Botanic Gardens enters final stage of Unesco World Heritage Site bid

SINGAPORE - Singapore is now in the final phase of its bid for the Botanic Gardens to be inscribed as the country's first Unesco World Heritage Site.

The National Parks Board and National Heritage Board said in a joint statement on Saturday that a technical inspector from the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) had visited the Gardens in September last year as part of the bid evaluation process.

By May, Icomos will make a recommendation on whether the site should be inscribed, and also post its finding on its website. The recommendation will be considered by the Unesco World Heritage Committee, a group of 21 parties, when it meets in Germany in late June or early July to discuss and decide on all World Heritage Site nominations. The committee can approve and deny the Botanic Gardens bid, or defer its decision and request more information from Singapore.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in the joint statement: "Long before the Botanic Gardens was a space for concerts, family picnics and other wonderful memories, it was a place which changed the course of Southeast Asian history.

"Rubber cultivation started here and spread to the rest of the region, leading to new industries and growth for the region and beyond... So the bid to be a Unesco World Heritage Site is an effort to recognise the Gardens and its immense influence, not just in Singapore but throughout the region."

Pledge books have been placed in the Gardens for people to express support for the bid. These can be found at the visitor centre at the Nassim Gate, the visitor services counter at the Botany Centres, Green Pavilion, at the National Orchid Garden entrance and at the information counter at the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.

zengkun@sph.com.sg