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Resorts World at Sentosa launches tree conservation programme

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
13 June 2007 1658 hrs

SINGAPORE: When the S$5.2 billion (US$3.2b) integrated resort at Sentosa opens in three years' time, not everything will be brand new.

Its operator, Genting International, is launching a massive conservation exercise to protect hundreds of trees that are currently on its 49-hectare site.

Of the 3,000 trees on the site, one third are earmarked for conservation.

The trees that make the cut will be pruned and packed off to a temporary nursery - about 1.5 times the size of a football field – located nearby.

So far one hundred trees have been transplanted and over the next few weeks Resorts World at Sentosa will transplant 200 more.

The trees will be replanted at the resort when construction is complete.

It will cost about S$400,000 (US$259,000) to maintain the trees over three years.

This is three times the price of buying new nursery stock.

But the operator says the mature trees will add to the tropical ambience of the attraction, and provide "instant" shade, lowering the temperature by up to 8 degrees Celsius.

Henry Steed, Landscape Architect, said: "Not only does the shade cool the air, it cools the ground so you don't have the heat coming off the ground.

"... the other thing about trees is that they suck up moisture and pump that moisture out at the top, which means there's an air current flowing up the top of the tree.

"... that means air will be drawn in underneath the tree and pass [upwards], which is why when you sit under a tree you'll find there's a slight breeze."

Most of the protected trees are about three to five metres high and between 20 and 25 years old.

They comprise 15 species, including Banyan trees, Rain trees, Palms and Khaya trees.

It takes two days to transplant a large Banyan tree, while smaller ones can be processed in half a day.

Experts say only mid-sized trees are transplanted. Those that are too big are unsafe to be moved and have a low survival rate.

Some trees that cannot be transplanted will be re-used.

The timber from some 300 trees of 10 different species will get a new lease of life as furniture, souvenirs, and even sign posts at the new resort.

This recycling project is expected to cost about S$300,000.

Said Patrick Too, Deputy Director of Projects, Resorts World at Sentosa, "Doing the souvenirs, this is another cost for us. We've not cost it [yet], but it's probably another chunk of money.

"It actually involves a lot of cost for Resorts World, not only just to put them in the mills or in the nursery... [but also] the cost of putting them back. Each of these trees... involves a few tonnes, so the machinery to bring them around... is a big task."

Separately, a 2.9 hectare forested area will also be conserved and protected from heavy engineering works.

The operator is currently studying various minimal-impact construction measures such as light-weight structures and suspension systems.

The woodland will also be incorporated into its building plan.

Genting will have another nursery, likely to be in Johor, where it will cultivate some 1,500 trees for its Sentosa resort.

The contract for the project will be up for tender in about a month.

The conservation plan is one of the largest tree transplanting exercises carried out for a commercial development in Singapore. - CNA/yy

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