Destroying the Dover forest will exacerbate the effects of climate change and further degrade the quality of life in Singapore, said the Red Dot United in a statement on Tuesday (19 January) urging for the government to conduct a full re-evaluation of the development of the forest with the aim of conserving it for the long-term needs of residents.
On its website, the party outlined its concerns over the potential destruction of the forest to make way for new Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, citing two critical factors: climate change and the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity.
“In our 55 years of nation-building, we have come to a place where we can no longer view our remaining secondary forests like Dover Forest (including their biodiversity therein) as wastelands or empty lands waiting to be decimated and developed for human use,” the party stressed.
“We must instead view them as living, dynamic and important ecosystems that we all depend on.”
Highlighting the government’s recognition that climate change is the most eminent threat of the near future with its use of phrases like “City in Nature” and “sustainable” development to highlight the state’s commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change, RDU said that if the redevelopment of Dover Forest is to go ahead, it would show that the administration was merely using buzzwords with no real intention of application.
“By ignoring the warning signs and continuing in the old ways of destroying our forests and their biodiversity in the name of development we only risk a bigger catastrophe,” the party added.
The statement mentions the often cited fact that Singapore is heating up at twice the global average due to rapid deforestation and urbanisation. Should this continue, Singapore is looking at a maximum daily temperatures of 39.6 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
This and other impacts of climate change will be further precipitated by the clearing of Dover Forest for the construction of new Built-To-Order flats in Ulu Pandan, which is due to be launched later this year, said the party.
It also raises the question of why there is a pressing need to clear forests for more housing given the country’s low Total Fertility Rate and a declining population.
“As the devastating effects of climate change heads our way, we should better manage it by controlling our population growth and focusing on redeveloping used or underutilised lands to ensure sustainable development,” said RDU.
The party went on to cite data which shows the increasing number of underutilised land in Singapore.
“We should focus on recycling or redeveloping existing land resources – whether it be boosting resale market, or redeveloping underutilised lands, or revamping old industrial sites – for our housing and other infrastructural needs before touching any more green lungs in our city-state,” it continued.
The party went on to detail the danger that more deforestation and urbanisation will pose in the form on an unrepairable ecosystem as it further fragments the remaining forests in Singapore, destroying habitats for various wildlife which will end up as roadkill.
“Let’s also not forget that human encroachment into natural habitats due to urbanisation and increasing human proximity with wildlife that are stressed by environmental degradation are the reasons for zoonotic virus pandemic, such as Covid-19,” RDU added, citing a National Geographic report.
“It is undeniable that the rapid deforestation in Singapore has got many negative consequences, including disease outbreaks like dengue and injuries (or even deaths) resulting from human-wildlife conflicts and flash floods. This means that the resulting health, social and environmental costs would very likely outweigh any benefits brought about by housing development at the expense of Dover Forest,” RDU emphasised.
Noting the public petition online calling for the conservation of Dover Forest which garnered over 29,000 signatures in less than a week, RDU also stressed: “The increasing number of voices in favour of its conservation may very well be a clear sign that more and more Singaporeans are now seeing the clear and present danger brought about by climate change. “
Climate change makes the urban living environment less liveable, puts pressure on nature heritage and increases the risks associated with the degradation of natural habitats, said the RDU.
“This oversight by the Government is even more egregious, given that there are definite alternatives it can consider to meet our housing needs while still fulfilling its goal of a ‘City in Nature’.”
Ravi Philemon, secretary-general of the Red Dot United, said: “If nothing is done to preserve whatever little nature we have, this little red dot on the world map will soon become the little grey dot.”
“By way of analogy, every sizeable secondary forest that we fail to conserve is like overspending on our credit cards and incurring exponentially increasing debts due to compounding interests.”
“It would be foolhardy for us to keep on spending and end up deeper and deeper into bankruptcy, with hopes of getting out of debt becoming fainter and fainter.”