Two plots to be kept in forest marked for clearing

The Lentor stream, one of two rare freshwater streams that run through the 30ha secondary forest in Lentor. The forest will be cleared later this year to make way for private homes.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

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 areas adjacent to Munshi Abdullah Walk will be temporarily kept for at least five years. The decision was made following discussions with residents and the Nature Society (Singapore) or NSS, which had hoped that the lifespan of the green lung could be extended.

But the rest of the forest, through which two rare freshwater streams run through, will be cleared. Works to facilitate the introduction of supporting infrastructure such as drains, sewers and roads will start in the third quarter of this year and is expected to take five years.

But a wildlife management plan will be implemented before the works begin to ensure animals in the area can be safely guided to 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 to salvage and relocate plant species of varying conservation statuses, a URA spokesman told ST.

Plans to develop the area were first laid out in URA's Master Plan 2014. In December last year, residents of Teacher's Estate received URA fliers 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, they said. After talks between URA and the residents, the works have been delayed to the third quarter.

Apart from keeping the two green areas, URA said other suggestions from the community, such as plans for a park, canal and natural landscape features such as plants, will also be incorporated to soften the surroundings.

NSS also submitted a 10-page position paper to URA, pointing out the rich biodiversity in the area. Rare animals like the critically endangered Sunda pangolin and banded leaf monkey have been spotted there.

The society proposed that the area be developed in four stages instead of being cleared at one go, to extend the lifespan of the forest.

But URA, which said it has studied the proposal in detail, said it was not feasible "due to the need to holistically introduce the supporting infrastructure required for the new neighbourhood".

Dr Ho Hua Chew, NSS' conservation committee vice-chairman, said it is disappointed with the decision. "The two lovely forest streams, Tagore and Lentor - rare outside the nature reserve - will be canalised or wiped out, along with the green corridor for wildlife movement from the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to the Tagore forest."

Chemical consultant and Munshi Abdullah Walk resident Kwan K.M, 64, said: "We understand that the Government has a plan, but maybe some plans can be re-looked, especially with developments such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, which focused on the role of forests."

This article was first published on June 07, 2016.
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