Sheryl Ang and Yuta Nakayama TREE WHISPERER

Tree Whisperers gives a voice to wood (as a material) by using melodic beats to convey the impact of climate change on different tree species.


The pitch and tempo of beats, reflects the extent of climate change on each tree – a higher pitch and quickening pace of (faster) beats, reflects a tree that is becoming more distressed. By introducing a visual and auditory reference to time as well as heartbeats, these objects call us to confront the urgency of climate change in the context of tree deaths.

Sheryl Ang and Yuta Nakayama are designers at the Design Incubation Centre – a research centre incorporated in the National University of Singapore – constantly on the lookout for design emergences and new territories where design can bring a useful contribution.


In conversation with Sheryl Ang – read Sheryl’s sustainability inspirations and design idea here


Photograph credit: Sheryl Ang, Design Incubation Centre of the National University of Singapore

Tree Whisperers: Giving a ‘voice’ to wood

The issue

Rising global temperatures are a result of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere: attributed from burning fossil fuels, farming and destruction of forests & biodiversities capable of carbon sequestration. Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (and other gases as a result of human activities) in the atmosphere causes the greenhouse effect. This is where gases in the atmosphere traps heat and increases the Earth’s temperature, at a significantly higher rate than natural.


Predictions of global warming – one of the most serious impacts relating to the climate emergency – were officially discovered more than 100 years ago.


The severity of rising temperatures

In 1856, Eunice Newton Foote tested for the first time, the heat-trapping abilities of different gases. She concluded that wet air and CO2 were powerful heat-trapping gases – “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature”.

Moving forward to 1896, Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius developed the first model of climate change. He predicted that climate change would happen, expecting it to take 3,000 years for CO2 levels in the atmosphere to rise by 50%. Instead we increased by 30% in only one century.


Climate change will affect all ecosystems and biodiversities. In relation to forest ecosystems, changes will relate to mean temperature, rainfall, frequency / severity of weather events. The impact of these can be characterised into forest composition, species distribution, forest structure as well as flowering phenology. As some of the most diverse ecosystems and biodiverse habitats on earth, these landscapes are under unprecedented threat from deforestation and degradation in addition to accelerating climate change.


The Met Office annual global temperature forecast for 2021 suggests that 2021 will once again enter the series of the Earth’s hottest years. Forecasts of between 0.91c and 1.15c above the average pre-industrial period (1850 – 1900).


The role of forests

Forests are our greatest tool for tackling the climate crisis, whilst simultaneously being one of the greatest casualties. If we safeguard the life cycles of trees, we go some way to safeguarding the planet. Global pressures for commodities places greater demand on land and natural habitats.  Implementing legal reform and the measures to enforce this, towards sustainable and responsible forest management frameworks goes someway to helping us achieve this goal.


The EU FLEGT Action Plan

The EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan helps combat illegal logging and deforestation. Consequently this form of sustainable forest management is an essential part to emission reduction needed for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change and thus rising global temperatures.

TTF Member

Timber supplied through the Malaysian Timber Council - promoting the Malaysian timber trade and developing the market for Malaysian timber products globally.

(More information on their Commitment to Sustainability can be found by clicking on this picture again) 

Tropical Hardwood

Species used for the Tree Whisperer's design are Meranti, Keruing, Jelutong and Nyatoh. 

VPA Country

Timber has been sourced from Malaysia - one of the first countries to begin negotiating their VPA with the EU in 2007. The EU is one of Malaysia's top three export markets in terms of value. Meetings have currently stalled due to the complexity of Malaysia's political situation.