What's that tree? New map tells all

NParks bills its online map as the most extensive tree map in Asia. It hopes to get users excited about the environment.
NParks bills its online map as the most extensive tree map in Asia. It hopes to get users excited about the environment.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

NParks' trees.sg shows locations and gives data on more than 500,000 trees here

If you have ever wondered what tree with its pretty flowers stands at the foot of your block, when your neighbourhood trees are due for pruning, or where Singapore's 262 heritage trees are, all you now need to do is look it up on your phone.

The National Parks Board (NParks) has launched trees.sg, an online map that shows the locations of more than 500,000 trees in Singapore's urban landscape.

Users can click on individual trees and look at pictures of them, as well as their biodata.

The map took 10 months to create, at a cost of $100,000, and NParks bills this as the most extensive tree map in Asia.

NParks' streetscape group director Oh Cheow Sheng said: "We want people to get to learn about the trees in their neighbourhood, and hopefully, this will progressively get them to be excited about what else they can do about the environment, and how they can contribute. That is the idea behind putting these trees on an interactive tree map."

The map was launched yesterday to commemorate the International Day of Forests, which falls on March 21. In conjunction with the launch of trees.sg, the heritage restoration process of Fort Canning Park kicked off yesterday with the planting of 18 trees in the soon-to-be Farquhar Garden.

  • Sign up for heritage tree walk

  • Registration for a free, guided heritage tree walk in Chinatown, Singapore's largest historic district, opens at 10am today.

    The 2km walk, which will be held on March 31, starts at Duxton Plain Park and ends in Spottiswoode.

    It takes around two hours, covers about 20 species of trees, and has space for 40 participants.

    Here are two trees on the trail:

    BODHI TREE (FICUS RELIGIOSA)

    The bodhi tree is a large and fast-growing tree that can reach up to 30m in height.

    The figs of the tree are a food source for birds and many other types of wildlife, which, in turn, help to disperse the seeds.

    The tree is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists.

    BINJAI (MANGIFERA CAESIA)

    This is a large tree of the mango family that is critically endangered in Singapore.

    Spottiswoode Park used to be a nutmeg plantation before it was converted into bungalow-like residences in the early 1900s.

    The binjai tree along this trail may have been planted by residents or estate managers in the early 1900s for its sourish-sweet fruit.

    Members of the public can sign up at www.nparks.gov.sg/treetrails

When completed in June next year, it will take over the current Stamford Green, and will include plants originally grown by Major-General William Farquhar, the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore from 1819 to 1823.

The 18 trees were planted by members of the community and Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee yesterday.

More details were also revealed about the First Botanic Garden, which the Farquhar Garden is part of. The First Botanic Garden is a recreation of Singapore's first botanic garden, which both Sir Stamford Raffles and Farquhar had a hand in planting and expanding in the early 1800s.

The plants in the First Botanic Garden will fall under four broad themes: economic spices, ornamental plants, medicinal plants and plants that are native to the region.

They will be curated into a trail so that visitors can learn about the history of Fort Canning Park through the lens of a naturalist.

The trail will begin at Fort Canning Centre and meander through avenues of plants that have historically been associated with Singapore.

Also launched yesterday were a community-led group called Friends of TreesSg - with the aim of spreading the love of trees among Singaporeans - as well as NParks' free guided walk of Chinatown's heritage trees. The public can sign up for the walk from today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'What's that tree? New map tells all'. Print Edition | Subscribe