NParks mulls taking over private spaces to have more greenery

Woo Sian Boon Today Online 16 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE — With space a constraint urban planners face, the ability to “think out of the box” and maximise land available will be key in ensuring that Singapore grows as a garden city, said National Parks Board Chief Executive Poon Hong Yuen.

One way, he felt, would be to take over spaces managed by private companies, such as transport operators for example, so that train stations, especially those near parks, can have more greenery.

Speaking at a Centre for Liveable Cities lecture yesterday, Mr Poon said: “Currently, greenery within stations (and) greenery within your own private compound is your business. We are thinking (about) how to do it in a way which is more seamless, makes use of our expertise, and also ... with a skill that’s more efficient.”

Dr Shawn Lum, President of the Nature Society, who was also a panellist, brought up the possibility of planning in a “strategic and systematic way” to better connect nature reserves to parks and urban areas.

Acknowledging that development is a necessity, he felt that it is possible for an ecosystem with a rich biodiversity of plants and animals to be found in urbanised developments.

Pointing to the example of a canal near Sungei Bedok which supported a thriving community of mudcrabs and mudskippers, he felt it is possible for Singaporeans to embrace such co-existence.

Roof-top gardens could be a reservoir of insect life if the public can accept the idea, he said.

Dr Lum stressed that it should not be left to “a few nature lovers” to ensure Singapore’s biodiversity is maintained.

“There are five or six million people out there who just take these things for granted. That, to me, would be the challenge … how (to) successfully engage the community to realise that it’s beautiful, it has benefits,” he said.