1 million trees to be planted in Singapore over next 10 years: Desmond Lee

The MacRitchie Reservior rainforest. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of National Development (MND) is aiming to plant 1 million trees over the next 10 years to continue the greening movement sparked off by Singapore’s late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew over five decades ago.

“Mr Lee Kuan Yew sowed the seeds of Singapore's greening movement with the planting of a mempat tree in 1963... (Greening) to our pioneers was a serious business back then, and it remains a key priority of national development, right till today,” said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee in Parliament on Wednesday (4 March).

Speaking during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Lee said Singapore currently plants around 50,000 trees per year. This rate will be doubled to hit the 1 million tree mark.

“We will do so along our roads and our parks estates and green areas. And along some of our coastal areas, we will plant mangrove trees,” said Lee.

“We may lose some streetscape greenery due to developmental needs, but we will plant back what is lost and more,” he added.

Lee noted that over 200 parties – including companies on Jurong Island, Keppel Corp, the National University of Singapore and OCBC – have already pledged their support to plant more than 120,000 trees.

Four key moves

Earlier in his speech, Lee outlined four key moves that MND would be taking over the next decade to “enhance and extend our nature capital across the island”.

The first is the dedication of another 200 hectares of nature parks by 2030, up from the over 350 existing hectares. This new park space will measure two and a half times the size of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The National Parks Board (NParks) will also establish a 40ha nature path along the mangrove and mudflat habitat of Khatib Bongsu, in north-eastern Singapore.

Lee noted the importance of such spaces, which act as “complementary habitats and buffers to our nature reserves to protect them from the impact of urbanisation”.

“Singaporeans can look forward to more places such as the Rifle Range nature park for nature based recreation such as hiking and birdwatching in future,” he said.

Second, the MND will work to intensify the greenery in existing gardens and parks. This will be done by incorporating natural designs and plantings in new redeveloped parks, with about 140ha of such spaces expected to emerge over the next five years.

More waterways and water bodies in existing parks and gardens will be naturalised.

“We have done this in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Lakeside Garden, where we transformed concrete canals into natural rivers. We will incorporate such designs into all our coastal and riverine parks,” said Lee.

These measures will help protect against rising sea levels and flooding. Efforts will also be taken to conserve important native plants and animal species, said Lee.

A third strategy will be to “restore nature into our urban areas” and bring greenery to Singaporeans’ doorsteps. This will be done by nearly doubling Singapore’s skyrise greenery footprint in buildings and infrastructure to 200ha by 2030.

Lee noted that, over the next decade, 100,000 more trees would be planted in industrial estates such as Tuas industrial estate and Seletar Aerospace Park.

“These efforts will cool the environment, improve air quality and beautify surroundings in those industrial estates,” said Lee.

Lastly, more connectivity will be forged between green spaces around the island.

“We'll plant native trees and plants in a multi-tiered structure and create green corridors, along roads called nature ways. These can be further integrated with pedestrian and cycling paths to form lush and natural park connectors.” said Lee, who added that the aim is to develop 300km of nature ways and 500km of park connectors by 2030.

Once in place, all Singaporean households will be within a 10-minute walk from a park.

“Over the long term, where feasible, we aim to make every road a nature way,” said Lee.

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore

More Parliament stories:

New grant to help HDB residents in need of direct lift access: Lawrence Wong

$24.8m package to sway 1- to 3-room HDB households towards energy and water-efficient appliances: Masagos

PUB appointed as Singapore's coastal protection agency: Masagos

All Secondary 1 students to have personal learning device by 2024: Ong Ye Kung

2 new initiatives to help students with special education needs: Indranee Rajah

More focus on mental health, cyber wellness in Singapore schools