By most accounts, 2018 would have been a year of major ups and downs: the Paris Agreement rulebook was hammered out, the last male Northern white rhinoceros in the world died and the Trump-Kim summit was held in Singapore.
For us? It’s been a year of waiting. The closely-monitored intrusive soil investigation and environmental impact assessments in MacRitchie Forest had ended in late 2017. The government has since been analyzing the results of the studies to decide on whether the upcoming Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) should be built around or beneath the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).
Hence, we have been respectfully waiting with crossed fingers.
But that does not mean we have been sitting around – at all. Here’s a summary of everything we have done this year, to lend our forests a crucial voice and champion what’s at stake if development occurs under our century-old natural heritage.
Started With a Bang – EarthFest 2018
In a slight deviation from Love MacRitchie’s yearly traditions, our first activity of 2018 wasn’t spent in the forests, but at EarthFest 2018 in downtown Marina Barrage.
There, we joined forces with over a hundred organizations in raising awareness and support for environmental sustainability. Amidst the amazing turnout and reception, we were especially touched by the number of visitors who marked down Love MacRitchie Walk dates on their calendars. Talk about starting off the year right.
Check out the happy faces in our photo booth here!
A Walk a Month
What was in keeping with traditions was the regular Love MacRitchie Walks we hosted. Once a month in 2018, we brought wide-eyed wanderers into walking trails in the MacRitchie forest, to immerse in the sights, sounds and scents of nature. Baby colugos, stealthy snakes, microscopic fungi ecosystems…you name it. With relaxed pace and trained eyes, many quickly came to realize how much they missed by not peering into the natural undergrowth dotting our little island.
On this note – the most spotted and photographed animal of the year is… the green-crested lizard! The Malayan colugo, which many of you voted as the top animal in the poll on our Facebook Page, is actually the second most spotted and photographed during our 2018 walks. The second position is also shared by the gold-ringed cat snake and asiatic soft shell turtle!
The Love MacRitchie walks were never just about sightseeing either. With the combined decades of biodiversity research and exploration shared between our volunteer guides, participants also received light crash courses on animal behavior, evolution, ecosystems and of course, how constructing the CRL under our nature reserve could cause irreparable damage to CCNR.
Indeed, even for the Love MacRitchie team ourselves, no matter how many times we enter the forest for walks, the impact of realizing what’s at stake has never softened.
Keeping the Government Accountable
Since the start of the CRL issue in 2013, inclusiveness and transparency between all parties involved were the immutable principles undergirding how we addressed the challenges at hand. As such, we continued to monitor and ask questions to get a better understanding of what’s going on and how we can be involved this year.
In June this year, in response to brief information released by the government about animal sightings, we organized a public invitation to ask the Land Transport Authority (LTA) questions about their research and findings. Although the activity has ended, you can still write to LTA in a personal capacity to request for information regarding the CRL.
Write in to:
Minister of Transport, 460 Alexandra Road #39-00 PSA Building Singapore 11996
Here are more links, originally posted on our Facebook Group, to get you up to speed on the recent developments.
8th June 2018: “Cross Island Line site investigations haven’t driven away rare animals from nature reserve, says LTA” – TODAY Online
22nd June 2018: “Invitation to ask LTA questions on Cross Island MRT Line development” – Love MacRitchie
28th June 2018: “More clarity needed on how soil works for Cross Island Line affected animals in reserve: Nature groups” – The Straits Times
1st July 2018: “Questions on Cross Island Line works from the community” – Love MacRitchie
10th September: “CRL issue raised during Parliament meeting” – Love MacRitchie
Looking Ahead to 2019 and Beyond
Since the initial shock and indignation when we first saw the ramrod straight line drawn across the CCNR five years ago, we have come a long way in reaching an agreement with the government to put greater emphasis on protecting our natural heritage in the CRL issue.
We are nowhere near the end of our journey. Big decisions are due next year, over which route – under or around the CCNR – the CRL will take. Regardless the outcome, the mission of Love Our MacRitchie Forest remains unchanged – to be the voice for the rich biodiversity of MacRitchie Forest and to let you experience for yourself why the green heart of Singapore is worth protecting.
#TLDR: Nothing is confirmed at this stage, so we’re still giving it our best shot. Watch this space for updates and learn how you can take action here.
See you in 2019!