Upper Thomson, Lornie, Old Choa Chu Kang roads will be latest additions to nature ways

More green spaces and road verges in Singapore will soon be spared the grasscutter’s blades as the Garden City aspires to become a City in Nature over the next decade.

Upper Thomson Road, Lornie Road and Old Choa Chu Kang Road are some of the routes that will become nature ways, the National Parks Board (NParks) said in response to queries from The Straits Times on Wednesday.

Nature ways are roads along which vegetation is allowed to grow naturally, and where more native species of trees and shrubs are introduced over time to mimic the structure of a forest. These green corridors are intended to be less manicured, said the agency.

The three routes will be the latest additions to the existing 34 nature ways islandwide, measuring more than 100km, that form part of the Republic’s plans to become a “city in nature”. The aim is to have 300km of nature ways by 2030.

Other areas where spontaneous greenery has been allowed to thrive include slopes along expressways such as the Bukit Timah, Pan-Island and Kranji expressways, and green spaces such as Coney Island Park, Tampines Eco Green and Windsor Nature Park, said Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, group director of streetscape at NParks.

Besides providing food and shelter for animals, the greenery in these spaces also serves as natural protection and support for the slopes, he added.

As the city slowed down over the past several months and services such as weeding and grasscutting took a back seat, a carpet of green began to creep across paved areas, an event not lost on many people, who welcomed the profusion of flowering weeds like mimosa and coatbuttons on the roadside.

Reports in The Straits Times led to a flurry of letters, with readers, thrilled with the rustic changes to the landscape, calling on the authorities to reduce their maintenance work on the city’s wild-growing greenery. “The roadside kerbs and parks that used to have just grass alone are now teeming with life as flowers adorn the landscape and butterflies and bees buzz and flit in the mix,” wrote ST reader Ong Yao Min in one of the many Forum letters sent to the paper. “I am among many who find this new scenery a comforting scene as we battle with the ennui of staying at home.”

Mr Oh said that while NParks is encouraged that members of the public are noticing and appreciating the naturalised landscapes and the fauna that come with it, the agency has to be selective about where it can allow natural landscapes to establish, due to fire safety and dengue control concerns.

He added: “Areas near residential estates may not be appropriate because grasses like lalang are potential fire hazards during dry weather. Tall grass may conceal discarded litter, and overgrown vegetation can trap sediments and clog up drains, as well as make dengue control operations more difficult.”

With the gradual easing of the circuit breaker measures, NParks will continue to introduce more naturalistic landscapes where appropriate, even as it looks into scaling up landscape-related operations in a phased manner, said Mr Oh.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-places-to-have-wild-greenery-left-untouched

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