Iconic tree falls in Melaka’s heritage site

MELAKA: After 127 years, the iconic tree beside the Stadthuys Building or “red building”, here, finally fell to the ground today.

The Batai Laut tree or yellow flame tree, whose scientific name is Peltophorum Pterocarpum, which was planted since the British rule and measured a height of 18 metres (59 feet) and diameter of almost 1.5 m, fell around 6.30 this morning. It is believed the tree’s roots had rotted.

Melaka Museum Corporation general manager, Mohd Nasruddin Rahman said, the tree is a heritage one that had been gazetted under the Melaka Historical City Council (MBMB) so that it will not be felled and will be preserved for landscape purposes.

“From what happened today, we need to learn a lesson that any of these historical or heritage areas are “very sensitive”. In those days, the people used horse-drawn carriages but now an assortment of vehicles traverse this area.

“So the vibrations and loads indirectly affect the structure and strength of the trees and even buildings that are over hundreds of years old in the area. So it is very important for us to control the flow of traffic in this historic site,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

He also explained that during the British era, around 1824, there were many trees of this type planted, and for this iconic tree, the evidence dates back to a photograph of it in 1910.

“The tree (at that time) had a height of 3.6 m (12 feet) and we believe it was first planted around the late 1890s,“ he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, MBMB Landscape Department director Moahzam Shaari said his team also did not rule out the possibility of environmental factors such as heavy traffic and the surrounding development had contributed to the fall of the tree.

“This tree has been planted since 1894, and the passage of time has caused its roots to rot,“ he said.

He also said his team will replant new trees in the area to maintain the image of the location of the Unesco (United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization) World Heritage Site.

“We will replant new trees in the near future but to get a tree that can last a long time like this one is very difficult.

“Anyway, we will try to think of other tree species that are suitable to be planted in this area to replace this tree,“ he added. — Bernama

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