The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been named the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, revealed media reports.
The 156-year-old attraction is the third Botanic Gardens to be listed as a World Heritage Site, after England’s Kew Gardens and the Padua Gardens in Italy. But it stands out as the only tropical botanical gardens on the list.
Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said the gardens has “always been well loved and cherished by all Singaporeans”.
“We are very proud to have it recognised as a site worthy of exceptional value for humanity,” noted Wong. “This inscription is especially meaningful for us, as we celebrate our 50th year as an independent nation.”
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commented that the accolade is “a great Jubilee year gift to Singaporeans”.
“The Gardens played an important part in making Singapore a Garden City.”
With the world heritage status, visitors to the Botanic Gardens are expected to increase from 4.4 million to six million by 2020. At the same time, the government has lined up various efforts to protect the site.
National Parks Board (NParks) chief executive Kenneth Er promised to preserve the key attributes of the gardens, its contribution to botanical research, and its role as a gathering space for Singaporeans, The Straits Times reported.
To deal with the expected rise in visitors, NParks will also conduct a site evaluation at the end of next year to assess visitor impact on biodiversity, soil erosion and potential damage to historic buildings.
In fact, the frequency of inspections on historic buildings by professional engineers will be increased from once every five years to once every two years.
The National Orchid Garden will also be revamped by 2018, while the irrigation systems for the Plant Resource Centre will be upgraded by next year.
Aside from implementing a site-wide biodiversity conservation plan, the gardens will also conduct more studies to have an “up-to-date understanding” of the species and habitats on its grounds.
Describing the gardens as an “heirloom”, heritage conservation expert Johannes Widodo added: “The gardens is something we should keep, nurture and pass on to future generations.”
Image source: National Heritage Board Facebook page.