Keep fine balance between nature and urbanisation

ST FILE PHOTO

What a beautiful creature our unofficial national bird, the crimson sunbird (right), is.

And it comes with a red breast as well, in keeping with our national colours ("Is it the national bird? Er... not official yet"; Tuesday).

Apart from deciding on our national bird, official or not, it is important to note that our birds are thriving, and must be allowed to continue to do so.

The diversity of species for such a small island is quite mind-blowing, as evidenced by the various bird calls that come from just a single tree in my garden every morning.

This goes to show that the environment in Singapore is conducive to their existence.

It is quite noticeable that there has been a surge in the numbers and types to be found in recent years.

This is proof that we have got it right, that by implementing the right policies and listening to those who are concerned and involved, we have built up this nation without depriving nature of its space altogether.

These birds can be found throughout much of the island, not just in forested areas, but in housing estates as well.

Of course, they have also learnt to adapt to city living, for better or for worse.

But we must continue our efforts to fashion a way in which they can co-exist with us. We must not rest on our laurels and lose what we have achieved.

Of course, development will continue to pose a challenge to the flora and fauna found here, but it must be done with preservation in mind.

This is where those who understand nature must be brought in to advise, where feasible, so that we do not suffer any further loss of natural habitats.

Where possible, we should also find ways to incorporate nature into our plans when building housing or when industrialising and urbanising.

This measured approach, with much thought given to maintaining the balance, will not only help our small pockets of nature reserves that are still alive, but will also benefit our future generations.

More should also be done to bring in schools and children, and make them realise what needs to be done, if we are not to lose our natural heritage.

This is even more critical in a small city-state like ours, with its limited natural resources.

Nature must be considered one of our natural resources, which has an impact on our future. We must never lose sight of this, and we must inculcate by persistent instruction, both at home and in school, the need to value animals and plants which add to our lives, aesthetically and practically.

Manoraj Rajathurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Keep fine balance between nature and urbanisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe