Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge and OCBC Arboretum at Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Gallop Extension open
19 Oct 2019
- Festivities at the Gardens to commemorate the opening of features
- Flora of Singapore series launched
- Overall winner for the Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year 2019 announced
The National Parks Board (NParks) today opened the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge and OCBC Arboretum at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Gallop Extension. With the opening of these features, the Gardens will offer a unique experience where visitors can see a curated interpretation of various habitats that are representative of forests in the region. This sets the benchmark for other botanic gardens in showcasing not only individual plant species conservation, but also forest habitat conservation. There is a ridge-top hiking trail which showcases plants from habitats found in tropical hills in Southeast Asia, and a living library of trees with more than 200 species of dipterocarps. These features will enable visitors to learn about forest ecology and the importance of conservation. The Gallop Extension, located along Gallop Road, will strengthen the buffer for Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site against urban development.
To commemorate the opening of these features, there will be specially organised programmes and activities for the community, which include guided tours, talks and demonstrations, concerts, and movie screenings. During the opening event, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong, also launched the Flora of Singapore series and announced the overall winner of the Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year competition.
Location of the Gallop Extension
Image Credit: NParks
Features at the Gallop Extension
The Gallop Extension has open lawns framed by forested landscapes. It is a natural extension of the Gardens’ Nature Area, which covers six hectares of primary rainforest and the 10-hectare Learning Forest. The Extension will enhance the Gardens’ heritage roles in research, conservation, education, and recreation.
For those who are looking for an adventure, the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge has a ridge-top hiking trail which provides a more challenging alternative and leads to the highest point in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The ridge draws its inspiration from unique forest habitats on the tropical hills of Southeast Asia. It features plants such as Ant Plants (Hydnophytum spp. and Myrmecodia spp.), and carnivorous plants like the Narrow-Lid Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes ampullaria) and Raffles’ Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes rafflesiana) which have adapted to the harsh environments in the hills, such as poor soil and exposure to strong winds. Wheelchair-bound visitors and families with prams can ascend the ridge via a barrier-free path lined with trees such as the critically endangered Spike Oak (Lithocarpus elegans) and Braided Chestnut (Castanopsis inermis), both tropical members of the oak family (Fagaceae).
A living library of trees, the OCBC Arboretum conserves more than 200 species of the world’s known species of dipterocarps – forest giants that can grow up to 80 m tall. These trees dominate the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and the Arboretum will enable visitors to learn about these diverse forest habitats and their distinctive features. The Arboretum is the first-of-its-kind high-tech arboretum in Southeast Asia, and utilises an Internet of Things (IoT) system to remotely and continuously monitor the trees and their environment as they grow. The work at the OCBC Arboretum may have an impact on climate action as the 2,000 trees alone can store 80 million kg of CO2 in their lifetimes.
Features to open in 2020
To complement these features at the Arboretum, the Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum will showcase the forest ecosystems in Singapore and highlight the importance of conserving them through a series of interpretive and interactive displays. The Centre is housed within Gallop House No. 5 (Atbara), which is the oldest surviving black and white bungalow in Singapore.
The Botanical Art Gallery will be housed within the second refurbished conservation building, Gallop House No. 7 (Inverturret). The gallery will highlight the vital role that art plays in the scientific documentation of flora and fauna in Singapore. To encourage greater appreciation of our natural heritage, an Art Residency Programme will take place at the Botanical Art Gallery. The programme will be supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) through the NAC’s Arts & Culture Nodes Initiative, and a private donor. Applications for the programme will begin in 2020, and more details will be shared when ready.
The COMO Adventure Grove is inspired by the distinctive parts of trees found within the Gardens, and is a modern interpretation of the timeless experience of climbing and playing in trees. Children can swing, slide and climb on structures resembling parts of trees and fruits. These adaptive components will help introduce children to nature through play.
The HPL Canopy Link will provide visitors seamless access to the Gallop Extension from the Learning Forest, and will enable visitors to view the Gardens’ native forest trees up-close. Visitors can also access the Gallop Extension via Farrer Gate, which would be a 600m walk from Farrer Road MRT station.
The Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum, Botanical Art Gallery, COMO Adventure Grove, HPL Canopy Link, and the Farrer Gate entrance will open in 2020.
Features at the Gallop Extension
Image Credit: NParks
Festivities at Singapore Botanic Gardens
There will be a suite of programmes organised throughout the Singapore Botanic Gardens to commemorate the opening of the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge and the OCBC Arboretum. These programmes will give visitors the opportunity to appreciate the features in the Gallop Extension. Members of the public can look forward to guided tours, talks and demonstrations by botanical artists, and forest bathing sessions – the simple the therapeutic act of spending time in the forest.
Launch of Flora of Singapore series
The first three volumes – 1, 7 and 13 – of the Flora of Singapore series were also launched today. Researchers from the Singapore Botanic Gardens have been working with plant scientists from around the world to put together a comprehensive catalogue and description of all families, genera, and species of plants in Singapore. This is the first time ever that such volumes are being made available as a source of reference. These reference volumes will aid botanists in the identification of plant species that can be found here. More than 100 plant experts are currently involved in the project, and more are expected to contribute to the remaining 11 volumes. These volumes will enhance the Gardens’ standing as a premier institution for research, conservation, and botany.
Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year 2019
At the opening event, Minister for National Development, Mr Lawrence Wong, also presented the prizes for the Singapore Garden Photographer of the Year competition. The competition aims to give the community an opportunity to showcase their love for nature, as well as the rich biodiversity and greenery here that make Singapore an endearing and exceptional City in a Garden.
Seah Jun Wei Benjamin is the overall winner of the competition for his image of Asian Glossy Starlings (Alponis panayensis) in a photo titled “Parents Dilemma”.
More than 16,000 entries were submitted for the three themes: “People and Nature”, “Heritage in our Parks and Gardens”, and “Our BiodiverCity” between June 2018 and May 2019. 64 winners were selected from these entries.
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