Parliament: More nature parks, park connectors as Singapore transforms into city in nature in next decade

In the next 10 years, the National Parks Board aims to transform Singapore from a "city in a garden" to a "city in nature". PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore will be transformed into a greener city in the next decade, with more plant life and nature integrated into urbanised areas.

In the next 10 years, the National Parks Board (NParks) aims to transform Singapore from a "city in a garden" to a "city in nature".

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, who announced the new vision during the debate on his ministry's budget on Wednesday (March 4), said the key strategy here is to enhance and extend Singapore's natural capital.

He said: "We want to transform Singapore into a city in nature. To provide Singaporeans with a better quality of life, while co-existing with our flora and fauna. Indeed, with climate change, more extreme weather conditions, increased urbanisation, we must do more."

This will be done through four key moves, said Mr Lee. These are extending the nature park network, intensifying nature in gardens and parks, restoring nature into the built environment, and strengthening connectivity between Singapore's green spaces.

The nature park network, which currently covers 350ha, will get an additional 200ha of nature parks by 2030.

These nature parks serve as buffers to protect the nature reserves against the impact of urbanisation and human activities. Besides providing clean air and water, Singapore's four nature reserves - Bukit Timah, Central Catchment, Labrador, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve - safeguard primary and secondary rainforests and are core habitats for native biodiversity.

Mr Lee said: "Singaporeans can look forward to more places such as Rifle Range Nature Park for nature-based recreation, such as hiking, and bird watching in future."

For example, a 40ha nature park will be established at Khatib Bongsu, a rich mangrove and mudflat habitat in the north-eastern coast of Singapore.

Nature lovers can also expect 140ha of new gardens and parks to be rolled out in the next five years.

These parks will have more greenery, with natural landscape designs and a wider variety of plants to make the parks more natural. Waterways and waterbodies in parks will also be naturalised. This was previously done in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Lakeside Garden, where concrete canals were transformed into natural rivers which help to protect against sea-level rise and flooding. These designs will be incorporated into other coastal and riverine parks.

Thirty therapeutic gardens designed for seniors and those with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dementia will also be built by 2030. In addition, 70 more native plants and animal species will be conserved over the next decade.

The move to turn Singapore into a city in nature will also involve increasing the greenery in urban areas.

Singapore currently has 115km of nature ways, which are the forest-like structures and green corridors along the roads. They help to keep the streets cool and resilient to the effects of urbanisation. NParks aims to have an additional 185km of nature ways by 2030.

Mr Lee said that over the long term, the aim is to make every road a nature way.

There will also be more greenery in the industrial estates, which are among the hottest areas on the island, with another 100,000 trees to be planted in Tuas Industrial Estate and Seletar Aerospace Park, among others.

Connectivity between Singapore's green spaces will be increased as well. Currently, Singapore has 340km of park connectors islandwide. This will be upped to 500km by 2030. With this, all households will be within a 10-minute walk of a park, said Mr Lee.

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Singaporeans will also be engaged in helping to achieve a greener city.

NParks will be launching a movement to plant a million trees across Singapore over the next 10 years. The One Million Trees movement will take place throughout the island, and include streetscapes, gardens, parks and park connectors, nature reserves and nature parks.

Some 100 people, as well as more than 100 groups and organisations, have already pledged their support. This includes the Friends of the Park communities, NParks volunteers, nature groups, and organisations.

Keppel Corporation has pledged to donate $3 million for some 10,000 trees to be planted over the next five years, while NUS has committed to plant 80,000 trees on its campus over the next 10 years. JTC and its stakeholders will plant 30,000 trees on Jurong Island. Others like OCBC, Shimizu and its contractors, as well as UPS have also pledged their support.

NParks will also expand its outreach programmes to grow its volunteer base from the current 48,000 to 70,000 by 2030.

Mr Lee said: "We want a whole new generation of Singaporeans to carry on this responsibility to keep planting and nurturing trees, for the benefit of future Singaporeans."

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