250,000 more trees, shrubs in next 10 years

Secondary 3 students from Nanyang Girls' High School Nature Society (from left) Koh Wei Ying, Karis Soh Hui, Rebecca Bo and Ng Shi Hui, all 14, planting trees in Rifle Range Nature Park yesterday. The National Parks Board aims to protect and restore
Secondary 3 students from Nanyang Girls' High School Nature Society (from left) Koh Wei Ying, Karis Soh Hui, Rebecca Bo and Ng Shi Hui, all 14, planting trees in Rifle Range Nature Park yesterday. The National Parks Board aims to protect and restore Singapore's forest landscape with this initiative.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

To protect and restore Singapore's forest landscape, the National Parks Board (NParks) will plant 250,000 trees and shrubs in nature parks and reserves here in the next 10 years.

This is the country's first Forest Restoration Action Plan and will involve two nature reserves - Bukit Timah and Central Catchment - and the eight nature parks around them.

NParks began restoration works in Rifle Range Nature Park yesterday. The works will include planting tree species that can raise the soil's nitrogen levels to encourage plant growth. More dominant and rare species of rainforest trees and shrubs will be planted, said NParks.

Its group director for conservation, Dr Adrian Loo, said: "The genetic diversity in our tropical rainforests is amazing. There are still things we are discovering and rediscovering, and we believe this natural heritage is important to protect for our future generations."

The move to restore the forest landscape comes under the 2015 Nature Conservation Masterplan that sets the course of Singapore's biodiversity conservation plans. It covers four broad themes: conservation, restoration, research and community outreach.

Said Dr Loo: "It's important to ensure our diversity (in these nature parks) is not lost, and that we keep on protecting it."

A community tree planting session yesterday was attended by Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, as well as advisers from Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister of State Sim Ann, and students and members of nature groups.

 
 

Nanyang Girls' High Secondary 3 student Foong Wei Qi, 15, who helped remove weeds in the Rifle Range Nature Park, said: "We hope the native plant species will thrive better after we clean up this part of the forest."

The chairman of the Friends of Bukit Timah Forest community group, Mr Joseph Koh, said involving students in the restoration works is a good step, "but it should not be a one-off thing".

The restoration works at the Rifle Range Nature Park will be completed next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline '250,000 more trees, shrubs in next 10 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe