Monday, March 07, 2011

Foresters discover extinct raintree species in Sabah

March 7, 2011

KOTA KINABALU: Foresters are excited about the discovery of three tropical raintree species that were thought to be extinct in Sabah.

The rare dipterocarp species, known locally as Keruing Jarang was found in the Siangau Forest Reserve, near the coastal town of Weston, about 100km from here.

The discovery was made during a survey of the area by a research team from the Forestry Department.

In a statement here yesterday, Sabah Forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan said the species Dipterocarpus lamellatus was last recorded at Beaufort Hill in 1955.

The only other record was from Labuan in 1951.

The island today is virtually devoid of any natural dry land forests, said Mannan.

“It is a very exciting development for us,” he added, saying the research team also encountered four other rare dipterocarps in the reserve.

The survey was part of a statewide inventory by the Forestry Department to determine the conservation status of dipterocarps in Sabah, he said.

Forest botanist John Sugau said that of the 267 species of dipterocarps known to exist on Borneo island, 183 were found in Sabah.

While some dipterocarps were common and widespread, others are rare and restricted in their distribution.

Keruing Jarang was only known to occur in the west coast of Sabah.

In the natural forest, the dipterocarps are large trees that form the upper canopy.

Dipterocarps such as kapur, keruing, seraya and selangan batu, make up the bulk of commercial timber from Sabah’s natural forests.

After many years of logging, the status of some of the rarer dipterocarps had become uncertain, said Mannan.

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