Some 600 residents of the North East District yesterday picked up shovels and watering cans, and planted 200 trees at the Punggol Waterway Park. Joining them was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who also planted a jelutong tree at the site.
The effort was part of a national drive to get more than 5,000 trees planted from August to December this year.
Ever since the campaign to plant trees was started by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1963, it has become an important annual ritual, PM Lee said yesterday as he launched the Clean and Green SG50 Carnival.
"We plant trees not just because it makes a big difference to our living environment," he said. "It is a symbolic act, to remind us of our goal, to encourage every one of us to play our part to make this a clean and green Singapore, and to build a better Singapore for our children."
The carnival, which ends today, aims to make environmental consciousness second nature to Singaporeans.
Mr Lee also praised grassroots organisations and Community In Bloom ambassadors - who rally the community and help others enjoy gardening - for their efforts.
He cited Madam Foziah Yeon, 56, a programme coordinator at Muhammadiyah Welfare Home who helped to start a community garden in Temasek Junior College. She told The Sunday Times she has had a love for nature since her younger days and nine years ago, she decided to incorporate gardening into the home's programme for children aged 10 to 13 years old.
Gardening, she added, has taught her charges values such as patience and hard work.
Mr Lee also urged Singaporeans to work together to make the country cleaner and greener.
"If we nurture our trees, tend our gardens and protect our environment year after year, the trees and gardens will grow, blossom and bear fruit," he said. "We can enjoy the shade and their beauty. This place will be even more beautiful."
Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said it was heartening that many Singaporeans have said they would like to contribute. He added: "Ultimately, we must aim for caring for the environment and for each other to become second nature to us - to become our way of life."
Meanwhile, the National Environment Agency said in a statement yesterday that two community challenges set at last year's carnival have seen progress.
There are more than 520 Bright Spots, or public areas where residents can take ownership of cleanliness through activities such as picking up litter. This is above the target of 500. And the No Waste Days challenge, which aims to get pledges from the public to achieve 50,000 days of reduced or zero waste, has garnered pledges from more than 15,500 people - amounting to 850,000 No Waste Days.