“Let’s make use of natural heritage to cut down huge ecological footprint” [The Straits Times, 26 May 2007]

“Let’s make use of natural heritage to cut down huge ecological footprint,” by Hugh Tan and L.M. Chou and Darren Yeo and Peter Ng. The Straits Times [In Review – Tech & Science], 26 May 2007

No matter how small the habitats, protecting them is better then having them eliminated

WE HAVE become aware of how important the natural heritage is to the environment and to human society. People in this region rely heavily on natural resources – providing them with food and material.

But in urban Singapore, just how useful is our natural heritage? What can we expect from the isolated pockets of nature and how do we justify conservation when the demand for land is so acute?

We do not depend on the natural habitat for food, or material for construction or other purposes. Fishing is carried out but on a limited scale.

As a nation with limited land and sea, we depend very much on imported food and material. Singapore is environmentally unsustainable.

Our ecological footprint is large, estimated at 7.2ha per person. This is the area of land needed to generate the amount of food and material needed by each person here. Our demand is much higher than the global average, which is estimated at 1.7ha per person.

The demand for energy is high as we seek to keep cool indoors. What we have available is equivalent to only 0.1ha per person.

If environmental sustainability is a long way down the road for Singapore, does this mean that we should not worry about protecting the natural environment?

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Navjot Sodhi takes over as programme chief

Peter Ng sent out an email on 3rd May 2007 informing the biodiversity group that he had “formally stepped down as program chief for the Biodiversity Group for DBS.” He’s not taking a break but is moving on to head other initiatives within the department and the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

“With regards to DBS matters of BioD research, curriculum, staff and student matters, I now pass them to the good hands of Navjot Sodhi who can surely take us to the next level …

Head of department Hew Choy Leong chipped in to acknowledge Peter’s contribution that has helped make the team “notorious”!

“On behalf of the department, I want to put on records of our appreciation of the leadership, vision and passion that Peter has provided to the BioD team. You guys are notorious and famous that we all love it.”

Amongst other things, Navjot Sodhi remarked,

“I reckon that the biodiversity group going the “next level” will depend upon our abilities to recruit a few, top-of-the-line, dynamic and young faculty members.”

The gears are already in motion…watch out for news in 2008!