GEORGE TOWN, Aug 13 : The Penang government is hopeful that the state will get the distinction of having the fourth botanical garden to be listed under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
State Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said there are three UNESCO-listed botanical gardens worldwide, namely the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the United Kingdom, and the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden in Brazil.
Jagdeep said what makes Penang’s Botanical Garden stand out is that it is completely natural whereas the others were man-made.
“Even Nigel Taylor, the curator of Singapore Botanic Gardens, said he was very confident that our botanical garden has a big potential to be listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage Site,” he said in a press conference here today.
Jagdeep also hoped that the physical works on the Penang Botanical Garden’s Special Area Plan (SAP) could be kick-started by this year.
The Penang Botanical Garden’s SAP, which was proposed in March 2011 and approved and gazetted on July 4 this year, consists of 25 detailed projects, including seven main projects.
According to Jagdeep, the seven key projects are the construction of a central visitor centre, plant conservation and research centre, Malaysiana Boulevard, nature’s amphitheatre, viewing tower and viewing deck, as well as restoration of garden mall and service yard facilities, nursery and irrigation system.
“For the time being, we are working on developing a timeframe for the key projects, and we would prioritise the 2.35-hectare central visitor centre,” he said.
Penang Botanical Garden curator Dr Saw Leng Guan said the entrance of the garden would be relocated approximately 700 metres away from its original position to the central visitor centre once the project was finished.
Saw said the existing parking space would also be relocated and centralised in the central visitor centre as well.
“Visitors would then be ushered into the garden, which would help in reducing traffic congestion and make it more accessible to the public,” he said.