Irony of building 'forest town' after clearing forests

About 150ha of forest from a 700ha site in Tengah have already been cleared as of Jan 1, 2019, according to calculations made by Mr David Tan, a research assistant at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
About 150ha of forest from a 700ha site in Tengah have already been cleared as of Jan 1, 2019, according to calculations made by Mr David Tan, a research assistant at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.PHOTO: COPERNICUS SENTINEL DATA 2019, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY

I am puzzled that the HDB has chosen not to release the full report from the study it commissioned on the impact of the planned public housing in Tengah, given that it would allay the fears and concerns of the public, especially those of us who care for the survival of flora and fauna in Singapore (Dispute over key findings of Tengah environmental study; Jan 12).

It is ironic that the project is called "forest town" when it would, in fact, result in the clearing of hundreds of hectares of forests which connect the Western Catchment with the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

This is critical in ensuring that endangered species such as the pangolin and the hawk-eagle have a chance at survival.

HDB's building of a proposed "forest corridor" will not accomplish the same purpose.

Is HDB so short of land that it must clear this last vestige of Singapore's forests?

How can future residents feel proud to live in this "forest town", knowing that precious flora and fauna were displaced and possibly pushed to extinction due to this project?

Surely HDB has other options such as the clearing of older estates and building taller apartment blocks.

It is time for HDB to stop giving lip service to environmental issues, and work closely with ecologists and nature groups.

We are sending the wrong signal to future generations when we give little regard to our forests while teaching them to respect nature and the environment.

I appeal to HDB to seriously consider the long-term effects of its decision.

Let us build a city that we can all be proud of, which need not be at the expense of our fragile forests.

Sreedharan Suresh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Irony of building 'forest town' after clearing forests'. Print Edition | Subscribe