Titles and abstracts


Professor Chou, L.M.
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

With intensive competing demands for the country’s limited space and a high population density, biodiversity conservation in Singapore appears to be a remote luxury as it does not appear to contribute to economic growth. Should Singapore participate in biodiversity conservation? One of the strongest challenges is the fact that the significance of biodiversity in terms of ecological benefits is not fully understood nor appreciated. These benefits are seldom translated into monetary language that is more readily understood by decision makers. There is a direct monetary cost in conserving biodiversity accompanied by a larger indirect economic cost of delayed development. However, Singapore supports international conventions covering biodiversity conservation and has those obligations to fulfill. Can Singapore conserve its biodiversity? The record demonstrates the country’s capability for managing its natural resources. A management and legal framework is in place. There are a number of Nature Parks and Wildlife Reserves. Biodiversity protection is however, almost lacking for the marine environment. Will Singapore conserve its biodiversity? It has done so for some of the terrestrial and coastal habitats, but not all habitats are adequately represented. A few surprises e.g. Chek Jawa emerge occasionally from an otherwise usual policy response of pragmatism due to limited space and economic survival. However, such surprises can be regarded as a “stay of execution”. What is needed is a totally fresh approach where biodiversity protection is not considered in isolation and at the expense of economic growth, but integrated with overall environmental protection and given some importance. Only then can we address sustainable development in a positive and effective manner.