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Tree-planting initiative kickstarts the Year of Celebrating SG Families

Miiya Dzafirah - who turns two this year - is usually confined to the stroller when outdoors because she has epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Family outings are limited to walks at Gardens by the Bay.

But on Saturday (March 12), the young nature lover had a hand in planting a tree with her family at East Coast Park's Coastal PlayGrove.

Said her mother, Ms Syasya Firzanah: "I held Miiya, and got her to hold the spade a little, when pouring soil around the planted sapling."

The 29-year-old social worker added: "We tried our best to include her in the activity, as she likes nature."

Ms Syasya's was one of 10 young families who planted saplings at East Coast Park on Saturday, alongside Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli and Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, to kick off a new tree-planting programme.

The initiative, called FamilyTrees, provides Singaporean families with a child up to three years old an opportunity to plant a tree - to commemorate the birth of their child.

Miiya's father, IT specialist Dzulhilmy Masni, 30, said: "The tree can grow alongside my daughter, so we can bring her here to show her how it has grown after 10, 20 years."

Families are given a sapling that they place in holes prepared by the National Parks Board (NParks). They can then cover the roots with soil, and water the sapling.

FamilyTrees was launched to kick-start the Year of Celebrating Singapore Families, as 2022 has been designated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

The campaign will have family-oriented activities throughout the year, as well as programmes aimed at strengthening family support and values.

FamilyTrees, spearheaded by Families for Life, a volunteer-led council, and NParks, will organise monthly tree-planting sessions for the long-term, beyond this year.

Families for Life council chairman Ishak Ismail said: "We hope to bring FamilyTrees to the heartland, starting with Choa Chu Kang and expanding to various towns around Singapore.

"And as families plant trees together in their neighbourhoods, it also lays the groundwork for the start of meaningful friendships among parents... supporting one another with parenthood."

FamilyTrees is part of the national OneMillionTrees movement, which aims to plant a million more trees across Singapore by 2030.

More than 338,800 trees have already been planted under the movement spearheaded by the NParks.

The 27m Sindora changiensis hybrid tree in Changi. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

On Saturday, Mr Masagos, Mr Lee and a few families planted saplings of the Sindora × changiensis, a newly described hybrid tree currently found only in Singapore.

It was spotted by scientists during field observations in Changi a couple of years ago. The 27m-tall tree with slightly spiny seed pods was identified as a Sindora × changiensis hybrid in 2020.

As part of the Year of Celebrating SG Families, the inaugural National Family Week will be held in June, and a family zone at Gardens by the Bay will open later this year.

By the end of this year, MSF will also increase the number of centres offering the Strengthening Families Programme @ Family Service Centre to 10, up from five today. These centres provide a safe and confidential space for families facing relationship problems to reach out for professional help.

Mr Masagos said: "We know there are families that may go through more complex problems like family violence, and we will support them too. At the end of the day, I will say that Singapore families are strong and we should celebrate this."

Families can register to plant trees at NParks' TreesSG website.

At least one parent must be a Singapore citizen and the child must be under the age of three at the point of registration.

Each family will receive a commemorative e-certificate after planting a tree. To locate their tree later and track its growth, they can also plot their tree on the TreesSG map.

FAMILIESPLANTSMINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENTnational parks board