Conference 2003

Conference 2003
Greening the City:
Bringing Biodiversity Back
into the Urban Environment


Mason TanUrban Biodiversity and Greening Strategies in Singapore

Mason Tan (Landscape Architect and Director, Mace Studio, Singapore)

This paper provides an overview of Singapore's "Garden City" programme and its relationship with biodiversity levels. It defines three landscape periods spanning the development of Singapore from independence till present day. The first two periods, the "Survival Landscape" and "Mosaic Landscape" mark the sixties to the early eighties, and from then to the late nineties respectively. Massive urbanisation and infrastructure developments during these periods exacerbated the extinction of numerous native species of flora and fauna and replaced it with a well-ordered and manicured lush green mantle with low biodiversity.

Pressure on limited land of only 680 square kilometres for a projected population of 5.5 million, searching for identity in a monotonous landscape and increasing costs are challenging the ability to sustain this lush green mantle. This marks the dawn of the next landscape period, the "Integrated Landscape" where I am suggesting that strategies of "Local Identity", "Ecological Design" and "Consolidation" are necessary to meet these challenges. Biodiversity plays an important role in these strategies by using Singapore's natural bio-diverse heritage as a rationale to establish "Local Identity" and as a tool towards achieving sustainable greenery through "Ecological Design". Through the "Consolidation" of green spaces to maximise land use, more areas can be made available for these natural plant communities to flourish. These strategies can be translated into economic value by packaging the island as a bio-park for ecotourism. The success of these new strategies will depend on the ability of policy makers to 'think out of the box'.

Conference sponsored by:

British Council NZ
The Community Trust
Landcare Research

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Last updated: October 14, 2003