Timber Transformer  

Tree species & ecosystem design

The Indonesian rainforest is an extraordinary piece of evolutionary design that supports 10% of the world’s flowering species, 12% of the world’s mammals and 16% of the world’s reptiles. While having only 1.3% of the world’s landmass it has at least 20% of the earth’s biodiversity.[1]

However, factors such as illegal logging and deforestation for other commodity uses threatens this. Deforestation impacts human beings directly: both locally and across the planet in terms of climate change; threatening the estimated 40 million rural citizens who depend on forest biodiversity for subsistence needs; and as many of our medicines were originally discovered in plants, with deforestation the healthcare resource of flora also disappears.

Trees are the heart of the ecosystem. The Woodland Trust estimates that the UK has 50 species of native trees and shrubs — in contrast,  Indonesia has 4,000 species of trees growing in 19 different forests types ranging from coastal forests to heath forests and savannahs.[2] 120 hardwood species are suitable for commercial use in products such as plywood, pulp and paper, mouldings and joinery, furniture, sawn timber and veneer. The seven main species are meranti, keruing, teak, mahogany, bangkirari/yellow balau, merbau and balsa.
The trees arise through the dense ecosystem of the tropical rainforest in four main layers, each forming a unique habitat of organisms. With little sunlight, life on the forest floor is supported by decaying matter and as the soil is low in nutrients trees have shallow, wide roots. The open spaces of the understorey features young trees and leafy herbaceous plants that have adapted to grow in little sunlight.

The canopy, the roof of the rainforest, is formed by the crowns of the trees which can grow to around 135 feet above ground and the sunlight enables the canopy to support 90% of organisms in the rainforest — it is the primary layer. The canopy created by the trees captures sunlight and holds moisture. The emergent layer features the tallest trees up to 200 feet high where it is hot, windy and wet. The resistant qualities that tree species have evolved to survive in the rainforest make their tropical hardwoods extremely durable in our very different climate. 

[1] cbd.int The Convention on Biological Diversity
theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2013/may/22/indonesia-international-biodiversity-day-in-pictures

[2]The Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations - http://www.fao.org/