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30 Nov 06
Make nature's riches the lure
Planned development of southern islands must avoid harming area's biodiversity
Letter from Maryanne Maes
I was dismayed to hear of the Singapore Government's plan to convert six of our naturally beautiful islands into more havens for the wealthy ("Kusu: Playground of the rich?", Nov 29).
Any development in a natural setting will have significant ramifications on the surrounding wildlife.
As it is, Singapore has not yet honoured Principle 17 of the Rio Declaration to make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) mandatory for development projects that may potentially harm our wildlife.
I am not confident that our planning authorities have reached a level of environmental awareness and commitment to protect our natural treasures, especially the marine species. St John's and Kusu Islands harbour rich marine and terrestrial biodiversities.
A simple seabed dredging activity would suffocate the beautiful corals with silt--what more a major overhaul of the islands?
Sooner or later, when the hype of the southern island resorts dies down--there are many more beautifully natural ones in the world--would the Government then look into developing other islands?
We have already had near-misses in cases such as the proposal to develop Lower Peirce Reservoir into another golf course--scrapped only after the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) intervened with their EIA report, which provided a more balanced review of the reservoir development.
The Government had also earlier intended to do away with Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, until the NSS intervened with the startling discovery of a rich biodiversity hidden in our own backyard.
This treasure is now revered by growing numbers of visitors to the island--nature does bring in the bucks.
I hope the authorities will take a hard look at the problems their development plans would cause to the wildlife.
Without an EIA, the public cannot be informed of how our corals, fishes and wildlife habitats will be affected by URA's plans.
I also hope the authorities will take careful and innovative measures that can integrate undisturbed nature with development. This can be developed into a unique niche for our super-rich guests, as what Banyan Tree Resorts have demonstrated in many of its locations.
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