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Urban Greenery Studies

Principal Investigator: Assoc. Prof. Hugh T.W. Tan

Executive summary

This project is to develop a baseline greenery map of the study sites that include Marina Bay, the growth centers of Paya Lebar Central, Jurong Lake District and the Kallang Riverside, and two residential towns, namely Punggol, a more recent new town, and Queenstown, a mature inner city housing estate. To develop the map, the key baseline information to be determined are: (1) quantum of greenery provision measured with appropriate indicators such as greenery coverage, ratio of land occupied by green spaces, Green Plot Ratio, etc.; (2) vegetation structure defined by various vegetation types and their spatial distribution; (3) biodiversity levels within the study sites, and (4) how the information collected above correlate with built-up density, and the physical conditions of the sites.

The methodology includes a review of the literature and case studies on the role of greenery in high density living as well as urban ecology. Satellite imagery of the relevant sites in Singapore will be processed to delimit the vegetation zones. Ground truthing of the sites are required, as well as to classify them to higher resolution. For example, in managed vegetation areas, further classification is needed as to whether these are turfed areas, trees, shrubs or mixtures of these elements. Field surveys are also to determine whether key biodiversity elements are present, e.g., presence of threatened species, heritage trees, habitats of threatened species, resting points for migratory species, roosting sites of threatened species, etc. Field surveys are also for assessing strengths and deficiencies in particular sites so policy criteria may be suggested for enhancing biodiversity.

The information collected will be incorporated into a geographical information system (GIS). It will be cross referenced with the other five projects under the umbrella research project “Planning and Development for Sustainable High Density Living”, to present, overall, a holistic perspective of how urban sustainability can be articulated in high density environments.

This project is labour-intensive and would require the services of a research assistant (GIS-trained) to develop the GIS, and a research assistant (Biology-trained) to ground truth the study areas and assess the biodiversity. However, as expertise in all groups is not possible in a single individual, assistance from specialists are required, e.g. for other key bio-indicator groups such as birds, butterflies, etc. Satellite imagery for the study sites is factored in as a part of the costs.

A complementary project on “Enhancing the Urban Biodiversity of Singapore” has also been proposed for the MND research funding, for cultivating native plant species propagated from native stock plants in urban landscapes, by creation of the first native plants database, and demonstration landscape plots, developing appropriate know-how for propagation, screening and growing of native species in the urban environment for high survivability as well as demonstrate the ecological benefits of native plants in urban landscapes.

Objectives

This project will be the first attempt in Singapore to understand how the built-up environment affects as well as presents opportunities for existence of flora and fauna elements in urban conditions including the presence of threatened species and important habitats for sensitive plants and animals. In addition, the project will demonstrate how the provision of greenery could mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of high density living.

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