Friday, March 10, 2017

Sabah plans jungle treks to visit rainforest 'star'

The yellow meranti

KOTA KINABALU: Nature lovers will soon be able to see the world's tallest tropical rainforest tree up close and personal, thanks to jungle treks to be organised by the Sabah Forestry Department.
Its chief conservator Datuk Sam Mannan said the treks in the Danum conservation area near Lahad Datu would cover about 120ha that has several hundred trees that are over 90m tall (about the height of a 27-storey building).
The “star” of the area is a yellow meranti (Shorea faguetiana or seraya kuning siputin the local language) standing 94.1m high - as tall as the Menara Umno building in Penang - that international researchers have acknowledged is the world’s tallest tropical rainforest tree.
“We want to open this area so that the public can see these trees but we have to be careful that it doesn’t harm the trees in any way,” Mannan said Friday.
He said the department will station forest rangers in the area and build a fence around the tallest tree to protect it.
Mannan said a platform would also have to be built to ensure that those viewing the tree do not trample on its roots.
“Most importantly, those going to see the tree must be guided by rangers,” he said.
A five-day expedition by department personnel found the exact location of the seraya kuning tree within the 438 sq km Danum Valley, which is about twice the size of Penang island.
He said the expedition found the tree about 150m from the Ulu Purut research station, about 7km east of the Danum Valley field centre.
The rangers measured the height of the tree, which has grown in an old lowland mixed dipterocarp forest on a slope about 359m above sea level.
Mannan said the expedition also discovered many endemic Begonia species and two scenic waterfalls.
“Other observations on the flora and fauna as well as on the presence of key features were also made around the tallest tree,” he added.
The seraya kuning tree became the focus of international attention after ecologist Prof Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institute of Science at Stanford University announced its claim to fame at the Heart of Borneo conference last November.

-thestar online.

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