Learning Forest opens to public
Once a thick green mystery, Singapore Botanic Gardens' latest site includes a lowland rainforest and the SPH Walk of Giants
Next to the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Central Core and Tanglin Core was an area of dense vegetation that remained a mystery for 110 years.
The thick trees and wild undergrowth ensured that the public stayed away.
Yesterday, after 2½ years of work that cost $30 million, visitors were finally allowed into the site, now called the Learning Forest.
The forest, measuring around 10ha, was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. It opens from 5am to midnight daily.
Within the area is a lake that was previously overgrown with weeds but is now connected to the Swan Lake at Tanglin Core.
Restoration work of the area started in mid-2014 after analysis of the soil, topography and hydrology there, and more than 600 species of plants were added to the existing 100.
Mr Lee had been looking forward to visiting the area.
He said at the opening yesterday: "The Learning Forest builds on this legacy of conservation and improvement.
"I hope more Singaporeans will grow to love, care for and nurture it so that future generations will also have the opportunity to enjoy this green gem and form lasting memories of their own."
Highlights of the Forest include the SPH Walk of Giants, the lowland rainforest, the Keppel Discovery Wetlands, the Bambusetum and the Wild Fruit Trees Arboretum.
The SPH Walk of Giants, which Singapore Press Holdings co-funded to the tune of $1.2 million, is an elevated walkway 8m high. It allows visitors to have a view of the mid-level canopy and the forest floor.
Dr Lee Boon Yang, chairman of SPH, said: "We are pleased with the development of the SPH Walk of Giants. This reforestation project will enable Singaporeans to learn more about our flora and fauna.
"This partnership with NParks is part of our corporate citizenry efforts in education, as well as nature and conservation. Through this meaningful project, we hope to promote greater awareness and interest in caring for our environment."
The Orchid Islands in the Keppel Discovery Wetlands is the first time native swamp forests are showcased in their natural habitat here.
Species there include the critically-endangered nun's orchid.
The Bambusetum houses more than 30 species of bamboo found in Asia, such as the Buluh Betung, which can grow up to 10-storeys high, and the Timor black bamboo, which has dark green stems that age to a purplish-black.
Dr Nigel Taylor, group director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, said: "We have a user-friendly version of freshwater wetland... as you walk around it on the boardwalks, the landscape changes all the time. I think children will really enjoy the place as well."