Viewpoint: Nature Society (Singapore)

The Nature Society argues against the government’s plans to build a road through Bukit Brown by recognizing Bukit Brown’s rich biodiversity, ecological importance, and eco-system services Bukit Brown provides. As a large wooded area brimming with lush greenery, Bukit Brown contributes to the sequestration of carbon from carbon dioxide in Singapore. It also serves as natural air- conditioners when its trees and plants undergo transpiration.

More importantly, Bukit Brown as a wooded area helps to soak up the rainfall and allow a slower percolation of water into the ground. Surface- runoff, soil erosion and consequently floods are thus prevented or reduced. To build a road through Bukit Brown would involve clearing the vegetation and laying the ground with concrete which is impermeable to water. Flash floods thus might happen more frequently given that the Thomson area has always been hit severely by flash floods.

In terms of biodiversity, Bukit Brown is also important as a major habitat for wildlife that is typical of old Singapore’s woodlands, parklands, countryside and suburban areas, in particular the birdlife as shown above. At present, apart from the areas’ birdlife, there is not much information available concerning other taxonomic groups. However, what is known about the birdlife is a good indication of the richness of the area’s biodiversity. The presence of nationally threatened bird species like the Oriental Magpie Robin, the Changeable Hawk-eagle, the White-bellied Woodpecker, the Thick-billed Green Pigeon, etc. typical of such habitats in the old Singapore further enhances the status of Bukit Brown as a very important nature area.

It is ecologically urgent that further room for the expansion of the nesting or foraging grounds of the forest species be catered for in
order to secure viable or stable populations of the already threatened species of wildlife. To clear the Bukit Brown for the construction of the road would be to remove resting, nesting places for birds, and pushing the already threatened species closer towards extinction.