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N. Sivasothi,
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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Thu 01 Apr 2004

Grimacing over the Southern Islands?

Category : marine

In Singapore, our nature reserves are our best guarantee for preservation of the environment. In our rapidly growing country, many of us are familiar with the well known operative phrase "as long as it is not needed for development". Even the phenomenal stay of execution for Chek Jawa was a 10 year lease.

Few contest unreasonably against economic needs - there would probably be few supporters. However, the fear in many quarters is perhaps reflected by those who protect trees. The simple question often begs "were alternatives exhausted?" And there are enough instances when they were clearly not. An old tree, its shade, ambience, dust-absorbing ability, memories and rootedness to the community is not replaceable in a life time.

Developers leave a completed site, and planners turn their attention to other projects. All blissfully unaware or relieved to have escaped scrutiny. Leaving behind a community who experiences the irreparable loss each waking day. And especially cruel to those who find out it all happened overnight.

It is true that marine life has not fared well in Singapore. The average visibility has reduced from the 10 metres of the 1960s to the 2 metres of today. Some 60% of total coral reef area has been lost to nearshore reclamation and estimates suggest about 70% percent of Singapore's reefs are degraded compared to conditions 50 years ago. No surprises here. The surprise is that Singaporešs fringing and patch reefs, estimated at about 54 sq. km. in area, are host to more than 197 hard coral species in 55 genera and 111 species of reef fish from 30 coral families.*

But there are no marine reserves.

Ria Tan and friends have been exploring the inter-tidal areas of our southern shores and now warily keep track of the news about the Southern Shores of Singapore.

In September 2003, the Commodore of Republic of Singapore Yatch Club sent a letter to the URA expressing their interest in 'being kept informed of the plans for development for the Southern Islands and the surrounding waterways.'

Returning SIF Marine Conservation volunteers decided to to raise awareness of marine issues as a group called Blue Water Volunteers. Data from research since the 1980's is going online at Coral Reefs of Singapore.

Debby and friends have declared, "Pulau Hantu - a celebration of marine life" on their recently featured blog. Other divers are contributing photos and they are 'talking about Hantu' at FinsOnline.

Recently, BP/Singapore Science Centre launched "A Guide to Sea stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", which featured a surprising 90 species of these animals. During the slideshow, author and marine scientist David Lane, had to wonder repeatedly if places he was showing the audience still existed!

An article about the "Proposed development of Southern Islands" was just featured in the New Paper on 31 Mar 2004; click for pdf.

So, what do you think?

The government's feedback unit is soliciting thoughts about A casino in Singapore? - until 16th April 2004.

Posted at 6:52PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news