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Towards a million more trees across Singapore

On the morning of 28 September 2022, over 40 parishioners turned up bright and early, and with great enthusiasm, at a nature stateland area off Adam Road to plant trees! Most showed up with hats and other sun-protective clothing in anticipation of a hot day.

It was a laudable initiative by the Green Movement Ministry of the parish, in conjunction with the Season of Creation. This effort is part of the “OneMillionTrees Movement” of National Parks Board (NParks) of Singapore, a nationwide effort to plant a million trees across Singapore over the next few years, bringing the number of trees on the island to more than 8 million. Launched in April 2020, this movement is a concerted effort to increase the number of trees planted throughout the whole of Singapore, including streetscapes, gardens, parks and park connectors, nature reserves and nature parks, and more. To date about 400,000 trees have been planted. At the heart of the “OneMillionTrees Movement” is the engagement and involvement of the community. In this way, the parishioners of St Ignatius are one of many groups doing their part in this noble effort.

Trees play an important role in creating a liveable environment in any city. They serve as natural air filters, provide oxygen and shade, cool down surfaces, and regulate the water cycle. In addition, trees help to enhance the physical, mental and social aspects of community well-being.

Opening prayer by Fr Colin Tan, SJ

The morning’s activity started with a prayer by Fr Colin Tan, SJ, the parish priest. In all, the parishioners planted 50 native trees, ranging from small to medium-sized ones. These trees will provide undergrowth to the existing taller trees in this green area. The tree varieties planted are Derum Selunchor (Cratoxylum cochinchinense), Seashore Ardisia or Mata Pelandok (Ardisia elliptica) and Cempaka Tanjung (Gardenia tubifera).

Cangkuls, spades, gloves, and watering cans were provided by NParks. Several NParks staff were on hand to brief the volunteers and to assist when needed. A hole as deep as the root of the tree had to be dug by the parishioners, albeit the ground having been already loosened earlier by NParks staff. After which the tree would be inserted upright into the hole and subsequently filled up with earth. The last step was to water the sapling with a watering can.

Members of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Singapore also turned up to support this initiative, in solidarity with JRS Asia Pacific. While the One Million Trees movement’s vision is to make Singapore a City in Nature, JRS Asia Pacific has the “Growing Canopies, Strengthening Communities Project” or “40-4-40 Campaign”, which plants trees to protect the livelihood of indigenous people in poorer areas of South East Asia. As with the visions of both NParks and the “40-4-40 Campaign,” growing a forest is a community endeavour.

After the morning’s activity, there was a common feeling of satisfaction among the parishioners that they had done their part to green a small part of urban Singapore and identified themselves with the care of our common home.

— Fr Francis Lim, SJ

Spiritual Director of the Green Movement Ministry

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