When we think about biodiversity, we have some pre-set ideas in our minds of dense rainforests, native grasslands and other pristine landscapes. But what about cities?
Given that urban areas are growing, it is important to start thinking about biodiversity within cities or more fondly known as concrete jungles. How can we increase biodiversity within the constraints of an urban setting? Perhaps we can look at the City in a Garden, Singapore and her two new initiatives, LEAF and LUSH and see if we can draw anything from them.
Landscape Excellence Assessment Framework (LEAF) 
What: Award scheme valid for three years.
When: Launched in 2013.
Why: Encourage developments to uphold a high standard of ecological provision and management for both new and existing developments.
Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (LUSH)
What: Part of the planning regulation for mandatory landscape replacement in new and redevelopment projects within designated zones comprising of downtown central areas, certain growth areas and town centres.
When: Launched in 2009, upgraded to Version2.0 in 2014.
Why: Encourage and facilitate pervasive urban greenery that is accessible so as to improve overall living and working environment.
Here is what the critics might say:
“LEAF is only appealing to developers if green developments are appealing to consumers!”
“Developers are only interested in using LEAF to increase selling prices of their developments.”
“LEAF may not have long term effect as there is minimal incentives to renew applications or keep up with efforts once the development has been sold or after it expires after three years.”
“Will LUSH and its high-rise greenery attract birds and lead to increased bird collision and mortality, ?”
“Is LUSH an onsite offset initiative in disguise but without the principles of equivalence and additionality ingrained?”
But before you throw LEAF and LUSH into the fire pit, read on..
Take a closer look. LEAF and LUSH are actually complementary. LEAF places more emphasis on the quality and ecological role of greenery, whereas LUSH is more concerned about the basic quantity of greenery to be replaced. It is like playing Lego, where LUSH is the foundation with LEAF stacking above, making the blocks taller. LEAF also functions more like a carrot (incentive) and LUSH, being mandatory, like a stick (regulatory).
In addition, if we look beyond the two initiatives and at the context in which it sits, we will find LEAF and LUSH takes on the role of encouraging private sector involvement in biodiversity measures where current initiatives are mostly public sector projects.
Public flats which houses more than 80% of the locals  have also included ‘eco’ features in their new developments, bringing biodiversity even closer to the people.
To sum up, LEAF and LUSH may not be perfect. But given that they complement each other and other public sector projects, perhaps the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
To leave you with more food for thought, how does all these measures fit into the concept of a biophilic city? Is a biophilic city the way forward?