What is the value of our natural seashores?
(a personal letter submitted to the Ministry of Trade and Industry as part
of their request for feedback on plans to develop the Southern Islands)
What is the price of the Southern Island shores? In dollar and cents, reclaimed
and reformed, they could potentially bring in substantial revenues as tourist
development. How much will it cost? Will there be sufficient returns on
investment in reclamation? What is the potential long term returns? These
are issues that are easier to work out than the next question...
|What is the value
of the Southern Island shores in their natural state? How do they
contribute to the soul of the nation, the character of Singaporeans
and the kind of bonding that Singaporeans have with each other and
Here's a longer discourse of how our wild natural
places can contribute to a stronger Singapore
As a highly developed country, Singapore still has some spectacular natural
life that we can be proud of.
Southern Islands reefs are rich
even by world class standards. Singapore reefs have almost half
the number of coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef, although
Singapore reefs are only 0.0154% that of the Barrier Reef. Singapore's
reefs harbour a bewildering variety of lifeforms.
For photos and more about the
wildlife on our Southern Shores.
During our Southern Islands photo exhibition at Asian
Dive Expo in April this year, one Singaporean told us that he
went all the way to Manado to photograph the anemone
shrimp in our photo. These shrimps are quite common on our shores
and easily viewed even by non-divers during low tide.
Another remarked that he had seen
an octopus only once in his 10 years of diving in the region.
We shared that we usually saw at least one if not more octopuses on
EVERY trip we made to the Southern Shore. These amazing creatures
can reach 1m in diameter, are very common on our shores and often
encountered even by non-divers at low tide.
were also amazed to learn that we have "Nemos" (Clownfish)
too. These are quite common, and happily frolick among the fabulous
anemones of our shores. Again, they are easily seen at low tide by
non-divers. More photos
of the delightful fishes.
rich reefs, however, are obscured by the poor visibility of our waters,
currently about 1.5m on a good day. Our waters are NOT polluted, just
full of sediments. At low tide, the waters can be as clear as glass,
affording a brief glimpse of the amazing life on our shores. These
sediments are caused by the extensive reclamation, dredging and other
large scale human activities in the area. In the 1960's, visibility
was 10m and our waters were as clear and beautiful as Tioman's.
If we clear up our Southern waters, it is entirely possible that we
can have a natural attraction as magnificent as some of Malaysia's
and Thailand's dive spots.
How wonderful if Singapore can be an example of a country that attained
economic growth while showing sensitivity to the things that matter
to the soul of the nation.
Let us the consider the value of our natural assets and not just their
price. Let us not be among those who know the price of everything
but the value of nothing.
The Southern Islands are the last of our shores currently spared from
A win-win situation would be for the Islands to be developed while preserving
the priceless and irreplaceable natural shores. And for all Singaporeans
to continue to have access to our natural heritage, a special part of what
makes Singapore truly unique.
Best regards, Ria.