Botanic Gardens' iconic Tembusu tree gets better support

Botanic Gardens' iconic Tembusu tree gets better support

SINGAPOR - A team of eight - two engineers from ST Kinetics and six staff from the National Parks Board (NParks) - worked for a year to develop the dynamic support system with an in-built suspension method to prop up the branch at three points without hindering its growth.


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Here is a joint statement from National Parks and Sinapore Botanic Gardens:

In a collaboration between arborists and engineers, experts from the National Parks Board (NParks) and Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd (ST Kinetics), the land systems arm of ST Engineering, worked together to develop a dynamic support system to serve as a prop for the lateral limb of the iconic Tembusu tree at Singapore Botanic Gardens. Believed to be the first of its kind in the world, the innovative system incorporates an in-built suspension that allows for movement and growth of the tree limb and helps conserve the Heritage Tree. The support system was demonstrated to President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who also launched the first book on the Gardens' Heritage Trees at the event today.

The Tembusu tree (Cyrtophyllum fragrans), estimated to be more than 200 years old, is situated on the lawn overlooking Swan Lake in the Singapore Botanic Gardens - Singapore's first UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination. Immensely popular with visitors, the majestic tree is a popular backdrop for wedding and family photographs. An image of this tree is also featured on the back of the Singapore five-dollar note in recognition of its cultural value.

Conservation of the $5 Tembusu

The Heritage Tree's popularity meant that extra measures were needed to help protect it. The iconic tree was fenced in December 2013 to alleviate soil compaction (a result of heavy human traffic) and minimise damage to the roots.

Earlier in 1992, a wooden prop was installed to relieve stress on the Tembusu tree branch which extends outwards. This was later replaced by a new pair of props in 2003 for additional support. These static support systems, while effective for the short term, restrict movement of the tree branches and over the longer term may cause the tree to lose its ability to bear its own weight as it grows heavier. Without this support, the branch is likely to break off under its own weight, which will further impact the health of the entire tree and new structural problems could result.

Unlike the static system, the new dynamic support system designed by ST Kinetics' engineers enables the branch to move naturally under varying wind conditions while still providing full support. This facilitates growth of the tree's new supportive tissues. Built with easily available off-the-shelf parts and materials, the system can be raised and lowered as required to allow the branch to grow.

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