Tree Planting Day
The first Tree Planting Day in Singapore was held on Sunday 7 November 1971. Dr. Goh Keng Swee launched the event by planting a rain tree in the morning at 9:30am on the summit of Mount Faber. A total of 8,400 trees and 21,677 shrubs and creepers were planted on that day. Because schools did not have classes on Sunday, they celebrated Tree Planting Day earlier, on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 November. Over 60 schools planted 600 fruit trees during those two days. Subsequent Tree Planting Days were held on the first Sunday in November.
The idea of setting aside a day to plant trees originated in the United States. In the 1800s, concern grew about rapid deforestation of the United States. It was Julius Sterling Morton, editor of the Nebraska City News, who persuaded his state to make 10 April 1872 a tree-planting holiday called "Arbor Day". The practice gradually spread to other states and today, most states in the United States observe Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.
In his book From Third World to First, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew wrote about the drive to make Singapore a tropical garden city. He described the campaign as one of the ways to achieve First World standards in Singapore. For instance, greenery raised morale and made people proud. It also showed effort put into maintenance and impressed foreign VIPs. Tree Planting Day was one of the events used to support the tropical garden city initiative. SM Lee also mentioned that Tree Planting Day was set at the beginning of the rainy season in November to minimise watering.
In 1990, the 20th and last Tree Planting Day was held on Sunday 4 November 1990. The last Tree Planting Day launched the first Clean and Green Week. Initially called the Good Environment Week, Mr. Goh Chok Tong launched Clean and Green Week to expand the scope of Tree Planting Day. Tree planting activities are still held during Clean and Green Week.
Timothy Pwee, 2001
Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: the Singapore story: 1965-2000 (pp. 188-211).Singapore: Times Media
Chok Tong loves nature, but 'doesn't have green fingers'. (1990, November, 5). The Straits Times, p. 1.
Greener Singapore drive gets boost on Sunday. (1990, October 30). The Straits Times,p. 7
Good Environment Week will replace Tree Planting Day. (1990, June 10). The Sunday Times, p. 10.
Dr. Goh to launch Tree Plant Day today. (1971, November 7). The Sunday Times, p. 7.
Fruit trees planting operation gets under way in schools. (1971, November 5). The Straits Times, p. 15.
The National Arbor Day Foundation. (n.d.). The history of Arbor Day. Retrieved December 17, 2002, from
The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.