Singapore Botanic Gardens Learning Forest: Greening and Biodiversity in the City
Tuesday, 10 July 2018, 3.00pm - 6.00pm
Approximately 10-hectares, the Learning Forest is located at the new Tyersall-Gallop Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Learning Forest is home to more than 100 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles, 19 species of butterflies, and 7 species of mammals and over 500 species of plants.
The Learning Forest is designed to integrate with the Gardens' existing 6-hectare Rain Forest to form an enlarged forest habitat. Together, it forms a contiguous swathe of forest through the heart of the Gardens, creating more opportunities for the pollination and seed dispersal of native forest trees. The Learning Forest will strengthen ex situ conservation of plants native to the region and create additional habitats for native wildlife. It will also buffer the Rain Forest and its surroundings from changes in the microclimate due to the urban environment. The Learning Forest is an extensive restoration project of the wetlands and forests that formerly surrounded the Gardens. Taking reference from maps dating back as far as the early 19th century, plans were developed from detailed analyses of the soils, topography and hydrology of the site. Through extensive surveys, these former habitats were restored to conserve a wide variety of native flora and fauna.
In recognition of its ecological significance, The National Parks Board Singapore designated the Learning Forest and 4-hectares of surrounding forest as a Nature Area in 2015. Including the 6-hectare Rain Forest, this brings the entire Nature Area within the Singapore Botanic Gardens to 20-hectares. Critically endangered native species like Memecylon cantleyi are found in both the Rain Forest and Learning Forest, demonstrating the ecological connection across the two tracts of forest. Both these areas are habitats for representative biodiversity found in Singapore and the region, and are also important reference for the ongoing research work of restorative ecology around the region.
The Learning Forest features a network of boardwalks and elevated walkways that allow visitors to explore various habitats, from the wetlands to the rainforests. Highlights of the Learning Forest include a bambusetum featuring 30 species of bamboo found in Asia; over 50 species of wild fruit trees with familiar relatives, such as species from the soursop (Annonaceae), jackfruit (Moraceae), lychee (Sapindaceae) and mango (Anacardiaceae) families; a collection of trees that exhibit the phenomena of cauliflory and ramiflory; and trees with interesting forms and barks.
Visitors can also learn about swamp forest ecosystems at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands, and walk amongst a collection of some of the tallest tree species in Southeast Asia at the SPH Walk of Giants.