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Monday July 28, 2008

Penaga Laut trees are back in George Town

THE Penaga Laut (Calophyllum inophyllum), also known as the Alexandrian Laurel, once thrived in abundance in the cape of George Town but not a single tree could be found there in recent years.

On Friday, the Penang Municipal Council and the state Forestry Department planted 10 Penaga Laut trees at the Esplanade field near the seafront, in conjunction with the celebrations to mark George Town’s inscription as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

State Forestry director Mohd Puat Dahalan said the three-year-old trees, worth over RM100 each, were from the department’s nursery in Lentang, Pahang.

“They can grow to be big shady trees of up to 20m within 10 to 15 years,” he added.

Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said the tree-planting was the first part of a joint effort between the council and the department to plant 300 Penaga Laut trees at 20 locations on the island.

“We hope to plant the remaining 290 trees by year-end,” Zainal said, adding that apart from this programme, the council had planted 2,000 trees on the island last year and a further 700 trees to date this year.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia vice-president Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, who had the honour of planting the first tree yesterday along with Mohd Puat, Zainal and Penang Tourism Action Council chairman Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen, said George Town was once known as Tanjung Penaga by the early settlers.

Anwar said the Penaga Laut trees could not be found in the inner city of George Town in recent years although there were some at the Penang Botanical Gardens and the Residency Road area.

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