Edge Effects and Invasive influences on Bukit Timah Forest and impact on the Forest Interior Environment

Project Number
RI 1/12 KC

Project Duration
June 2013 - December 2015

Status
Completed

Abstract
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, about 12 kms from the city centre and surrounded by high-density residential areas, is the only remaining primary tropical rainforest. With the increasing demand for living close to Nature, the vicinities of the pristine forest of Bukit Timah offer attractive living options for an increasing number of people. Since the surrounding areas were demarcated for condominium living, development has gradually crept close to the forest edges and the newest developments are getting increasingly closer to the forest boundaries. Added to this, main roadways have also kept pace, providing efficient infrastructure. The cumulative effects of all this urban development has left Bukit Timah forest practically surrounded by non-forested environment of open spaces, concrete covered hard surfaces, closely-spaced high rise structures, leaving hardly any buffer area to dampen the effects of open areas on the forest interiors. Such changes are expected to affect the forest interior micro-climate as temperature differences, wind speeds, relative humidity, light intensity, soil moisture, soil temperature and several other forest environmental parameters are expected to exhibit sharp gradients across the edges. Since Bukit Timah is a rather small forest, such external influences are expected to have important inroads into the forest interiors and the internal forest characteristics are expected to show much difference. The overall result can be a permanently altered forest interior environment, which, in turn, will affect the quality of the forest ecosystem. With altered environmental conditions in the interiors, there are dangers of invasive species gaining foothold, which again will alter the character of the forest in the long run. Some studies have been done on isolated issues relating to the forest trails conditions, floral characteristics, sediment dynamics, and slope processes within the forest. Much of that is done by the PI, for a number of years. The present research aims to look at the sustainability of the forest environment in a comprehensive way, to assess the spatial extent of impact of the non-forested environment at the outer boundaries, to map the forest segments impacted, and also to assess the ways some of the forest interior segments can be revived, in spite of the heavy usage of the forest interiors by visitors. This research will build up on already completed research done on established patterns of forest usage and impact on the environment, specifically on the forest surface conditions. The proposed research plans to complete the assessment of the impact of encroaching and intrusive fragmentation over the years. It is expected that the findings will be able to establish an acceptable status to balance both development around and usage of the forest within to maintain sustainability in the last remnant rainforest in Singapore. The research will be heavily based on field data and, hence, the results will be specifi The present research aims to look at the sustainability of the forest environment in a comprehensive way, to assess the spatial extent of impact of the non-forested environment at the outer boundaries, to map the forest segments impacted, and also to assess the ways some of the forest interior segments can be revived, in spite of the heavy usage of the forest interiors by visitors. This research will build up on already completed research done on established patterns of forest usage and impact on the environment, specifically on the forest surface conditions. The proposed research plans to complete the assessment of the impact of encroaching and intrusive fragmentation over the years. It is expected that the findings will be able to establish an acceptable status to balance both development around and usage of the forest within to maintain sustainability in the last remnant rainforest in Singapore.

Funding Source
NIE

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