Conservation of green spaces on campus still doubtful
By Tettyana Jasli
Oct. 8 2010
The recently concluded campaign by NUS Students Against Violation of the Earth (NUSSU SAVE) to conserve green spaces in the National University of Singapore (NUS) campus has met with mixed success.
The campaign “Green Spaces, Better Places: Conserve Now or Never” aimed to increase the NUS community's understanding of the importance of conserving green spaces on campus and to garner student support for the preservation of these places.
It was launched alongside the NUS Green Carnival 2010 in August.
On the one hand, the campaign has been a success, gathering 7 649 affirmative student votes, above the original target of 5 000 votes.
But while the month-long campaign had been received positively by NUS students, it remains to be seen if it will lead to a definite timeline for the conservation of green spaces on campus.
“We are in the process of getting an official statement from (the administration) and will need to conduct further discussions on this,” said NUSSU Save Vice-Chairman Jasmine Chen.
The university administration is serious about preserving green spaces on campus, said Dr Peck Thian Guan of the Campus Concept Plan Committee.
He was speaking at a dialogue session held on September 15 on the topic "Can a Campus in a Tropical Rainforest be Realised?" at the Closing Ceremony of the NUS Green Carnival 2010.
Dr Peck also unveiled a campus masterplan which envisioned the concept of the “regimented rainforest” and themed gardens.
According to him, the administration’s priorities are to reduce heat and improve local biodiversity.
He assured that the university “will not sacrifice campus green spaces.”
However, he spoke of the need to balance conservation efforts with other concerns such as security and the demand for new research or residential capacities arising from increased enrolment.
The masterplan has factored in green spaces into the campus planning, which may be implemented in the next 15-20 years.
But as Chen points out, even with a masterplan, new research or residential needs might still take precedence over the conservation of green spaces on campus.
“Unfortunately, having a masterplan does not imply that the petition has been accepted,” admitted Wong.
“We cannot be sure how other future forces like future research, education and student needs will influence the way the university develops. Hence the need to remain vigilant and not complacent, which is why we are spending so much effort to secure the conservation of those green spaces,” she added.
NUSSU Save submitted a similar petition last year entitled “NUS Votes Earth”.
Then, there was no affirmation from the university administration, though a joint statement was released.
One such student initiative under NUSSU Save is the “Campus in a Tropical Rainforest” (CiTR) programme, whose objective is a long term roadmap for the extensive greening of NUS.
According to CiTR Programme Director Amanda Tan, students lack the technical expertise and an understanding of University plans, and these often hamper their ability to contribute.
As such, CiTR’s taskforce sees academics, administrators and students working together.
One of the ways in which CiTR hopes to get the NUS community involved in this effort is through its Inaugural Tree Planting Ceremony, which will be held at Clementi Woods Park on October 10, at 10 a.m.
Through the planting of trees, CiTR hopes to encourage the NUS population to reduce their ecological footprint.