Heat taking a toll on hills But trees likely to survive unless there’s a lengthy drought, says expert

LARGE patches of shrivelled trees can be seen scattered around the Bukit Gambir forest.

According to Malaysian Nature Society Penang branch adviser D. Kanda Kumar, the trees are not dead and are likely to survive despite its appearance, unless there is a prolonged drought.

“As far as I know, the bigger trees have a survival mechanism to live through the dry spell and some will shed their leaves to save water.

“However, smaller trees and bushes have a lower probability of survival.

“The same goes for trees which have been burnt due to recent fires, as tropical rainforest trees do not have the mechanism to cope with the aftermath of such fires,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Kanda Kumar advised the public especially hikers, not to smoke or burn leaves which had been cleared from the hiking trails.

“Relocation of trees should also be stopped since the weather is less than ideal at present,” he added.

Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) recreation, tourism and international affairs director Mohamed Akbar Mustapha said roadside trees and bushes at present were being watered using street washers (water lorries) which used water from streams and rivers.

“The relocation of plants at present had also been reduced and are only approved when necessary. Before approval, we will send a tree expert to investigate the trees’ condition,” he said.

MPPP secretary Ang Aing Thye remarked that it was not a common practice to water the trees on the hills.

“Even with the recent cases of bush fires, sea water was used to extinguish the fires.

“It is more important to conserve our water supply for consumption,” he said.

Rain is expected to arrive only at the end of this month in the northern region due to the inter-monsoon.

A Penang Meteorological Department official had said that the current hot weather was a normal annual occurrence (between February and March).

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