Singapore cuts forest for eco-tourism

SINGAPORE, 10 January 2019: Singapore is developing a massive eco-tourism project alongside its famous Night Safari zoo, but it has resulted in the wholesale clearing of natural forest and the endangerment of wildlife.

When completed in 2023, the project will compliment the neighbouring night safari and river safari, long-time favourites with tourists from Asia.

In addition to bird and rainforest parks the plan includes a 400-room resort, all part of what the promoters call a green tourism hub that could attract millions of foreign visitors a year.

That’s an exaggeration, but it will certainly attract substantial crowds mainly Singaporean families and tour groups from Southeast Asia and China.

Media reports over the past several months have focussed on wildlife road kill in areas adjacent to the construction site as wildlife such as wild boars and monkeys encroach on nearby roads causing accidents.

The controversy grows as local media investigate and gather feedback from opponents and environmentalists, but they are probably too late to prevent the destruction to natural forest.

In an earlier report by ChannelNewsAsia, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum’s research associate, Sivasothi N, said plans for the eco-tourism park were first announced in 2014, but work only started in 2017.

“That is very soon for an entity unfamiliar with development next to protected forests and the entire process has been hasty,” said Mr Sivasothi.

Mandai Park Holdings, which is overseeing the project through its development arm, insists work is being carried out sensitively and will bring improvements.

The district, which sits next to a protected nature reserve and has been earmarked for development for years, is mostly abandoned villages and farmland that have been swallowed by the surrounding jungle.

The new bird park, which will replace an existing one elsewhere in downtown Singapore, will feature nine aviaries, while the rainforest park will have walkways among treetop canopies.

The hotel is being developed by Singapore-based resort chain Banyan Tree that in recent years has positioned itself as a developer of environmentally sensitive properties.

The 126-hectare development should be completed by 2023.