Forum: Nothing like exploring nature for oneself, so please don't restrict access

I grew up in the 1980s. I fell in love with sea cucumbers after visiting the old Coralarium situated in a remote corner of Sentosa. For a child, the experience of touching, feeling, discovering and exploring nature for oneself can never be replaced by a TV documentary.

I love the amazing creatures we have at Changi Beach and it is heartbreaking to read about their removal, damage and possible extinction (NParks taking steps to stop manhandling of marine life, June 16).

I welcome volunteer patrols, signs, and community guidelines on the use of the beaches. But I am saddened at the thought of Singapore going down the road of restriction, legislation and more physical barriers to getting close to nature.

Between the keyboard activists and our super-efficient Government, it feels like the "Singaporean way forward" is to simply remove access.

Chek Jawa Wetlands, Labrador Nature Reserve's rocky shore, Sisters' Islands Marine Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are already protected. The wildlife there is also off-limits to curious little hands.

Looking at wildlife through glass or from a boardwalk 3m above is a different experience from holding a sea star in the palm of your hand, running your fingers over an anemone or discovering a hermit crab hiding in an old empty shell.

There are not many accessible shores in Singapore. Although there is optimistic growth of marine life at St John's, Semakau and other islands, army and farming areas are not accessible to the public.

Every time I go to the beach, I am armed with plastic bags and a knife because, inevitably, there are tangled fishing lines littering the intertidal zone. Picking up trash with my children is, unfortunately, a necessary part of our tidal walks. But I would never suggest that fishing be banned in Singapore. Fishing is therapeutic and relaxing for thousands of nature lovers.

Relaxing in open spaces during this pandemic is a crucial need, and there are six million of us, so let's work to keep our nature accessible to all.

My plea is that we come together as a community to work together, share the wonder and make things better. But please don't shut nature areas down.

Sharon Szto Hwei Fung