Tengah Forest

tengah forest panorama
Panorama of Tengah forest

Dear Tengah forest,
I don’t know what you will look like in 10-20 years’ time, but in case you are changed beyond recognition before then, here’s capturing your current state for remembrance.

tengah forest
Mount Pulai (background), Tengah forest (middle), Bukit Batok town (foreground)

From an aerial view, I could see that the forest is big enough to look like a haven on earth for wildlife and for nature lovers. In the mornings and evenings, the forest would be shrouded in mist – a wonderful sight to behold.

gunung pulai and tengah forest
Mount Pulai (background) and Tengah forest (foreground), as seen from Jurong East, Singapore

In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to see a mountain in Peninsular Malaysia from Singapore, with Tengah forest forming the foreground. I believe the mountain is Gunung Pulai (654 m above sea level) in Johor, as it is located about 60 km northwest of Singapore.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 1.48.33 pm
Tengah forest (left), Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (right)

On the map itself, Tengah forest looks about 1.5 times bigger than Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

It occurs to me that if Bukit Timah Nature Reserve could support so many endemic species of plants and animals, despite being bounded by roads and expressways and being cut off from Central Nature Reserve (except for an Eco-Link bridge that connects it back to the central water catchment), imagine how much Tengah forest could support its existing wildlife. Probably not as many species or as diverse as the species in the primary rainforest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, since Tengah forest is a secondary forest previously disturbed by human activities, but still it could contain a treasure trove of flora and fauna.

DSCF3372 school
School and apartment buildings on the other side of the expressway facing Tengah forest

Bharati: There’s been a lot of debate lately about heritage and nature conservation. Where do you stand on this issue? Some of the reasons cited for the loss of nature areas for instance are related to space constraints, but knowing that you believe that with careful planning, we wouldn’t actually experience a space constraint, I wonder what you think.

Tay: The public has been voicing out their concerns. The Bukit Brownies, Nature Society, Heritage Society, all these people have been voicing out. And so on so forth. These are very important and good efforts on their part. But I want to attack the problem at the core of it: At the physical planning level.

The planning methodology is flawed, is totally flawed. We are not short of land. Based on my simple arithmetic years ago, there are ways to house more. So the argument that we have a shortage of land is a false justification for why we need to encroach into much of our nature areas.

(From 5 governments, 5 HDBs, 5 MOEs: Tay Kheng Soon on decentralisation for creativity)

Land constraints? Indeed, there isn’t a need to encroach further into nature areas. Look at landed property. How big the houses are and how spacious the gardens are.

Why is it that the rich people have the closest proximity to Nature when many of them generally contribute more to environmental destruction by driving motor cars and consuming more products than the average person?


  1. Man does the damage so it is good that there is awareness, Of course we don’t need to build on green sites – there’s plenty of brown sites but more expensive to clear and build so we are back to money

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s