State foresters in Perak, Malaysia, find species of keruing paya rainforest tree thought to be extinct, take steps to protect it; discovery comprises two fully-grown dipterocarpus coriaceus trees, five saplings

KUALA KANGSAR, Malaysia , March 1, 2014 () – A species of rainforest tree thought to be extinct has been rediscovered at Chikus forest reserve in Hilir Perak district.

Two fully-grown Dipterocarpus coriaceus trees, known locally as keruing paya, were found within a 2ha expanse of the forest by a team from the Perak Forestry department last year.

Speaking to the New Sunday Times, Perak Forestry Department director Datuk Roslan Ariffin said another five keruing paya saplings were found at the same time.

The NST had reported that the species became extinct following logging and land clearing activities in the Bikam forest reserve near Bidor, which was thought to be the species' last remaining refuge.

Roslan said the species came under threat after development activities in the area gradually took over its habitat.

"The keruing paya used to grow in the Bikam forest but it disappeared when the forest gradually shrunk.

"This happened when the forest was de-gazetted to make way for farming land.

"After hearing about the species dying out, we decided to send out a team to try and find out if there other survivors.

"We went to investigate areas with similar ecological conditions to the Bikam reserve.

"Luckily, we managed to find the trees in the Chikus reserve," said Roslan after attending the launching ceremony of a new flash flood warning system in the Ulu Kenas forest reserve here yesterday.

Also present at the launch were Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and director-general of Forestry Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim.

Roslan, however, gave his assurance that there was no immediate threat to the recently discovered trees in the Chikus reserve.

"The situation is very much under control.

"We have cordoned off the area and there is no threat from any man-made activities in the reserve."

"The species is still classified as an endangered species, so we will be monitoring the situation closely."

Roslan said the seeds from the adult keruing paya trees would be harvested when they began to flower and stored for replanting.

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(c) 2014 New Straits Times Publishing Co.

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