Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on environmental impact studies or assessments that have been done on the Clementi Forest
Jan 5, 2021
Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) what environmental impact studies or assessments have been done on the Clementi Forest; (b) what will be the implications for the biodiversity in the event of this land being used for urban development; and (c) whether the Clementi Forest can be designated as a national park or nature reserve, given Singapore's limited and dwindling green spaces.
The site commonly referred to as “Clementi Forest” has been zoned “Residential (Subject to Detailed Planning)” 23 years ago, since the Master Plan 1998, and safeguarded for residential use. However, there is no immediate need to develop the site for housing. We will, however, retain the zoning of the site, while giving our future generations the option of deciding whether to use it for housing, if the need arises.
In land-scarce and densely-populated Singapore, we will continue to have to balance the needs of development and conservation. As part of our long-term planning process, we set aside land early to meet the aspirations of future generations. In doing so, we endeavour to balance the demands and trade-offs across a variety of land use needs, including that of housing, green spaces, infrastructure and workplaces.
Where possible, we have reviewed our plans to retain green spaces. Some of these areas could have been used for industry. For instance, the Mandai Mangroves and Mudflats were initially planned for factory use. Yet, after careful study, we decided to keep it as a Nature Park given its ecological value. Similarly, other green spaces such as Thomson Nature Park and Windsor Nature Park could have been developed for housing. Yet, they are currently retained as green buffers to our Nature Reserves instead.
Today, we have safeguarded approximately 7,800 hectares of our land for Nature Reserves, Nature Areas, Nature Parks and other green spaces, such as parks and park connectors. These comprise key representative ecosystems and habitats for Singapore’s native biodiversity. Not all of these Nature Reserves and Nature Parks were untouched habitats. For example, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the upcoming Khatib Bongsu Nature Park were once prawn farming areas. These areas were abandoned, acquired by the Government, and have over time become green spaces inhabited by indigenous flora and fauna. Similarly, Clementi Forest was an abandoned rubber plantation. Today, it has become a secondary forest.
We will extend our network with an additional 1,000 hectares of green spaces over the next 10 to 15 years, and continue to protect and enhance existing green spaces. After weighing the alternatives and trade-offs, there will be areas that we cannot avoid developing. Nonetheless, for these sites, possible environmental impacts will still be carefully managed, and natural elements will be integrated within developments where possible.
Singapore’s land-use requirements will continue to evolve. For example, as more singles aspire to have a home of their own, and more families become nuclear households, the demand for HDB flats is likely to remain strong. At the same time, as our economy transforms and work patterns shift, there may be changes to how we plan for office and industrial spaces. Likewise, as we move towards a more car-lite city, road space may be freed up for other purposes.
The Government will continue to regularly review our plans in partnership with the public, to ensure that it supports the changing needs and aspirations of Singaporeans.