Monday, 2 July 2018

$78 million, plus a forest and its ecological functions, is the cost of the clubhouse

There is a nice small forest with large mature trees next to the plot I am farming in Khatib. It is nice to hear the songs of a few straw headed bulbuls from the forest in the morning. Besides this endangered songbird, I have seen other nice birds such common kingfisher, Javan or Chinese pond heron, Lesser whistling-duck, etc. The nearby stream and ponds provide habitats for fish and dragonflies too.

It is very sad that these habitats are being destroyed. Part of the forest is already cleared. This happens because a SCDF clubhouse is to be built there, a clubhouse with facilities like gym, swimming pool, KTV, prawn fishing, etc., all for human entertainment.

Apparently, herbicide was used to kill the long grass.
Besides the S$78 million, energy and materials used to build the clubhouse, there are other costs. The ecological services that the forest and its creatures have been providing for many years will be lost. The trees can no longer sequester CO2 and provide fresh air to us. The soil, together with the soil creatures, can no longer clean the water for us. Without the water holding capacity of the soil, we must work harder to prevent floods.

Press-kill the soil with construction debris

I wonder if a proper environmental impact assessment had been carried out.

My two friends and I went into the destroyed part of the forest and salvaged a few wheelbarrows of soil (together with some soil creatures like earthworms, of course) and transferred to our farming plot. We found a beautiful feather of a bird on the damaged land. My ornithologist friend told me that it was an outer wing primary feather of a raptor. It is not surprising because the large mature trees in the forest and the surroundings can support a majestic bird like a raptor. But the bird is probably gone now. The degraded habitats in the area also explains the disappearance of two nice dragonfly species: Bronze Flutterer (Rhyothemis obsolescens) and Sapphire Flutterer (Rhyothemis triangularis).

We salvaged some forest soil and added to our plot.
An outer wing primary feather of a raptor, picked up from the damaged land.

I hope to see more climate change efforts and nature conservation in Singapore.

I admire governments which put forward far-sighted policies and initiatives such as Australia's Carbon Farming Initiative, where farmers are paid for sequestering carbon, and France's 4 per 1000 initiative, which encourages farmers and organizations to increase soil carbon content (in the form of soil organic matter) by 0.4% annually in order to offset global carbon emissions.

Soil is little regarded in Singapore. It does not make sense that our armed forces are working so hard to defend our land, while we ourselves are destroying our soils everyday.

This is a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt:
"A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people."

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