Saturday, March 11, 2017

World’s tallest tropical tree in Danum Valley

TAWAU: In November 2016, at the Heart of Borneo Conference held at The Magellan Sutera Harbour, Prof Gregory Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institute of Science at Stanford University announced the discovery via air surveillance of the tallest tree in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu.

Asner, who is also the leader of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), said the tree is in the genus Shorea, though the exact species has yet to be determined.

The tallest is a towering 94.1 metres tree with a canopy measuring 40.3 metres in diameter.

Asner and his colleagues also found 49 other trees taller than 90 metres spread all over Sabah (

Impressed with the announcement and with the hope that it would highlight the need to protect Borneo’s rainforests, Datuk Sam Mannan, the Chief Conservator of Forests instructed an expedition to be organised in 2017 to locate and determine the tree species.

Recently, a team of researchers and supporting staff from the Forest Research Centre (FRC) of the Sabah Forestry Department, led by its Forest Botanist (John B. Sugau), together with two guides from Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) carried out an expedition from February 20 to 24.

Prior to the expedition, the coordinates of the tallest tree, obtained from Asner were plotted on the map of Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA).

The map showed that the tree is located about 600m south west of Ulu Purut Research Station (UPRS) Camp.

UPRS is located about seven kilometres east of DVFC and can be reached by about 4-5 hours trekking through an existing forest trail.

The team commenced the search from UPRS Camp at about 8am on February 22 of this year based on the coordinates that were logged into the Garmin Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.

Fifty minutes later, the team found the tree about 150m from the existing Ulu Purut Research Station Camp-Mount Danum Raleigh Camp trail, growing in an old forest gap of Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forest on a slope at about 359m above sea level.

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