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Commentary: As Singapore makes space for development, where will the animals live?

Commentary: As Singapore makes space for development, where will the animals live?

A BALANCING ACT

The National Parks Board’s (NParks) Nature Conservation Masterplan provides a framework for biodiversity conservation efforts in Singapore.

A fundamental principle is that biodiversity in Singapore should be “conserved for future generations” and factored into the national planning process.

Regardless of the stated intentions, the pressure for development is strong.

In 2021, for example, despite public calls for Clementi Forest to be conserved, National Development Minister Desmond Lee reiterated that it was still marked for redevelopment, although there was no immediate need to develop the site for housing.

In October 2022, nine years after nature groups and environmentalists argued against the construction of the Cross Island Line, some changes were made to reduce the ecological impact on wildlife and the amount of forested land consumed for the second phase of the MRT line’s construction.

Even with the changes, however, the environmental impact study showed that the project would still have a major impact on some sites, with irreversible habitat loss.

More recently, in December, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) said that it plans to study the feasibility of two sites in Mandai within forested areas for water storage. Although NParks previously said a nature corridor would be established in the vicinity, there are concerns over the loss of forests to support wildlife.

Singapore also plans to start clearing about 31 ha of forested areas – the equivalent of about 43 football fields – near East Coast Park this year, to make way for housing and a connecting road in the upcoming Bayshore precinct.

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