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NPARKS-OCBC to set up arboretum in Singapore

The National Parks Board (NParks) and OCBC bank have announced a joint project of setting up an arboretum which will employ the use of Internet of Things technology. This arboretum, which is mainly a botanical collection of trees, is set up with the aim of restoring South-east Asia’s tropical rainforests.

The arboretum which is to be named OCBC Arboretum will be in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

As part of this project, data will be collected to help arborists and ecologists understand the conditions needed for the healthy growth of dipterocarp trees.

These trees  play a crucial role in providing a habitat and shaping the landscape for other plants and wildlife in South-east Asian tropical forests. The data collected will include the growth and health of trees and the surrounding environment.

Technologies used

The arboretum will use a remote sensing and modelling tool called Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) which will employ lasers which will move quickly to create high-resolution three-dimensional models of trees.

Special multi-spectral imaging cameras will also be used to capture the different wavelengths of light that are reflected off features on the tree. This allows computers to be able to identify problems that are not detectable by the naked eye.

Chairman of NParks-registered charity Garden City Fund Professor Leo Tan said that the employment of these technologies will allow arborists to study “tree management scenarios”. They will be better able to promptly make decisions and take actions in ensuring that these trees are surviving and growing.

OCBC Group’s chief executive officer Samuel Tsien said, “By planting a living collection of trees and investing in technology to understand the conditions for better growth, we hope to ensure the survival of these trees and mitigate the impact of climate change”.

He said that the arboretum is housing many highly endangered tree species which have been brought to this state as a result of deforestation and natural loss.

In an earlier OpenGov article, we reported that NParks was to adopt new and innovative technologies to improve efficiency and greenery management. It aims to employ a new digitalisation masterplan which will make use of technologies in greenery management and nature conservation. This project is more focused towards the trees along Singapore’s roads.

It will see the use of technologies such as a sonic tomograph to create a picture of the internal condition of a tree, a resistograph for the tree and timber assessment, and a telescopic video camera to monitor and record the condition f various parts of the trees.

It will also employ the use of Lidar for creating a 3D model of a tree for the analysis of problems and the maintenance of the trees. A smart irrigation system will be used to link weather and soil humidity sensors to automatically trigger the watering of plants during dry weather conditions.

OCBC is to invest S$4 million into this project.

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