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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?