In 2013, Singapore commemorated 50 years of greening Singapore. Singapore’s Garden City journey began in 1963, when then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planted a Mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum), signifying the start of the greening campaign.
Through the dedication and commitment of its pioneers and the community, the city’s landscape has transformed to one where Greenery is a major feature.
Over the decades, flowering species have been introduced to make our streetscape more vibrant. The pervasive green network of nature reserves, parks, park connectors, tree-lined roads and other natural areas has made living in the city more pleasant. Efforts to conserve natural heritage have seen four areas gazetted as nature reserves and there has been an increase in wildlife.
As Singapore continues to evolve into a biophilic City in a Garden, we have identified six key areas to guide our efforts towards fulfilling this vision. They include:
1) Establishing world-class gardens
With 160 years of history, the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) is an institution for botanical research, and a place which holds many of our special memories. The Singapore Botanic Gardens was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015. In the coming years, we aim to strengthen SBG’s role as a premier botanical institution, cement its position as a premier world-class attraction, and showcase its rich heritage.
Opened in mid-2012, Gardens by the Bay (GB) has captured the imagination of Singaporeans, and the rest of the world, by showcasing the best in horticulture and garden artistry. By developing a wide range of exciting events and programmes, GB has become a “People’s Garden” too – a place for Singaporeans from all walks of life to enjoy.
2) Rejuvenating urban parks and enliven streetscape
Our parks are havens where Singaporeans can all come together to play, celebrate, reflect and connect. We want to rejuvenate key parks and develop them into leisure destinations that attract visitors from all over the island.
When we first started planting trees, the emphasis was to green up the city as fast as possible. Over the years, we have introduced more flowering species to beautify the city. We have also recently started developing streetscape gardens with the support of the community. We are exploring ways to make our streetscape even more vibrant and engaging for everyone.
3) Optimising urban spaces for greenery and recreation
There are tremendous opportunities for us to introduce more greenery into our urban landscape. We have already developed park connectors to link Singaporeans to major parks, nature sites and housing estates.
We are looking into creating thematic greenways that offer Singaporeans a new leisure dimension, connecting communities to nature, historical, cultural and recreational sites. We are also planning to do more to bring greenery skywards. Unused spaces below MRT tracks and under viaducts could also be transformed into green spaces for recreation.
4) Enriching biodiversity in our urban environment
Singapore, by virtue of its geographical location, has rich biodiversity. To conserve our natural heritage, we will continue to focus on ensuring the health of key species and ecosystems, restoring our natural areas and enhancing our nature reserves.
We have been successful in increasing the numbers of some native species, including dragonflies, butterflies, and even hornbills. More can be done to reintroduce selected native species into our environment, and extend biodiversity further into the urban landscape. We believe urban living can be enriched by having daily close encounters with nature.
5) Strengthening capacities in animal and plant health, animal welfare and management
Through the Animal and Veterinary Service, NParks works closely with partners in the veterinary and animal sectors to strengthen capacities and enhance competencies in animal and plant health, animal welfare and management.
6) Enhancing competencies of our landscape and horticulture, veterinary and animal industries
We have been working closely with industry partners to initiate a range of programmes to raise skills standards of industry workers. In 2007, we set up the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE), a national training institution for the landscape industry. CUGE has since trained many batches of local workers. We will do more to help restructure industry operations, raise industry productivity and seek new solutions in urban greening and conservation through applied research.
We will also engage and work with stakeholders to develop holistic and science-based strategies, and effective responses to animal health, welfare and management, as well as plant health.
7) Engaging and inspiring communities to co-create a greener Singapore
By creating a self-help network among residents, schools and organisations, there are now over 1400 community gardens. We would like to establish a similar network of individuals and groups to join us in conserving Singapore’s natural heritage. Indeed, it is crucial that we work hand-in-hand with the community to make the biophilic City in a Garden a reality.