Consider impact on wildlife at the outset of urbanisation plans

Although concerns are being raised that works to construct the new wildlife parks in Mandai may force more animals onto roads, putting them at risk of becoming roadkill, it is heartening to see that measures such as a wildlife bridge have been promised to mitigate these effects (Many measures in place to reduce wildlife road incidents, by Mandai Park Development; March 29).

The question, however, is: To what extent do these measures offset the harm brought about by urban development on the fauna that live so close to us?

The idea of a bridge is not new. The Eco-Link@BKE was constructed to link the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve, divided due to the construction of the Bukit Timah Expressway. The bridge was built to allow animals to travel safely between the nature reserves.

However, critics say that some animals that weredisplaced from their homes due to the disturbance caused by the construction are unlikely to use the bridge. What is more, the eco-link is not likely to reverse the stress already caused to animals due to urban construction.

Similar perspectives can be applied to the construction of the new Mandai parks.

Instead of looking from only Singapore's economic and urban interests, environmental specialists should be consulted and their concerns factored into development plans.

Perhaps in the future, instead of implementing follow-up measures to counter the drawbacks of urban planning, the old saying "prevention is better than cure" could be applied when conceptualising urban development plans.

Philippe Pang Shun Wai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2018, with the headline 'Consider impact on wildlife at the outset of urbanisation plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe