NParks' move to help native dipterocarp trees bloom again

The National Parks Board (NParks) has made dipterocarp trees one of its priorities in its species recovery programme, said Dr Lena Chan, group director of NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

Today, there are more than 24,000 dipterocarp trees across over 170 species (out of 386 species native to the region) planted along Singapore's streetscapes, parks, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and nature reserves.

Of these, nearly 7,000 can be found in the primary forests of Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves, said Dr Chan.

Seeds of various species are collected and propagated in NParks' Native Plant Centre in the Pasir Panjang Nursery.

More than 500 dipterocarp seedlings across 20 species have been propagated at the nursery. Some of these are critically endangered locally, such as Hopea sangal, said Dr Chan.

As part of conservation and education efforts, NParks also established Singapore's first Dipterocarp Arboretum in Yishun Park in 2008, which showcases more than 800 trees across some 70 species.

The meranti nemesu, part of the dipterocarp family, is common in the region.
The meranti nemesu, part of the dipterocarp family, is common in the region. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

"Over the years, various species of dipterocarp trees have been introduced to our streetscapes and parks, such as the Southern Ridges' Sembcorp Forest of Giants, Fort Canning Park, Punggol Waterway Park and Woodlands Waterfront Park," said Dr Chan.

"Dipterocarp saplings such as Dipterocarpus caudatus and Dipterocarpus sublamellatus have also been collected from the forest, grown and planted back in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as part of reforestation efforts."

Next year, visitors can look forward to the Gallop Arboretum in the Learning Forest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It will feature some 2,000 dipterocarp trees comprising about 200 species.

Carolyn Khew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2017, with the headline 'NParks' move to help native dipterocarp trees bloom again'. Print Edition | Subscribe