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Connaught Drive part of a new civic district tree trail

SINGAPORE — The Republic now has an “Avenue of Heritage Trees” — trees that have been silent witnesses to several milestones in Singapore’s growth as a city-state, including the declaration of independence and the first National Day Parade in 1966.

Connaught Drive part of a new civic district tree trail

Connaught Drive has been christened the ‘Avenue of Heritage Trees’ and will soon form part of a new 3km Civic District Tree Trail. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

SINGAPORE — The Republic now has an “Avenue of Heritage Trees” — trees that have been silent witnesses to several milestones in Singapore’s growth as a city-state, including the declaration of independence and the first National Day Parade in 1966.

Connaught Drive in the civic district was christened as such after 22 of its rain trees were on Sunday (March 27) earmarked as heritage trees — the largest number recognised under the National Parks Board (NParks) Heritage Tree Scheme in a single avenue.

That is half of the total number of rain trees lining the road, which flanks the Esplanade Park. And the Avenue of Heritage Trees will soon form part of a new three-kilometre Civic District Tree Trail.

From May 1, guided walks will be held monthly along the trail, which starts at the Istana and goes past various landmarks such as the National Museum, St Andrew’s Cathedral and Waterboat House, before concluding at the Raffles Landing.

The trail is also being designed to showcase its natural history, including the trees along Connaught Drive, which are up to 150 years old. A trail guide will be available on NParks’ website.

Last year, five Angsana trees were transplanted to the Esplanade Park to recreate a spot frequented by couples between the 1960s and 1980s, better known by its Hokkien name “Gor Zhang Chiu Kar” (or “under the shade of five trees”).

The original trees were removed when they were hit by the Angsana Wilt, a disease that destroyed many mature Angsana trees in Singapore in the early 1990s.

Said Senior Minister of State (National Development) Desmond Lee as he launched the Avenue of Heritage Trees: “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.

“These trees are a familiar sight for us, and have been providing shade, shelter and a green respite for many generations of Singaporeans.”

The Heritage Tree Scheme confers recognition based on each tree’s age, social, cultural or historical significance, girth and health.

Since its launch in August 2001, 257 trees around Singapore have been placed on the honour roll after they had been assessed by a panel comprising NParks staff and landscape experts.

At more than 180 years old, the iconic Tembusu in the Singapore Botanic Gardens is the oldest heritage tree endorsed to date.

The trees are inspected yearly by professional arborists for their health. Lightning conductors are also installed on those assessed to have a higher lightning risk.

Members of the public can nominate trees they deem significant to be considered as heritage trees.

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