At the start of Singapore’s greening journey, the aim was to green up the island as quickly as possible for the purpose of providing shade and access to green spaces for all. The greening strategy then evolved to provide colour through the planting of flowering trees and shrubs. Parks were linked up by the Park Connector Network and developments were encouraged to incorporate skyrise greenery to help improve the living environment.
In more recent years, we adopted biophilic design in restoring habitats and engaged the community in our efforts to sustain our greening efforts. This allowed us to evolve into a biophilic City in a Garden where pervasive greenery became part of our urban landscape.
As Singapore moves towards becoming a City in Nature, we will build upon what has been achieved and further restore nature into the urban fabric. We have identified seven key areas to guide our efforts towards fulfilling this vision.
1) Conserve and restore natural ecosystems
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 will safeguard Singapore’s nature reserves and extend our natural capital by expanding our Nature Park Network. Our nature reserves safeguard primary and secondary rainforests, and core habitats for native biodiversity. Nature parks are being established as complementary habitats, and to buffer our Nature Reserves to protect them against the impact of urbanisation, and provide more spaces for nature-based recreation, such as hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching. We will expand this network to all our nature reserves and core biodiversity areas. We will continue to conserve endemic, rare or threatened native species through the species recovery programme and restore our natural habitats under the habitat enhancement programme.
2) Establish world-class gardens and parks with nature
Beyond the nature reserves and nature parks, we will curate the landscapes in gardens and parks to make them more natural. This coupled with therapeutic gardens and nature playgardens will bring Singaporeans closer to nature, thereby bringing forth benefits to health and well-being. As part of this effort, the waterbodies within our gardens and parks will be naturalised to mitigate floods around coastal and riverine areas. This nature-based solution will contribute towards Singapore’s resilience in addressing the challenge of sea-level rise and inland flooding due to climate change.
We have been successful in increasing the numbers of some native species, including dragonflies, butterflies, hornbills and otters. We are committed to continue to reintroduce selected native species into our environment, and extend biodiversity further into the urban landscape to enrich our living environment.
3) Restore nature into the urban landscape
We will also work to restore nature into the urban landscape to mitigate the harshness of the built environment. A concerted effort will be made to intensify the greening of our streetscapes through the implementation of multi-tiered planting which will create a forest-like structure along our roads. This planting scheme, known as Nature Ways, will make Singapore’s streets cooler and more comfortable for pedestrians, and more resilient to the effects of urbanisation. We aspire to make every road a Nature Way. At the same time, we will increase the implementation of skyrise greenery and focus on greening the hotter areas on the island, including industrial estates. These efforts will mitigate the urban heat island effect, resulting in cooler temperatures.
4) Strengthen island-wide ecological and recreational connectivity
To sustain a healthy natural ecosystem, we will strengthen the ecological connectivity between our green spaces. With this, the greenery in gardens, parks and along the roads will mimic the multi-tiered structure of the forest through Nature Ways. This will make Singapore’s streets cooler and more comfortable for pedestrians while facilitating the movement of biodiversity like butterflies and garden birds.
NParks will also continue to expand the Park Connector Network to ensure that more communities can access nature easily. With this, all households will be within a 10-minute walk from a park.
5) Enhance veterinary care and animal management
Community animals play a vital role as our companions and wild animals enrich the biodiversity of our urban ecosystem. Our well-being and health are inter-connected with the health and welfare of animals in our community. We have a shared responsibility to safeguard public health, animal health and welfare; and conservation of our biodiversity. To achieve this, NParks, through the Animal and Veterinary Service, works closely with partners in the veterinary and animal sectors to strengthen capacities and enhance competencies in animal health, animal welfare and management.
6) Build science and technology, and industry capacity
We are deepening our Science and Technology capabilities to inform our strategic and operational decision-making. This is increasingly important as Singapore advances to become a City in Nature. We are continually working closely with industry partners to initiate a range of programmes to raise skills standards of industry workers. In 2007, we set up a national training institution for the landscape industry, the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE). CUGE has since trained many batches of local workers. We will do more to help restructure industry operations and raise industry productivity.
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) Inspire communities to co-create and be stewards of nature
A City in Nature will enable the community to forge closer bonds through active stewardship of the environment. We will be expanding our outreach programmes to reach out to communities, schools, and individuals to encourage them to become stewards of greenery and biodiversity.
Communities can participate in the design, building, management and programming of more than 50 parks in their estates over the next five years. This is an extension of the Friends of the Parks initiative, which aims to promote greater stewardship in the management of our green spaces.
NParks will be working with the community to plant a million trees across Singapore over 10 years. The “One Million Trees” movement will take place across Singapore, along our streetscapes, in our gardens, parks and park connectors, nature reserves, and nature parks. Close partnership with the community will be key to the success of this effort.
The Community in Bloom programme will be expanded with more allotment gardens and by encouraging the planting of edibles. The Community in Nature initiative will also involve more schools and partners in reforestation efforts and citizen science projects.
With the active support and participation of our volunteers and partners, NParks hopes to galvanise constructive community action towards caring for Singapore’s living environment and engender a new way of living with and alongside nature, and in doing so, foster a more gracious and caring society.