New guidebook for Botanic Gardens

New guidebook for Botanic Gardens

Want to learn more about the Singapore Botanic Gardens?

A new guidebook on the 156-year-old attraction will be sold at its Gardens Shop and given to schools shortly after it learns the results of its Unesco World Heritage Site bid late next month or early July.

The book of about 100 pages will have write-ups of the gardens' plants, animals, people and buildings, and showcase how it is a haven for biodiversity.

People will also be able to learn more about its themed areas such as the Ginger Garden and the Evolution Garden, which traces plant evolution through the ages.

The book will include a map of the gardens marked with its heritage and modern features, as well as four suggested walking trails.

When asked, the gardens' director Nigel Taylor said it currently lacks a portable visitor guide.

"We would have gone ahead with the publication even without the Unesco World Heritage Site bid. That we are being considered for inscription, however, does make the guidebook very timely."

The book will boost awareness of the gardens' rich history - it played a pivotal role in the region's rubber trade, for instance - and could be used as an educational tool, he said.

"It includes numerous historical details which we had discovered in the past few years."

The gardens plans to have 5,000 copies of the book delivered to it by July 24, and may add 1,000 copies to the print run.

Nature Society president Shawn Lum said there have been books on specific aspects of the gardens, such as its plants. Last year, for instance, the National Parks Board published Tall Tales: Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Trees Trail Guide.

Dr Lum said the new guidebook could have a wider appeal as it is a more general one.

He added, however, that the book or some of its materials like the map should also be sold or made available in electronic form.

"There is so much interesting information about the gardens... it would be a shame if some people don't get to find out about any of this just because they don't like books," he said.

Last week, a Unesco-appointed panel, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), praised the gardens as an "exceptional example" of a British tropical colonial botanic garden in South-east Asia. Icomos has recommended that the gardens be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, which would mark it as an area of outstanding universal cultural or natural value.

If the gardens is successful in its bid, it will be the first such site in Singapore and join two other Unesco-listed gardens: The 1759 Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, and the 1545 Orto botanico di Padova in Padua, Italy.

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