Looking forward to 2017

2016: Notable events

Part of Singapore's climate action plan includes improving coastal protection.
Part of Singapore's climate action plan includes improving coastal protection.ST FILE PHOTO
Macaques at MacRitchie Reservoir, located in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Macaques at MacRitchie Reservoir, located in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.ST FILE PHOTO
An artist's impression of the new Rainforest Park in Mandai.
An artist's impression of the new Rainforest Park in Mandai.PHOTO: MANDAI SAFARI PARK HOLDINGS

Fighting climate change

This year will go down in history as the year in which concrete steps to mitigate climate change were taken. The Paris climate pact, successfully negotiated by almost 200 nations last December, became international law last month.

In July, Singapore outlined its action plan to help the nation meet its green targets - a key strategy of which is to continue to improve energy efficiency across all sectors, namely power generation, industry, buildings, transport, household, waste and water.

The plan also laid out measures to help Singapore boost its resilience to climate change amid erratic weather patterns, in areas such as coastal protection, managing the water supply and improving food supply resilience.

Cross Island Line

To build or not to build a train tunnel under a nature reserve - that is a question that the authorities have yet to answer. Still, debates over whether the 50km Cross Island Line should go under or around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve were heightened since February, when the Land Transport Authority unveiled the findings of the first phase of an environmental impact assessment.

The study had found that tests to see how the train tunnel could be built through the nature reserve would have a "moderate" impact on plants and animals there, but only if measures to reduce the impact are strictly implemented. Otherwise, the soil investigation works could have a large impact on highly sensitive parts of the nature reserve.

Mandai makeover

Singapore will have an eco-tourism hub of five wildlife parks by 2023, when development of the leafy Mandai area is complete.

The area will also have eco-lodges, free-access public spaces such as boardwalks and playgrounds, and a nature-themed education centre, according to plans unveiled by developer Mandai Park Holdings in June.

But as the area sits just outside the biodiversity-rich Central Catchment Nature Reserve, nature groups have pointed out the irony in replacing native biodiversity with imported wildlife.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline '2016: Notable events'. Print Edition | Subscribe