Singapore – keeping a growing population in touch with nature

07 April 2014 | Article

In a developed and highly populated city like Singapore, space is at a premium. Keeping people connected to nature and making sure they have access to natural spaces requires a comprehensive and long-term approach to land use planning.

Singapore cleverly converts unassuming spaces to green recreation areas and plans to continue this approach to connect people with nature as much as possible. Efforts include adorning structures with vertical/skyrise greenery, converting a concrete sterile canal to a ‘naturalised’ river that teems with life, activating unused reserved land into vibrant park connectors and creating ‘nature ways’ - designated routes planted with trees and shrubs to help the movement of wildlife such as birds and butterflies.

“Many cities around the world realise the importance of green spaces as necessary assets for the well-being of their people. In Singapore, parks and green spaces play an integral role in our ‘City in a Garden’ vision, where we aim to create a city nestled in an environment of parks, greenery and rich biodiversity,” says Mr Kong Yit San, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Park Management & Lifestyle Cluster) of the National Parks Board.

“As such, in addition to optimising our urban spaces, we work towards having at least 90% of our residents live within 400 metres of parks and green spaces. Our parks and green spaces also serve as supplementary habitats for native species such as dragonflies, butterflies and even hornbills, and we believe this enriches the quality of urban living by bringing nature and biodiversity closer to people.”

“We also try to inject vibrancy into our green spaces through activities and programmes, so that green spaces provide more recreational options for the people and allow them to enjoy nature and cultivate a healthier lifestyle. In this aspect, we have been successful in engaging members of our community through various initiatives such as our ‘Community in Bloom’ gardening programme and the ‘Plant-A-Tree’ programme. We have also been leveraging technology, using social media to interest and engage the community. These efforts have proven effective in imbuing a greater sense of community ownership of our shared spaces.”