6 reasons why Botanic Gardens should be a Unesco World Heritage Site

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​Could Botanic Gardens be Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage site?

It is definitely a possibility now as the much-loved Singapore Botanic Gardens is now in the final phase of its bid to be listed as a world heritage site.

If it's successful, it will join the ranks of Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Vietnam's Halong Bay.

There are currently 33 Unesco World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia.

While many know Botanic Gardens to be a perfect place for picnics, and occasionally a space for concerts, its place in Southeast Asian history is not as well known.

So, here are six things to know about the Botanic Gardens:

1) Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore in 1819, started the first "Botanical and Experimental Garden" at Fort Canning in 1822. Raffles was a keen naturalist.

2) In 1859, the colonial government obtained 23 hectares of land, which is now the current Botanical Gardens, by exchanging the land that is now Boat Quay with tycoon Hoo Ah Kay, better known as Whampoa.

3) In 1877, the seeds of Southeast Asia's rubber industry were planted in Singapore's Botanic Gardens. The rubber seedlings came from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in London. 

Photos: ST File photos

And the Gardens' pioneering work on rubber cultivation and techniques for sustainable tapping set the foundation of the Rubber Boom in the region. 

4) During the Japanese Occupation, a Japanese professor made sure that the Botanic Gardens was spared.

Volcanologist Hidezo Tanakadate put up 'Do Not Enter' signs at the Botanic Gardens. And it was his good ties with the commander of the 25th Japanese Army that conquered Singapore that helped him to protect the Gardens from attack by the Japanese. 

5) Almost the entire original pleasure garden layout designed 142 years ago remains today. 

6) The Singapore Botanic Gardens became well-known among botanists world wide for its pioneering of the hybrid orchid breeding programme in the 1920s.

There is a VIP Orchid garden with hybrid orchids named after notable visitors who have come to Singapore including Elton John, Jackie Chan, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela and more recently Kate Middleton and Prince Williams. 

Sources: Singapore Infopedia

SingaporeSingapore LandmarksUnited NationsWorld Heritage Sites