NParks Unveils Plans for 8 ha Gallop Extension to Singapore Botanic Gardens at Launch of 160th Anniversary Celebrations
09 Jan 2019
Upcoming new features will enable visitors to appreciate forest ecology in one location
Community efforts acknowledged through the dedication of Heritage Trees to donors
Year-long nature-themed festivals, concerts and workshops to celebrate the Gardens’ 160th anniversary
At a launch event today for the 160th Anniversary celebrations of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the National Parks Board (NParks) unveiled its plans for the 8 ha extension to the Gardens along Gallop Road. Comprising an arboretum which will hold 200 to 300 species of dipterocarp forest species, Singapore’s first permanent collection of botanical art on display, a restored ridge-top habitat and a biophilic play area, the Gallop extension brings the total area of the Gardens to 82 hectares – the largest in its 160-year history. For the first time in Singapore, visitors of all ages and abilities will be able to explore and appreciate native forest ecology in one location, furthering the Gardens’ mission of connecting people with plants.
Acknowledging the important role that the community has played in the Gardens’ history, NParks also took the opportunity to dedicate Heritage Trees to donors who have contributed through the Garden City Fund to the Gardens’ efforts in conservation and citizen science programmes. Minister for National Development, Mr Lawrence Wong, presented the Heritage Tree plaques to these donors at the event this morning. In celebration of the Gardens’ 160th anniversary, he also launched a two-week exhibition on its significant milestones since 1859. The Gardens will also be hosting a year-long series of festivals, concerts, workshops and guided tours to celebrate the anniversary.
The Gallop extension will be accessible from the Learning Forest and Farrer Road MRT.
Image courtesy of the National Parks Board
New opportunities for visitors to learn about forest ecology in a single location
As Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens has a rich history of research, conservation, education and recreation. The Gardens pioneered botanical discovery and research in Singapore, which also supported regional endeavours in the field. From as early as the 1800s, it introduced species of plants and trees into Singapore’s landscape, including the iconic Raintree. Today, the Gardens is piloting biophilic design as Singapore becomes a biophilic City in a Garden, providing elegant and beautiful gardens for the respite and enjoyment of Singaporeans from all walks of life.
With its rolling terrain of open lawns framed by landscapes of native plants and forests, and featuring two conservation buildings, the Gallop extension will continue the Gardens’ heritage roles in research, conservation, education and recreation. As a natural extension of the Gardens’ Nature Area which covers 6 ha of primary rainforest and the Learning Forest, the Gallop extension will enable visitors to learn about forest ecology and the importance of conservation in a single location when it opens in late 2019. The extension will also buffer against urban development surrounding the native flora and fauna within the Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To provide visitors with a seamless passage into the new grounds, a 200m long barrier-free bridge over Tyersall Avenue will connect the Bambusetum at the Learning Forest directly with the forest canopy of the Gallop extension. Sensitively designed to integrate with the natural landscape both ecologically and aesthetically, the HPL Canopy Link will let visitors of all abilities view the Gardens’ native forest tree species up close, such as the critically endangered Cinnamomum javanicum and the endangered Beilschiedia madang. At the end of the bridge, visitors will find themselves in a restored ridge-top habitat that overlooks the lower grounds of the Gallop extension. Besides offering vantage points, the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge includes flora species that once flourished in the area, such as the critically endangered Spike Oak (Lithocarpus elegans) and Braided Chestnut (Castanopsis inermis). A ridge-top hiking trail will also provide a challenging alternative for visitors seeking a more adventurous experience.
To strengthen the conservation and research efforts of the Gardens, the Gallop extension will also feature a new arboretum and a forest conservation interpretive centre at the refurbished House No. 5. The OCBC Arboretum will contain a 2 ha collection of at least half the total species of dipterocarps in the world, including several valuable timber species, many of which are threatened by deforestation in Southeast Asia. Existing trees within the site are being retained to provide a suitable environment for dipterocarps to grow to their full potential. Continuing the narrative from the arboretum, the Forest Discovery Centre will serve as an interpretive hub for the conservation of tropical forest ecosystems. Visitors will also be able to learn about different forest habitats in Singapore, and how they can contribute to forest restoration efforts.
Another refurbished house will showcase how art has played a vital role in the scientific document of flora and fauna in modern Singapore. For the first time in the Gardens’ history, visitors will be able to view the extensive in-house collection of botanical art in various artistic styles, from watercolours and ink drawings, to wood block carvings. The new Botanical Art Gallery will also display botanical illustrations from botanic gardens and galleries around the world.
A new biophilic play area within the Gardens will allow children to learn about native flora and fauna, and cultivate an appreciation of and love for nature. Inspired by the distinctive parts of the trees found within the grounds, the COMO Adventure Grove aims to appeal to the child’s innate desire to explore and connect with nature. For example, children will be able to swing from structures resembling the aerial roots of the Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and scramble over the warty surface of a giant Cempedak (Artocarpus integer). Such adaptive components will support the educational mission of the Tyersall-Gallop Core of introducing children to nature early through play.
Finally, guiding visitors towards the Farrer Road access to the extension, the Gallop Valley presents a quiet, calm and restorative experience amidst nature. Meandering streams and softer foliage will encourage visitors to immerse themselves in the forest, providing both gentle start or restful conclusion to their time spent at the Gallop extension.
Heritage Trees in the Singapore Botanic Gardens dedicated to donors
The Gardens’ efforts in research and conservation, as well as education and outreach, would not have been possible without support from the community. This includes the donors from various sectors, such as property, banking and luxury lifestyle, whose contributions through NParks’ registered charity and IPC, the Garden City Fund, are helping to enhance the Singapore Botanic Gardens and expand the opportunities for visitors to learn about Singapore’s forest ecology. It is also especially meaningful that in the Gardens’ 160th year, new donations are being received in support of its conservation efforts and programmes.
As a mark of appreciation to these individuals and organisations for their gift contributions of at least $1 million towards fulfilling our City in a Garden vision, NParks dedicated the following Heritage Trees found within the Gardens:
Monkey Pot Trees (Lecythis pisonis) at Lower Ring Road, near Lawn H – COMO Foundation and HPL (two individual trees)
Pokok Kenari (Canarium vulgare) at Canarium Drive, near Canarium Pond – Keppel Corporation
Kempas (Koompassia malaccensis) at Corner House Gate – Mingxin Foundation
Kapur (Dryobalanops aromatica) at Upper Ring Road, near the Bandstand – OCBC Bank
Cannonball Tree (Couroupita guianensis) at Ginger Garden – Tan Jiew Hoe
Prof Leo Tan, Chairman of the Garden City Fund said, “Singapore’s City in a Garden vision that started over 50 years ago has helped provide a liveable place for present and future Singaporeans to enjoy. It is encouraging that these companies and individuals value our natural heritage and have come forward with a contribution to co-create a green space, in partnership with our government, that will have a lasting benefit for generations of people living in Singapore. It is therefore appropriate to dedicate these Heritage Trees today as a token of our appreciation.”
Celebrating 160 years of Singapore’s flora and fauna
This year’s line-up of festivals, concerts, workshops and guided tours in the Gardens will be themed around the discovery and appreciation of flora and fauna over the last 160 years. This weekend (12 January 2019) for example, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra will be performing songs evoking spring, such as the Wandering Songstress, to the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. The Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Festival in July will also feature musical interpretations of wildlife, with a repertoire of pieces inspired by nature from the Singapore Symphonic Orchestra.
During the March school holidays, children can look forward to two biodiversity investigative workshops celebrating wildlife found in Singapore’s rainforest and amphibious species living in the Gardens. There will also be exhibitions throughout the year, such as one celebrating 200 years of greening Singapore at the CDL Green Gallery, and movie screenings at the Eco-Lake Lawn.
For more information on the activities and events happening at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2019, visit www.nparks.gov.sg/SBG/whats-happening/calendar-of-events.