Our fragile nature reserves in Singapore

Last Sunday, I took a plunge into the last remaining primary rainforest in Singapore, which I haven’t visited for some time.
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I decided to hike along South View trail, as I didn’t recall having taken it before and I wanted to be far away from the crowd who took the main path to the summit.
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I was rewarded with a view of the surrounding area at a lookout point at South View hut.
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Though the view is mostly covered by the foliage, it is at least better than the view from the summit, which is almost completely covered by trees (not that it’s a bad thing, as the trees are important too).
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As I sat at the South View hut, I read the NParks signboard that says we are guests in this place, and it is our responsibility to conserve our fragile nature reserves both for ourselves and future generations.
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The words are so true, and yet so ironic… because the transport authorities are considering to build an underground MRT train tunnel underneath the Central nature reserve near the reservoirs.
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No words can adequately describe the sense of tranquility and ancient heritage of Bukit Timah nature reserve, which must have retained its original form for millions of years (possibly surviving cycles of sea level rises in between ice ages due to its elevation).
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It is the last stronghold for the native green spaces that are relatively untouched by humans in Singapore.
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Its fragile existence is made all the more pronounced by the fact that one forest after another has fallen prey to development over the years, including Bidadari forest, Lentor-Tagore forest and Tengah forest.
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Even the forest around Poyan area in western Singapore is being cleared for development (as reported by avid Nature explorer M Saniroz AR) – this is being carried out quietly while the mainstream media distracts us with news of all kinds.
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All this talk about climate change mitigation measures might sound impressive, but …
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As long as deforestation continues in our midst, and our wildlife residents continue to experience genocide and displacement, the words ultimately sound hollow, for we are failing in our responsibility to conserve Nature as a nation.

A visit to Lentor-Tagore forest 

Having been reading on Facebook about the impending development of Lentor area that will result in the destruction of forest and two natural streams, I decided to check out the area this afternoon in search of the elusive streams. 

But it turned out that I was a bit too late because when I arrived at Yio Chu Kang road via Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, I saw that the entrance to the forest, where the streams were supposed to be, has been fenced off, and a portion of the forest behind a bus stop along Yio Chu Kang road has already been cleared. 

I decided to cycle around Lentor private housing estate, hoping to find another way to Lentor forest. The nearest I could get to the forest is via a canal near the junction of Lentor avenue and Seletar Expressway (SLE).

From the end of the canal, I could see heavy machinery clearing the forest. I found a path through the forest fringe that led me closer to the clearing. 

I decided not to venture too close to the clearing and turned back. I later circled round the area via Springleaf nature park in the north to the other side of the forest, hoping to find an entrance to the forest from Tagore Industrial Avenue. 

I managed to find a small entrance along the avenue, and walked some distance along the fringe of the Tagore forest. I came to the point where forest clearing was taking place in the south beside a stagnant-looking water body. 

Is that part of a natural stream? I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to trespass the construction site, and decided to hike in another part of the forest. I followed a track through Tagore forest that led me to SLE in the north. 

Apart from some wildlife such as a wild boar, a jungle rooster and munias, I didn’t see much in this area. There seems no signs of any natural streams. I suppose they are only found in the part of the Lentor forest that has been fenced off, which I wasn’t able to access. (Or maybe there is another entrance to Lentor forest that leads to the streams that I am unaware of, as I am unfamiliar with the area.)

I decided to call it a day, as evening was approaching. I cycled via Teachers’ Estate back to Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, and took a lift up to the highest floor of a HDB block, and snapped some sunset pictures, showing an aerial view of the remaining forest next to Teachers’ Estate.

What kids teach me

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By taking a detour from the main road in Batam centre, I was hoping to find a short cut back to the hotel. Instead, I stumbled upon a poor neighbourhood district where kids played on polluted streets amid wooden huts. One would wonder why the authorities have chosen to spend the nation’s budget on building lavish shopping malls instead of improving the basic infrastructure of the residents. Nevertheless, one lesson I took away from this experience is the inverse relationship between happiness and material attachments.

The closer we are to Nature, instead of being cooped up in concrete buildings or hemmed in by motor traffic, the happier and healthier we are. The more we allow ourselves to be carefree and not rush, the freer and lighter we feel. And the simpler we live instead of making our lives complicated, the more joyful we become.

 

Touching deeply the wonders of Nature brings healing, nourishment, joy and happiness

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“It is clear that in this age of globalisation, what happens to one of us, happens to us all. We are all interconnected, and we are all co-responsible. But even with the greatest good will, if we are swept away by our daily concerns for material needs or emotional comforts, we will be too busy to realise our common aspiration.

“Contemplation must go together with action. Without a spiritual practice we will abandon our dream very soon.

Each of us, according to the teaching of our own tradition, should practice to touch deeply the wonders of Nature, the wonders of life in each of us, the Kingdom of God in each of us, the Pure Land, Nirvana in each of us, so we can get the healing and nourishment, the joy and happiness born from the insight that the Kingdom of God is already available in the here and now. The feeling of love and admiration for nature, that we all share, has the power to nourish us, unite us, and remove all separation and discrimination.

“By being in touch with everything that is refreshing and healing, we can free ourselves from our daily concerns for material comforts, and will have a lot more time and energy to realise our ideal of bringing freedom and compassion to all living beings. As it says in the Gospel, “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or wear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

(From “Thich Nhat Hanh’s Speech at the Vatican, December 2, 2014“)

Pulau Ubin explorer II: kayaking event (9 Nov 2014)

The kayaking event is organised by Kayak Khakis meetup group based in Singapore. We kayaked from Pasir Ris beach to Pulau Ubin and back, and we were fortunate to experience favorable weather as it had been raining the past few days.

(Video: Kayaking expedition at Pulau Ubin)

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Single SOT and double SOT kayaks on Pasir Ris beach

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Some parts of the beaches in Pulau Ubin are polluted with carelessly discarded litter.

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Fish farms in the sea

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A flloating restaurant in the middle of the sea channel between Singapore and Pulau Ubin

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Safety briefing by the kayaking expedition leader and organiser Khee Wei

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Simon Paul Harrison: Why Nature Is Such A Miraculous Teacher

Video information

Nature is such a perfect teacher because she reminds us we have always been free. Video from Simon Paul Harrison. Music by Ian Mackinnon. http://www.simonpaulharrison.com for blog, books, audio programs and personal mentoring.

This inspirational video resonates with me. I agree with the message that Nature reminds us that we have always been free, and being in Nature enables us to enjoy the freedom from the burdens of the expectations of modern societies and know there is nothing to run after or out-compete, as we remember who we really are – we are already perfect here and now.

“Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See”

This article “Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See” by Arjun Walia from Collective Evolution resonates with me about creating our own reality and doing the things our heart desires instead of following the crowd in a consumerist culture. Like what the article says, “When you follow your heart, you can access the magic that’s all around us, the non-physical phenomenon that can help us on our quest”.

Alan Watts – What if Money Were No Object? NorthStarNetworker.com

As a dear friend said, “once we have dereligionized and deconsumerized ourselves, there is not much left to live for, other than loving people and making this world a better place”. Yes, being free from religious conditioning and consumerist culture enables us to focus on what really matters in life – loving our neighbors as ourselves through sharing the Earth’s resources which belong to everyone, and making the world a better place through using our gifts and talents. We will also enjoy the true treasures of the world with awe and wonder – the beauty of Nature, music, poetry, art, friendship and so on.