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World’s Tallest Tropical Tree is Higher than the Statue of Liberty

Nov 14, 2016 04:10 AM EST

In June this year, Malaysia claimed history for having the tallest tropical tree in the world, a Yellow Meranti in Malaysian Borneo standing at 89.5 meters. Five months later, the record was shattered.

Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University revealed in his speech at the Heart of Borneo conference the new tallest tropical tree that was also found in Malaysian Island of Borneo, in the state of Sabah.

Asner has yet to determine the exact species of the tree that stands 94.1 meter with a canopy that measures 40.3 meters. However he is sure that the tropical tree in Danum Valley is in the genus Shorea.
The tallest tropical tree is taller than five sperm whales stacked snout-to-fluke and the iconic Statue of Liberty in Manhattan, New York City which stands at only 46 meters.

Aside from the tallest tropical tree, Asner and his team also found 49 other trees that exceed the 90-meter mark, 33 in Danum Valley, 10 in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and 10 within the United Nations Development Program's biodiversity conservation project area that all surpassed the Yellow Meranti, National Geographic reports.

Danum valley is a 438-square kilometer forest in Sabah with an extensive diversity of tropical flora and fauna and home to rare and endangered species as the Sumatran rhino, banteng (tembadau), Asian elephant, clouded leopard, orang utan and proboscis monkey. It has also the Danum Valley Field Centre that caters facilities for research, education.

The tree was discovered using the technology Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) from an aircraft that uses light pulses to meaure forests at large scales while conserving them.

"This technique relies on the 500,000 laser shots per second that we fire out of the bottom of the plane as we fly, which provides a very detailed 3D view of the forest canopy down to the ground level. The same data are what we use to calculate how much carbon is stored throughout tropical forests," Asner said to environmental news website Mongabay.

After the LiDAR discovered the tallest tropical tree, Asner personally observe the tree using a helicopter.

"This tallest tropical tree, and the 49 runners-up, are truly phenomenal expressions of the power of nature," Asner said. "Conservation needs inspiration, and these sentinels of the Bornean jungle provide that to us. This discovery is a gift to science, to the people of Sabah and Borneo, and to the world."

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