Thiam koon and Chin Liew
The vegetation of Singapore - An updated map
The primeval vegetation of Singapore was largely lowland dipterocarp forest, with mangrove forest lining much of the coast and freshwater swamp forest found further inland adjacent to the streams and rivers. After colonization by the British in 1819, almost all the primeval vegetation was cleared for agriculture and other land uses. The most comprehensive vegetation map of Singapore was made in the 1970s and has not been updated since. Here we present an updated vegetation map of Singapore using information from satellite images, published works, and extensive ground-truthing. Vegetation covers 56% of Singapore's total land area: 27% is actively managed (parks, gardens, lawns, etc.) and 29% is spontaneous vegetation. Primary lowland dipterocarp forest and freshwater swamp forest cover only 0.28% and is confined to the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. The majority of the non-managed vegetation is secondary forest of various kinds, dominated by native or alien trees. The managed vegetation and alien-dominated secondary vegetation are understudied and deserve more research attention. The vegetation of Singapore should be re-mapped at regular intervals in order to better understand the changes.
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