We thank Ms Subina Aurora Khaneja for her letter (Botanic Gardens losing what made it special, Feb 26) and for taking the time to visit us on Feb 28 to share her views with us directly.
The open lawns and vistas in areas such as Palm Valley are defining features of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and enjoyed by many.
At the same time, the Gardens is an important institution for botanical and horticultural research, education, and conservation. These functions are supported by its collection of over 10,000 types of living plants.
Some of these plants, such as the Heliconias and palms, are at Palm Valley, and they have grown over the years.
We have also planted shrubs around the heritage trees and palms in the Gardens to protect them from compaction due to human activity.
We will continue retaining characteristics of the open spaces while also prioritising the living collections that are a key component of our rich heritage.
The Gardens has expanded in recent years. The 10ha Learning Forest, which opened to the public in 2017, created additional space for recreation in a natural setting.
Visitors to the Gardens will also be able to enjoy another 8ha when the Gallop extension is completed later this year.
As for Ms Khaneja's observation about Eco-Lake, the water level has temporarily receded due to the recent dry weather, hence the lake currently looks smaller relative to the surrounding greenery.
Besides expanding the Gardens, we have also increased our outreach efforts. We have been working with various partners to allow more Singaporeans to enjoy the Gardens.
These efforts include working with volunteer welfare organisations to curate special tours for their beneficiaries, inviting residents from community groups on free guided tours during our annual Heritage Festival, and bringing the community to enjoy performances at the Shaw Symphony Stage.
We will continue to extend these efforts as we celebrate the Gardens' 160th anniversary this year.
Nigel Taylor (Dr)
Group Director Singapore Botanic Gardens
National Parks Board