DISTED SAM biology lecturer Angel Lai Ee May showing her co-written book ‘Heritage Trees of Penang’ during its launch by the Governor of Penang at the E&O Hotel in conjunction with the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site third anniversary celebration.
DISTED College South Australian Matriculation (SAM) biology lecturer Angel Lai Ee May can help us to spare a thought for the majestic and shady trees in Penang, many of which beautify the roads and provide a cool and pleasant environment for motorists and pedestrians, apart from being an integral element in our ecosystem.Take not our old trees for granted. But how can we learn more to value our trees particularly those in Penang?
“DISTED campus and its location in upper Macalister Road are blessed with many elegant old trees of historical significance. I hold nature treasure hunts for the students to get them better acquainted with the tree species in the vicinity of the college.She endears her SAM biology students to the natural heritage through extramural activities, which enrich their learning experience beyond the classroom.
“Games about plants are also organized for them at the Penang Botanic Gardens,” Angel Lai said.
For the public, she has co-authored a book touted as an authoritative companion to Penang’s botanical inheritance.
A botanist by training, Angel Lai is one the 3 collaborators who produced the newly launched book entitled Heritage Trees of Penang, which features Penang’s green heritage of over 200 tree species.
Published by Areca Books, the 400-page publication, with Simon Gardner and Pindar Sidisunthorn as the other 2 collaborators, was launched by Penang Governor Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas at the E&O Hotel on 7 July 2011 in conjunction with the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site third anniversary celebration.
“The book, a 2½-year collaborative research endeavour, is to encourage people to appreciate and conserve the multitude of trees as a significant facet of the natural and historical heritage of Penang.“Our rich national heritage is not just about historical buildings and multi-ethnic cultures. It’s important too to include the environmental perspective when billing our national treasures.
“It’s divided into six parts comprising street trees, garden trees, sacred trees, village trees, forest trees and coastal trees, and richly illustrated with over 1,200 photographs and 72 original watercolour paintings,” said Angel Lai, who completed a botanical gardens management course at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, and a former long service Nature Society Penang branch honorary secretary.
“Besides botanical descriptions, the book relates interesting local beliefs, religious connotations and significant stories about each tree species as well as its locations and uses.She said the book was written to appeal to the general public and not just botanists and nature enthusiasts.
“It reveals some magnificent trees dating back to the 19th century such as the angsana species.
“Penang now has the best and oldest collection of angsana trees, the largest of which is found in front of the Penang Hospital,” she pointed out.
Prior to publication, the book was scrutinized by relevant experts and lay people.
“We asked over 10 individuals including experts from the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Penang Heritage Trust and Malaysia Nature Society who are specialists in botany and local heritage to review our book. We also had non-experts to share their opinions.
“They offered suggestions and comments that were taken into consideration. But in general, people were happy about the book,” said Angel Lai.