The National Parks Board (NParks) announced an Avenue of Heritage Trees, consisting of some 22 Heritage Rain Trees along Connaught Drive, as part of an upcoming Civic District Tree Trail, which will be opened to the public from 1 May 2016.
NParks has aims for this trail to provide an opportunity for members of public to learn about these Rain Trees as well as to gain insights on the trees’ rich history.
The featured trees, which are estimated to have been planted in the mid-1880s, making them over 130 years old, have silently witnessed Singapore’s growth and transformation in the past few decades. The Avenue of Heritage Trees would be an opportunity to appreciate and to learn more about the trees as important living heritage landmarks. To facilitate, NParks also plans to launch a free guided tour of the two-hour trail which will be available every month from May onwards.
The unveiling of the Avenue was made by Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, Mr Desmond Lee on 27 March. Mr Lee said, “Even as we continue to plant new trees, we must also cherish and protect the trees that have been maturing gracefully since Singapore’s early days.”
This move by NParks is largely different from the incident in 2007, where an 80-year-old Angsana tree located in the centre of Braddell Road was chopped down in order to prevent traffic accidents. In a joint decision by the Land Transport Authority and NParks, the tree was not transplanted due to its large size. Residents of the area had expressed disappointment, and executive director Howard Shaw of the Singapore Environment Council, a conservationist organisation, stated that better planning could have previously been done to prevent the cutting down of the tree from being necessary.
Currently, however, conservation is making a comeback, with the anticipation for the Civic District Tree Trail, which includes “Gor Zhang Chiu Kar” Angsana trees at Esplanade Park. Mr Lee emphasised the significance of the featured trees, staying, “These trees are a familiar sight for us, and have been providing shade, shelter, and a green respite for many generations of Singaporeans.”