Forum: Plucking, picking up fruit in parks, nature reserves: Permission denied

A small durian seen on the ground during a trek.
A small durian seen on the ground during a trek.PHOTO: ST FILE

Permission from the National Parks Board (NParks) is needed before members of the public can pluck or pick up dropped fruit from trees in parks, according to a news report last month.

Those caught taking fruit from a public park without permission face a fine of up to $5,000, and up to $50,000 and/or a jail term of six months for a similar act in a nature reserve or park.

As someone who frequents the nature reserves and occasionally finds and picks up dropped durians, I was naturally disappointed by the news.

I wrote to NParks to find out more about getting permission and was told that members of the public are not allowed to pluck, collect or keep fruits that have fallen naturally to the ground in our parks, nature reserves and along roads in NParks-managed areas.

As there was no mention of seeking permission, I wrote in to clarify. This time, I was told any permission would be assessed on a case by case basis and would depend on the "rationale or reasons".

As the reply did not elaborate on the rationale or reasons, I asked if members of the public, for example joggers, who chance upon a dropped durian in a nature reserve are allowed to pick the fruit for their own consumption.

Two weeks later, NParks replied, repeating the information it had given me earlier. This time, the officer who responded also said: "NParks will not hesitate to take action if we come across individuals wilfully damaging the trees or causing harm to the biodiversity while collecting durians."

Encouraged, I wrote in again seeking clarification.

Two weeks later, the same official replied that "collection of durians are not permissible in the nature reserves and nature parks" in view of safety concerns and the impact to biodiversity when people wander off the trails to find fruits.

The reply added that "any request to collect seeds, cuttings or fruits for research purpose (the person) will need to submit a research permit application".

So after nearly a month of exchanges with NParks, the short answer is "no" - members of the public cannot pluck fruit or collect dropped ones in public parks and nature reserves.

So why even mention the word "permission" in the first place?

Nick Ng