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New ethnobotany garden opens at Singapore Botanic Gardens

New ethnobotany garden opens at Singapore Botanic Gardens
July 2, 2018

The Singapore Botanic Gardens has opened a new ethnobotany garden showcasing over 300 species of plants that are deeply-seated into traditional cultures of Malay Archipelago, Indochina and South Asia.

The outdoor garden comprises of four zones - Living, Craft and Construction, Symbolism and Medicinal, centered around a water-body - where visitors can learn about the various plants in each zone, and how they are used traditionally by indigenous communities of this region

Housed in a one hectare space historically known as the economic garden, the S$5.8 million garden was opened at the end of June after a year and a half of construction.

Ng Yuin-Mae, the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Director of Development, said the focus on ethnobotany - the study of how people and cultures use plants - continues to be relevant as visitors can learn about how plants they see around them have been used throughout history, especially within the region,

She explained “visitors can choose to experience the garden on a sensory level by enjoying the ambience and the plants.

“There are also educational boards scattered throughout for those who want to learn more about the general themes of the garden. Then there signs naming the trees and plants found here too, which they can find out more about on our online flora and fauna database.”

The space also houses a new ethnobotany centre where visitors can explore the history of plants which have shaped the economic development of the region, such as rubber, nutmeg and cotton.

More than 120 artefacts made from plants from across South-east Asia are also on display at the centre. These include textiles and clothing made from plant fibres, or musical instruments and hunting tools made from wood.

Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who opened the gardens, said it is part of a wider plan to enhance the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Minister Lee advised "moving forward, the Singapore Botanic Gardens will continue expanding its role as a world-class institution for tropical plant research and conservation.”

The opening of the ethnobotany garden also marked the start of the Botanic Gardens' annual heritage festival, which is now in it third year.

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