City of gardens doesn't make a garden city

Straits Times Forum 19 Jul 12;

SINGAPORE has been labelled the Garden City and foreigners often marvel at our ability for urban development while keeping the landscape 'green' ('Preserving Singapore's green heartland'; last Saturday).

The new Gardens by the Bay, the jewel of the Marina Bay skyline, is an example.

But while its bright lights and monolithic tree structures offer photo opportunities for visitors and photographers, the new park does little to provide the ecological support Singapore needs.

A stroll through the eco-places listed in the article in the late evenings or early mornings will surprise a visitor with the variety of fauna supported by these small pockets of lush greenery.

Indeed, most of the areas are not even primary forests or protected reserves, but nature that thrives when left to its own devices.

In my youth, rhinoceros beetles, atlas moths, oriental whip snakes, praying mantises and hornbills were found in these places, some even making their way into nearby homes and gardens.

Sadly, Singapore's special wildlife is fast vanishing because of condominium developments.

Even the species of spider young boys used to catch for fighting is rare now.

The solution is not to build more landscape parks or golf courses with aesthetically pleasing greenery. These no doubt create a habitat for mynahs and changeable lizards, but do nothing for the critical flora and fauna.

The authorities can do much more to extend the perimeter of protected reserves to some of these secondary vegetated areas.

After all, a city of gardens does not make a garden city.

Dr Isaac Seow En

Preserve the natural connection
Straits Times Forum 19 Jul 12;

I APPLAUD Dr Ho Hua Chew's insightful views in his commentary last Saturday ('Preserving Singapore's green heartland').

As an Australian expatriate who has lived here for the past four years, I delight in the safety of Singapore and the efficiency of its public transportation system. But I mourn for Singaporeans over what appears to be the slow death of their natural environment for what can only be explained as monetary gain.

Dr Ho points out the woodlands' soothing therapeutic value for one's psyche. A connection to natural landscapes encourages reflection and allows people to have a greater appreciation for their country.

Instead of looking at these areas of natural beauty as financial opportunities, perhaps those in charge could weigh the need to build yet another mall or soul-less development against the opportunity to provide Singaporeans with permanent connections to their homeland, as well as spaces to truly experience peace.

In an environment of concrete and planned parks, these natural woodlands provide a positive mental and physical break from the stresses of life. They should be protected and loved for their natural beauty.

Katrina Dub'e (Mrs)