Singapore Botanic Gardens set to be bigger, better

The Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children's Garden are set to be expanded by 2018.
Olivia Quay Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Botanic Gardens is going to get bigger and better by 2018, with its expansion of the Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.

Works on these locales are expected to start in 2017, after the National Parks Board (NParks) has called for tenders.

The eight-hectare extension of the Learning Forest will include three new features - the Gallop Arboretum, as well the Forest Conservation Interpretative Centre and Natural History Art Gallery, which will be housed in two black and white colonial bungalows along Gallop Road. The added area will put the Learning Forest at approximately 18 hectares.

When completed, the four-hectare Jacob Ballas Children's Garden will be the largest of its kind in Asia.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong marked the event on Saturday (Nov 21) with a community tree planting at the Gallop Arboretum site. It involved residents from Tanjong Pagar and Jalan Besar GRCs, and students from the National University of Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

"Our aim in developing the Learning Forest is to get people to learn more about forest ecology by experiencing it, so the trees we have planted today will form part of the future Gallop Arboretum - a living laboratory of trees for education and research," said Mr Wong.

"You will be able to see 200 species of Dipterocarps, also known as forest giants. They are majestic trees that are unique to this region and can grow to 80 metres. That's about the height of a 25-storey HDB flat," he added.

Mr Wong also threw back to the Botanic Garden's recent UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. "The Gardens received unanimous support from the UNESCO experts, because of its significant contributions to botanical research and conservation, which were deemed to be of outstanding universal value. But we cannot rest on our laurels. Securing the UNESCO World Heritage inscription marks not the end but the start of a journey."

NParks also took this opportunity to launch the 'Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year' coffee table book. Specially produced to commemorate SG50, it features the best photos from all three of NParks' photography competitions. In addition, the book offers photography tips for budding photographers and photo enthusiasts.

- CNA/av

Singapore Botanic Gardens expands in land area
Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been expanded by 8 hectares, bringing its total size to 82 hectares — its largest since the park’s establishment in 1859.

Today (Nov 21), the National Parks Board (NParks) announced a new extension to the Learning Forest, situated along Gallop Road. The new extension will include three features — the Gallop Arboretum, Forest Conservation Interpretative Centre and Natural History Art Gallery — and will bring the total land area of the Learning Forest to about 18 hectares.

An NParks statement said that the extension will provide more opportunities for visitors to understand forest ecology, while showcasing the Gardens’ botanical art collection.

Meanwhile, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will double its current size to 4 hectares. This expansion has already been factored in to the 82 hectares calculation.

NParks said the 2-hectare extension at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will include attractions geared towards children up to 14 years old, educating them on a range of eco-systems such as rainforest and marsh habitats. There will also be a farm there.

The new extensions at the Learning Forest and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will be open to the public by 2018.

Botanic Gardens to keep on growing
Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Nov 15;

The country's only Unesco World Heritage Site is set to become bigger than ever, and it is not all about size.

The new 8ha being added to the Singapore Botanic Gardens will help preserve the country's colonial past, and provide a platform to showcase the park's ecological work.

There will also be a living laboratory of giant trees, along with a Natural History Art Gallery to display the Gardens' botanical art collection, the largest in Asia, and those of artists both local and foreign.

All these will be ready by 2018, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced yesterday.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong stressed the need for the Gardens to not rest on its laurels after clinching the Unesco World Heritage status in July.

"We want it to break new grounds in horticultural research and conservation," he said. "We want it to be a place close to every Singaporean's heart, and we want to continue growing it for our future generations and for the entire world to enjoy."

The 8ha, approximately the size of eight football fields, is being added to the Gardens' Learning Forest, a previous 10ha extension to enhance the Gardens' role as a place of learning. The Forest will now occupy 18ha and bring the total area of the Botanic Gardens from 74ha to 82ha, almost four times its original size in 1859.

The extension will include a Forest Conservation Interpretive Centre and the Natural History Art Gallery, which will be housed in colonial buildings more than a century old. The houses were designed by R.A.J. Bidwell, the architect behind Raffles Hotel.

The conservation centre will be at No. 5 Gallop Road - the earliest known black-and-white colonial bungalow in Singapore. Its neigh-

bour at No. 7 will be refurbished as the gallery.

"Through these, we hope that future visitors will be inspired to participate in the Gardens' conservation work and citizen science projects," said Mr Wong.

There will also be a 4ha Gallop Arboretum, which will include 200 species of forest giants, scientifically known as Dipterocarps, which can grow up to 80m, the height of a 25-storey Housing Board block.

Dipterocarps are iconic to the Indo-Malayan rainforests, but have seen their population decrease over the years due to illegal logging and deforestation. The public will be able to explore the area on elevated platforms as well.

Mr Wong, together with more than 120 students, residents and community gardening group members, yesterday planted 100 trees at the site. They included the Meranti Tembaga tree, a vulnerable Dipterocarp species important to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

"These trees can't be conserved in a seed bank, so we actually have to plant living trees and keep them alive for these species to survive," said Botanic Gardens director Nigel Taylor. "Today, we planted the beginning of this arboretum which will grow in size as the years go by."

In the future, the public may even see these trees in Singapore's urban landscape.

Mr Wong said: "Planting them in urban areas will conserve a wider genetic diversity of species, complementing the conservation of our forests. This is timely as regional forests are disappearing rapidly."