EIAs: Enigmas In Action?

This month, we look at the subject of EIA – Environmental Impact Assessment, a very current topic, especially so because of the Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) and its impact on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve of MacRitchie. We have three speakers – Natalia Huang of Ecology Matters, who will speak of the EIA process, and Tony O’Dempsey of Nature Society (Singapore), who will detail the engagement process and share significant issues in the course of completing the EIA report for the CRL, and Lahiru Wijedasa, who will provide his insights on the methods outlined in the EIA report, focusing on some potential effects on the trees in MacRitchie.

Natalia’s Talk:
EIAs: Enigmas In Action?: Stories from an EIA wildlife consultant in Singapore

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is crucial in minimising impacts of human development on the environment. EIAs are carried out across the world using a variety of methods and at varying standards. In Singapore, the EIA process has previously been criticised for lack of transparency, leaving outsiders largely unaware of how studies are conducted, the results, and development decisions made thereafter. However, the EIA industry is improving in Singapore, with greater numbers of projects requiring ecological studies to determine impacts of developments on the flora and fauna.

Tony’s Talk:
Tony O’Dempsey was involved along with other conservation experts in the working group discussions with LTA over the past years since the announcement of the CRL project. He will provide insight into the process of engagement and significant issues dealt with culminating in the completion and recent publication of the EIA report. He will round off his talk with a review of lessons learnt, and how we can improve the process of public consultation for future projects.

Lahiru’s Talk:
Lahiru was involved in overseeing the developments of tree-friendly construction within the Singapore Botanic Gardens. For instance the boardwalks in the Singapore Gardens Jungle and the Healing Gardens – both projects involved tree-friendly construction techniques around large, rare, historic and heritage trees. He will provide his insights on the methods outlined in the EIA report with a focus on some of the potential effects they may have on the trees in MacRitchie.

Date: 25 February 2016 (Thurs)
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: SingJazz Club, 101 Jalan Sultan, #02-00, The Sultan.
Admission: Free (contributions to society accepted)
RSVP: Via Facebook or email greendrinkssingapore@gmail.com

See you there!

About our speakers
Natalia Huang runs Ecology Matters Pte Ltd, a wildlife consultancy which has been conducting EIAs in Singapore for the past two years. She is a zoologist and ecologist interested in biodiversity conservation. She has previously worked in the EIA industry in Western Australia, in environmental departments of governments and in environmental NGOs. In this session, Natalia will share her experience of the EIA process in Singapore, with particular reference to fauna studies, and hopefully make EIAs in Singapore less of an enigma.

Tony is a current council member of the Nature Society (Singapore) and former chair of its Vertebrate Study Group. Tony has been working as a volunteer on various conservation projects relating to the Nature Reserves for the past 20 years and is very familiar with the forest habitats of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. He is also the principle editor of the NSS Position paper on the Cross Island Line and was on the CRL working group committee working with LTA on EIA matters.

Lahiru Wijedasa is an ecologist, botanist and arborist now doing his PhD research at NUS. He was formerly the Senior Arborist of the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) for 8 years. He was in charge of maintenance of the health of the trees in the gardens including the maintenance of the heritage trees in the gardens and the 5 hectare gardens jungle. He has experience in construction of gardens within SBG with a particular emphasis on preservation of trees from construction damage.

[Photo courtesy of Leong Kwok Peng]

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