The Blossoming of Tree Planting Day

The Blossoming of Tree Planting Day

Singapore has a long history of tree planting, with over two million trees planted in the past 50 years. This tradition can be traced back to a significant moment in 1971 when acting Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee planted a rain tree sapling on Mount Faber. Despite the simplicity of the event, it marked the beginning of an annual ritual known as Tree Planting Day.

Early Tree Planting Activities

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However, tree planting in Singapore did not start in 1971. In fact, it dates back to the 19th century when it was primarily conducted by the Singapore Municipality and Singapore Botanic Gardens. The municipality planted trees to beautify parks and public spaces, as well as provide shade along roads. The Botanic Gardens also played a role in reforesting cleared land and experimenting with new commercial crops.

The 1963 Tree Planting Campaign

When the People’s Action Party government came into power in 1959, tree planting continued to be a priority. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew believed that greenery was essential for a city’s well-being. In 1963, Lee launched an island-wide tree planting campaign to combat the declining number of trees in Singapore. His goal was to plant 10,000 trees annually and involve both the government and the public in the effort.

The First Tree Planting Day

Four years after the launch of the Garden City campaign, Tree Planting Day was introduced. The inaugural event took place in 1971 and involved various groups, including students, military units, and government officials. It aimed to enhance the aesthetic sense of the younger generation and educate them on the importance of caring for nature. Tree Planting Day has been held every year since then, with thousands of trees and shrubs planted on each occasion.

Tree Planting Day in the 1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s and 1980s, Tree Planting Day became a community-wide event. Prime Minister Lee led mass planting activities on newly reclaimed land, such as East Coast Park and Marina South. These efforts included planting a variety of trees, including tembusu, eugenia, tamarind, and sea putat. In the 1980s, the focus shifted to fruit trees, with the aim of saturating housing estates with hardy varieties.

Becoming Part of the Clean and Green Campaign

In 1990, Tree Planting Day became a significant part of Clean and Green Week, an initiative aimed at cultivating a clean and green lifestyle among Singaporeans. This event marked Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s last Tree Planting Day as the country’s leader. The tradition continued with subsequent prime ministers, who used the annual event to highlight important environmental issues and promote sustainability.

From Garden City to City in Nature

The Garden City vision has evolved over the years, expanding into a plan for sustainability. Singapore has released several environmental protection and sustainability blueprints, setting targets for becoming a model green and sustainable city. The most recent blueprint, the Singapore Green Plan 2030, aims to strengthen the country’s economic, climate, and resource resilience.

One of the key initiatives of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 is the OneMillionTrees Movement, which aims to plant one million trees across the island by 2030. The movement emphasizes community engagement and involvement. Many individuals, groups, and organizations have already pledged their support, demonstrating a commitment to nurturing a greener and more sustainable Singapore for future generations.

Tree Planting Day holds great importance in Singapore’s journey towards becoming a City in Nature. Despite challenges, such as the recent global pandemic, the tradition continues to flourish. Tree by tree, Singapore is shaping a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future for all its residents.


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