Monday, March 11, 2013

Govt seeks to retain one-tenth of land for nature reserves: Tan Chuan-Jin  |  Posted: 11 March 2013 1234 hrs

SINGAPORE: The Singapore government said it is committed to retain about a tenth of land for nature reserves and parks.

Acting Manpower Minister and Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, said this is significant for a highly urbanised city-state.

Speaking in Parliament during the committee of supply debate for the National Development Ministry on Monday, he said Singapore has protected four nature reserves, representing the key native ecosystems that are found in Singapore.

Their biodiversity is among the richest in the region.

Singapore has also planned green recreational areas where Singaporeans live.

At least 85 per cent of homes will be within a 400-metre walking distance to a park and Mr Tan said the government will do more.

He said this year, Singaporeans can look forward to the completion of new parks like Holland Village Park, Woodlands Town Park East and Choa Chu Kang Park extension, adding to the 350 parks today.

Some of the older parks like Sembawang and Changi Beach Park have been given a fresh new look.

These parks will be complemented by more park connectors, vertical greenery, rooftop gardens and the transformation of waterways into recreational areas.

Mr Tan explained that as Singapore ramps up infrastructure, some Singaporeans are naturally concerned that these developments will have an impact on the natural environment, the collective socio-cultural heritage, and with it, personal memories and identity.

Mr Tan said he understands and shares these concerns and so the country must be careful and deliberate, and take a balanced approach to development.

He said: "As a government, we need to balance the different views and needs. Our responsibility, above all, is to ensure that every Singaporean, today and tomorrow, have good homes, good jobs and a good quality of life. Our heritage and environment are important parts of this equation. But they are not an end by themselves. Within 714 square kilometres of land, we have to decide where to live, work and play. There are also defence and security needs, and the need to be self-sufficient in water. In planning development, we must put our people and their needs first."

Like the greening efforts, the government's approach to conserving the built heritage has and will continue to develop over time, said Mr Tan.

Since the 1980s, the URA has conserved over 7,000 buildings in more than 100 areas, including the historic districts of Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India.

Mr Tan added that URA will conserve more significant older buildings when there is opportunity to do so, and weigh this with the other needs of the population.

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