New exhibition traces Singapore's green journey

The free exhibition - Singapore's Greening Journey: 200 Years And Beyond - at the Singapore Botanic Gardens' CDL Green Gallery charts the evolution of Singapore's green story from 1819 till the present day.
The free exhibition - Singapore's Greening Journey: 200 Years And Beyond - at the Singapore Botanic Gardens' CDL Green Gallery charts the evolution of Singapore's green story from 1819 till the present day.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A visitor takes a whiff of spices at an interactive segment at the exhibition, which also explores what people want for the future.
A visitor takes a whiff of spices at an interactive segment at the exhibition, which also explores what people want for the future.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Showcase is part of Bicentennial celebrations and Botanic Gardens' 160th anniversary

Step outside and look around.

Chances are the first colour that catches your eye will be green - the emerald hues of stately trees, verdant shrubbery speckled with bright blooms or lush carpets of grass.

Singapore, one of the cities with the highest concentration of trees in the world, is home to more than two million of them, planted along roadsides, in parks and on state land; and more than 300km of park connectors, all within walking distance of people's homes.

Greening the country has been an effort 200 years in the making, even before the Republic's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew launched the Garden City plan in 1967.

Visitors to the Singapore Botanic Gardens now have the opportunity to learn about the country's green story, beginning with the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles here in 1819, at Singapore's Greening Journey: 200 Years And Beyond.

Located at the City Developments Limited (CDL) Green Gallery, this free exhibition was launched yesterday by CDL and the National Parks Board (NParks) as part of Singapore's Bicentennial commemoration and the Botanic Gardens' 160th anniversary. It will run until Nov 10 this year.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who opened the exhibition, said that the nation's green journey is far from over.

"In other cities around the world, more urbanisation inevitably means less greenery. But that's a trade-off we cannot afford in Singapore," he said.

So the Republic is setting aside another 1,000ha of green space in the coming years, even as it sets aside space for new urban developments.

"It is not one or the other, but both," he stressed, adding that the cultivation of green spaces was just one of various efforts ranging from protecting biodiversity to integrating green concepts into urban design.

The exhibition is divided into three zones, spanning Singapore's history from 1819 till the present day, and looking forward into what people want for the future.

Denmark's Ambassador to Singapore, Ms Dorte Bech Vizard, who was at the opening, said that Singapore had a "fantastic" reputation for being a city in a garden.

"The exhibition is a brilliant example of how you can get people involved in the discussion, thinking about what kind of green future they want for Singapore," she said.

Elaborating on how green concepts are being incorporated into urban design and planning, Mr Wong said it was not a matter of planting trees in an ad-hoc manner but doing so early and deliberately.

"This is work that is now informed by greater investments in science and technology, so we understand the natural habitats, and to build our natural ecosystem even as we continue to urbanise."

While the Government is already doing this in many of its projects, he singled out private developer CDL as a champion for green and sustainable development, and urged others to do the same.

The exhibition is open from 9am to 6pm daily, except on the last Tuesday of each month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2019, with the headline 'New exhibition traces Singapore's green journey'. Print Edition | Subscribe