NParks launches new online portal with 500,000 trees mapped

Lee Li Ying Channel NewsAsia 17 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans will soon be able to find out more about trees in their neighbourhood with a newly launched online portal, Trees.sg. The National Parks Board (NParks) has plotted more than 500,000 urban trees on an interactive map, making it one of the most extensive tree maps in Asia.

The new portal was announced on Saturday (Mar 17) as part of a slew of initiatives to celebrate Singapore’s forests, raise awareness and involve the community in caring for trees.

Visitors to the portal can learn more about the different species of trees found in Singapore and how they are cared for, as well as indicate if a tree is flowering and upload photos of them.

NParks manages about two million trees planted along Singapore’s roadsides, parks and state land.

NParks group director of streetscapes, Oh Cheow Sheng said: “We will progressively plot in most of these trees, but recognise that in forested areas it is not possible to plot in every single tree ... where the trees are in forested areas, these are sometimes not very accessible because they are densely located and hard to map.”

He added that NParks is planning to work together with other agencies that manage trees, like town councils, to plot these trees.

RECREATING SINGAPORE’S FIRST BOTANIC GARDEN

Singapore’s First Botanic Garden was set up by Sir Stamford Raffles at Fort Canning. Restoration plans for the garden, including enhancement plans for Fort Canning Park and its surroundings, were announced in February.

On Saturday, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee planted a tree with members of the community to make the start of the heritage restoration works for the First Botanic Garden.

When completed, the restored garden will extend from Fort Canning Park and onto the streetscapes bounded by Hill Street, Victoria Street, Bras Basah Road, Handy Road and Canning Rise.

NParks said that the planting within the restored First Botanic Garden includes economic spices, ornamental plants, medicinal plants and native plants.

These plantings will be curated into a trail for visitors to learn more about the history of Fort Canning Park.

The agency is also working with developments within the boundaries of the gardens, like Singapore Management University and Park Mall, to incorporate the planting palette within their compounds as well.

The First Botanic Garden will extend from Fort Canning Park onto streetscapes of roads in the vicinity and will become the world’s first Botanic Garden on urban streets. Farquhar Garden and Armenian Street Park will be nodes within the First Botanic Garden. (Image: NParks)

Other new initiatives to encourage the public to learn more about Singapore’s urban forests include a new community led group Friends of TreesSg, and a new heritage tree trail in Chinatown.

“I am proud to say Singapore is one of the top on the list of cities with the highest tree density ... we will continue to support our collective push for greenery,” said Mr Lee.

Source: CNA/zl


NParks launches website to help public learn more about trees
TOH EE MING Today Online 17 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE – Stumped about a particular tree species spotted in the neighbourhood or by the roadside, and curious to learn more about it?

From today, the answers can be found at a new website trees.sg featuring over 500,000 trees from more than 1,000 species in Singapore’s urban landscape.

Aimed at cultivating an appreciation for Singapore trees, the website was launched on Sat (March 17) by the National Parks Board (NParks) in conjunction with the upcoming International Day of Forests on Wednesday.

On the website, users can click on any tree icon which is plotted on an interactive map, to learn about its name, characteristics and benefits it provides. They can also filter their search by location, species, tree conservation areas or heritage roads in Singapore.

Users can also learn about which tree family they come from, whether the tree is flowering, its physical dimensions, local conservation status, other fun facts and even check when they will be pruned next or “their next haircut”, quipped Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee who was speaking at the event at Fort Canning Park.

The website also allows users to upload pictures of trees that they spot.

For instance, the Handkerchief Tree (named for its distinctive white leaves which hang down like soft handkerchiefs) can be spotted at Bukit Timah, or the Leopard Tree (its patchy dappled bark looks like leopard print) can be located at the Botanic Gardens, said NParks’ group director of streetscape Oh Cheow Sheng.

One example of a rare species of trees in Singapore is a wild nutmeg, known as Farquhar’s Nutmeg (Gymnacranthera farquhariana), a critically endangered species which has not been propagated elsewhere in Singapore and was collected in 2016 in the Bukit Timah nature reserve. It is named after Major-General William Farquhar, who served in the British Army and was the first resident of Singapore

As compared to trees in forested areas which are less accessible, densely located and not as easy to plot on the map, trees in the urban landscape were chosen to be featured on the website so that “people can learn about trees in their neighbourhood and gets them excited about what they can do for the environment,” said Mr Oh.

Singapore currently has two million urban trees or two million trees within the urban landscape, and the aim is to work with other stakeholders such as private owners, JTC Corporation, the Housing and Development Board and town council to “progressively plot most of these trees,” he said.

For retiree and NParks volunteer Madam Tan Sok Oon, 65, the new website would be “convenient”, as compared to sending over pictures of trees she spots on Whatsapp group chats.

“Sometimes I don’t know what names of the trees, so I always have to ask to find out... At least people will be able to understand more about them now,” she said, adding that she hopes flowers can also be included in the website as well.

At the event, Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, planted nutmeg trees to mark the start of heritage landscape restoration work for Fort Canning Park. Part of improvement plans that were announced last month, the work spans the restoration of three historical gardens, re-curation of heritage trails in the park and enhanced accessibility for the public.

Other initiatives announced was a Friends of TreesSg community group which is open for the public to join, as well as free public guided walks on the 2km Chinatown heritage trail that will take place later this month. the 2km Chinatown heritage tree trail that will take place later this month.

Mr Lee said the government will “continue to support our collective push for greenery”, by establishing a network of nature parks that will “serve as green buffers around our nature reserves”.

The network encompasses the Windsor and Chestnut Nature Park which was opened last year, and the Thomson Nature Park and the Rifle Range Nature Park which will be completed this year and 2020 respectively.

“With the habitats around our island linked as one ecological network, our rich biodiversity will be better able to thrive,” he said.


What's that tree? New map tells all
Jose Hong Straits Times 18 Mar 18;

If you have ever wondered what tree with its pretty flowers stands at the foot of your block, when your neighbourhood trees are due for pruning, or where Singapore's 262 heritage trees are, all you now need to do is look it up on your phone.

The National Parks Board (NParks) has launched trees.sg, an online map that shows the locations of more than 500,000 trees in Singapore's urban landscape.

Users can click on individual trees and look at pictures of them, as well as their biodata.


The map took 10 months to create, at a cost of $100,000, and NParks bills this as the most extensive tree map in Asia.

NParks' streetscape group director Oh Cheow Sheng said: "We want people to get to learn about the trees in their neighbourhood, and hopefully, this will progressively get them to be excited about what else they can do about the environment, and how they can contribute. That is the idea behind putting these trees on an interactive tree map."

The map was launched yesterday to commemorate the International Day of Forests, which falls on March 21. In conjunction with the launch of trees.sg, the heritage restoration process of Fort Canning Park kicked off yesterday with the planting of 18 trees in the soon-to-be Farquhar Garden.

Sign up for heritage tree walk

Registration for a free, guided heritage tree walk in Chinatown, Singapore's largest historic district, opens at 10am today.

The 2km walk, which will be held on March 31, starts at Duxton Plain Park and ends in Spottiswoode.

It takes around two hours, covers about 20 species of trees, and has space for 40 participants.

Here are two trees on the trail:

BODHI TREE (FICUS RELIGIOSA)

The bodhi tree is a large and fast-growing tree that can reach up to 30m in height.

The figs of the tree are a food source for birds and many other types of wildlife, which, in turn, help to disperse the seeds.

The tree is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists.

BINJAI (MANGIFERA CAESIA)

This is a large tree of the mango family that is critically endangered in Singapore.

Spottiswoode Park used to be a nutmeg plantation before it was converted into bungalow-like residences in the early 1900s.

The binjai tree along this trail may have been planted by residents or estate managers in the early 1900s for its sourish-sweet fruit.

Members of the public can sign up at www.nparks.gov.sg/treetrails

When completed in June next year, it will take over the current Stamford Green, and will include plants originally grown by Major-General William Farquhar, the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore from 1819 to 1823.

The 18 trees were planted by members of the community and Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee yesterday.

More details were also revealed about the First Botanic Garden, which the Farquhar Garden is part of. The First Botanic Garden is a recreation of Singapore's first botanic garden, which both Sir Stamford Raffles and Farquhar had a hand in planting and expanding in the early 1800s.

The plants in the First Botanic Garden will fall under four broad themes: economic spices, ornamental plants, medicinal plants and plants that are native to the region.

They will be curated into a trail so that visitors can learn about the history of Fort Canning Park through the lens of a naturalist.

The trail will begin at Fort Canning Centre and meander through avenues of plants that have historically been associated with Singapore.

Also launched yesterday were a community-led group called Friends of TreesSg - with the aim of spreading the love of trees among Singaporeans - as well as NParks' free guided walk of Chinatown's heritage trees. The public can sign up for the walk from today.

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