NParks seeks ideas to improve green spaces

Its new project aims to link greenery with living, working areas
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 23 Aug 11;

IMAGINE going rock-climbing using the columns of expressway viaducts.

Or relaxing among greenery planted in the empty spaces beneath overhead train tracks.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said yesterday that these ideas could become reality, as part of its new project to create more green spaces and improve existing ones. Called 'City in a Garden', it aims to connect greenery across the island with residents' living and working spaces.

Brigadier-General (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, said the goal is to move Singapore beyond 'just a city with parks and streetscape greenery' to one where both are integrated.

The concept was introduced in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech earlier this month, where he called for parks and gardens in the heartland to be linked with greenery across the country.

NParks chief executive officer Poon Hong Yuen said this could allow residents to access an islandwide network of parks, nature areas, streetscape and park connectors just by stepping out of their homes.

To achieve this, the agency wants the public to contribute ideas online and via a roving exhibition that will visit schools, parks and housing estates.

They can visit new website between now and next June, or leave comments on the agency's Facebook page at

The agency outlined six areas for contributions:

How to establish world-class gardens
This includes suggestions for educational and leisure activities in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the upcoming Gardens by the Bay, which opens next June.

How to improve parks and greenery in the streets
This includes suggestions for night programmes such as concerts and plays to attract people to visit the parks after dark.

How to optimise the use of urban spaces for greenery and recreation
This includes identifying untapped urban spaces such as the empty areas underneath overhead train tracks for greenery and recreational activities.

How to encourage biodiversity in the city

How to improve the landscape and horticultural industry

How to encourage residents to appreciate and use green spaces, and help government agencies make Singapore greener

Experts The Straits Times spoke to said the initiative could help Singa-poreans feel a greater sense of ownership and pride in the country's green spaces.

One suggestion was to have a calendar of high-profile events at parks to attract Singaporeans to visit them throughout the year.

An example of this is Bryant Park in New York in the United States, which hosts events such as the annual New York Fashion Week.

Mr Leong Kwok Peng, vice-president of the Nature Society (Singapore), said NParks could vary the nature of green spaces.

'Some places should be left more wild to provide an alternative to the 'manicured' feel of the parks,' he said.

NParks said suitable ideas will be implemented and announced when ready.

Sprucing up Singapore's urban landscape
Evelyn Choo Channel NewsAsia 22 Aug 11;

SINGAPORE: Expect Singapore's urban landscape to be spruced up with nature over the next decade.

The National Parks Board or NParks on Monday revealed its "City in a Garden" framework - which could see more skyrise greenery and green urban spaces.

The "City in a Garden" reference came from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's comments during the National Day Rally, on keeping Singapore "special and exceptional" by having parks and gardens in the heartlands.

Besides cultivating world-class greenery attractions to draw the international crowd, NParks is hoping to sow more seeds of interest among Singaporeans.

"We will look at rejuvenating some of our larger regional parks so that they become destinations in themselves, that people from all over the island would want to come and enjoy," said Poon Hong Yuen, CEO of National Parks Board.

But that's not to say interest has not been flourishing in the heartlands.

There are some 400 community gardens in Singapore, and the plan is to double this number.

Public engagement seems to be the key focus of this framework.

NParks said it has already received ideas from Singaporeans to develop the green spine, previously occupied by the old KTM railway tracks, into a cycling route that could span 20 kilometres.

"We don't have a whole lot of details in terms of our implementation - and that's deliberate, because we don't want everything to be cast in stone. We want to leave a lot of room for new ideas to be incorporated into the plan," said Poon.

The year-long feedback process will see roving exhibitions and the use of online social media, through which NParks will collate suggestions from the public. The best ideas will be incorporated into specific plans.

To get the ball rolling, it's suggesting that some parks could be developed as attractive night destinations, and unused urban areas like the spaces under MRT tracks could be used for recreation.

In his latest Facebook post, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin described how he saw Singapore as an even greener home.

He went into details of what the National Park Board's "City in a Garden" framework will look like.

At the ground level, he described parks and gardens.

But he also said the greenery would extend vertically, with sky gardens.

He called upon Singaporeans to do their part to bring this vision into reality by taking better care of the environment and natural heritage.

He said this can be done in the simplest ways like keeping green areas and waterways free from litter and pollution.

Brigadier General (NS) Tan also called on Singaporeans to share their thoughts and ideas on the CIAG portal at

He cautioned there would be tradeoffs to consider in making Singapore a "City in a Garden" due to the country's land scarcity and resource constraints. But he gave the assurance that these constraints will be carefully thought through.

- CNA/cc/ls

Ideas sought on City in a Garden
Esther Ng Today Online 22 Aug 11;

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) has come up with six areas to enhance the Republic's living environment by having more parks and gardens in housing estates.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said during his National Day Rally speech Singapore would be a City in a Garden.

NParks will be looking to enliven Singapore's streetscape, enrich biodiversity in urban environments and optimise urban spaces for greenery and recreation.

Other areas also include inspiring communities to create a greener Singapore, enhancing Singapore's horticultural and landscape competencies, and establishing world-class gardens.

The public can contribute their suggestions on these six areas or suggest other ways to enhance Singapore's living environment on the portal

Singaporeans have until next June to submit their suggestions.

In the meantime, NParks will be holding roving exhibitions at parks, educational institutions and housing estates to get people to think of ways in which living in a Garden can be achieved.

They can also post their comments on NParks' Facebook page:

An NParks spokesman said suitable ideas and suggestions from the public will be implemented and announced when ready.

Public can play a part to link S'pore's green spaces
Esther Ng Today Online 23 Aug 11;

SINGAPORE - Adventure-themed parks, converting spaces under Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) tracks and expressway viaducts into recreational spaces, these are some of the ideas the National Parks Board (NParks) has come up to transform the living environment.

Following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement during his National Day Rally speech to create a "City in the Garden", NParks is inviting suggestions from the public on how this can be achieved.

"Imagine stepping out of your house and not having to wander too far, you find yourself in a lush garden seamlessly connected to other recreational spaces, leisure attractions and even your workplace by a network of park connectors, green links and waterways," said Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin on Facebook yesterday.

Singapore should be more than just a city with "parks and streetscape greenery"; rather, the city and urban landscape should be surrounded by lush greenery, with green spaces all linked up, he said.

Using Tampines Eco Green and Pasir Ris Park as examples, NParks chief executive Poon Hong Yuen said: "We want to make (parks) destinations in themselves, so it's not just the people in the vicinity visiting."

NParks is also looking at increasing the number of community gardens from 400 to 800 and biodiversity in the urban environment by reintroducing "selected native species" into the environment.

"We believe urban living can be enriched by having daily close encounters with nature," said Mr Poon.

Environmental consultant Eugene Tay, 33, welcomed the approach to engage the community.

"Whether the parks should be natural or manicured, there should be discussion and the residents should get involved to maintain it," he said.

Non-profit organisation Ground Up Initiative chief Tay Lai Hock, 47, concurred but voiced concerns about NParks' plans to boost mechanisation and skills in the landscape and horticulture industries, one of the thrusts in the six key areas.

"Some of these suggestions are very labour-intensive. We will be getting foreign labour or will we pay Singaporeans enough to be interested in horticulture and landscaping?" he asked.

Architect and butterfly watcher Khew Sin Khoon, 51, wondered how comfortable Singaporeans would be with increased biodiversity in their midst.

Said Mr Khew: "Are we prepared for more bees and wasps, centipedes, changeable lizards? And when there are frogs, snakes will follow. All these creatures are part and parcel of the ecological chain."

The public have until next June to give their feedback at or

Ideas sought to create a City in a Garden
Kelly Tay Business Times 23 Aug 11;

IMAGINE climbing a rock wall feature underneath an MRT track, or cycling through the old rail corridor for 20km without having to stop at traffic light junctions.

These are just some of the possibilities that the National Parks Board (NParks) is considering in its vision to create a City in a Garden (CIAG), which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had mentioned in his national day rally.

To introduce the CIAG vision and framework, NParks yesterday launched a public engagement exercise to get Singaporeans involved in the co-creation of a 'greener, more endearing home'.

A roving public exhibition on CIAG will be held at various locations island-wide, including parks, educational institutions, and housing estates. The aim is to get Singaporeans to share their ideas on how the city-state's living environment can be improved.

Said Poon Hong Yuen, chief executive officer of NParks: 'We want to transform our Garden City to a City in a Garden. The difference is like having your home within a garden, compared to just having a garden beside your house.'

To guide the transformation, six key areas have been identified: Establish world-class gardens; rejuvenate urban parks and enliven our streetscape; optimise urban spaces for greenery and recreation; enrich biodiversity in our urban environment; enhance competencies of our landscape and horticultural industry; and engage and inspire communities to co-create a greener Singapore.

Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, called the CIAG vision 'a powerful one that seeks to tie in our environment, history, and heritage with recreation and community space', and urged Singaporeans to contribute their ideas and suggestions.

Visitors to the exhibition may drop their ideas in the available suggestion boxes, or they may visit the CIAG portal at

The call for ideas runs from August this year to June 2012.

NParks said that it will collate contributions from the public and incorporate the best ideas into specific plans. When ready, the plans will be shared with the public.