Preserve nature reserve in Mandai as buffer zone

LEONG KWOK PENG, VICE-PRESIDENT AND CHAIR (CONSERVATION COMMITTEE), NATURE SOCIETY (SINGAPORE)
Today Online 6 Dec 16;

Within the parameters of being tasked with running revenue-earning attractions, Mandai Park Holdings has tried to give some consideration to the nature reserve adjacent to its new wildlife parks (“Mandai project: More measures to lessen impact on environment”; Oct 11).

However, the position of the Nature Society (Singapore) is that such facilities should not be located next to the nature reserve.

Our proposed extension of the nature reserve into the two plots in question would link two patches of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve that are now separated.

Already, the regenerating forest on the former farmland site allocated for the Rainforest Park North harbours a diversity of wildlife, with many nationally- and globally-threatened species, as evident in the Environmental Impact Assessment records.

Much of the existing nature reserve used to be farming areas; for example, the Lower Peirce forests. Being former farmland does not disqualify an area from becoming a nature reserve.

Over the past 20 years, the Government has utilised former farming areas to buffer weak flanks of forested nature reserves.

Such laudable remedial actions include the Hindhede and Dairy Farm areas bordering the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and, more recently, the creation of the Chestnut, Windsor and Thomson nature parks along the Central Catchment Nature Reserve’s boundaries.

Sadly, at Mandai, the gap in the nature reserve is not receiving similar consideration. The Jurong Bird Park and the misnamed Rainforest Park, effectively another zoo, will be sited there instead, destroying flora and fauna in their making.

Our suggestion of nature-based adventure centres on these sites adds to the impetus to greater environmental sustainability for Singapore.

Mandai Park Holdings could still pursue its proposals inside its existing boundaries, such as Rainforest Park South, to expand its revenue-earning and conservation work.

Jurong Bird Park could retain its name and enhance ongoing developments if re-sited within the Jurong Lake District — a win-win situation for Mandai Park Holdings, for Jurong, for Singapore’s biodiversity and for future generations of students.

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