SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) will gradually step up the trimming of green verges as measures are eased after the "circuit breaker" period, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling said in Parliament on Friday (Jun 5).
Regular maintenance of the green verges are necessary for public health and safety reasons, she said.
“For example, tall grass may conceal discarded litter, making dengue control operations more difficult. They also pose a fire risk during prolonged periods of dry weather.”
This was in response to a question by Nominated Member of Parliament Walter Theseira, who asked the Ministry of National Development whether less frequent maintenance of green verges can reduce public expenditure, lower foreign manpower needs and improve biodiversity.
He also asked if there have been any benefits to the environment and wildlife from reducing the frequency of green verge maintenance along public roads and paths during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period, which lasted from Apr 7 to Jun 1.
Photos of long grass and wildflowers growing more abundantly on green verges have been shared on social media recently as the frequency of maintenance fell during the circuit breaker.
Ms Sun said that even before the circuit breaker period, NParks has been implementing "naturalistic planting" at some green verges along public roads and paths.
This includes Nature Ways, routes that are planted with trees and shrubs to replicate the natural structure of forests. There are 24 Nature Ways in Singapore, stretching 100km in total.
"They make paths cooler and more comfortable for users, and facilitate the movement of birds and butterflies between green spaces," Ms Sun said.
These measures have benefited the environment and biodiversity, and reduced the frequency of greenery maintenance needed, she added. Thus, NParks will continue to identify more sites to be curated and managed as naturalistic landscapes, and implement more Nature Ways.
NParks will also continue to encourage productivity in the greenery maintenance sector, Ms Sun said.
“Such work is increasingly being mechanised and innovative technologies are being applied to reduce the need for manual labour.”