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To create the best living environment through excellence in nature conservation, greenery and recreation, and veterinary care, in partnership with the community
Let's make Singapore our City in Nature
- Environmental Stewardship
- Learning and Innovation
- Excellent Service
- Care and Compassion
- Teamwork and Partnership
- To provide and manage stimulating, diverse and valuable greenery
- To inspire ownership and care for our greenery and nature
- To promote 'green' recreation as a lifestyle
- To manage nature areas for the advancement of life sciences
- To achieve organisational excellence
1960s – Planting the First Trees
The history of NParks is closely interlinked with the history of tree-planting in Singapore. In the 1960s, when the Singapore government embarked on nation building, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (the then Prime Minister) was intent on transforming Singapore into a Garden City. He wanted to create a city-state within a garden environment consisting of parks, gardens and open spaces linked by a matrix of tree-lined roads and park connectors for cyclists and pedestrians. He believed that a well-tended Garden City would not only benefit its inhabitants, but also serve as a key competitive factor to attract foreign investors to the country.
1963 – First Nationwide Tree Planting Campaign
Founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, launched our first nationwide tree planting campaign, which signified the start of the greening movement in Singapore.
1967 – Setting up of specialist Parks and Trees Unit
The specialist Parks and Trees Unit was set up by the Public Works Department (PWD).
1970 – Formation of the Garden City Action Committee (GCAC)
The GCAC was formed to oversee policies for greening the whole island and coordinate the activities of the various government agencies in this respect.
1971 – Launching of the Annual Tree Planting Day
The Annual Tree Planting Day was launched and it took a spot in our nation’s calendar in the first week of November.
1975 - Setting up the Parks and Recreation Department
The Singapore Botanic Gardens was the lead organisation in providing the expertise and plant materials for the greening programmes. In 1973, it merged with the Parks & Trees Unit, which eventually became the Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) under the Ministry of National Development in 1975. In that same year, the Parks and Trees Act was passed. The Act set out the guidelines for promoting and maintaining the greenery of Singapore which included the conservation of trees in designated Tree Conservation Areas, and a mandatory landscaping component in any proposed land development. It became a standard to set aside land for trees to be planted along roadsides, in carparks, and housing estates. Other agencies like the Jurong Town Corporation and the Housing Development Board also adopted this guide and used it in their development planning.
Greening up the Island
The initial directive from Prime Minister Lee was to green up the island with as many trees as possible in the shortest time to provide shade and soften the concrete landscape.
Hardy and fast-growing species such as the Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus), Rain tree (Samanea saman), Coral tree (Erythrina variegata) and Pong-Pong (Cerbera odollam) were planted.
The second phase saw flowering trees such as the Yellow Flame (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Red Flame (Delonix regia), Lagerstroemia speciosa and Cassia fistula being introduced.
Trees with fragrant flowers such as the Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans), Gardenia (Gardenia carinata) and Chempaka (Michelia alba and Michelia champaca) were also selected for planting.
Road codes were developed to ensure that adequate planting areas were provided along new roads. While the focus of planting policies then was to provide shades along walkways and roadsides, fruit trees, flowering and fragrant plants were also planted. Long stretches of roads were adorned with free-flowering trees and shrubs such as the Bougainvillea and Cassia to add colour. At the same time, concrete structures such as flyovers, overhead bridges, retaining walls and vehicular guardrails were screened with a variety of creepers, palms and shrubs. Expressways were built with spaces in between to allow sunlight to filter down onto the plants growing in the gaps. In the city, parks were incorporated to provide “green lungs” for people working in the urban commercial areas. Developers of residential properties were also required to plant roadside trees and set aside land for open space.
The initiative to green up the island was carried through into the 1980s when the fine-tuning of the greening programme and the need to ensure efficient management of resources were prioritised.
1990 - The National Parks Board was established
In June 1990, the National Parks Board (NParks) was established as a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development to manage and enhance the national parks, comprising Singapore Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park, and the nature reserves.
1996 - Merger of National Parks Board and Parks and Recreation Department
In July 1996, NParks was expanded to incorporate the roles of the Parks and Recreation Department. NParks continued to spearhead the maintenance of the garden city and its roadside greenery, as well as the development of new parks and upgrading of existing ones. It also embarked on the development of a comprehensive network of park connectors to bring the island’s parks and green spaces to the community and vice versa.
Creating a Biophilic City in a Garden
Over the years, NParks’ mission evolved from creating a Garden City to creating a City in a Garden. To introduce the new vision and framework, NParks launched a public engagement exercise in August 2011 to encourage all Singaporeans to contribute their views. NParks identified six key areas, which form the framework for creating a City in a Garden, and Singaporeans were invited to build on these ideas or contribute new ones to co-create a greener home.
Transforming Singapore into a City in Nature
NParks will build on what Singapore has achieved as a biophilic City in a Garden and further integrate nature into our city to strengthen Singapore’s distinctiveness as a highly liveable city while mitigating the impacts of urbanisation and climate change. Singaporeans will be able to enjoy an environment that will have cleaner air and water, cooler urban temperatures, and benefits to health and well-being.
Singapore’s transformation into a City in Nature will be guided by four key strategies – extending Singapore’s natural capital, intensifying nature in gardens and parks, restoring nature into the urban landscape, and strengthening connectivity within Singapore’s green spaces. Click here to find out more about our City in Nature.