What is a nature reserve??

I’ve been back in Singapore for a little more than a week, and there’s just been so much going on. Mainly though, it concerns our Central Catchment Nature Reserve and its future.


The awesomeness of MacRitchie. Image taken from Love Our Macritchie Forest Facebook page.

The government released its land use plan earlier this year, and plans for a new Cross Island Line for our MRT system was in it. It entailed the construction of the MRT line under CCNR, to get from Changi to Tuas.

The proposed Cross Island Line

The proposed Cross Island Line. Image taken from Love Our Macritchie Forest Facebook page.

Since then, there’s been quite a bit of movement going on to let the public know the ecological implications of such a construction, with people signing up to attend walks and lead walks in Macritchie. [Update: 4 Sept] There’s also a great website set up to inform the public about our nature reserves – do go check out Chope 4 Nature!

Impact of CRL

Impact of the Cross Island Line. Image taken from Love Our Macritchie Forest Facebook page.

More recently though, The North Face has organised a trail running challenge called Break All Boundaries, part of The North Face 100 Asia Pacific series, which entails running through our forests in CCNR at night.

TNF Map_2012_Full-LR

The North Face 100 2012 route. Image taken from TNF100 website.

Most people may not know this, but our small patch of forest on our small island still has wildlife, such as the Sunda Pangolin, Malayan Colugo and the Lesser Mousedeer. These are nocturnal animals that come out to forage at night, which is why people are not allowed in our reserves at night! We even have security guards posted to ensure no one sneaks in. [update 4 Sep] Apparently, there is no longer a security guard posted there, posing an enforcement problem.

Sunda Pangolin. Photo by Norman Lim, taken from Wildlife Singapore website.

Malayan colugo. Photo taken by K.W. Chan, taken from Wildlife Singapore website

Lesser mousedeer. Photo taken from Wildlife Singapore website.

Yet this race will see hundreds of runners pounding the trails in the middle of the night, and as with most organised runs, litter scattered all over the trail. Headlights on and music blasting, is this seriously how a Nature Reserve should be treated? That this is being organised is alarming enough, but that despite supposedly being the guardian of our forests and natural heritage, NParks has approved the event is even more inconceivable.

We need The Lorax here. Image taken from Oxford Student website.

Our nature reserves are already small enough compared to those overseas, but what little we have, we should guard jealously. What is a Nature Reserve if we can put Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) lines through it, and allow rampant runs through the night?

“A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy” – John Sawhill. Image taken from website.

Do some good and boycott the race. Or even better, voice your concern to the organisers.

Links to relevant articles:
Parks and Trees Act (revised 2006)
Abridged trail etiquette pdf taken from Parks and Trees Act 2005
[Update: 4 Sep]
Letter to forum from a 2012 participant regarding poor trail etiquette
Letter to forum from Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore) expressing disappointment about the 2009 run

About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
This entry was posted in Opinion, Outdoor activities and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What is a nature reserve??

  1. tanbc says:

    Great to read another supporter. More details about our Nature Reserves at http://www.chope4nature.org/?page_id=13

  2. Tonaldo says:

    Correction to: “We even have security guards posted to ensure no one sneaks in.”…
    There are no longer any jaga’s at BTNR, anyone may now sneak in.

  3. Tan Ching Kian says:

    So, what’s wrong to hike in the CCNR in a small group quietly on any nights, since such a big group is allowed to do it .

    • Jocelyne Sze says:

      Hi Ching Kian, thanks for the comment, that’s a great question. But if everyone else is doing something that is wrong, does that make it right? Each one of us have an impact on this Earth, and I think the only responsible thing to do is to make sure we minimise our negative impact. Of course, we hope that this run will not be allowed to continue, especially in future years, or that it be diverted to a less damaging route.

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