to be officially decided. The nature community is waiting with bated breath to learn of government’s final decision.

YC Wee
Singapore
20th April 2017

Secretary, Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) 1978-1990; Founding President, Nature Society (Singapore) 1990-1995

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