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The Star

Wednesday June 09, 2004


1,300-year-old chengal tree a state treasure, says MB Idris

BY K. SUTHAKAR. KUALA TERENGGANU : The 1,300-year-old chengal tree in Hulu Dungun is a state treasure and will be used to promote eco-tourism in the state, said Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Idris Jusoh.

He said the tree would be a boost to eco-tourism in the state like other large trees in the world, such as the Jomon Sugi in Yakushima, Japan, and the Giant Sequoia at the Yosemite National Park in California. 

PRIZED POSSESSION : Scientists dwarfed by the chengal tree, which has been acknowledged by the Malaysia Book of Records as the biggest in the country.  

As such, the state Forestry Department will be keeping a vigilant watch to safeguard its “prized” possession, believed to be the biggest chengal tree in the world. 

The tree, measuring 16.5m tall with a 16.75m circumference, will require 13 people to “hug” its trunk. 

State Forestry director Na’aman Jaafar said the Malaysia Book of Records had acknowledged the tree as the biggest in the country. 

Located at Gunung Mandi Angin, it was discovered in 1999 by the department’s forester Omar Mohamad. 

“I believe the tree could be the biggest in the world but, of course, anybody is free to dispute it,” he said in an interview here yesterday. 

In giving a picture of its size, he said that if the tree were to be chopped down, it would require 27 lorries to transport the timber, which would be worth some RM1mil. 

This, he said, was based on only 50% of the tree volume as the rest were branches and other unusable parts. 

Na’aman said the tree was “safe” as it was located within the Pasir Raja Forest Reserve and the department conducted regular surveillance in the area. 

To reach the tree, he said visitors could drive up to Sungai Loh near Pasir Raja, wade across the thigh-level river and trek another two hours. 

The chengal or Neobalanocarpus heimii is a straight-bole, large hardwood found in Malaysia, southern Thailand, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

It is highly resistant to decay when in ground contact or in persistently damp or poorly ventilated situations. 

The wood is used in heavy construction such as boat building, railway sleepers, wharf and bridge construction, poles and piles.


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