Thumbs up for eco-conscious urban development

It is heartening to see the Housing Board making a conscientious effort to minimise the environmental impact of the development of Tengah new town (Help for Tengah wildlife to find a new home; April 5).

Wildlife shepherding is a positive move towards preserving Singapore's biodiversity.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority had previously employed it in its forest clearance in Lentor. Wildlife specialists conducted thorough searches and relocated wildlife from the site before the start of construction work.

This can reduce extensive loss of wildlife and even possible extinction of endangered species. There are, however, other considerations.

First, the success of relocation measures varies with projects.

Sometimes, it could be destructive for the ecosystem of the sites where the wildlife are released. These sites may lack the ecological capacity to accommodate increases in the wildlife population, resulting in competition for food and territory.

Also, the wildlife may not be able to adapt to the new habitat, which could be near residential areas, and thus generate greater human-wildlife conflicts.

Perhaps, to mitigate the consequences of such conflicts, a careful examination of the suitability of release sites and the feasibility of a move could be beneficial.

Additionally, implementing recovery programmes may help ensure that the relocated species are well-integrated into their new environments.

Second, while I am glad to see that an environmental impact study will be conducted and made known to the public, conservation efforts seem to mainly target wildlife.

Equal attention should be given to the conservation of the area's flora, as man-made green spaces are not able to recreate the spontaneity and diversity of natural green spaces.

Lastly, Tengah new town's concept as a "Forest Town" reinforces green living, indicating that Singapore is making headway in balancing developmental and environmental needs.

All these measures are reflective of Singapore's efforts towards environmental sustainability. This is a commendable beginning.

Grace Tay Jia Yi (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Thumbs up for eco-conscious urban development'. Print Edition | Subscribe