Scientists discover world’s tallest tropical tree

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KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA: International scientists believe they have found the world’s tallest tropical tree – right in the heart of Sabah, Malaysia.

The tree, the species of which has yet to be determined as it was discovered via air surveillance, stands at 94.1 metres, and has a crown diameter of 40 metres.

Although its height does not beat that of the Yayasan Sabah building (121.9 metres), it surpasses the Statue of Liberty, which stands at 92.9 metres. The tree, discovered in the Danum Valley reserve, was one of among 49 super-tall tropical trees, with heights ranging from 70 to 90 metres, found in the area, as well as in Tabin and Maliau Basin.

The finding was announced by Prof Dr Gregory Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institute of Science, during the Heart of Borneo conference held here recently. He is also the leader of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO). The determination of the tallest tropical tree was made based on high resolution 3-Dimensional mapping of the forest, which CAO carried out in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department.

In his presentation, Asner revealed the whereabouts of the top 50 tallest tropical trees, with 33 in the Danum Valley, 10 in Tabin, one in the Maliau Basin and others in the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) area in Sabah. The Danum Valley, Tabin, and Maliau Basin forest reserves are under the custody of the Yayasan Sabah Foundation, which is the state government’s statutory body.

In 2007, American scientists announced the discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree within the vicinity of Tawau Hills Park, which is under the care of Sabah Parks. The Dipterocarpus spec tree, with the scientific name of Shorea faguetiana, was measured at 88.33 metres tall.