In February 2013 a group of Pasir Ris residents was upset that a piece of woodland near their Pasir Ris Heights apartments was about to be developed into an international school (below) LINK. They claimed that the woodland, about the size of two football fields, was a wildlife haven. They were skeptical of the National Parks Board’s survey findings that biodiversity there was relatively low, being “not independent enough.”
To make matters worse, the Nature Society (Singapore)’s Dr Ho Hua Chew chipped in claiming that there were up to 40 species of birds there. Of these, the critically endangered Grey-headed Fish-eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus) and the common White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) have a preference to nest in the Albizia Trees (Paraserianthes falcataria) LINK.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority was adamant that the Pasir Ris patch of Albizia woodland would be developed. Besides its biodiversity being low, the birdlife there could be found in a range of other localities LINK.
The Albizia are softwood trees. Their branches readily collapse during storms, posing a danger to life and limbs. No doubt these trees have a role in attracting wildlife LINK. There is no necessity to chop them down as long as they pose no threat to life and limbs. However, there was no reason why the woodland should not be cleared for development as it was a young habitat and easily replicable.
Only those who fail to see the forest for the (Albizia) trees would fight to retain such habitats.
17th April 2017
Secretary, Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) 1978-1990; Founding President, Nature Society (Singapore) 1990-1995