Rainforest in the city: Cross Island Line impacts

Edgar Su Reuters 25 Mar 16;

A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species.

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) is the largest of Singapore’s natural reserves with over 2,000 hectares of forest cover.

The CCNR includes the MacRitchie Reservoir, the oldest in Singapore and a popular destination for walkers and naturalists.

A network of freshwater streams in the reserve supports a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including more than 1,000 species of flowering plants and over 500 species of animals.

The plan to build a 2-km tunnel under the CCNR has not gone down well with nature-lovers, who have organised guided walks around the reserve, exhibitions and talks, and produced music videos to lobby for the route to be changed.

An online petition asking the government’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) to re-route the line away from the nature reserve has received over 11,000 signatures since February.

One of the organisers, David Tan, said they are worried about issues like noise pollution and waste water leaking into the soil, which could prove fatal for some animals in the reserve.

“One of the things we highlight is the vulnerability of the forest, the fact that it is a complex ecosystem (...) and a lot of the impact that may result from the site investigation works will have downstream effects," he said.

The LTA is also studying an alternative route that would skirt around the reserve area and build the subway tunnel under private homes and businesses. It would cost an extra S$2 billion ($1.5 billion) and add 6 minutes to commuting time.

The government has not said when it will make a decision.

Kok Oi Yee, 74, who works at a university's natural history museum and as a volunteer nature tour guide on weekends, said:

"This is something we ought to learn to treasure, we don't want to see it being lost," she said. "Once it's lost it will take hundreds of years before the forest regenerates."

Related links
Love our MacRitchie Forest: walks, talks and petition. Also on facebook.

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