The Star, May 13, 2018
IT’S not just Malaysia that wants to green its cities.
Other countries are also tending to their own lawn, with the grass in some nations being literally greener than others.
There’s even a rating system to compare the density of greenery in major cities around the world, created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
In a report by the Business Insider on March 22, the ratings, called the “Green View Index”, had ranked Singapore as the city with the highest percentage of canopy coverage (29.3%).
The need to raise awareness on the importance of woodlands and trees has also been highlighted through the United Nations’ International Day of Forests on March 21, with this year’s theme being “Forests and Sustainable Cities”.
On the event’s website, the key messages included the fact that trees help improve the local climate, cooling the air by up to 8°C and reducing air conditioning needs by 30%.
Trees also reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas.
Last year, the Singaporean government had set an ambitious target to double high-rise greenery coverage by 2030.
According to a report by The Straits Times in November, its Second Minister of National Development Desmond Lee said the aim of increasing the amount of greenery was to make the urban landscape more attractive and to support richer urban biodiversity.
The island republic has around 100ha of high-rise greenery, which is the approximate size of over 100 football fields.
The report said Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority will intensify its existing Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme to encourage more developers and building owners to include greenery in their projects.
Meanwhile, the environmental, social and health benefits of having more green spaces in urban areas were explained in a report by the World Health Organisation.
Such urban green areas including parks, playgrounds, riversides, green trails or urban gardening can help improve the quality of urban settings and promote active lifestyles, said the Urban Green Space Interventions and Health report which was released last year.
Among the main benefits from such green space interventions are:
> Improved aesthetics of the area
> Biodiversity and conservation of natural surroundings
> More time spent outdoors
> Promotion of walking, cyclying, leisure and play
> Creation of settings for social interaction
> Improved urban quality in disadvantaged areas
> Reduction of environmental risks (flooding, heat, air pollution)
> Opportunities for urban gardening
> Better physical and mental health in general
The findings also showed moves that increase green spaces can bring positive effects to all population groups, particularly among lower socio-economic status groups.