SINGAPORE - The opening of an 8ha extension to the Botanic Gardens - initially scheduled for the end of last year - has been pushed back by around 12 months due to construction issues.
The Gallop Road extension, which will feature attractions including an arboretum full of endangered rainforest trees, a hiking trail and galleries, was announced in 2015 when a completion date of late 2018 was set.
However, the Botanic Gardens' director of development, Ms Ng Yuin-Mae, announced on Wednesday (Jan 9) 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 (NParks) spokesman said that additional noise monitoring measures have been put in place near the residential areas bordering the Gallop Road 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, its biggest size to date.
Complete plans for the extension were also revealed on Wednesday 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 Garden's efforts, in areas such as conservation and citizen science.
The donors were the COMO Foundation and HPL Hotels and Resorts, Keppel Corporation, Mingxin Foundation, OCBC Bank, and Mr Tan Jiew Hoe.
"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 which will hold a collection of 200 to 300 species of the dipterocarp - an ecologically endangered tropical rainforest tree - species and a 200m-long canopy link way 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 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 watercolour and ink drawings, and wooden block carvings.