Public can play a part to link Singapore’s green spaces

Adventure-themed parks, converting spaces under Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) tracks and expressway viaducts into recreational spaces, these are some of the ideas the National Parks Board (NParks) has come up to transform the living environment.

Following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement during his National Day Rally speech to create a “City in the Garden”, NParks is inviting suggestions from the public on how this can be achieved.

“Imagine stepping out of your house and not having to wander too far, you find yourself in a lush garden seamlessly connected to other recreational spaces, leisure attractions and even your workplace by a network of park connectors, green links and waterways,” said Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin on Facebook yesterday.

Singapore should be more than just a city with “parks and streetscape greenery”; rather, the city and urban landscape should be surrounded by lush greenery, with green spaces all linked up, he said.

Using Tampines Eco Green and Pasir Ris Park as examples, NParks chief executive Poon Hong Yuen said: “We want to make (parks) destinations in themselves, so it’s not just the people in the vicinity visiting.”

NParks is also looking at increasing the number of community gardens from 400 to 800 and biodiversity in the urban environment by reintroducing “selected native species” into the environment.

“We believe urban living can be enriched by having daily close encounters with nature,” said Mr Poon.

Environmental consultant Eugene Tay, 33, welcomed the approach to engage the community.

“Whether the parks should be natural or manicured, there should be discussion and the residents should get involved to maintain it,” he said.

Non-profit organisation Ground Up Initiative chief Tay Lai Hock, 47, concurred but voiced concerns about NParks’ plans to boost mechanisation and skills in the landscape and horticulture industries, one of the thrusts in the six key areas.

“Some of these suggestions are very labour-intensive. We will be getting foreign labour or will we pay Singaporeans enough to be interested in horticulture and landscaping?” he asked.

Architect and butterfly watcher Khew Sin Khoon, 51, wondered how comfortable Singaporeans would be with increased biodiversity in their midst.

Said Mr Khew: “Are we prepared for more bees and wasps, centipedes, changeable lizards? And when there are frogs, snakes will follow. All these creatures are part and parcel of the ecological chain.”

The public have until next June to give their feedback at www.nparks.gov.sg/ciag or www.facebook.com/nparksbuzz.

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