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SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) on Wednesday (Jan 9) unveiled plans for the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ 8ha Gallop extension which will open later in 2019, almost a year later than scheduled.

The new features include a nature-inspired play area for children, a canopy link bridge, an art gallery and a new arboretum.

Announced in 2015, the Gallop extension will bring the total area of the Singapore Botanic Gardens to 82ha – nearly four times its size when it opened in 1859. This latest expansion is the largest of its kind in its history.

map of gallop extension

Site map of the planned Gallop extension to the Botanic Gardens. (Image: NParks)

Among the highlights at the new OCBC Arboretum are the dipterocarps, which are giant trees found only in tropical regions. 

The 2ha collection of trees, which can grow up to 80m, include several valuable timber species, many of which are threatened by deforestation in Southeast Asia.

Gallop extension OCBC arboretum

Artist impression of OCBC arboretum, part of the planned Gallop extension to the Botanic Gardens. (Image: NParks)

Another addition is the Forest Discovery Centre, which NParks says will serve as an interpretive hub for the conservation of tropical forest ecosystems. Here, visitors will also be able to learn about different forest habitats in Singapore, and how they can contribute to forest restoration efforts.

A new canopy link bridge will improve accessibility at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, as it will connect visitors from the Gardens’ Learning Centre to the Gallop extension.

In a news release, NParks said the Gallop extension will also include a play area for children to learn about native flora and fauna.

“Inspired by the distinctive parts of the trees found within the grounds, the COMO Adventure Grove aims to appeal to the child’s innate desire to explore and connect with nature,” said NParks.

botanic gardens gallop extension kids playing

Artist impression of COMO Adventure Cove, part of the planned Gallop extension to the Botanic Gardens. (Image: NParks)

The Gallop extension was originally scheduled for completion in 2018, but the project was delayed as NParks needed to minimise the impact on the environment as works progressed. 

“We dedicated more time as required to coordinate the development works sensitively, in order to minimise the impact on the ecology of the forest and the wildlife residing within,” said NParks’ director of Singapore Botanic Gardens development. 

“We also took into consideration feedback from the residents in the vicinity to minimise potential noise and vibration pollution.”

As part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ 160th anniversary, a year-long series of festivals, concerts, workshops and tours themed around nature will also be conducted. 

At the unveiling of plans on Wednesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: “The Gardens is well-loved by all Singaporeans and also our UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is a beautiful jewel in the heart of our city, for us to enjoy and treasure, develop and improve.”

Additional reporting by Junn Loh. 

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