Updated Singapore Red Data book launches today

A second version of The Singapore Red Data Book, which lists endangered and threatened wildlife here, has been published here after 14 years. It features over 2,700 animals and plants which are threatened.

'If a group wanted to do an environmental impact assessment on a marine site, members would consult it. So would building developers who wanted to flatten a piece of land,'

Examples include the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and Resorts World at Sentosa which have spent millions of dollars on environmental impact assessments before planning their excavations.

Look up Singapore Red Data to preserve heritage
New version of book on threatened species can be a guide for urban planners
Shobana Kesava, Straits Times 29 Nov 08;

POLICYMAKERS and urban planners have been given an up-to-date tool to help them with urban development, while preserving Singapore's natural heritage.

A second version of The Singapore Red Data Book, which lists endangered and threatened wildlife here, has been published here after 14 years.

It features over 2,700 animals and plants which are threatened.

The first edition, spearheaded by biologists from the National University of Singapore (NUS), was meant as a guide for conservationists.

However, a co-editor of the first book, Professor Peter Ng, said government officials, the business community and civil society had turned to it as a major source of reference.

'If a group wanted to do an environmental impact assessment on a marine site, members would consult it. So would building developers who wanted to flatten a piece of land,' said Prof Ng, who is with the university's department of biological sciences, and heads the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research as well as the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Examples include the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and Resorts World at Sentosa which have spent millions of dollars on environmental impact assessments before planning their excavations.

About 50 scientists were involved in the latest effort, which took 10 years to complete. Among them, for the first time, were naturalists from the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Nature Society of Singapore.

Co-editor Dr Ho Hua Chew, chairman of the conservation committee of the Nature Society (Singapore), said it 'showed how engaged all parts of the community were in this decade-long endeavour'.

Not all local species have declined.

The Malayan porcupine, for instance, which was feared extinct, was photographed in Pulau Tekong in 2005.

Others, however, like the cream- coloured giant squirrel, last seen in 1995 in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, may be gone for good.

Dr Geoffrey Davison, who is assistant director at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre and another co-editor of the book, stressed that the fate of many of the species that still remain in Singapore would depend on the survival of the nature reserves.

The Singapore freshwater crab - which is found only here - is a case in point.

In Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, its numbers are dwindling as streams become more acidic, possibly due to acid rain, said Prof Ng.

The only other site where this crab is found is on a hill in Bukit Batok. However, the stream where it was once found in abundance is drying up as the ground water drains away because of building developments on the other side of the hill.

'It would be a waste if this species, which is found nowhere else in the world, disappears,' he said.

Editors of the new information resource hope it will help developers plan around Singapore's natural heritage.

A section on environmental law and how it should be strengthened in Singapore has also been incorporated into the new book.

Data will also be provided to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for the global Red List - which highlights species in danger the world over.

The Singapore Red Data Book, sponsored by petrochemical giant Shell, can be purchased from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at NUS, at the bookstore Nature's Niche off Mandai Road, and from the Nature Society of Singapore, for $20.


More about the launch and updates on the status of our marine life on the wild shores of singapore blog.

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