Forum: Nature or people? It's not a binary choice

An aerial view of the private estates in the Upper Thomson area, including the areas around Yew Lian Park.
An aerial view of the private estates in the Upper Thomson area, including the areas around Yew Lian Park.PHOTO: ST FILE

Yew Lian Park resident Daniel Yeo appears to misunderstand the concerns of nature groups regarding the alignment of the Cross Island Line impacting the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (Cross Island Line: Upper Thomson residents breathe a sigh of relief, Dec 5).

In calling on "nature lovers to take a step back and reassess their priorities" and that Singapore should "have our priorities right and put our citizens first", Mr Yeo seems to see the issue in binary terms: protect nature or protect citizens first.

The reality is that protecting nature is critical to protecting citizens' health and livelihood.

An example of the importance of forests is that they prevent soil erosion and landslides. The soil in forests also helps prevent rapid run-off of water after heavy rain, minimising the risk of flooding.

Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. Forests provide cover and prevent reservoirs from drying up.

They also reduce noise pollution, helping to keep Mr Yeo's neighbourhood quieter.

Perhaps nature groups should explain the importance of conserving nature by focusing on the ways that ordinary citizens benefit. Nature lovers are not fighting for the conservation of forests only to enjoy looking at trees and animals. They are also concerned about how Singaporeans will be affected by the destruction of nature with its many benefits.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2019, with the headline 'Nature or people? It's not a binary choice'. Subscribe