NParks to work with the community to transform Singapore into a City in Nature
04 Mar 2020
At the Committee of Supply debate today, Mr Desmond Lee, 2nd Minister for National Development announced that the National Parks Board (NParks) will work with the community to transform Singapore into a City in Nature. This new vision builds on what Singapore has achieved as a biophilic City in a Garden. It seeks to 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 a high-quality living environment that will have cleaner air and water, cooler urban temperatures, and benefits to health and well-being, of which they can feel proud. Singapore will continue to be competitive, and attract talent, investment, and visitors.
The transformation of Singapore into a City in Nature
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, NParks has adopted biophilic design in restoring habitats and has been engaging the community in our efforts to sustain our greening efforts. This is where we are today – a biophilic City in a Garden where greenery pervades our urban landscape.
As Singapore moves towards becoming a City in Nature, we will safeguard and extend Singapore’s natural capital island-wide. This will be the next bound of our urban planning to create a liveable Singapore for all. Singapore’s transformation into a City in Nature will be guided by four key strategies – extending our nature park network, intensifying nature in gardens and parks, restoring nature into the built environment, and strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces.
Extending our Nature Park Network
NParks will safeguard Singapore’s four nature reserves and enhance our natural capital by extending 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 the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves to protect them from the impact of urbanisation. They will provide more spaces for nature-based recreation, such as hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching. NParks will extend this network to all our nature reserves and core biodiversity areas, and aims to have at least another 200 hectares of nature parks by 2030.
One such nature park will be at Khatib Bongsu, a rich mangrove and mudflat habitat on the northeastern coast of Singapore. The upcoming 40-hectare nature park will be an important stopover for migratory shorebirds and complements the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Intensifying nature in gardens and parks
Beyond the nature reserves and the extended network of nature parks, NParks will curate the landscapes in gardens and parks to make them more natural. For instance, NParks will incorporate natural designs and planting in new and redeveloped parks and gardens, re-creating the look and feel of Singapore’s natural forests. About 140 hectares of such gardens and parks will be rolled out over the next five years. In addition, the waterbodies within our gardens and parks will be naturalised. 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. Beyond these, NParks will establish 30 therapeutic gardens across Singapore by 2030. These can be programmed for seniors, as well as to cater to diverse conditions such as ADHD and dementia. Finally, NParks will also conserve over 70 more native plant and animal species over the next 10 years. Taken together, these initiatives will bring Singaporeans closer to nature, thereby bringing forth benefits to health and well-being.
Restoring nature into the built environment
NParks will also restore nature into 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.
Roads with such planting are known as Nature Ways. This will make Singapore’s streets cooler and more comfortable for pedestrians, and more resilient to the effects of urbanisation. NParks aims to have 300 kilometres of Nature Ways by 2030. Over the long term, NParks aspires to make every road a Nature Way. At the same time, NParks will increase the implementation of skyrise greenery and focus on greening Singapore’s industrial estates, which are currently among the hottest areas on the island. NParks will plant more than 100,000 trees in industrial estates over the next 10 years. NParks also aims to have 200 hectares of skyrise greenery by 2030, an increase from the current 120 hectares. These efforts will mitigate the urban heat island effect, resulting in cooler temperatures, while helping to improve air quality and beautify their surroundings.
Strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces
NParks will strengthen the connectivity between Singapore’s pockets of green spaces through the Park Connector Network and the Nature Ways. There are currently 340 kilometres of park connectors, and Singapore will have 500 kilometres of park connectors by 2030. This effectively means that every household will be within a 10-minute walk of a park by 2030, making our gardens and parks even more accessible.
Building a City in Nature together
NParks will work with the community to build a City in Nature. This will be infused into our planning and development systems, and Singaporeans will be more involved in the greening of Singapore. A City in Nature will enable the community to forge closer bonds through active stewardship of the environment.
Communities can participate in the design, building, management and programming of more than 50 parks and estates over the next five years. This is an extension of NParks’ Friends of the Parks initiative, which aims to promote greater community stewardship in the management of our green spaces. The community can join NParks in the building and management of these parks, such as designing park signage or promoting park etiquette, or partnering the gardeners for landscape planting.
“One Million Trees” movement led by the community
NParks will be launching a new movement to plant a million trees across Singapore over the next 10 years. The “One Million Trees” movement will take place throughout the island, including streetscapes, gardens, parks and park connectors, nature reserves and nature parks. The community is key to the success of this movement. Thus far, some 100 individuals and more than 100 groups and organisations have already pledged their support. This includes the Friends of the Park communities, Community in Nature schools, Community in Bloom gardening groups, NParks volunteers, and nature groups.
Keppel Corporation has pledged to donate $3 million for some 10,000 trees to be planted over the next five years in our parks and nature reserves. This is the single largest donation pledged for tree planting to date. NUS has also committed to 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. In addition, individuals and organisations like OCBC, Shimizu and their contractors, UPS, and many others have also committed to come on board to support this movement.
More details about the One Million Trees movement will be shared in the coming weeks.
NParks will also expand its outreach programmes to grow its volunteer base from the existing 48,000 to 70,000 by 2030. NParks will build up its Community in Nature initiative by involving more schools and partners in reforestation efforts and citizen science projects, and expand the Community in Bloom programme through the provision of more allotment gardens and encouraging the planting of edibles.
Government agencies will work closely with NParks to transform Singapore from a biophilic City in a Garden into a City in Nature, in partnership with the community. This will be the next bound of urban planning to create a more liveable Singapore for all, in which Singaporeans can live with and alongside nature, and in doing so, foster a more gracious and caring society.