exploringsingapore is exclusive ExplorerSG mini series where we reveal some of the lesser-known places, facts and history of Singapore.
Believed to be over a million years old, the 163-hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the oldest and biggest forest reserve in Singapore.
The area was first explored in 1827 by Singapore’s Resident Councillor John Prince. It took him and his men 5 hours and a couple tiger kills to summit Bukit Timah Hill.
Today, the reserve is home to over 1,000 plant species and 500 animal species. This totals to over 40% of the native flora and fauna despite accounting for only 0.2% of Singapore’s land size.
Researchers have calculated that one hectare plot of land within the reserve contains more tree and plant species than the whole of North America. However, such claims have been widely debated given the lack of research to support the case.
Still, it is one of the richest and most diverse ecological systems in the region. In 2019, researchers from NParks found over 200 species of plants and animals new to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, of which 40 are new to Singapore.
Its ecological completeness and richness led to its declaration as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) in 2011. Together with Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, it is now one of 49 national parks listed in the prestigious AHP program.