SINGAPORE: Singapore plans to plant 1 million trees and develop more and better connected green spaces over the next 10 years, said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Wednesday (Mar 4), as he announced a new stage of urban planning for the National Parks Board (NParks).
“We want to transform Singapore into a City in Nature to provide Singaporeans with a better quality of life while co-existing with flora and fauna of this island,” said Mr Lee.
“Indeed, with climate change, more extreme weather conditions, increased urbanisation, we must do more on this front.”
In February, NParks unveiled plans to create a 6km green connection linking the Singapore Botanic Gardens to the Singapore River. NParks also plans to redesign the Istana Park at Dhoby Ghaut by combining it with its surrounding green spaces.
Moving from Singapore being a “City in a Garden”, the country's bid to become a “City in Nature” comprises four key thrusts: More nature parks, enhancing the natural environment in new and existing parks and gardens, integrating nature into the built environment and making green spaces more accessible.
By 2030, there will be another 200ha of nature parks, which act as complementary habitats and buffer nature reserves from urbanisation, said Mr Lee, who is also the Minister for Social and Family Development. A 40ha nature park is planned for Khatib Bongsu.
“This is important as nature reserves are the richest sources of our natural capital. They contain our primary and secondary rainforests, and core habitats for our native biodiversity and wildlife,” said Mr Lee.
Currently, nature parks are being established around Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. Members of the public may use the space for nature-based recreation such as hiking and bird watching.
Over the next five years, NParks will also develop 140ha of new gardens and parks in Sengkang, Punggol, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Timah.
Waterways and water bodies in gardens and parks will also be made more natural “to protect against sea-level rise and flooding”, said Mr Lee.
Other than that, NParks plans to conserve over 70 more native animal and plant species and enhance 30ha of forest, marine and coastal habitats over the next 10 years.
Roads, buildings and industrial estates will also become more green, as NParks aims to plant more trees.
Multi-tiered planting - started in 2013 - will continue to be implemented along roads, with these roads being called Nature Ways. Over the next 10 years, NParks hopes to create 300km of Nature Ways, and to make every road a Nature Way in the long-term.
Industrial estates, one of the hottest areas in Singapore, will get more than 100,000 trees over the next 10 years.
There will also be an additional 80ha of skyrise greenery over the next 10 years, which will bring the total skyrise greenery to 200ha by 2030.
More park connectors will also be available, with up to 500km of park connectors to be established by 2030, effectively putting “all households within a 10 minute-walk of a park”, said Mr Lee.
There are currently 340km of park connectors.
WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
NParks will work with the community in greening Singapore, said Mr Lee, announcing the launch of the One Million Trees movement over the next 10 years. Currently, NParks plants about 50,000 trees a year.
“We want a whole new generation of Singaporeans to carry on this responsibility to keep planting and nurturing trees, for the benefit of future Singaporeans,” said Mr Lee.
So far, about 100 individuals and more than 100 groups and organisations have pledged their support to plant more than 120,000 trees.
Some of these organisations and groups include Friends of the Park community, Community in Nature schools, Community in Bloom gardening groups, the National University of Singapore (NUS), JTC, OCBC and Shimizu and their contractors.
Keppel Corporation has also pledged S$3 million to plant 10,000 trees in parks and nature reserves over the next five years, being the single largest tree planting donation to date.
NUS will plant 80,000 trees on its campus over the next 10 years, while JTC and its stakeholders will plant 30,000 trees on Jurong Island.
By 2030, NParks aims to expand its volunteer network from its current 48,000 to 70,000, and to work closely with more schools and partners in reforestation efforts and citizen science projects. It also hopes to expand the Community in Bloom programme by providing more allotment gardens and encouraging planting of edibles.
Working closely with the community also means that communities can help to design, build, manage and programme more than 50 parks and estates by 2025. This includes activities such as designing park signage, promoting park etiquette and partnering gardeners for landscape planting.