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Preserve parts of Bidadari as haven for birds, says society

SINGAPORE — The Nature Society has proposed to conserve 25 hectares of the 200 ha former Bidadari cemetery, which is slated to be redeveloped into a new town under the Government’s land use plan.

SINGAPORE — The Nature Society has proposed to conserve 25 hectares of the 200 ha former Bidadari cemetery, which is slated to be redeveloped into a new town under the Government’s land use plan.

According to the society’s proposal, a copy of which has been obtained by TODAY, the proposed nature park is the former Muslim cemetery in Bidadari bounded by Bartley Road, Upper Serangoon Road, Upper Aljunied Road and the Mount Vernon Crematorium/Maris Stella School area.

The proposal was sent to the Ministry of National Development (MND) in December last year, after new data showed that the proposed nature park is more important to conserve than previously thought. The area in question “is well-known among nature lovers and photographers as a haven for birdlife”, the proposal said.

Dr Ho Hua Chew, who is the Vice-Chairman of the society’s conservation committee, told TODAY that the authorities’ plan to develop the area will destroy about three-quarters of the woodland which is an important sanctuary for migratory birds.

On why the proposal was sent so long after Bidadari had been identified for redevelopment, Dr Ho said: “We were not so familiar with Bidadari, as bird watchers did not like to get into the graveyards. But after they exhumed the area, we started to realise there were many species of birds.”

To date, 141 species of birds have been recorded in the area, which is about 38 per cent of the total number recorded for the whole island. Among the near-threatened or vulnerable bird species found there are the Long-tailed Parakeet, Jambu Fruit Dove, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher.

Dr Ho added: “We are just asking for the boundaries to be realigned, that’s all. In short, instead of using the columbarium as a park, use it as well as the former Christian cemetery for housing, and preserve the woodlands as a park since the HDB (Housing and Development Board) wants to create a park in the town.”

In response to TODAY’s queries, the MND noted that Bidadari “has been announced as one of the new areas for public housing development”. It added: “It is inevitable that some trees may have to be removed in the process of building the new housing estate.

“Nevertheless, we will take into consideration the existing greenery and also public feedback, including conservation as well as other competing interests, as we work with NParks and the Urban Redevelopment Authority on the development plans for Bidadari.” TAN WEIZHEN

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