Opening of Botanic Gardens extension pushed back to minimise environmental impact

It will open by year-end after a 12-month delay; details of expansion unveiled at 160th anniversary launch event

The Gallop Road extension was announced in 2015 when a completion date of late 2018 was set.
The Gallop Road extension was announced in 2015 when a completion date of late 2018 was set.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
The HPL canopy link.
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge.
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge.PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
OCBC Arboretum.
Forest Discovery Centre at the OCBC Arboretum.
Forest Discovery Centre at the OCBC Arboretum.PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
Botanical Art Gallery.
COMO Adventure Grove.
Gallop Valley.

Details of an 8ha extension to the Botanic Gardens, which will bring it to its largest size to date, were unveiled yesterday, along with news that the expansion would take about 12 months more than earlier expected.

The Gallop Extension, which will feature attractions including an arboretum full of endangered rainforest trees, a hiking trail and galleries, was announced in 2015, with a completion date of late 2018.

However, the Botanic Gardens' director of development, Ms Ng Yuin-Mae, announced yesterday that more time is needed to ensure that the extension and new facilities being constructed are developed sensitively to ensure that wildlife can continue to thrive in the area.

Monthly environmental impact studies indicated that more time was needed to ensure minimal noise and vibration pollution in the surrounding area, and to protect the area's biodiversity.

"The environmental impact surveys are part and parcel of the process, and these studies made us realise that more time is needed for mitigating measures," Ms Ng said, adding that contractors have switched to silent piledrivers to reduce noise pollution.

A National Parks Board spokesman said that additional noise monitoring measures have been put in place near the residential areas bordering the Gallop Extension, and adjacent to the Gardens' ecologically sensitive habitats. Working hours at the site are 8am to 7pm on weekdays, with a half day on Saturday.

The extension to the 160-year-old Gardens - Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site - will bring its total area to 82ha.

Complete plans for the extension were revealed yesterday at a launch event for the Gardens' 160th anniversary celebrations, which will tie in with Singapore's bicentennial year, marking 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the island in 1819.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, presented six Heritage Tree plaques to donors who made donations of $1 million and above to the Gardens' efforts, in areas such as conservation and citizen science.

The donors were the Como Foundation, HPL Hotels and Resorts, Keppel Corporation, Mingxin Foundation, OCBC Bank and Mr Tan Jiew Hoe.

From left: Professor Leo Tan, chairman, Garden City Fund; Ms Melissa Ong, director, COMO Foundation; Mr Ho Tong Yen, CEO, Keppel Care Foundation; Mr Tan Jiew Hoe; Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development; Mr Christopher Lim, group executive director, HPL; Ms Koh Ching Ching, head, group brand and communications, OCBC Bank; Mrs Susan Phua, Mingxin Foundation; and Mr Kenneth Er, CEO, National Parks Board, posing for a group photo after the donors received their framed photos of their heritage trees. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

"I encourage private individuals and corporations to partner us, to take greater ownership of our Gardens, and do even more with your creativity, imagination and energies," Mr Wong said.

"Together, we will grow the vision started by our founding leaders, and make the Gardens and our city a more beautiful and special place for our future generations to enjoy."

Mr Wong also observed an exhibition showcasing the highlights of the Gallop Extension, comprising an arboretum that will hold a collection of 200 to 300 species of the dipterocarp - an ecologically endangered tropical rainforest tree - and a 200m-long canopy linkway over Tyersall Avenue that will offer a sweeping view of the gardens.


There will also be an adventure grove for children and a ridge-top hiking trail that recreates the hill-slope and cliff-edge habitats found in South-east Asia.

The extension will also feature the conversion of black and white colonial houses in the Gallop Road area into two galleries. The first will be located at Gallop House No. 5 (Atbara), the oldest surviving colonial-era bungalow in Singapore. It will become a forest discovery centre - an interactive gallery where visitors can learn about Singapore's diverse forest habitats.

Gallop House No. 7 (Inverturret) will be converted into an art gallery featuring a rotating exhibition of rare botanical art, including watercolours and ink drawings, and wooden block carvings.

The exhibition showcasing the features of the Gallop Extension is open to the public at the Botany Centre.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Opening of Botanic Gardens extension pushed back'. Subscribe