The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a small 1.64 square kilometer (400 acre) nature reserve near the geographic centre of the city-state of Singapore, located on the slopes of Bukit Timah Hill, Singapore's highest hill standing at a height of 163.63 metres, and parts of the surrounding area. The nature reserve is about 12 kilometres from the Downtown Core, Singapore's central business district.
Despite its small size, it is considered one of the most productive pieces of nature, particularly by Alfred Russel Wallace. Together with the neighbouring Central Catchment Nature Reserve, it houses over 840 species of flowering plants and over 500 species of fauna. Today, it is one of the largest patches of primary rainforest left in Singapore.
The name Bukit Timah is borrowed from the tallest hill found in the area of the same name, which is also the tallest geographical location in all of Singapore. Bukit means hill in the Malay language, while Timah means tin, although tin deposits are not found in the area. The hill served as a granite quarry for many years, but since the mid-1900s, all operations of which has since been abandoned and converted into recreational areas and even filming locations.
In 1882, Nathaniel Cantley, then Superintendent of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, was commissioned by the Government of the Straits Settlements to prepare a report on the forests of the settlements. On Cantley's recommendation, several forest reserves were created on Singapore island over the next few years. Bukit Timah was one of the first forest reserves established in 1883.
All the reserves were worked for timber with the exception of Bukit Timah Reserve. By 1937, the forest reserves were depleted under economic pressures for development. However, three areas, including the Bukit Timah Reserve, were retained for the protection of flora and fauna under the management of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
In 1951, further protection of the reserves were provided by the enactment of a Nature Reserves Ordinance and the establishment of a Nature Reserves Board for the administration of the reserves, now designated as nature reserves, which total some 28 square kilometres in area.
Today, the nature reserves are set aside for the propagation, protection and preservation of the indigenous flora and fauna of Singapore under the National Parks Act and are managed by the National Parks Board.