I came across this article in the Prime News section and it mentioned about worries of development work in Mandai affecting the nature reserve and it set me thinking – how important are forests to Singapore? Does Singapore bother about whether we lose our nature?

No doubt Singapore is boasted as a Green City, with trees and shrubs to help provide a nice environment and to turn the overwhelming concrete jungles of Shenton Way into a seemingly nicer place to live in, but when it comes to preserving nature, how well does the government/statutory boards consider it?

I was following the concerns that the Nature Society had put forth to the Minister of State for Trade and Industry and his reply hinted of higher costs, which he probably felt could be circumvented by asking the developer to be sensitive to the environment.

I wonder what constitutes that “sensitivity to the environment”, or does it matter at all?

THE Nature Society has deep reservations about the Government’s plan to release a new site in Mandai for a new tourist attraction.

Dr Ho Hua Chew, who chairs the society’s conservation sub-committee, told The Straits Times yesterday that although the site was not part of the island’s nature reserve, it was an important buffer zone for it.

He noted that a section of the reserve was already in bad shape, with gaps in the forest that robbed the animals of shelter.

Mandai Lake Road, for example, slices right through the area and has created the lack of ‘connectors’ that enable wildlife to move from one part of the reserve to another to forage for food, mates and shelter.

Any new development, therefore, will only further upset the fragile eco-balance of the nature reserve, which is home to rare animals like the leopard cat, the pangolin, the mouse deer and the sambhur deer, said Dr Ho.

When some of the Nature Society’s concerns were put to Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr S. Iswaran, he replied that the new development should have minimal impact on the environment since that was going to be its key feature.

He added that the Government had consulted the relevant authorities and interest groups for their views, and would ensure that the developer understood that the place had to be ‘sensitive to the environment’.

He added, however, that this would make costs ‘a lot higher’.

The Nature Society is unconvinced that this ‘sensitivity to the environment’ is possible.

Dr Ho, who oversees the drawing up of a feedback report, said the society will submit it to the authorities by the middle of next week.

LIM WEI CHEAN

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st November 2007



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