A Sustainable Park: Tampines Eco Green

Singapore’s parks tend toward the highly manicured and perfectly sculpted. You’ll usually find crowded parking lots alongside plenty of concrete and potable water. But in the early 2000s, someone had the bright idea of creating a park that would feel more natural: the underrated and little known Tampines Eco Green.

What an unassuming park. At just 90 acres, it’s not especially large. It’s in the middle of Singpore’s third-largest planning area. It’s flat. The nearby MRT and highway mean that it’s far far from quiet. But this has become one of my favorite parks on the island. It’s not crowded. It’s easy to slow down here. The paths are just that: paths, whether they be in the woods …

… or more out in the open:

Only this short stretch feels constructed in any way:

All of the park furniture (such as it is) has been built out of natural materials:

Very little here has been built up at all, though there is one space with what appears to be wood art (or something else random; I really can’t tell):

All of the thunderstorm shelters here have green roofs, and the park is so proud of its composting toilet (the only one I’ve seen in Singapore) …

… that even the signposts advertise this feature:

All of this means that there’s plenty of wildlife. We saw a monitor lizard, many turtles, this fabulous crawling beehive …

… a tiny lizard …

… and plenty of birds (including this white-breasted waterhen, which is common, but still fun):

This is a great place to come to see baya weavers — though you’ll want binoculars if you really want to see across the marshes to their nests.

They’ve built several bird hides here, but most have become so overgrown as to be pretty useless.

There are many beautiful flowers at Tampines Eco Green (though it’s worth noting that the Eco Green has many non-native plantings — it’s like Singapore just can’t help itself).

You’ll find wonderful vines, trees, and grasses …

… including a great stand of bamboo hidden behind the trails (turn in when you get to the banana plants):

Tampines Eco Green has three trails — Forest, Marsh, and Diversity — that form a rough triangle. They all run through similar secondary forest, so it can be hard to tell one from the other. But there is so much beauty here (and the trails are so short) that it hardly seems to matter.

As a side point, if you love signs in Singapore, this park has one of my favorites:

Note: As of mid-2021, the main entrance is closed, and most of the Forest Trail is impassable due to PUB (water agency) construction:

If you visit, you may need to search out an alternative path into the park. This isn’t difficult — there are plenty of options — just know that you might need to start somewhere that’s not on the map.

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