Singapore on its way to realising vision as City in a Garden

As part of the National Parks Board’s Streetscape Greenery Master Plan, about 28,000 trees were planted across the island last year – one-and-a-half times the average number of trees planted annually in recent years.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 15 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Each year, up to 2,000 trees are introduced to Singapore's roads, parks and state lands. This is part of efforts by the National Parks Board (NParks) to enhance greenery and boost biodiversity, in a rapidly growing urban environment.

Singapore's journey to become a Garden City began in 1963, when founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew launched a tree-planting campaign. It was his vision to cultivate greenery and soften the harshness of the metropolis. As the country continues to urbanise, it is moving towards becoming a City in a Garden.

NParks' Streetscape Greenery Master Plan is a blueprint to introduce a wide variety of new plant species along the roads. The plants are sourced from nurseries and nature reserves in Singapore, as well as botanic gardens across the region.

They all begin their journey in NParks' tree banks. There are five such tree banks across the island, and they are home to more than 5,000 trees of 70 different species.

Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, streetscape director at NParks, explained: “Once we have evaluated the species suitable for introduction, we’ll bring in a small quantity of these trees to be planted in our tree banks. This allows us to monitor the growth and performance of the tree species in a local context and we will observe whether they are able to withstand the stress in the urban environment, for example, if can they survive through prolonged periods of dry spell.”

The plants are chosen based on several criteria, such as their growth habits and aesthetic values.

Mr Oh added: “We’re also looking for species to see whether they can provide good shade, greenery to the urban environment, to soften the urban environment. We look at whether the species is easy to maintain, and of course whether it can add some colour to the landscape."

For instance, the White Meranti trees, which are found in Singapore's forests, are now thriving along Eng Neo Avenue.

Last year, about 28,000 trees were planted across the island, one-and-a-half times the average number of trees NParks has planted annually in recent years.

- CNA/hs