Danum Valley in Sabah is home for the world’s tallest tropical tree

Danum Valley Conservation Area is recognised by the naturalists as one of the world’s most complex ecosystem. The conservation area covers about 438 square kilometres of quite undisturbed tropical lowland rainforest in Sabah. The diversity of tropical flora and fauna of the forest makes it a famous destination for nature lovers. Rare wild animals such Bornean orangutans, gibbons, mousedeer, clouded leopards, as well as the rare East Sumatran rhinoceros and over 270 bird species can be found in the forest.

Just recently, the tallest tropical tree in the world had been discovered at Danum Valley. Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University announced at the Heart of Borneo conference on 10 Nov 2016 that during his helicopter ride on Monday the same week with the conference, he had discovered not only the tallest tropical tree in Danum Valley, but also 49 other trees taller than 90 meters spread all over Sabah.

The previous record for the tallest tropical tree was actually a Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana), standing at about 89.5 metres tall and was found just a few months ago in Maliau Basin, another lost world in Sabah.

The current tallest tropical tree is in the genus Shorea, and the exact species will be announced once they had visited the tree.

Photo by Greg Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science.

The helicopter flight which was funded by film director James Cameron and the UN Development Programme, had flown on 7 Nov 2016. Asner flew the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) over Sabah to image forests and map animal habitat, carbon stocks, and canopy biodiversity. The sensors of the CAO are designed to measure the height, architecture, chemical properties and species identity of trees. It provides a very detailed 3D view of the forest canopy down to the ground level and that was how they get to measure the trees without having to visit the tree on the ground.

During the discovery, Asner said it was one of the most moving experiences in his 20 years career. They even circled the tree about 10 times before the pilot said they had to go back.

For those who are curious about this tree and Danum Valley, the nearest town is Lahad Datu and it is about 82 km away from Danum Valley. To get to the Danum Valley, you need to go to Lahad Datu first by car or via flight from Miri or Kota Kinabalu. All visitors must get their entry permit from the sales office in Lahad Datu and if you drive your own vehicle, you must also first obtain a gate pass from the Lahad Datu office.

The easiest way to go to Danum Valley is book a tour package from travel agents. They will handle everything for you and you only need to prepare cash, passport, clothes, insect repellent and camera because you would not want to miss out photographing this great adventure to the lost world of Sabah.

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