Singapore: The compact city championing urban biodiversity

Singapore urban biodiversity

Recognised globally for its skyscrapers and robust economy, Singapore has also carved out significant niches in business sustainability and biodiversity conservationKey efforts include the management of extensive park networks, habitat restoration projects, and international cooperation in biodiversity conservation. 

Despite these efforts, Singapore faces significant challenges, with ongoing biodiversity loss highlighting the need for sustained and enhanced conservation strategies. This article explores Singapore’s pioneering initiatives in urban biodiversity and the pressing issue of species decline within the nation.

How Singapore is championing urban biodiversity

Singapore has taken a proactive and multifaceted approach to enhancing biodiversity, focusing on conservation, urban planning, and international cooperation. Below is a breakdown of some of the key initiatives and strategies.

City in a Garden Vision

Singapore’s commitment to biodiversity is embedded in its “City in a Garden” vision, which aims to transform the urban environment into one rich with greenery and flora. This vision includes the development of parks, green roofs, and vertical gardens, integrating nature into the urban landscape.

Singapore Green Plan 2030

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a comprehensive national sustainability agenda aimed at enhancing open green spaces, restoring natural habitats, and promoting native biodiversity. The plan includes measures to extend the nature park network and plant more trees. In addition, it shares practices to create ecological corridors to connect green spaces, allowing for wildlife movement and genetic exchange.

Biodiversity conservation and research

The National Parks Board (NParks) manages over 350 parks and 4 nature reserves. NParks conducts biodiversity conservation initiatives, including habitat enhancement, species recovery programs, and biodiversity surveys to monitor and manage the health of ecosystems.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

This reserve is a key site for migratory birds and local biodiversity. It’s an example of successful wetland conservation in an urban setting, providing educational and research opportunities while serving as a recreational area for residents and tourists alike.

Integrative nature conservation plans

Singapore’s approach includes specific conservation plans such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Restoration Project, which aims to restore and enhance the ecological connectivity between the country’s primary rainforest and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

International collaborations

Singapore actively participates in international biodiversity conservation efforts. It is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and plays a role in various international forums to promote biodiversity-friendly policies.

Public engagement and education

Initiatives like the Community in Nature (CIN) programme encourage public participation in biodiversity conservation activities. Singapore also hosts events, such as the Festival of Biodiversity to educate and engage the public in biodiversity ecosystem services and conservation efforts.

Biodiversity loss in Singapore

Despite all of the initiatives above, biodiversity loss is still on the rise in Singapore. A recent study revealed that Singapore has lost 37 percent of its species since the construction of the city began in 1819. Two centuries ago Singapore was covered by rainforests, swamp forests and mangrove forests. However, in the two centuries that have followed, these forests have been cleared to make way for concrete structures, people, and plantations. Due to this, iconic species have vanished. 

The research has found that in the last two centuries, nine out of 10 forest-dwelling birds, over two-fifths of bees, and nearly half of butterflies have gone extinct. Among mammals, almost 60 percent of large mammals have vanished. Additionally, more than two-thirds of orchids have become extinct. Extrapolating their data, the researchers estimate that by 2100, nearly 18 percent of all species in Southeast Asia could go extinct if the current rate of degradation and forest loss continues. 


Singapore’s dedication to championing urban biodiversity through comprehensive strategies and innovative planning is commendable. However, the persistent issue of biodiversity loss, with significant declines in native species since the 19th century, underscores the need for continuous and intensified conservation efforts. 

By addressing these challenges and leveraging international collaborations and public engagement, Singapore can further strengthen its role as a global leader in urban biodiversity conservation, ensuring the protection and restoration of its natural heritage for future generations.

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