SINGAPORE - The authorities have agreed to keep two green plots in a 30ha secondary forest in Lentor which will be cleared later this year to make way for private homes.
The decision was made following discussions with residents and environmental groups, who had hoped that the green lung in the estate could be preserved.
The rest of the 20-year-old forest, through which two rare freshwater streams run through, will be cleared. Work to get the land ready for building works will start in the third quarter of this year and is expected to take five years.
But prior to the start of these works, a wildlife management plan will be implemented to ensure that the animals in the area can be safely guided to either the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the west, or the forested area in the north, The Straits Times has learnt.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has also worked with the National Parks Board (NParks) to salvage and relocate plant species of varying conservation status, a URA spokesman told The Straits Times.
Plans to develop the area were first laid out in the URA's Master Plan 2014.
In December 2015, residents of Teacher's Estate received flyers from URA informing them that works to clear the forest bordering the estate would start before Chinese New Year.
This alarmed residents, many of whom enjoy living near the greenery, which also helped cool ambient temperatures, they said. Following the engagements between URA and the residents, the works were delayed to the third quarter of this year.
The URA also said that apart from keeping the two vegetated areas adjacent to Munshi Abdullah Walk, other suggestions from the community, such as plans for a park, canal and natural landscape features such as plants, will be incorporated to soften the surroundings.
The URA also received a position paper from the Nature Society (Singapore).
The 10-page position paper, which The Straits Times has seen, pointed out that the area is rich in biodiversity. Rare animals, such as the critically endangered Sunda pangolin and banded leaf monkey, have also been spotted there.
The society proposed that the area be developed in four stages instead of being cleared at one go. This will help to extend the lifespan of the forest.
The URA said it has studied the proposal in detail, but that it was not feasible "due to the need to holistically introduce the supporting infrastructure required for the new neighbourhood".
Said the URA spokesman: "We appreciate the time and effort put in by all stakeholders into this project, which has led to the undertaking of more mitigation measures.
"We have handed out mailers to Teacher's Estate residents to inform them on the upcoming land preparation works, and have been in close contact with them to provide further clarifications."
Munshi Abdullah Walk resident David Lim, 56, said he was glad that the authorities had incorporated some of the feedback from residents, such as keeping the two green lungs. Said Mr Lim, who is a director in the leadership industry: “We are realistic about what we can expect."