The loss of one tree at Ang Mo Kio has resulted in some dismay amongst netizens and speculation as to the reason behind its felling.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has since clarified that the tree was cut down to make way for the North-South Corridor, and little could have been done to avoid affecting it.
Photos before and after the tree was felled were posted on Facebook by Hamzah Osman on June 20.
The tree, a large Yellow Flame, was planted along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6.
According to the National Parks Board, Yellow Flames can grow up to 20m tall, and is a popular tree for roadside planting.
It is drought-resistant and has a wide-spreading, umbrella-shaped crown, making it perfect for providing shade and well-adapted to Singapore's weather.
The tree gets its name from the vivid yellow flowers that cover its crown.
Here it is in bloom in 2020, in a photo snapped by Hamzah.
Recently this year, constructions works were ongoing around the tree, and Hamzah speculated in his post that road widening works were being carried out.
And the tree was gone soon after.
Memories of the tree
Netizens bemoaned its loss, with some reminiscing about walking along that particular street beneath the tree.
Others questioned why the tree was not moved and replanted elsewhere.
However, one user added that such large trees should be monitored and maintained, and removing it could prevent the possibility of a tree fall and subsequent injuries.
Balance conservation and development
In response to Mothership's queries, LTA revealed that the tree was located at the construction area meant for the North-South Corridor (NSC).
As the NSC is bound by established developments on both sides, LTA said there was little space to adjust the alignment of the NSC to avoid affecting the tree.
An arborist was consulted on whether the Yellow Flame tree could be transplanted, but they advised that it would likely not be able to survive the relocation.
The NSC is a 21.5km long Transit Priority Corridor, meant to connect the north and south of Singapore and relieve traffic on existing roads and expressways.
With the NSC, traffic will be channeled to viaducts and tunnels instead. It will be completed in 2027.
LTA highlighted that in the NSC project, trees that can be transplanted will be identified.
The agency is also working with NParks to set up tree banks where trees are planted early so that they are more mature when the NSC is completed.
For each tree that needs to be removed for NSC construction, LTA said two or more will be planted by the end of the project.
LTA added that it tries to minimise the impact of all its transport infrastructure projects on nature, and will take mitigating measures "where it cannot be avoided".
"In our dense urban environment, it is unfortunately not always possible to avoid affecting trees in our projects. Where trees are affected, we will work with arborists to look into tree transplanting, replacement planting and developing tree banks."
You can read LTA's full statement here:
"LTA seeks to balance the conservation of our environment with the development of transport infrastructure to better serve Singaporeans. LTA plans projects in a way that minimises the impact to greenery. In our dense urban environment, it is unfortunately not always possible to avoid affecting trees in our projects. Where trees are affected, we will work with arborists to look into tree transplanting, replacement planting and developing tree banks.
The yellow flame tree in question was located at the tunnel construction area. As the NSC is bounded by established developments on both sides, there was little space to adjust the alignment of the NSC to avoid affecting this tree.
LTA had also consulted an arborist on the possibility of transplanting the tree but he advised that the tree was unlikely to survive the transplantation.
In the North-South Corridor (NSC) project, besides identifying trees that can be transplanted elsewhere, LTA also works with NParks to set up tree banks where trees are planted early so that they are more mature when the NSC is completed in 2027. For each tree that needs to be removed for NSC construction, LTA will in turn have two or more planted by the end of the project.
This approach of trying to minimise the impact of our projects on greenery, and to take mitigating measures where it cannot be avoided is applied for all of LTA’s transport infrastructure projects. It reflects our commitment to improving transport accessibility for Singaporeans in a sustainable manner."
Top photo from Hamzah Osman / FB