PM Lee marks Tree Planting Day by planting a tropical mangrove tree - on water

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (centre), Dr Lam Pin Min (left), Mr Raymond Chua (right), and Dr Koh Poh Koon (far right) plant Api-api Putih trees on floating modules along the Punggol Reservoir on Nov 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (centre), Dr Lam Pin Min (left), Mr Raymond Chua (right), and Dr Koh Poh Koon (far right) plant Api-api Putih trees on floating modules along the Punggol Reservoir on Nov 13, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mingles with children and their families as they plant small plants at Punggol Reservoir during the Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC Tree Planting event on Nov 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mingles with children and their families as they plant small plants at Punggol Reservoir during the Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC Tree Planting event on Nov 13, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (centre), Dr Lam Pin Min (left), Mr Raymond Chua (right), and Dr Koh Poh Koon (far right) plant Api-api Putih trees on floating modules along the Punggol Reservoir on Nov 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (centre), Dr Lam Pin Min (left), Mr Raymond Chua (right), and Dr Koh Poh Koon (far right) plant Api-api Putih trees on floating modules along the Punggol Reservoir on Nov 13, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The time-honoured tradition of Tree Planting Day treaded new ground - or rather, water - on Sunday (Nov 13), with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planting mangrove tree saplings in the Punggol Reservoir.

Mr Lee and his fellow MPs for Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West planted tropical mangrove trees on specially designed floating turfs of soil, the first time trees are being planted here using this method.

The Avicennia alba trees, commonly known as Api-api putih, will have roots suspended in the water that help absorb nutrients that algae depend upon, thereby reducing algae and improving water quality in the reservoir.

Dr Lam Pin Min, MP for Sengkang West, told reporters after the event that he had read about a installation of floating trees in Rotterdam, Holland, and decided to try it out here.

Besides, the constituency is next to Punggol Reservoir, which already houses the Sengkang Floating Wetland, he said.

"We're discussing with (national water agency) PUB to see whether we can locate it near to the floating wetland where people can view it when they walk across the bridge," he added.

Residents from both constituencies attended the event, which also featured a carnival with booths on protecting and safeguarding the environment.

Many also participated in games that challenged players to clean up the surrounding areas.

As part of the day's activities, Secondary 3 student Syabil Qusyairi, 15, and his Bartley Secondary schoolmates rowed kayaks for half an hour, looking for litter on the water surface of the reservoir.

Before setting off, they were given a quick lesson on why throwing trash into water bodies is harmful.

"I learnt that rubbish thrown into the water may be eaten by fishes, and they in turn are eaten by bigger fishes that may eventually be caught for human consumption," he added.

The tree planting effort comes on the back of recent initiatives to improve the living environment in one of Singapore's newest estates.

Last month, an 8.8km cycling network in Punggol linking homes to train stations, schools and other amenities was unveiled.

The tree planting campaign was launched in 1963 by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and has become an annual nationwide affair to highlight the importance of greening the city and keeping it clean.

Tree planting activities have been held in various constituencies across the island this month, including in Sembawang GRC on Sunday, which Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan attended.