The Borneo Post (Sabah)

TALLEST TROP­I­CAL TREE:

- By John B. Su­gau

Jua­nis Runcin, a climber from the Sabah Forestry Depart­ment, is half­way up the world’s tallest trop­i­cal tree in Danum Val­ley, La­had Datu to ob­tain leaf sam­ples for species iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and to man­u­ally mea­sure the height of the tree.The 94.1 me­tres tree is botan­i­cally iden­ti­fied as Shorea fague­tiana F. Heim of the Dipte­ro­carpaceae fam­ily or lo­cally called ‘Ser­aya kun­ing siput’.

TAWAU: In Novem­ber 2016, at the Heart of Bor­neo Con­fer­ence held at The Ma­gallen 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 (https://news.mongabay.com).

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.

Jua­nis Runcin, the tree climber from the Sabah Forestry Depart­ment, climbed the tree to ob­tain leaf sam­ples for species iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and to man­u­ally mea­sure the height of the tree for com­par­i­son.

The tree is botan­i­cally iden­ti­fied as Shorea fague­tiana F. Heim of the Dipte­ro­carpaceae fam­ily or lo­cally called ‘Ser­aya kun­ing siput’.

The ear­lier record of the tallest trop­i­cal tree in Tawau Hills Park is also of the same species. The tree height was di­rectly mea­sured by the tree climber us­ing line and ex­tend­able pole.

Two height mea­sure­ments were taken, one are from the top to the ground at the up­per slope (90.8 m) and an­other to the ground at the lower slope (95.2 m) of the tree. The CAO mea­sure­ment of 94.1 m is within the range of the mea­sure­ments. The bole girth is 214 cm di­am­e­ter mea­sured above the but­tress.

Apart from the mis­sion to lo­cate and de­ter­mine the tree species, other ob­ser­va­tions on the flora and fauna as well as on the pres­ence of any key fea­tures were also made around the tallest tree.

Among the in­ter­est­ing find­ings were the dis­cov­ery of many en­demic Be­go­nia species and two scenic wa­ter­falls. Other stud­ies such as soil and for­est struc­ture are also be­ing car­ried out to ob­tain more in­for­ma­tion about the sur­round­ing area.

Be­ing the world’s tallest trop­i­cal tree, it will surely be­come a her­itage tree and at­tract many lo­cal and over­seas vis­i­tors.

Though it is al­ready in a pro­tec­tion for­est re­serve, it may need ex­tra pro­tec­tion such as a track from DVFC and check­ing sta­tion must be manned prop­erly.

Among other rec­om­men­da­tions that will be for­warded to the man­age­ment of DVCA are to in­di­cate the tallest tree on the map of DVCA; to es­tab­lish a user­friendly trail from the ex­ist­ing Ulu Pu­rut Re­search Sta­tion-Raleigh Camp Trail to the tallest tree; to erect sig­nage and in­for­ma­tion board on the tallest tree at the ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tion and more im­por­tantly, to pro­tect the trees from light­ning dam­age, that is, to in­stall light­ning pro­tec­tion equip­ment.

The ex­pe­di­tion team thanked Sam for his sup­port to the ex­pe­di­tion, As­ner of the Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion for Sci­ence at Stan­ford Univer­sity for the re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion which led to the dis­cov­ery of the tallest tree and Dr Yap Sau Wai and Jikos Gidi­man of Yayasan Sabah for their sup­port and for pro­vid­ing their guides and porter ar­range­ment dur­ing the ex­pe­di­tion.

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 ??  ?? The ex­pe­di­tion team with the tallest tree. Stand­ing (from left): Maclean Bo­sumil, Dr Arthur Chung, John B. Su­gau, Jua­nis Runcin (tree climber), Joel Dawat, Dr Joan T. Pereira, Eyen Khoo,Vi­vian­nye Paul, Jem­son Ju­mian, Martin Tuyuk and Postar Miun....
The ex­pe­di­tion team with the tallest tree. Stand­ing (from left): Maclean Bo­sumil, Dr Arthur Chung, John B. Su­gau, Jua­nis Runcin (tree climber), Joel Dawat, Dr Joan T. Pereira, Eyen Khoo,Vi­vian­nye Paul, Jem­son Ju­mian, Martin Tuyuk and Postar Miun....
 ??  ?? The world’s tallest trop­i­cal tree is a towering 94.1 me­tres ‘ser­aya kun­ing siput’ with a canopy mea­sur­ing 40.3 me­tres in di­am­e­ter.
The world’s tallest trop­i­cal tree is a towering 94.1 me­tres ‘ser­aya kun­ing siput’ with a canopy mea­sur­ing 40.3 me­tres in di­am­e­ter.

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