Sunday, April 2, 2017

Learning Forest opens to public

Source Website: http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/learning-forest-opens-public
By Adeline Tan, The New Paper, 01 April 2017 at 06:00 am


Next to the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Central Core and Tanglin Core was an area of dense vegetation that remained a mystery for 110 years.
PHOTO: Next to the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Central Core and Tanglin Core was an area of dense vegetation that remained a mystery for 110 years.
Having a feel of the white flaky bark of the Gelam tree, taking in sights from the height of tree canopies on a boardwalk perched 8m above ground, and wandering into freshwater wetland habitats. These are some of the unique experiences visitors can expect at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ latest attraction, the Learning Forest spanning 10ha.
The tall trees are Raintrees at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.
Photo by Robin Kim, The Straits Times
Texts posted by Siau Ming En, siaumingen@mediacorp.com.sg on 31 March 2017 at 9:15 AM

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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 (31 March 2017), after 2½ years of work that cost $30 million, visitors were finally allowed into the site, now called the Learning Forest.



People tour the Botanists' Boardwalk at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands
PHOTO: People tour the Botanists' Boardwalk at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands
The Botanist's Boardwalk section of the Learning Forest, which has signs with information on the early botanists of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY
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 The Pulai Marsh at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.

PHOTO: The Keppel Discovery Wetlands (left).
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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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.



PM Lee and Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, at the boardwalk at the SPH Walk of Giants in the Learning Forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens on March 31, 2017.
PHOTO: PM Lee and Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, at the boardwalk at the SPH Walk of Giants in the Learning Forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens on March 31, 2017.
PM Lee said the Learning Forest builds on the Gardens' legacy of conservation and improvement. He noted that the area forms a new conservation core in the Gardens, adding that it is "an important reference for work on conservation and restoration ecology too. Many Singaporeans like myself have been looking forward to visiting this, and discovering about our rich natural heritage,"
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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The Pulai Marsh at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.
PHOTO: The Pulai Marsh at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands. The area is a lake that was previously overgrown with weeds.
The Keppel Discovery Wetlands revolves around the restoration of the area's existing water sources by creating a linked series of five waterbodies that connect to Swan Lake. It comprises orchid islands, a boardwalk featuring plants discovered by botanists and the Gardens' directors, as well as marsh plants. Keppel Corporation gave a donation of $2.08 million towards the establishment of this section.
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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Mass tree planting at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands in the Learning Forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens on March 31, 2017.
PHOTO: Mass tree planting at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands in the Learning Forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens on March 31, 2017.
Said PM Lee on Friday: "I would like to thank everyone who have worked so hard to create this Learning Forest. Corporate partners such as Keppel and SPH. The many volunteers who spend time planting trees or leading guided walks."
It is the first project in South-east Asia to recreate a freshwater swamp forest.
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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Leung Zhi Ying (left) from Nanyang Girls' High School sharing plants information with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Botanists' Boardwalk in the Keppel Discovery Wetlands at the Learning Forest on March 31, 2017.
PHOTO: Leung Zhi Ying (left) from Nanyang Girls' High School sharing plants information with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Botanists' Boardwalk in the Keppel Discovery Wetlands at the Learning Forest on March 31, 2017. The plant between them is the Ridley's Bamboo (Gigantochloa ridleyi).
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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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.



The Keppel Discovery Wetlands
PHOTO: The Keppel Discovery Wetlands
Members of the media walk through the Keppel Discovery Wetlands section of the Learning Forest.
At the Keppel Discovery Wetlands, visitors will find a freshwater swamp habitat, Pulai Marsh, that eventually feeds into Swan Lake, a natural water source in the main garden. They may also see flora species such as Pulai Basong — fewer than 20 of its kind left in Singapore. Fauna such as the Red-legged Crake and the Black Marsh Terrapin are some of the inhabitants in the marshland.
Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY
Posted by Siau Ming En, siaumingen@mediacorp.com.sg on 31 March 2017 at 9:15 AM

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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.



Canopy Web at SPH Walk of Giants.

PHOTO: The elevated boardwalk
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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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.



The SPH Walk of Giants
PHOTO: The SPH Walk of Giants
Elevated boardwalk overlooking the Keppel Discovery Wetlands section of the Learning Forest.
Visitors will be able to lie on a rope net or to trek past giant trees that can grow up to 60m tall along the Singapore Press Holdings Walk of Giants, an 8m-high, 260m-long elevated boardwalk. Lining the boardwalk are trees such as the Sea Apple tree, which used to be planted by the British as firebreaks near the highly flammable lalang wastelands.
Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY
Posted by Siau Ming En, siaumingen@mediacorp.com.sg on 31 March 2017 at 9:15 AM
 

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The elevated boardwalk
PHOTO: An elevated walkway at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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"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.



Orchids being misted at the Learning Forest
PHOTO: Orchids being misted at the Learning Forest
Located near the wetlands are the man-made Orchid Islands, where native orchids thrive. Some of the species include the yellow and red Deer Antlered Phalaenopsis, which was once extinct but has been reintroduced by NParks.
Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY
Posted by Siau Ming En, siaumingen@mediacorp.com.sg on 31 March 2017 at 9:15 AM

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Holttum's Hybrid Orchid at the Botanists' Boardwalk of the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.
PHOTO: Holttum's Hybrid Orchid at the Botanists' Boardwalk of the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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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.



Bamboos in the Bambusetum during the media preview of the Learning Forest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, on March 30, 2017
PHOTO: Bamboos in the Bambusetum during the media preview of the Learning Forest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, on March 30, 2017
Explore the wild and lush beauty of the Learning Forest at the Botanic Gardens. The majestic 100-year-old forest spans 15 football fields and is home to over 700 species of plants.
ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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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."



After 2½ years of work that cost $30 million, visitors were finally allowed into the site, now called the Learning Forest.
PHOTO: 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 features more than 700 species of plants, trees and flowers and over 200 species of fauna such as birds, amphibians and insects.
Source: Nparks,
Photos by Shee Zhi Qiang, Wong Koon Meng, Cerlin Ng, Nparks, TNP Graphics

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Access to the Learning Forest is free. It opens from 5am to midnight daily, although certain areas will be closed from 7pm to 7am to maintain a conducive habitat for wildlife.
PHOTO: Access to the Learning Forest is free. It opens from 5am to midnight daily, although certain areas will be closed from 7pm to 7am to maintain a conducive habitat for wildlife.
Picture posted by Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times on 31 March 2017 at 9:15 am SGT
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By Adeline Tan, The New Paper, 01 April 2017 at 06:00 am



Reference
[1] Adeline Tan, The New Paper, Learning Forest opens to public, posted on 01 April 2017 at 06:00 am, http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/learning-forest-opens-public