A playground within nature – Love MacRitchie Walk (10 March 2019)

What does the forest mean to you?

One of our walk participants recalled how the forest was a playground for him in his younger days. Back then, technology wasn’t as advanced and instead of phones and tablets, children used to create games from what they could gather from the forest. An example of such games involves the rubber seed, also known as elephant seed.

It’s a simple game. You find a rubber seed and rub it against a rock to generate heat. The aim is to touch your friend with that heated rubber seed and your friend will lose if he or she squirms away.


As adults of this modern world, we might not be able to appreciate the simplicity of this game, but that was indeed a simple joy that was experienced by our elders. As parents in this modern world, we might be worried when we hear of such games as well, due to the fear that the heat might injure the child. Nonetheless, getting our children in touch with nature may be a good way to encourage a more adventurous mindset and bring limited risk back into children’s ‘playground’ – for their own good.

The curious creatures of the forest

Children are naturally inquisitive and this character shows through our younger walk participants.

There’s much to explore and learn in the forest. During our walks at the MacRitchie forest, children are constantly on the lookout for animals and plants that can be either foreign or familiar to them. One young participant was pointing out the names of the plants that he picked up through classes in school.

“Rabbit foot fern!” he exclaimed as he pointed to a fern beside the trail. That is a name that is foreign to even the majority of adults.

When a bird lands nearby and called out to their attention, they are curious about the name and behaviour of the bird. They are also fascinated by the gliding abilities of the Malayan colugo and black-bearded Draco.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

This is an often-used proverb by David Brower. We certainly feel that this is the case for the remaining forest reserves of Singapore as well. What implications will it have for our future generations for us to tread on the delicate ecosystems in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, of which MacRitchie is a part of? What is the lesson that we leave behind for our children when they watch us take nature for granted?

As the date for the decision on the Cross Island Line issue draws nearer to us, we need to carefully consider the various perspectives on this issue. Have we considered the perspectives of our younger and future generations?

Here’s how you can protect our forests for them.

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