Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to create a tropical rain forest

This is my response to a recent email: "We intend to create a multi-tier tropical rainforest along the riverbank of our (residential and commercial) scheme. We would like to know what trees and palms you would suggest for the first (uppermost) tier. If possible the tree specifications (diameter, overall height etc,) and the planting pattern and distances. What shrubs and plants would be suitable for the lower tiers including ground covers."

The property is located in Malaysia, where the climate supports tropical rain forest. To recreate such forest would be easy given time, say 20 years. But of course in a commercial property they would want it done within 20 weeks.

At the 'One Utama' shopping mall in Kuala Lumper, we were promised 18 months to create an indoor rain forest, but in the end we were able to plant our first trees only after the builders had finished and moved out. Nevertheless, our rainforest was presentable within 3 months. We had an advantage that the big trees we needed were growing close by on the same property and could be transported on a private road, and with their spreading crowns sticking out of the back of the transporter. We did not lop off any of the branches. On public roads this would not be possible.

So the size and shape of the largest trees will depend on what can be transported and the crowns may have to be trimmed. The species that can be transplanted as big trees are not many, and most are species of seasonally dry tropical forests, not of true rainforests. They include Tabebuia rosea, Pachira aquatica, Hura crepitans, Khaya senegalensis, Pterocarpus indicus and Shorea roxburghii.

Before moving big trees, I would advise removing the leaves by hand, leaving only the growing tips and youngest leaves intact. This will slow down water loss while the roots are recovering from transplanting. Wrapping the trunks in plastic sheets may also help keep the trees from drying out. The presence of growing tips will speed up recovery. Tree with big leaves are easier to deleaf than trees with lots of small leaves.

Trees should be spaced with 1m gaps between crowns. It will take a couple of years for the crowns to close up. Under the gaps, put in the smaller trees and shrubs. Fill up the gaps and plant close to get faster effect. Ground covers are sensitive to shade and moisture and each species has its own requirements. Try out different species and replace those that fade out. Palms have difficulty recovering from leaf loss, so keep as many leaves as possible while transplanting.


Human said...

Apple, Orange, Guava, Mango trees.

Tea leaves, berry bush.


ants, spiders, mosquitos, grasshoppers.

birds, parrots, crows.

cats, dogs, goats, humans.

James LoveTree said...

Dear Dr Ng

I am so grateful to have discovered your blog..You are not only a Living National Treasure of Malaysia..but of the entire Tropical World

Regarding your post of 15 April 2011, has the UTAR Agricultural Research Centre been established ?

It is a real shame re; "There are extensive ‘germplasm’ collections of rubber, oil palm, bananas, sweet potatoes, etc in our research institutes, many acquired through exploration and exchange at great cost and effort..

..All are in danger of being lost upon the retirement of the scientists who built them up, but it is almost impossible for outsiders to get anything out. They are treated like official secrets."

Similarly, when I enquire at the Dept of Agriculture about the many opportunities of the PELAN STRATEGIK JABATAN PERTANIAN is impossible for me to get cooperation ?

Hopefully you can suggest a strategy or maybe we can employ your consultancy expertise ?

We have about 20 acres idle land across 4 sites at Rantau Panjang Kelantan, and about 300 acres across several sites at Narathiwat Thailand..on which I want to do Ernst Gotsch-type multi-strata diverse-specie permaculture Agro-food-forest incorporating as many High Value Crops as possible, Key Economic Crops, Fruit, Hardwoods, Vegetables, Spices, Ornamentals, and Livestock

I need guidance on choosing the best-suited High Value Crops, and planning diverse MULTI-STRATA PLANT GUILDS, for example Cacao, Coffee, Kelapa Wangi, Banana, Citrus, Rubber, Durian, Vanilla, Fig, Date, Gharu, and other High-Value tropical fruits..and secondary / long-term yield hardwoods, for example Bamboo, Siamese Redwood, Chinese Rosewood..

I have ordered your book Tropical Forest Fruits, Seeds, Seedlings & Trees.. I will try to make a cross reference table of Tropical Plants by Strata, Successional Stage, Crown Size, Growth Speed, Use..(Fruit, Vegetable, Fuel, Construction, Ornamental, Polinator, High Value) Companion plants,, Nitrogen Fixing,..

Apart from Plant Systems, my other challenge is sourcing PARASITE-RESISTANT LIVESTOCK adapted to an outdoor environment without vaccinations, anti-biotics, de-wormers..

For example, Meat Rabbits, Duck and Chicken Layers and Broilers, Quail, Geese, Turkey, Pheasant, Sheep, Deer
We have started with a thousand Layer Ducks living and foraging 100% naturally in paddy fields.

Thank you Dr Ng, we will be most grateful for your thoughts and advice towards this project

Hopefully you can suggest a strategy or maybe we can employ your consultancy expertise ?

May GOD bless you to continue teaching Tropical Horticulture and Gardening..


James AndersonLINE +66 950 270 206
WhatsApp +60 10320 5296