Value Singapore's last wilderness areas

A forest is a natural wilderness area inhabited by wildlife, and a town is an urban construct.
A forest is a natural wilderness area inhabited by wildlife, and a town is an urban construct. PHOTO: HDB CORP

I cannot agree more that "nature is an important buffer against climate change" (Decisions to clear land, forest not taken lightly: Desmond Lee, March 7) and I am concerned that we are under-valuing our last wilderness areas (Dispute over key findings of Tengah environmental study, Jan 12).

A forest is a natural wilderness area inhabited by wildlife, and a town is an urban construct.

A town cannot be a forest and a forest cannot be a town.

Therefore, calling it Tengah Forest Town would be a misnomer.

As we mark our bicentennial and 700 years of history, let's not overlook our natural heritage which must be valued as a national asset for us culturally and as critical support for our survival.

The final bits of wilderness on this island are not ours to squander in the name of development.

We must leave this precious wild legacy for our children and future generations.

On a planetary level, we are dealing with a very real and alarming climate change crisis caused by the impact of human development.

Combating it requires unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, especially in sectors like land, building and transport.

The world's wilderness areas are shrinking at a horrific rate, with 77 per cent of the world's wilderness lost, and just 23 per cent untouched by humans.

In terms of biodiversity loss, global populations of wildlife have declined by a staggering 60 per cent since 1970 due to human impact.

In Singapore, our primeval rain forests have been whittled to less than 0.3 per cent.

With rising temperatures and sea levels, and given the inter-connectivity between the well-being of humans and the health of nature and biodiversity, we must seriously rethink what value the last wilderness areas means for us in Singapore.

We need to act now to preserve them.

Teresa Teo Guttensohn (Ms)