The transformation of Singapore into a City in Nature is a key pillar of the Singapore Green Plan. In 2021, we intensified efforts to integrate nature into our urban landscape so as to enrich the lives of all residents.
The nationwide OneMillionTrees movement is a significant way nature is being integrated into our environment. Launched in 2020, the movement is on track to achieve its target of planting one million more trees by 2030. This is thanks to the contributions of over 31,000 members of the community and corporate partners, who have planted over 338,800 trees in our nature reserves, gardens, parks and streetscapes, as of 31 March 2022.
Urban trees provide shade and add greenery and colour to Singapore. They mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing urban heat island effect and air pollution. A carefully curated planting palette of native species in a naturalistic structure also provides food and shelter for our wildlife.
Planting trees is symbolic of one generation laying the foundations for the future. In March 2022, the FamilyTrees initiative was launched for Singaporean families with newborns to plant a tree within three years of their child's birth date, to leave a living legacy for the next generation.
A joint collaboration between NParks and Families for Life, this initiative also kicked off the Year of Celebrating Singapore Families, as designated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration Desmond Lee joins a young gardener in planting a tree as part of the OneMillionTrees Clean and Green Singapore 2021 event.
Learn more about Singapore's greening journey
Tree planting has been integral to Singapore’s development since the 1960s. In June 1963, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planted a Mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum) at Farrer Circus, kick-starting Singapore’s greening programme. This was followed by mass tree planting along new roads, traffic circuses, housing estates, schools and car parks. To support the greening efforts, an annual community tree planting activity was inaugurated on 7 November 1971 with Singapore’s first Tree Planting Day.
This Day has since been included as part of the annual Clean and Green Singapore campaign and continues to be a significant tradition for residents to come together to plant trees, reflecting our commitment to, and support of, climate resilience efforts, the City in Nature vision and the Singapore Green Plan. These efforts have been intensified by the strong community support for the OneMillionTrees movement.
The planting of a Mempat tree by Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1963 marked the start of an islandwide greening movement that has continued for nearly 60 years. These beautiful trees are a reminder that our City in Nature exists because of Mr Lee, who believed that greenery can lift our spirits.
The opening of Bukit Gombak Park exemplifies NParks’ efforts to intensify nature in our parks and bring the health and wellness benefits of greenery closer to residents. The landscape of the park features the naturalistic planting of about 1,500 trees, including the native Keruing Gombang Merah (Dipterocarpus kunstleri) and Pianggu (Horsfieldia irya), which enhance the surrounding verdant greenery. The park is also a node in the Bukit Batok Nature Corridor that forms an important ecological corridor between the Central Nature Park Network and the Tengah Forest Corridor in western Singapore.
Visitors get to enjoy nature up close in the park situated on a hill. They can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding lush greenery from an inclined 400 m hill trek and admire over 20 species of butterflies in the Butterfly Garden at the highest point of the park, some 45 m above sea level. For families with young children, the park has a new nature-inspired play area including a slide and balancing beams set amidst rustic greenery as well as an outdoor fitness area, a café and a dog run featuring a sloped terrain for pets to run unleashed.
Residents contributed ideas for the design of Bukit Gombak Park such as a Butterfly Garden where the young can learn about nature up close. Other features and amenities in the park were also fitted with the diverse recreational needs of the community in mind.
In addition to rustic landscapes in the heartlands, the Japanese Garden at the Istana, originally constructed in 1967, has also been sensitively enhanced in the past year. This serene green space now includes a rock garden, water cascade and pine forest.
Situated in the heart of downtown Singapore, the Japanese Garden within the Istana grounds provides visitors with relief and respite from busy urban life.
NParks opened Singapore’s largest Therapeutic Garden in Jurong Lake Gardens, and this is another example of how nature can enrich the lives of residents. At 3,100 sqm, the garden was designed using science-based principles and is the first to feature dedicated sections for seniors with dementia and for children with conditions such as mild autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Sensory zones, musical play equipment and a garden featuring common edible plants were incorporated into the garden landscape to create a rehabilitative environment. A Butterfly Maze complements the Children's Discovery Area and provides more opportunities for young visitors to experience the therapeutic effects of greenery. Visitors can also attend therapeutic horticulture programmes conducted in this space to improve their physical and mental well-being.
The Gardens serves as a living lab to test-bed innovative proposals that contribute to a more sustainable future. Under the Built Environment Living Laboratory Framework initiative by the Building and Construction Authority and Ministry of National Development, selected projects are currently being trialled in the Gardens.
Jurong Lake Gardens continues to reach out to the community through a series of online and on-site events. In the past year, highlights included Explore Jurong Lake Gardens, a series of online programmes catering to seniors and students with special needs; SustainableFest 2021 which drew more than 10,000 participants with its greenery and gardening-related online talks, workshops and activities; and Mid-Autumn Festival in the Gardens, a hybrid programme that included interactive online activities, an on-site lights display and a concert.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for National Development & Finance Indranee Rajah (centre) and NParks CEO Kenneth Er (left) admire the winning entries of the Community Garden Edibles Competition at the 2021 Singapore Garden Festival held in Jurong Lake Gardens.
Planted up with butterfly-attracting plants such as the Giant Milkweed (Calotropis gigantea), the Butterfly Maze provides an immersive experience for visitors.
Visitors can enjoy more than 1,000 orchid species and hybrids found in tropical montane forests, which are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world, at the Tropical Montane Orchidetum located in the National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The Orchidetum comprises three display houses – Sembcorp Cool House, Tan Hoon Siang Mist House, Yuen Peng McNeice Bromeliad Collection, as well as surrounding outdoor areas that showcase orchids found in lowland forests and stream habitats. In addition, there is a Secret Ravine that emulates habitats found in deep, narrow valleys of tropical mountains.
Visitors can also explore the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ vital role in conservation, breeding and research, at on-site exhibitions. The Botanical Art Gallery, home to Singapore’s first permanent display of botanical art, is where visitors can discover the key role of art in the scientific documentation of plants while a nine-month exhibition themed “Change the Present, Save the Future” at the CDL Green Gallery was a means to engage the public on Singapore’s efforts in mitigating the effects of urbanisation and climate change.
A staff guides Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the opening of the Tropical Montane Orchidetum.
Visitors to the Sembcorp Cool House will experience temperatures of 16 to 23 degrees Celsius. This emulates a high elevation montane forest environment where orchids not naturally found in a tropical climate can grow.
Another way nature is being integrated into our City in Nature is through the Community In Bloom (CIB) programme. Since 2005, residents have been enjoying the benefits of gardening such as improved physical and mental health and the building of community bonds. In the reporting year, nearly 90 new community gardening groups joined the programme. Almost half of these came from the school sector, exemplifying the growing love for gardening, even among the young.
To enable more people to garden closer to where they live and work, NParks continues to support the Housing Development Board (HDB), Town Councils and other organisations in adopting the allotment gardening scheme. To date, NParks has worked with 17 resident committees to implement the allotment gardening scheme within Town Council-managed areas with more than 500 such plots being made available for residents to garden closer to their homes. These efforts complement the more than 2,000 allotment garden plots found in 23 parks islandwide. Allotment gardens have also been included in HDB’s Green Town Programme, allowing residents' networks to convert previously concretised car park rooftops with low car parking utilisation, into verdant allotment gardens for residents.
To recognise excellence in these community gardening efforts, the CIB Garden of the Year Award was presented to 10 garden entries, from educational to organisational categories, in 2021. The awards attracted more than 350 entries. For the first time, the gardening community was encouraged to make digital submissions of their community gardening efforts through videos or photo montages. The strong participation despite the Covid-19 pandemic reflects the burgeoning interest in gardening among the young and working adults.
Another highlight of the gardening calendar was the second Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show held in October 2021. The hybrid event attracted over 145,000 people, of whom 126,000 participated virtually. Through talks, demonstrations, videos and Facebook Live panel sessions, participants picked up tips on growing edibles and learnt about Nano Tank Aquascaping and Balcony Gardens. For the first time, the retail component of the event moved online, allowing for even more people to purchase products from over 20 vendors selling plants, horticultural products and nature-based arts and crafts.
Embark on a virtual tour of the Tropical Montane Orchidetum
Gardening is a great activity to bring people together. Everyone can enjoy the fruits of their hard work caring for the garden. This can be in the form of beautiful flowers to admire, actual fruits to harvest, or the opportunity to get closer to wildlife that may visit your garden.
The Nano Tank Aquascaping Competition held during the Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show was a good platform for participants to showcase the beautiful world of underwater gardens. Here, aquatic plants and accessories are creatively curated to create a pristine rainforest or scenic mountain range display.
To enable more people to garden at home, a second corridor gardening programme was launched in Boon Lay in September 2021. Each household was given a Corridor Gardening Playbook produced by NParks and the Boon Lay Environmental Workgroup, together with a gardening kit, for residents to start growing edibles literally steps from their front door.
CIB Ambassadors, volunteers and staff showcased leafy vegetables such as Caixin and herbs and spices like Basil and Coriander, suitable to be grown along corridors for budding gardeners. The pilot initiative saw about 60 households enjoying their corridor gardens and sharing their experiences on a Facebook community page. This complements the Gardening With Edibles initiative launched in June 2020. In total, 860,000 free seed packets have been distributed to encourage Singaporeans to grow edibles at home and bring nature indoors.
Corridor gardens take advantage of the sunlight that such common spaces receive and soften the harsh concrete facade typical of flats by introducing greenery into our urban environment.
NParks continued to open park connectors, enabling residents to enjoy more connectivity between green spaces. There are now over 370 km of park connectors for recreation, bringing us closer to our goal of every household being within 10 minutes' walk from a park, a key target of the Singapore Green Plan. New routes in the Park Connector Network (PCN) include Sungei Simpang Kanan, Pasir Panjang, Stagmont, Singapore River and Kranji-Mandai.
The first phase of the Round Island Route was opened in January 2022, with a 75 km green corridor connecting park users from Rower’s Bay in Seletar all the way to the Singapore River and Berlayer Creek near Labrador Nature Reserve. The route, planted with some 5,100 native trees, includes nodes at Sengkang Riverside Park, Jalan Kayu and Changi Bay where park users can rest and take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding greenery as they explore Singapore. Species such as the Seashore Mangosteen (Garcinia celebica) and Sea Lettuce (Scaevola taccada) were carefully selected to provide food and nectar for small mammals and insects.
In other PCN initiatives, the Villa Verde cycling bridge was opened in April 2021, providing residents with another route to access major recreational green areas such as Pang Sua Park Connector, Villa Verde Park, Rail Corridor and Choa Chu Kang Park. Outreach activities were also launched this past year, to improve the user experience and promote more gracious behaviours, such as cyclists giving way to pedestrians, while using the PCN.
Visitors can take in unobstructed views of the Singapore Strait along the eastern-most cycling trail in Singapore, part of the Round Island Route.
NParks continued to boost rooftop greenery across the island and stepped up tree planting especially in industrial estates, restoring nature into the urban landscape. These greenery intensification efforts help alleviate the urban heat island effect, cool ambient temperatures, reduce storm water run-off and improve overall air quality in heavily built-up environments. Beyond contributing to climate and ecological resilience, greenery beautifies the landscape and enables people to enjoy its therapeutic effects.
The skyrise greenery footprint grew to 143 ha across the island in the reporting year. To highlight rising interests in skyrise greenery, the second Vertical Greenery Competition was held at the Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show in October 2021. This featured unique creations that fit within just 35 sqm, designed by professionals from Singapore’s landscape industry. In addition, a demonstration project on naturalised rooftop greenery was implemented at HortPark to showcase technologies that sustain rooftop greenery installations, while a second edition of the Skyrise Greenery Showcase, first published in 2020, was released. Such measures demonstrate how good planning and execution of greenery can help to strengthen Singapore’s climate, ecological and social resilience.
As for the greening of other areas of our built environment, NParks completed landscape works for 10 Thomson-East Coast Line MRT stations in 2021, bringing the total number of stations greened to 85. Colourful flowers of the trellis climbers planted along some 64 km of covered linkways greet busy commuters as they enter and exit these stations.
Explore the Round Island Route
Vibrant flowering shrubs like the Kock's Bauhinia (Phanera kockiana) planted along our streets are a visual treat for pedestrians and cyclists. Birds, butterflies and bees can often be seen nestled amongst the foliage.
Etiquette banners have been put up to encourage safe and courteous use of our park connectors. Such messages were developed with input from users and the Friends of the Park Connector Network community members.
Garlic Vine (Mansoa hymenaea) planted on covered linkways adds beautiful pops of colour to our urban landscape, providing visual and mental relief to pedestrians.
Due to limited land resources, skyrise greenery has increasingly become an integral component of sustainable urban development. The multi-level sky terraces at Kampung Admiralty mimic the natural layers of a tropical rainforest and add a new dimension of integrating greenery into our built environment.
Community involvement underpins Singapore’s successful transformation into a City in Nature, a key pillar in the Singapore Green Plan, which is our national movement to advance sustainable development and combat climate change. Integrating nature into our city strengthens Singapore’s distinctiveness as a highly liveable city and improves residents’ health and well-being. NParks continues to engage all sectors of the community through various platforms and programmes.
Residents contributed to the development and management of our green spaces, through the Friends of the Parks (FoTP) Programme.
A new Friends of Clementi-Ulu Pandan Nature Corridor community was formed this past year. Members met in September 2021 to brainstorm ideas and plan for forest restoration and habitat enhancement works to help strengthen the area’s ecological resilience.
The Friends of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park have also been involved in updating NParks on wildlife sightings and sharing measures on human-wildlife encounters in the park.
The public was able to share their thoughts and feedback during a range of community engagement sessions held throughout the year. For example, online townhall conversations gathered suggestions for the development of the upcoming Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, while focus group discussions generated good ideas for the redesigning of Raffles Place and Telok Ayer Parks.
While the Covid-19 pandemic restricted some face-to- face engagement, NParks continued to reach out to the community digitally. In the reporting year, NParks produced over 90 videos and 40 webinars, livestreamed 11 Facebook and Instagram events and 10 concerts. Collectively, our digital assets received over 2 million organic views across NParks’ YouTube and social media platforms.
Viewers picked up useful gardening tips and knowledge during the Facebook Live sessions while the Human-Wildlife Encounters in our City in Nature and the OneMillionTrees webinar series on Zoom and NParksSG YouTube channel were also well received. The second online Singapore Symphony Orchestra City in Nature Concert held in November 2021 achieved over 10,000 live views on Facebook and YouTube.
As the Covid-19 situation evolved, selected NParks’ signature programmes adopted a hybrid format. Residents enjoyed the Singapore Garden Festival Hort Show 2021 virtually, viewing the more than 20 videos produced to support this event. These included clips on DIY gardening tips, show highlights and tours of gardens. Six Facebook Live sessions and webinars featuring NParks and local experts on gardening topics were also well received with over 160,000 views across our social media platforms.
NParks Concert Series in the Park: Rockestra® returned to Fort Canning Park after two years since the pandemic hit Singapore. The audience safely enjoyed song, dance and good cheer from the energetic performers.
Another highlight was the NParks Concert Series in the Park: Rockestra®. In addition to those who attended the concert live at Fort Canning Park, hundreds more participated in the livestream, enjoying a night of music and fun from the comfort of their homes.
This past year, we worked with content partners and social media influencers across Instagram and TikTok to share initiatives on how we can build a City in Nature and how these benefit Singaporeans. Through these efforts, we have reached out to over 2 million people. To communicate directly with younger audiences, NParks created experimental content on a new TikTok channel. The page has grown steadily since it was started in November 2020 and had over 9,000 followers by March 2022. And to better engage professionals, an NParks LinkedIn page was started in January 2022 with content that speaks about our efforts to transform Singapore into a City in Nature and the science behind our work.
NParks TikTok channel features light hearted snippets of our City in Nature such as parks to explore and the top spots to catch the sunset.