THE CRITICALLY endangered tree species Shorea lumutensis only found in Perak must be conserved, and promoted as an eco-tourism product to prevent IT from going extinct.
Eco-tourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) co-founder and CEO Andrew Sebastian said the species, locally known as balau putih, can only be found at the high conservation value forests (HCVF) of the Sungai Pinang Virgin Jungle Reserve on Pangkor Island, Segari-Melintang Forest Reserve, and at the Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve in Lumut.
Sebastian said Ecomy hopes to find ways to develop and package these areas into a proper eco-tourism product following a seven-day expedition to the island that ended yesterday.
Andrew, who was also the expedition’s coordinator, said due to its limited range and distribution, the rare tree categorised as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), must be protected.
“Over 100 scientists, researchers together with some 300 local primary school pupils, and community members were involved in the expedition.
“There were 36 areas of study during the expedition, and a good number of botanists looked at many different species of plants, from coastal, herbal, creepers to large trees, with the focus being on Shorea lumutensis,” he said in a telephone interview earlier this week.
Shorea lumutensis, is a species of tree in the Dipterocarpaceae family (mainly tropical lowland rainforest trees) endemic to Peninsular Malaysia.
Limited in its range, this timber species occurs along the coastal hills of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and is a medium-sized to large tree with leathery and oblong elliptical shaped leaves.
The expedition was organised by Ecomy, in partnership with Vale Malaysia Minerals Sdn Bhd, supported by Perak Forestry Department, and Manjung District Council.
Andrew said, in the other parts of the world people pay to tour and see unique plants and trees.
“So why not turn this into a unique product for Perak, and Pangkor specifically,” he added.
He said the main objective of the expedition was to link the interesting or unique bio-diversity of the island to some form of eco-tourism.