Keep our green spaces green

The National Parks Board (NParks) has assured the public that it will be replacing all felled trees with one or more trees (Weak trees felled to ensure safety; Jan 14).

However, can it be effective when a 50-year-old tree is felled and replaced by a two-year-old sapling? Can a two-year-old toddler do the job of a 50-year-old person?

These are the job specifications of trees:

• They absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen - they are the Earth's lungs.

• They absorb about 90 per cent of the Sun's radiation and heat that fall on Earth - they are the Earth's air-conditioners.

• Forests allow the rain that falls on them to permeate into the ground - they are the Earth's flood control system.

• Plants photosynthesise and store food in their leaves, which are eaten by animals that are in turn eaten by us - they are the source of all food.

• Leaves fall to the ground and, left there, feed insects which in turn excrete, die and enrich the soil - they are the way the Earth renews itself.

• Trees provide food and a home for animals, birds and insects - they beautify the land.

• Leaves are buried and over the millennia become oil - trees are the source of energy for tomorrow.

Trees are fundamental for life. If they are gone, we are gone.

NParks has a difficult task of balancing greenery with safety, housing and transport in land-scarce Singapore, and it is not easy trying to please everyone. But I believe it is doing its best.

Is it possible to maximise neighbourhood parks by planting as many trees in them as possible and keeping the concrete structures in them to a minimum?

Fortunately, there is one area where there should be no conflict and where NParks should face no constraints. These are the parks that we already have in every neighbourhood.

Is it possible to maximise them by planting as many trees in them as possible and keeping the concrete structures in them to a minimum?

They can also form a network of green islands for the birds and butterflies, and will go a long way to achieving our vision of a city in a garden and a garden in a city.

We already have too much concrete. Can we please keep our green spaces green?

Jackson Winifred Yap Quee Lan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Keep our green spaces green'. Print Edition | Subscribe