Decision : 39 COM 8B.17
Singapore Botanical Gardens, Singapore
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC-15/39.COM/8B and WHC-15/39.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes the Singapore Botanical Gardens, Singapore, on the World Heritage List as a cultural landscape on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv);
- Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is situated at the heart of the city of Singapore and demonstrates the evolution of a British tropical colonial botanic garden from a ‘Pleasure Garden’ in the English Landscape Style, to a colonial Economic Garden with facilities for horticultural and botanical research, to a modern and world-class botanic garden, scientific institution and place of conservation, recreation and education. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a well-defined cultural landscape which includes a rich variety of historic landscape features, plantings and buildings that clearly demonstrate the evolution of the Botanic Gardens since its establishment in 1859. Through its well-preserved landscape design and continuity of purpose, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is an outstanding example of a British tropical botanic garden which has also played a key role in advances in scientific knowledge, particularly in the fields of tropical botany and horticulture, including the development of plantation rubber.
Criterion (ii): The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been a centre for plant research in Southeast Asia since the 19th century, contributing significantly to the expansion of plantation rubber in the 20th century, and continues to play a leading role in the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise in tropical botany and horticultural sciences. While the Kew Botanic Gardens (United Kingdom) provided the initial seedlings, the Singapore Botanic Gardens provided the conditions for their planting, development and distribution throughout much of Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
Criterion (iv): The Singapore Botanic Gardens is an outstanding example of a British tropical colonial botanic garden, and is notable for its preserved landscape design and continuity of purpose since its inception.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens contains all the attributes necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value and fully contains the original lay-out of the Botanic Gardens. A number of specific attributes including historic trees and plantings, garden design, and historic buildings/structures combine to illustrate the significant purposes of the Singapore Botanic Gardens over its history. The integrity of the property could be further strengthened by developing additional policies directed at the replacement and retention of significant plants.
The authenticity of the Singapore Botanic Gardens is demonstrated by the continued use as a botanic garden and as a place of scientific research. The authenticity of material remains in the property is illustrated by the well-researched historic trees and other plantings (including historic plant specimens), historic elements of the designed spatial lay-out, and the historic buildings/structures which are being used for their original purposes or adapted to new uses that are compatible with their values.
Management and Protection Requirements
Most of the Singapore Botanic Gardens is in a National Park, and the other designations include: Conservation Area, Tree Conservation Area and Nature Area (applied to the rainforest area). There are 44 heritage trees within the property, and a number of protected buildings/structures such as houses 1 to 5 of the former Raffles College, Raffles Hall, E.J.H. Corner House, Burkill Hall, Holttum Hall, Ridley Hall, House 6, Garage, Bandstand and Swan Lake Gazebo.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is protected primarily through the Planning Act of Singapore, which regulates conservation and development and requires permits to be obtained for new development or works. The Singapore Concept Plan guides strategic planning over a 40-50 year period and land use planning in Singapore is carried out by URA, the national land use planning and conservation authority. Land use, zoning and development policies for Singapore are established by a statutory Master Plan (2014) prepared under the Planning Act. The Master Plan is regularly reviewed and there are provisions for specific development control plans that provide guidance on the height and location of new developments as well as conservation principles for conserved buildings and their setting.
Land within the buffer zone is designated as ‘Landed Housing Areas’ (including ‘Good Class Bungalow Areas’) with guidelines on the height and building form of residential developments. Under these guidelines, developments within the proposed buffer zone should generally maintain low-rise and low density, although this could be strengthened by ensuring that the ‘Landed Housing Zone’ is applied to the entire buffer zone.
A Management Plan has been prepared for Singapore Botanic Gardens with the primary aim of ensuring effective protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of the attributes of the site’s Outstanding Universal Value. The Plan provides the over-arching framework for management of the property.
- Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
- Strengthening the protection of the buffer zone by applying the ‘Landed Housing Zone’ to its entirety, or by providing some other appropriate measure that can restrict the height of new constructions;
- Strengthening the conservation measures through improvements to the frequency of inspections of the historical buildings;
- Developing monitoring indicators for development and tourism in light of the growing impacts from these potential threats;
- Ensuring that all new proposals for development are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Formulating a Living Plant Collections Policy and Plant Acquisition and Replacement Policy.