Foraging, care for nature can go hand in hand

It is for good reason that there are laws in place here to prevent the rampant harvesting of edible fruit and plants on state land managed by the Singapore Land Authority or the National Parks Board (Hungry? Singapore is an edible Garden City; March 25).

First, improper handling may damage the plants, leaving them vulnerable to diseases.

Second, the fruits are a vital part of the urban ecosystem - birds and other animals are dependent on these for survival.

At the same time, however, it is heartening to know that there is growing interest in foraging.

Foraging requires one to be observant of the surroundings, making one more attuned to the environment. This provides an opportunity to nurture a sense of connection to, and ownership of, the environment.

The need to protect plants and the interest in foraging do not have to be in conflict, and can be aligned to the common cause of caring for our land and community.

Yet, the need to protect plants and the interest in foraging do not have to be in conflict, and can be aligned to the common cause of caring for our land and community.

We can learn from other countries that allow foraging and, perhaps, instead of an all-encompassing law that forbids all foraging, we can adopt one that enables a person to forage for his personal consumption.

Also, interest groups conducting foraging tours can help educate the public on responsible foraging and proper handling methods.

With the vulnerability of the natural habitats we have left, any activity that can potentially harm the ecosystem should be looked into carefully.

We could start with a test bed - allowing sustainable foraging with clear guidelines in a controlled area, complemented with education.

This allows for the measurement of the impact of foraging on the environment .

I look forward to the day when sustainable foraging and responsible ownership of our land will be an ingrained part of our culture.

Tham Hui Hui (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'Foraging, care for nature can go hand in hand'. Print Edition | Subscribe