Jurong Eco Garden (including Nature Trail) & Dragon (Pottery) Kiln: A dying natural and cultural heritage in Singapore?

The freshwater swamp forest along Nature Trail at Jurong Eco Garden is being removed for the construction of Jurong Regional Line, the seventh MRT line in Singapore.

While much media attention has been focusing on the fate of Clementi forest and Dover forest, another forest is disappearing quietly.

It is the secondary forest surrounding Jurong Eco Garden, located near Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Jurong West/Jalan Bahar.

Even though Jurong Eco Garden was opened in 2014 and has drawn a steady stream of visitors and birdwatchers, I haven’t visited it until today.

Perhaps because it is a bit too far away from where I stay.

The Straits Times has mentioned that endangered birds such as red jungle fowl, straw-headed bulbuls and oriented pied hornbills lived there throughout the year. (ST, 7 June 2014)

It also added that “the garden is home to the last two dragon (pottery) kilns in Singapore…. visitors can watch the firing of the 40m-long Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln.”

Thanks to Nature enthusiast M Saniroz AR who organised two trips to visit Jurong Eco Garden and Dragon (Pottery) Kiln on 30 January 2021, I got to visit both places and know firsthand about their stories.

I saw a notice stating that according to LTA, “the nature trail will be closed permanently for the construction of Jurong Regional Line with effect from 15 February 2021”.

As we walked along the nature trail towards the heart of Jurong Eco Garden, we saw that much of the forest has already been bulldozed.

An empty bird’s nest was seen atop a bare tree in the middle of the ravaged forest.

It was a forlorn sight, reminiscent of the recent deforestation at Pasir Ris, where a wild boar was found injuring a passer-by near Sungei Api Api Park.

With only two weeks before the nature trail would be closed, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience our natural heritage before it disappears.

As for Dragon Kiln, I learnt that their lease will expire in 2023.

With all the new construction work going on around them, whether they will have the funds to renew their lease is uncertain.

If they decide to not continue their pottery business, we will also lose our cultural heritage.

Let’s support their pottery art and crafts while they are still around the area.

P.S. Go to facebook.com/tkpotteryjungle or e-mail thowkwang@gmail.com for bookings to watch the firings of pottery (which are organised 2 to 3 times a year).