Government to ‘proceed with care’ when developing near biodiversity-rich areas

January 29, 2021

Minister Desmond Lee noted that providing homes for the people and conserving greenery “are both important needs”. He explained that the authorities will “study all the feedback received in detail, as we consider possible plans for the site”. Image: Google Maps

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the government aims to balance the conservation of green spaces with the development of future homes and amenities, reported Channel News Asia (CNA).

In a Facebook post, Lee revealed that he visited Ulu Pandan on Wednesday (27 January) along with representatives from Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore Youth Voices for Biodiversity and the National Parks Board (NParks).

Ulu Pandan is home to Dover Forest, a 33ha site that is zoned for residential development.

Singapore Youth Voices for Biodiversity and Nature Society (Singapore) have urged the government to reconsider its plans to develop Ulu Pandan, which is one of the areas where HDB intends to offer 17,000 Build-to-Order flats this year.

Recommended article: Should We Be Clearing Forests for Residential Use?

Lee noted that providing homes for the people and conserving greenery “are both important needs”. As such, “we should not rush into a decision”, he said as quoted by CNA.

Given the housing needs of Singaporeans, the government had to take land that were previously set aside by earlier generations and develop them for their intended purpose, said Lee. He added that some of these sites, such as Dover Forest, has become “green and vegetated over time”.

The minister said the forest, which used to be rubber plantations, kampongs and fruit orchards, is now overgrown with “mostly Albizia trees”.

An HDB environmental study showed that it is home to 120 plant species as well as at least 158 animal species, including critically endangered ones.

Nature Society (Singapore) called for the conservation of Dover Forest as a “public-cum-nature-park”, considering its importance as a “stepping stone for wildlife connectivity”, connecting forests within the Southern Ridges to areas like Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Bukit Batok Nature Park.

Suggested read: Cycle Around Your Neighbourhood With The NParks Park Connector Network

Lee explained that the authorities will “study all the feedback received in detail, as we consider possible plans for the site”.

The minister noted that the government has previously protected several ecologically important sites that were initially set aside for development. These include Thomson Nature Park, Rifle Range Nature Park, Khatib Bongsu and Dairy Farm Nature Park.

He added that the government proceed with care when developing near areas of significant biodiversity like Dover Forest.

“As far as possible, we seek to preserve and integrate natural elements within developments, to facilitate ecological connectivity. … We will consult the community, and share more detailed plans and ideas when ready,” said Lee.

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