London's Mayor Boris Johnson has been visiting the Botanic Gardens in Singapore - and highlighting their historic links with London's own Kew Gardens.
The mayor was accompanied by key scientists from Kew, on the third day of his trade mission to forge closer ties with businesses in Asia.
As part of the trip, Boris lent his support to Singapore’s bid for its botanic gardens to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In an effort to assist the bid, Kew Gardens has also opened its archives to Singaporean researchers giving them access to original historic and scientific documentary evidence of the two gardens' long relationship dating back to the 19th century. If successful in its bid, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens will join Kew in its World Heritage Site status, putting it on a par with the Acropolis and Stonehenge.
Kew is also hosting scientists and horticulturalists from Singapore, and is sending its fungus expert to Singapore as part of a research fellowship to develop fungal diversity science in the South East Asia region.
The 74-hectare Singapore Botanic Gardens, established in 1859, are central to the city state’s aspirations to become known as a ‘garden city’. The gardens contain the region’s most significant orchid garden including flowers dedicated to Margaret Thatcher and the late Princess of Wales which was recently visited by her son the Duke of Cambridge and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge.
In 1877, a batch of 22 para rubber seedlings was sent from Kew Gardens to Singapore which, once grown and dispersed, became the catalyst for the revolutionary rubber industry of South East Asia. Over the years they have continued to collaborate on a range of scientific research projects across plant diversity and the conservation of Southeast Asian tropics. Both gardens now wish to formally recognise this long-standing relationship and to promote its continuance for many years into the future through the shared collection, study and conservation of plants.
The Mayor joined Dr Nigel Taylor, the director of the Singapore gardens as they examined specimens in the herbarium and discussed both gardens’ plans to strengthen their scientific and cultural connections.
Dr Nigel Taylor, Director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, said: "The Singapore Botanic Gardens has a close and long-standing relationship with Kew Gardens through the years, as both gardens share similar objectives in conservation, botanical science and heritage. We look forward to strengthening and deepening our connection with Kew for many more years to come."