Singapore Government Press Release
Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts,
MITA Building, 140 Hill Street, 2nd Storey, Singapore 179369
SPEECH BY MR MAH BOW TAN, MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF HINDHEDE NATURE PARK ON 17 AUGUST 2001, 9.30AM AT HINDHEDE NATURE PARK
Professor Leo Tan, Chairman, National Parks Board;
Ladies and gentlemen;
A very good morning to you,
Visitors to Singapore, without fail, comment on how clean and green our city is. Indeed, our reputation as a Garden City has spread far and wide. It is a hard-earned distinction, made possible by four decades of unwavering determination and unstinting effort on the part of the government, its agencies, industry and the people.
Despite competing land needs for housing, industrial and commercial developments, we have set aside space for parks, trees and greenery. Parks provide residents with recreational spaces and venues for community interaction within easy reach of our homes. Parks also act as green lungs within our urbanised residential areas, providing visual relief and softening the housing environment.
By providing different types of parks such as regional parks, nature parks, neighbourhood parks and park connectors, we are able to cater to the different recreational needs of our population. Whether you want to engage in active leisure activities or have a quiet retreat from city life, there is a park space in this island for everyone. The green matrix formed by the hierarchy of parks, together with our roadside greenery, helps to realise our vision of making Singapore a "City in a Garden".
We have all contributed to developing Singapore into what it has become today - a beautiful, clean and green Garden City, a city which all Singaporeans can enjoy and be proud of. More importantly, this is a place which we can identify with and feel rooted to.
Fragility of greenery
Singapore’s development into a Garden City was a long and committed process, through the sweat and toil of many Singaporeans, in planting and maintaining trees and greenery all over Singapore.
A tree takes many years to grow. The famous and ever popular Tembusu Tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens is more than 100 years old, older than all of us here today! But it can take only an hour to cut down the tree. That is how fragile nature is.
We must therefore be careful never to pursue urban development blindly at the expense of mature trees and greenery. As Singapore develops and progresses, it becomes increasingly important that we retain a sense of identity in our physical landscape. One way to do this is to conserve some of the more scenic and significant tree-lined roads in Singapore. The government has therefore initiated the Heritage Roads and Heritage Tree scheme.
As mature roadside trees constitute the backbone of our Garden City, the government will preserve the unique tree-scapes along some of the roads in Singapore, which we have designated as Heritage Roads. Legislation is being tailored to preserve the special green ambience and the mature trees lining them.
In many locations, the green ambience and mature trees that line the Heritage Roads are a result of more than 35 years of care and growth. If mature trees are felled, these precious assets will be lost. It would take a very long time to redevelop or recreate the mature tree-scape. In some situations, the existing natural wooded ambience cannot be recreated to its original condition. The preservation of Heritage Roads will add an element of permanence to the landscape which will contribute to our sense of identity, history and continuity.
Currently, there are 55 roads in Singapore which are designated as Heritage Roads. Examples of the trees along these Heritage Roads include the secondary forest along Mount Pleasant Road, the Rain trees along Upper Thomson Rd, and the African Mahogany trees along Loyang Avenue.
These roads were carefully chosen, bearing in mind that some tradeoffs are inevitable, especially in land-scarce Singapore, with many competing requirements for land. Therefore, the success of the Heritage Roads scheme will depend on the multi-agency efforts of Land Transport Authority, Ministry of Environment, Urban Redevelopment Authority and National Parks Board. It is only through such joint efforts that we can implement the Heritage Roads and Heritage Tree scheme and enhance the quality of our living environment. The objective of these schemes is for the agencies to work around the trees, not through them, so that they can be preserved.
Heritage Trees are an integral part of our environment. NParks has conducted an initial survey and found at least 30 of such trees in Singapore with heritage value that are worthy of preservation. Some of these trees range from 80-100 years old. These include the Malayan Terminalia along Turnhouse Road and Liane Road, and the Rain trees at the Padang. I am pleased to note that NParks has installed a lightning protection system to safeguard these precious assets from lightning strikes.
NParks is also in the process of setting up a Heritage Tree Panel consisting of representatives from various government agencies and members of the public to select more heritage trees.
Hindhede Nature Park
The government's commitment to providing parks and greenery to meet the recreational needs of Singaporeans can also be seen from where we are today- Hindhede Nature Park. The government could have developed this piece of prime land for other uses but instead, we have set it aside for park use. In developing Hindhede Nature Park, NParks has taken great care to preserve many existing trees in their original splendor.
Hindhede Nature Park was developed at a cost of about $3 million. This park will complement Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as one of the beautiful nature parks in the Bukit Timah area. It will serve as a buffer for the Nature Reserve, as well as provide another venue for exercise in this nature area, thus relieving the pressure on Bukit Timah.
It is now my pleasure to officially open Hindhede Nature Park. I invite all Singaporeans to make use of this wonderful park as a peaceful getaway and enjoy the excellent views here.