On a recent holiday to Singapore I had the pleasure of visiting the a project called ‘Gardens by the Bay.’ The ‘Gardens by the Bay’ did a lot to revamp my outlook on science communication. Think Eden project, but to a more epic scale! Unfortunately I only had the time to visit 2 of the 3 gardens including the cloud forest garden as well as a section containing plants from many global niches. The flora however was not what drew me in, which is impressive considering how much of a sucker I am for plants!
After timidly walking around the high, very transparent barriers of the impressive cloud forest (not for those scared of heights) I found myself in a room full of UV lights! Upon closer inspection I saw the writing illuminated by UV was informing the public on deforestation, climate change and global food security. The centre explained how deforestation reduced the diversity of tribal populations within the rainforest as well as animals and plants and elucidated how these may impact our everyday lives. The informative display was extremely successful at engaging people, explaining how our daily behaviour effects plant growth and the impact of these effects. Facts were presented as just that…facts and no sensationalist statements were seen! The simplicity was amazingly effective. The brightness and interactivity of the room meant visitors were actively engaging. The enthusiasm of customers was fantastic, I came out of the cloud rainforest excited to see what else I had in store during my visit!
I entered the plant house, much more suited to me as it’s all flat! The variety of plants was impressive to say the least. Cacti, olive trees and orchids are just some of the groups I can remember seeing as I comfortably wandered around the huge greenhouse. Amongst the assortment of shrubs an evening event was being prepared for. The idea of holding event surrounded by nature shows even further how the gardens by the bay are being incorporated into everyday Singaporean life. Again, I was amazed by the country’s ability to communicate and embrace science and nature! As I left the greenhouse, I passed through yet another dark room, this time set up by spotlights. The surroundings were again informative, however I could see geared towards an older audience! Information here focussed on crop growth and how plants are threatened by human behaviour, developing how our daily lives impact the environment around us. Improving understanding of how our day-to-day routine is intimately linked with the environment helps explain why simple tasks, such as recycling, can make a massive difference.
The ‘Gardens by the Bay’ really improved my perspective on science communication. I believe most countries, if possible cities, should have such informative centres to clearly explain why conservation is important. The ‘Gardens by the Bay’ has potential spark passion in future generations as it has done me! The interactivity of the centre means it certainly is flourishing with energy and life, just as any garden should be!
Scientist in Training