Public debates have often framed the conflict between conservation and deforestation as a zero-sum game: conserve forests for biodiversity or redevelop them to support economic and population growth. In land-scarce and development-driven Singapore, deforestation often continues unabated, greatly affecting the city’s ecology.
Yun Hye Hwang, a landscape researcher based in Singapore frames the problem as socio-ecological. Besides the obvious impacts on biodiversity, deforestation has political and socio-cultural ramifications. An overly technocratic and non-consultative approach in state-driven development of forests may have negative repercussions on state-civil society relations. Likewise, the loss of urban green spaces, many of which also hold cultural value, affects human well-being, physically and psychologically.
In a city where the government’s land-use allocation plan is revisited every 10 to 15 years, when can the views of the public be taken into consideration? What are the attitudes, choices, and voices that guide this conversation? What happens when humans decentre ourselves?