Environmental issues in Singapore

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Environmental issues in Singapore include air and water pollution, and deforestation. The government established the Singapore Green Plan in 1992 to help with environmental problems.


Since the founding of Singapore in 1819, more than 95% of its estimated 590 square km of vegetation has been cleared. At first for short-term cash crops and later because of urbanization and industrialization. 61 of its original 91 bird species has been lost leading to many native forest plants not being able to reproduce because of loss of seed dispersal and pollination.[1]

Since 1980, development and increased pressure for land usage has led to Singapore losing 90% of its forests, 67% of its birds, 40% of its mammals and 5% of its amphibians and reptiles.[2]

Land reclamation[edit]

As a result of the nation’s ambitious land reclamation, environmental impact of extends beyond its shores too. Singapore’s shores has expanded by 22% since its independence and Singapore has become one of the largest importers of sand in the world, importing 517 million tonnes in the last 20 years alone. Most of this sand was sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia until both counties imposed a ban due to the environmental impact – Indonesia saw 24 islands disappear. Sand dredging in Cambodia has also threatened its coastal environments, endangered species and destroying the livelihoods of fishing villages.[3]

Air pollution[edit]

A housing estate in Jurong East being shrouded in haze, photographed October 15, 2006

In 1984, there were health concerns with the great number of pig farms in Singapore. They were deemed to have contributed to the pollution of the country, namely to the air. This problem was solved by reducing the number of such farms.[4] 65.8 metric tons (64.8 long tons; 72.5 short tons) of carbon dioxide were emitted in the country in 1996, ranking among one of the highest emission levels in the world. Air polluters in Singapore are mostly, but not only, vehicles for transport, despite the country's tough regulations.[5] The country is blanketed in haze for a period of time annually, contributed by smoke from Indonesian fires.[6]

Water pollution[edit]

Bottles of NEWater on display at a 2005 function

Water in Singapore is polluted by unwanted materials contributed by industrial facilities, coupled by oil from both incoming and outgoing trading vessels.[7] Corrective measures are taken, and affected water is taken for treatment at specialised centres.[5] Plants such as NEWater treat unwanted water into drinkable water.[8] One major water body in Singapore which used to be polluted is the Singapore River.[9][10]


To combat the country's environmental problems the Singaporean government first made the Singapore Green Plan in 1992 and a new edition of it in 2012 to continue it.[11] The plan aims to keep tabs on the unstable populations of fauna and flora, to place new nature parks and to connect existing parks.[12] It was announced on June 3, 2013, that the government will begin recording the amount of carbon emitted in the country and how much of it is absorbed by the country's flora.[13] Though some scholars have called Singapore an "environmental oasis,"[14] others have accused it of "greenwashing," citing the nation's attention to aesthetic greenery and high carbon footprint.[15]


Singapore's rapid development into an urban nation has neglected the natural environment, according to a report published by the National University of Singapore, which ranked the country as the "worst environmental offender among 179 countries". The government called the ranking unfair, claiming that Singapore is unique due to its "limited land size" and consequent "high intensity of land use".[16]


  1. ^ Ceballos, G.; Ehrlich, A. H.; Ehrlich, P. R. (2015). The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 148-149. ISBN 1421417189 – via Open Edition.
  2. ^ https://sg.news.yahoo.com/let-not-hazy-environmental-issues-042232454.html
  3. ^ https://sg.news.yahoo.com/let-not-hazy-environmental-issues-042232454.html
  4. ^ "Singapore - Agriculture". Country Studies. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Environmental Issues in Singapore". Allo' Expat Singapore. June 2, 2013. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013.
  6. ^ Harper, Damian (2007). "Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei. Ediz. Inglese" (10 ed.). Lonely Planet. pp. 69–. ISBN 9781740597081.
  7. ^ Loke, Ming Chou (1988). The Coastal Environmental Profile of Singapore. The WorldFish Center. pp. 78–. ISBN 9789711022488.
  8. ^ "NEWater". Public Utilities Board. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  9. ^ "Environmental Trailblazing in Singapore" (PDF). Centre for Liveable Cities. May 29, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "The History of Singapore River". Singapore River One. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  11. ^ "About SGP 2012". Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "National Initiatives". National Biodiversity Reference Center. Archived from the original on March 2, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  13. ^ Zengkun, Feng (June 3, 2013). "Government to track Singapore's carbon emissions". The Straits Times.
  14. ^ Hudson, C 2014, 'Green is the New Green: Eco-Aesthetics in Singapore' in Bart Barendregt, Rivke Jaffe (ed.) Green Consumption: The Global Rise of Eco-Chic, Bloomsbury Academic, United Kingdom, pp. 86-99.
  15. ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Matthew. "Some Islands Will Rise: Singapore in the Anthropocene." Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4.2 (2017): 166-184.
  16. ^ Vaughan, Victoria (May 14, 2010). "Is Singapore the worst environmental offender?". AsiaOne.