Update on Nov. 30: URA has responded to concerns over development plans for Clementi forest. Their response can be found in a follow-up article here.
Once a garden city, Singapore now aims to become a City in Nature.
While we strive to achieve that vision through planting a million trees, valuing the existing patches of forests is equally important too.
Gorgeous Clementi Forest in the heartlands
One nature enthusiast Brice Li recently shared footage of an extremely charming Clementi Forest captured at around 7:30am on Oct. 21, 2020.
Here it is:
Li wrote on Facebook that he just stood in the middle of the forest where he took this gorgeous view of the misty foliage.
The morning air was fresh and there were birds singing too.
The post shared on Oct. 23 has since garnered over 600 shares on Facebook.
The stunning view of nature has won the hearts of many an urbanite in Singapore.But there's more to just a pretty sight.
Forest with extremely rich biodiversity but remains unprotected from development plans
The Clementi Forest is no small patch of forest.
It is about 85 hectares in area, bounded by King Albert Park, Clementi Road, Old Holland-Ulu Pandan Road and the main Rail Corridor.
It's at the heart of these residential areas in the west:
Two rivers or channels run through the forest, one of which is uncanalised, with mud-bed and grassy banks.There are also freshwater streams running under the canopy and through the forest undergrowth, according to "Green Rail Corridor" published by the Nature Society Singapore (NSS).
NSS noted that the Clementi Forest is the second largest patch of wildlife habitat, after Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
"It is the most important and largest unprotected patch of forest/woodland contiguous to the Corridor," NSS said.
Home to many species of wildlife
The size, seclusion, dense vegetation and micro-habitats have made the Clementi Forest a welcoming home for a wide range of animals.
The number of wildlife that has been recorded in this nature paradise would surprise you.
Here are some observations from NSS:
- 98 species of vascular plants were recorded by a survey conducted by botanists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2012. These include a terrestrial orchid, Dienia ophrydis, that was previously thought to be extinct in Singapore.
- 90 bird species, resident and migratory, were recorded. This is almost one-fifth of the bird species recorded in Singapore. Among these, there are 13 threatened or rare species which include hornbills, owls and eagles as well as Straw-headed bulbuls which are endangered on both national and global level.
- 61 species of butterflies were recorded, including 20 uncommon species and 10 forest-dependent species. There is also a rediscovered species, Malay Yeoman, that is also nationally threatened.
- While unconfirmed, a critically endangered Large Indian Civet was spotted at the Old Holland Road in 2008.
Besides being home to wildlife, the Clementi Forest is connected to the new Holland Green Linear Park which leads to the Greenleaf forest. It is also linked to Maju forest which is linked to other green areas up northwest.
Broadly speaking, the Clementi Forest is part of an ecological network in Singapore which wildlife uses to move around to maintain healthy gene pools and serve ecological functions like pollination.
Unprotected and designated for residential development
Despite its rich biodiversity and ecological importance, the fate of Clementi Forest remains uncertain.
Occupying not a small plot of land, the Clementi Forest is now designated for residential development, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's 2019 Master Plan.
Yes, that means it is a matter of time that this beautiful forest will be replaced by high-rise buildings.
What NSS has proposed is to designate the Clementi Forest as a nature park instead to serve both conservation and recreational purposes.
The 2012 research paper by NUS botanists also concluded that given the number of rare native species of plants in the forest, the Clementi Forest has conservation value.
With the aim to become a City in Nature, it seems to be a pity if we cannot retain Clementi Forest.
Top photo courtesy of Brice Li.