While the eyes of Singapore were turned to Clementi and Dover Forests in Central Singapore, up in the north western region, the Kranji Woodlands Forest was being bulldozed for redevelopment.
Nature lovers were appalled and surprised to find that large patches of the 70-hectare forest have been cleared.
Facebook user Brice Li shared on Facebook on Sunday (14 Feb) some photos showing the difference between the forest in 2019 and 2021 – the older photo full of lush forestry while the latest photo shows a section of the land being developed.
Mr Li also shared a video dated back in 2019, which he recorded because he was “drawn to its rustic beautiful”. The video shows the beauty of Kranji Woodslands Forest and the rail corridor which runs through it.
“When I hear that part of it was being cleared, I was in total disbelief,” he wrote, adding that the “level of destruction in less than two years was a heart-wrenching sight”.
Mr Li went on to say that members of the “Friends of Rail Corridor” group were also caught by surprise by the development.
The Facebook page “We Support The Green Corridor in Singapore” noted on Monday (15 Feb) the “shocking development in an important green area of the Rail Corridor”.
As for Nature Society, it shared Mr Li’s post and commented, “This is a shocking and dreadful development in an important green area contiguous to the Rail Corridor”.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Master Plan, most of the land is designated for agriculture.
However, one section on the top left of the forest – which is yet to be cleared, according to the photos shared by Mr Li – has been designated for “business”.
The Master Plan notes that this area is intended to be used for clean industry, light industry, general industry, warehouse, public utilities and telecommunication uses, and other public installations.
The strip of forest in the middle through which runs the Rail Corridor is designated in the Master Plan as a park or garden.
Mothership.sg quoted JTC Corporation saying that it discovered its contractor had “erroneously” begun clearing some of these specific plots of land prematurely on 13 Jan 2021.
JTC said that these plots of land were earmarked for the development of the Agri-Food Innovation Park (AFIP) which is part of the Sungei Kadut Eco-District (SKED).
A stern warning has since been issued to the contractor as the land was cleared before the Biodiversity Baseline Study and an Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan (EMMP) for specified plots of land within the area were completed.
JTC said that the agency takes a very serious view of this incident and will investigate how this error occurred before deciding whether further punitive measures need to be taken.
JTC said that the baseline study and EMMP will continue and they will work with URA, National Parks Board (NParks), and the nature community to ensure the redevelopment plans are carried out with due consultation and in an environmentally responsible and sensitive manners.
The study and EMMP are expected to be completed around April 2021, following which JTC plans to engage key stakeholders, including nature groups, to discuss its development plans.
While JTC said that no further clearing has taken place on-site, at least 90% of the trees in the demarked area have been cleared — as seen from the image taken by Mr Li.