Singapore is known for its tropical rainforest climate, which means that it is hot and humid for the majority of the year. It also receives huge amounts of rainfall, which, according to worldtravelguide.net, can be around 2340mm on an annual basis. This is great for plants that thrive in that sort of weather, but for plants that require dryer, cooler temperatures, there is not much hope that they will grow successfully. Now, however, scientists hope to change that by establishing a new development called ‘Gardens by the Bay.’ A YouTube video of the project can be seen here.
According to a CNN article, the development is expected to open to the public at the end of June 2012. The project is part of a 250 acre and involves a tropical forest in the form of 18 ‘supertrees.’ These trees are man-made, although from a distance they look exactly like trees, and will “act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater.” 11 of the trees, which are up to 50 metres in height, will be able to convert sunlight into electricity via solar photovoltaic systems. The initiative has been carried out by Singapore’s National Parks Board.
The trees will be used as giant canopies, allowing primarily tropical plants to grow up the ‘trunks’ of the trees and to also act as a form of shelter for those walking underneath – something that is frequently needed in Singapore’s monsoon season. Elevated walkways will connect some of the trees, enabling visitors to walk above ground level and see the views from there.
The aim of the project is to act as an example of an eco-friendly way of presenting plants from all over the world in one location, introducing economically viable ways of doing so. The project does not just include the supertrees. There will also be two massive conservatories, described as biomes based on the shape of an orchid flower. The biomes, named the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, will be the ‘equivalent size of 4 football fields.’ They will contain around 220,000 species of plants from all around the world and will be climate-controlled with the aid of energy from the supertrees.
Despite the time and energy put into the project, visitors won’t have to pay to access all areas; it will only be limited areas such as the conservatories which will attract a fee. There is a lot more to the project than the supertree and conservatory area too. Grant Associates, a British company that won a landscaping contract for the Gardens by the Bay, is working on other projects within the area, which focus on plants traditionally found in areas closely linked to Singapore, such as China, Malaysia and India.
Singapore is largely known as an urban island, situated as it is to the south of the Malay peninsula. Although around half of it is green, the rest of it is highly urbanised. Efforts are being made to ‘greenify’ the urban areas; the Gardens by the Bay project is just one such effort to do so. No doubt it will add to Singapore’s charms, hopefully attracting more visitors interested in the natural world than it has previously done.