National Parks Board (NParks)
Features | National development

Maintaining Our Green Infrastructure

The National Parks Board (NParks), which aims to achieve and enhance biodiversity in urbanised Singapore, is made up of individuals who commit themselves to greening up our City in a Garden.

Singapore is not just a little red dot – it is also a lush garden city. All we need to do is look beyond the window to see the integration of greenery into our modern urban development. The sight of rows of trees lining our roads and parks amidst skyscrapers is a familiar sight to all who live here.

NParks is largely responsible for our garden-city’s greenery. It also takes charge of linking major parks, nature areas and residential areas with park connectors and engages the community through driving green-related initiatives. It even has an app dedicated to guide people as they locate and explore Singapore’s parks and gardens!

We talk to Thaddaeus Cheng, who tells us how the NParks Scholarship has given him opportunities to learn from various field experts and support NPark’s vision to develop and maintain our green infrastructure.

What is your job scope like and what are some of your responsibilities?

Thaddaeus Cheng: I manage the urban greenery along road verges in Singapore. This includes the carrying out of tree inspections and other tree-management work to ensure the health and structural stability of trees. I also work closely with landscaping contractors and colleagues from other departments and agencies in the design and implementation of planting schemes and the pruning, removal and transplanting of trees, shrubs and turf.

Thaddaeus Cheng Xin Wei
NParks Undergraduate Scholar

Designation: Manager (Streetscape)

Studied: Bachelor of Science in Ecology
and Environmental Biology,
Imperial College London, UK

In addition, I attend and respond to public feedback. NParks takes such feedback very seriously as these are valuable sources of information from the ground that are essential to our progression towards becoming a City in a Garden.

A recent initiative that I am fortunate to be a part of is the enhancement of greenery for selected Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations. It has been extremely enriching to work with agencies such as LTA to implement such a comprehensive strategy that maximises all available space such as covered link-ways, external walls and roofs.

Tell us more about NParks' role in managing Singapore’s green spaces and environment.

Thaddaeus: A key challenge faced by NParks is the scarcity of land amidst rapid development. With many competing land uses, it can be challenging to maintain and enhance our green identity. As a result, we have to come up with novel approaches to green-up urban areas. One such example would be the NParks Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme (SGIS), which helps buildings in their efforts to 'greenup' vertically. In Singapore, over 60 hectares – an equivalent of 84 football fields – of green roofs have been installed in more than 500 buildings. This is essential to NParks’ vision to transform Singapore from a Garden City to a City in a Garden.

What opportunities have you enjoyed as an NParks Scholar?

Thaddaeus: My scholarship with NParks allowed me to study overseas, where I was exposed to various foreign organisations doing related work. Time spent with these organisations broadened my horizon and perspective on things. For example, in my second year, I secured an internship with a Swiss-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Association pour le Développement des Aires Protégées (ADAP). I spent around two months in a remote area of Western Tanzania collecting research data. This involved leading a team of village game scouts out in the forest where we would live for a couple of weeks at a stretch, placing and retrieving camera traps before returning to the village.

This internship highlighted the operational challenges of conservation efforts, something which is definitely not taught in the classroom. I gained valuable first-hand experience about wildlife and also gleaned insights into the socio-economic situation in Africa and its intimate connection with the natural environment.

"As I go about my day-to-day business in Singapore, I derive a great sense of satisfaction from taking some time to enjoy the environment and knowing that I played a role in creating it."

In addition, I spent the summer of my first year in university as a research assistant for Operation Wallacea, an organisation which runs conservation management programmes around the world. I spent two weeks in the Peruvian Amazon region, where we lived in houseboats and conducted a variety of surveys daily on animals ranging from mammals to fish.

Following that, I went to Honduras, where I spent two weeks diving off the Caribbean islands to learn about reef ecology. This was followed by another two weeks of trekking in the jungle as we researched on boa constrictors and spiny-tailed iguanas!

How has NParks facilitated your personal and professional development? What do you look forward to in the future?

Thaddaeus: NParks has offered me a myriad of opportunities to learn from various field and industry experts. The courses and workshops I have attended covered a wide range of topics, bolstering my knowledge on ecosystem services and even honing my ability to write proposals. NParks has indeed constantly encouraged me to expand my knowledge and interests.

And like many NParks staff, being constantly surrounded by lush greenery is definitely one of the highlights of my work. As I go about my day-to-day business in Singapore, I derive a great sense of satisfaction from taking some time to enjoy the environment and knowing that I played a role in creating it.

Furthermore, all of NParks different departments are united by a common vision. I hope to be able to work in other departments in the future to gain a more holistic understanding of the organisation. It will definitely enable me to contribute more to growing our City in a Garden.