UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Singapore Botanic Gardens and 3 others

SHOTLIST: SINGAPORE, APR 2, 2013, SOURCE: AFP - Various shots of the Botanic Gardens - School children attending a lesson - School children walking along a path - Various of people by lake - Swans swimming in a lake - School children watching swans - Swans eating /// -------------------------------------------------------- AFP TEXT STORY: Singapore-environment-botany-UNESCO Singapore gardens aim for UNESCO heritage status by Bhavan Jaipragas SINGAPORE, April 3, 2013 (AFP) - Singapore, one of the world's most densely populated countries, is campaigning to get its 154-year-old Botanic Gardens declared a UNESCO world heritage site. If selected by the UN cultural body, the lush and serene 74-hectare (182-acre) park on the edge of downtown Singapore will join the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and the Orto Botanico in Italy on the prestigious list. The Singapore gardens were founded in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural Society while the island was under British colonial rule. The gardens became known for pioneering rubber tapping and orchid breeding techniques and evolved into a hugely popular attraction for Singaporeans and foreign tourists alike. It now sees around four million visitors a year in a city-state of 5.3 million people. "The Singapore Botanic Gardens fulfills the criteria for World Heritage Site assessment, and is a well-loved outdoor area for Singaporeans from all walks of life," said the attraction's director Nigel Taylor. The campaign for the gardens to be considered a UNESCO World Heritage site was initiated in December, said Taylor, a former curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Singapore gardens currently sit on UNESCO's 'Tentative List'. "Such sites will be further researched on before they are considered for official listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site," said Taylor. The 962 sites currently on the World Heritage List are places of cultural or natural heritage "considered to be of outstanding value to humanity", according to UNESCO. The Straits Times newspaper said Singapore authorities are planning a series of public events throughout the year before an official application is submitted to UNESCO. The gardens boast over 30,000 plant and tree species, according to the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO, as well as a swan lake and amphitheatre where classical music and other concerts are held. It is also internationally acclaimed for its VIP and Celebrity Orchids area, where varieties are cultivated and named after famous people, from Princess Diana to Nelson Mandela. Local conservationists have welcomed the campaign, and say the garden is Singapore's best bet at gaining UNESCO heritage site status. "The gardens have been extremely well maintained over the years and are well deserving to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site," said Yeo Kang Shua, the honorary secretary of the Singapore Heritage Society. "The entire process of applying to UNESCO will allow Singaporeans to understand the importance of the gardens in our economic development since the British era," he told AFP. END

The 156-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site on 4 July 2015 at the 39th World Heritage Committtee meeting held in Bonn, Germany.

Acknowledged as a world-class scientific centre for conservation and education, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the first botanical site to be recognised in Asia.

Besides the city-state’s new addition to the list, there are only three other global botanical sites that are recognised by UNESCO. Global travel search company, Skyscanner, lists the other three around the world.

Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), Padua, Italy

Botanical Garden of Padua

The botanical garden in Padua is the world’s first university garden created in 1545. This makes it the world’s oldest surviving botanical garden that represents the birth of botanical science, scientific exchanges, and understanding of the relationship between nature and culture.

It also features a greenhouse that was opened last year — a structure with four climatic zones.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England

KEW, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Aerialists perform in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens on May 10, 2011 in Kew, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The UNESCO gardens in Kew offers a view of over 130 hectares of greenery and landscapes for the visitor to tread on. It also has eight glasshouses, art galleries, and even a museum. The site also holds the record for the world’s largest collection of plants.

Free guided-walking tours are available for visitors, as well as hands-on sessions that are suitable for novices to learn more about the plants. The English garden also has cafes and restaurants on site.

Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, South Africa

Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, South Africa (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Skyscanner)

The botanical landscape is located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, along the Orange River border with Namibia.

Consisting of communal grazed lands, Karoo vegetation, as well as a harmonious interaction between man and nature, the landscape is starkly different from the other botanical gardens on the list.

This semi-desert still shows the Nama people (a clan in South Africa) practicing a form of transhumance, moving seasonally with their livestock to suitable grazing areas.