Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of National Development

NParks taking steps to improve tree health

The number of fallen trees has decreased significantly after the National Parks Board (NParks) introduced a tree management programme in 2001.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee told Parliament yesterday there were more than 800 cases of "tree failures" in Singapore last year, down from 3,000 in 2001.

"But we are deeply saddened each time such incidents cause injuries or loss of life," said Mr Lee during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan had asked about the management of trees here. A 40m tembusu tree in the Singapore Botanic Gardens fell last month, killing one woman and injuring four others.

Mr Lee said NParks' comprehensive tree management programme includes a regime of tree inspections and pruning aligned with international standards.

Records are digitised so NParks staff can retrieve information easily and ensure trees under the agency are checked and maintained according to schedule.

"This system also enables NParks to zoom in on, and pre-emptively replace, storm-vulnerable species," said Mr Lee. Singapore has seven million trees, of which two million are along streets, streetscapes and parks.

With the weather becoming increasingly unpredictable, NParks has stepped up inspections and taken measures to improve the health of trees, Mr Lee said. These include employing pruning techniques that improve tree structure and balance.

"NParks is also developing modelling techniques to better understand the structural behaviour of trees under heavy rain and wind, and also in microclimatic conditions," Mr Lee said.

Audrey Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'NParks taking steps to improve tree health'. Print Edition | Subscribe