Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bukit Timah Cycling Trail - Improvement but at a cost!

After the original posting was done, I was contacted by NPark Officer to clarify the situation that I have observed,  I do appreciate the prompt response, and the explanations that have been given. The explanation and clarification, was about the safety of the users of the trail.  As most of us may know, occasionally there will be incidents involving the hikers and cyclists on common trail (like this one), and NPark has decided to create a new route solely for cyclists. 

This old trail will be used by hikers; and a new cycling trail will be created.  However, the choke point will still be at the bridge.  By then, the cycling trail will be on level ground instead of slope, and thus and hopefully, the cyclist speed would have slowed down.
In the process of creating this new cycling trail, I was told that NPark and the contractor have already surveyed the ground; and those trees that have been fell were dead, and to prevent it from uprooting or crashing unexpectedly, they were fell.  Further, I was also told that stringent measures have been taken to ensure that

  • the wheel barrow that is being used cannot be wider than the track
  • saplings that are removed will have to be replanted
  • trails that are created for the ease of construction will have to be returned to their former condition

Though I appreciate such measures being taken, however as a frequent hikers in this area, I wish that more appropriate action can be taken as I have seen the forest degrading.  For the past 7/8 years, I have seen 

  • many trees uprooted; 
  • erosion of the ground leading to exposed roots; 
  • newer trails to circumvent fallen obstacles and the unusual high steps.
  • more and more "sun seeking" ferns flourishing in areas that trees have fell

Going back to the original post that started this discourse; the forest can recover, but at its own recovery speed, and we (NPark and users of the reserve) can assist, if we
  • do not create unnecessary trails
  • do not cut down trees, though safety reason can be cited, but then this is a reserve, and not a park. He who enters the reserve, must know the risks, for beside falling branches there are also poisonous scorpions and snakes! 
  • be vigilant to ensure minimal damage is done in the name of "improvement"
  • be transparent to the reason for closed trail (to the public, Tiup Tiup path is always closed; and the last communication to the public via the newspaper was a landslide in that area, but that was many years ago!)

From the Dairy Farm Road, leading to Wallace Centre, there is this signboard that said "Cycling Trail being improved"

But a mould of dirt block the common passage, thus forcing trekkers and cyclists alike to form new trial to circumvent this obstruction! New trail means new "dead" zone!  This is an example of convenience for the contractor, but at the expense of the forest. Here I wish the NPark will educate the contractor to be more considerate.

The actual cycling trail is lower from where this worker in purple was going, but this is a short cut from the mould of dirt to the working site.  Again, it may be convenient, but a new trail has been created. I would opt for the usage of the cylcing trail even if I have to travel a few metres more!

This is the actual cycling trail.  The fell trees as mentioned were dead before they were fell.

It used to be dark, and that is what a rain forest should be, but with fallen trees - the canopy has a big gap, and in the tree's place, pioneer species will sprout, and soon it will be fern and softwood tree!

This tree is healthy and located opposite the cycling trail.  It is not dead, for leaves are seen sprouting from the stump. Though the explanation (not confirm) is that the trunk may have snapped, and thus it was cut.
I would like to thank all readers who have stopped by to read and browse, and hopefully this posting has brought much awareness for all.  We are all living on a small island, and there are economics reason as well as recreation that need to be balanced.
We all have to do our parts, if we are to pass down this natural heritage to our future generations.

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