A little foraging for fruit and plants won't hurt

I am bemused that the Singapore Land Authority and National Parks Board do not allow people to freely harvest fruit or plants from public land such as parks and nature reserves and along roads, while many other countries do allow this practice (Hungry? Singapore is an edible Garden City; March 25).

If the authorities are worried that allowing foraging would result in hordes of people descending on parks and nature reserves and overharvesting and damaging the overall natural environment, or depriving indigenous animals of their food, their fears may be unfounded.

Most people are more accustomed to getting their fresh produce from wet markets or supermarkets.

The people who do forage for fruit and plants on public land are in the minority.

I have also been to a few fruit and vegetable farms here where people could pick as much produce as they like and then pay for them.

Some may say that it may be in the people's interests that foraging is prohibited as people may pick a fruit or plant that is poisonous.

However, such problems could be easily solved by having guided tours for interested folk - something which has seen growing popularity.

People have been seen picking up fallen fruit along the roadside; it seems such a waste to let such delectable fruit lie rotting on the ground.

Foraging is not restricted to land. My brother used to go fishing at permitted places like Bedok Jetty, sometimes returning home with a sizeable fish or two for the dining table.

We should share the fruits of our garden city with our people. If people can fish in a sustainable way, there is more reason to allow certain parts of our parks, nature reserves and roadsides to be open to restricted foraging.

Park rangers could stop people from harvesting more than what is necessary for personal consumption.

Also, to protect the environment, restaurants keen on foraging for kitchen ingredients should grow their own instead.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'A little foraging for fruit and plants won't hurt'. Print Edition | Subscribe