The Ministry of National Development (MND) clarified its stance on Clementi forest in Parliament on Jan. 5, stating that the zoning of the plot of land the forest rests on will remain unchanged.
MND was responding to a question by Workers' Party's Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Tan, on whether there would be a review of the status of Clementi forest and other forests earmarked for development.
This comes after an increased awareness of the previously lesser-known forest, leading to calls to conserve the patch of greenery.
Residential use was decided early on
In November, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told Mothership that the Clementi forest has been zoned as "Residential (Subjected to Detailed Planning)" since the Master Plan 1998.
It remains slated for residential development in the longer term as of Master Plan 2019, even though URA said that "there are no immediate plans for residential development at the site".
This was reiterated by MND in their response, who said that the government would retain the zoning of the forest.
There is also no immediate need to develop the site for housing.
In the meantime, they would give "future generations the option of deciding whether to use it for housing, if the need arises".
MND explained that this land was set aside early on "to meet the aspirations of future generations".
Considering how land-scarce Singapore is, the needs for development and conservation would need to be balanced.
Previous areas designated for other uses converted to green spaces
MND stated that where possible, the plans to retain green spaces have been reviewed.
Areas which could have been designated as industry and factory areas have instead been conserved and converted into nature parks, such as the Mandai Mangroves and Mudflats.
Other examples include Thomson Nature Park and Windsor Nature Park, which MND said could have been developed for housing but were instead retained to act as buffers for nature reserves.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was also once a prawn farming area.
"These areas were abandoned, acquired by the Government, and have over time become green spaces inhabited by indigenous flora and fauna. Similarly, Clementi Forest was an abandoned rubber plantation. Today, it has become a secondary forest."
MND added that currently, around 7,800ha of land has been safeguarded as nature reserves, nature parks, nature areas and other green spaces.
This network of greenery would be extended by an additional 1,000ha over the next 10 to 15 years.
Land-use requirements always changing
However, MND acknowledged that there will be areas that "we cannot avoid developing".
Nevertheless, any possible environmental impacts from the development will "still be carefully managed" and the area's original natural elements will be integrated wherever possible.
Highlighting the continual evolution of the country's land-use needs, MND said that there was the possibility for spaces to be freed up for conservation.
"Singapore’s land-use requirements will continue to evolve. For example, as more singles aspire to have a home of their own, and more families become nuclear households, the demand for HDB flats is likely to remain strong. At the same time, as our economy transforms and work patterns shift, there may be changes to how we plan for office and industrial spaces. Likewise, as we move towards a more car-lite city, road space may be freed up for other purposes."
MND reiterated that the government will continue to regularly review their plans, "to ensure that it supports the changing needs and aspirations of Singaporeans".
More about Clementi forest
Clementi forest first caught Singaporeans' attention when dreamy footage of the misty forest was posted online.
The Nature Society Singapore previously noted that Clementi forest was the second-largest wildlife habitat, after Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
The 85ha patch is home to numerous species of wildlife, and acts as an important part of the interconnected ecological network in Singapore.
Another MP who has filed parliamentary questions in relation to Clementi forest is Jurong GRC MP, Tan Wu Meng.
He will be asking the Minister of National Development, Desmond Lee, supplementary questions in Parliament today.Totally unrelated but follow and listen to our podcast here
Top photo from Brice Li / FB