Forum: Concerned about risk of vegetation fires in Singapore

I read with concern reports on forest and bush fires that have decimated precious forests acting as carbon sinks, as well as the homes of people in countries like the United States, Australia, Greece and Turkey.

It is clear that the impact of climate change can no longer be ignored. But unfortunately, in the next few years, many countries may be preoccupied with more pressing concerns like Covid-19.

While reading the news on climate change and also on local nature groups striving to retain the remaining nature reserves and secondary forests here, I started to worry whether citizens, nature lovers, environmentalists, scientists and government agencies are giving due consideration to the possibility of forest and bush fires also spreading beyond control in Singapore.

Over the years, I have personally witnessed fires in areas such as green fields and expressway medians. The likely causes for some of these fires appeared to be unattended incense burning, cigarette butts or even lightning strikes.

Even so, climate change may potentially aggravate the situation and cause such fires to spread beyond control.

We are building our infrastructure closer and closer to nature.

Our parks are linked via park connectors. "Green" buildings come with plant facades, and residential developments are integrated with green spaces.

Buildings built with engineered timber are becoming more common. Will our homes, schools and other critical infrastructure be at risk of burning down if the adjacent fields or parks catch fire?

Is it safe to think that this will never happen in Singapore?

This is an issue that deserves attention in our national conversation on climate change.

Ben Tan

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.