Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Brunei, A Green Gem in Heart of Borneo


File photo of the Temburong rainforest. – AZROL AZMI

A green gem in Heart of Borneo
on: November 12, 2016
| Azlan Othman |

KEEPING up the spirit of the Heart of Borneo Declaration, Brunei has been effectively managing its forest resources through commendable conservation efforts over the past years that have gained global recognition for the Sultanate.

Brunei Darussalam has also gained international acclaim for having bio-rich tropical rainforests, majority of which are still in pristine condition and protected by effective legislation, despite occupying just one per cent of the total forest in the island of Borneo.

Brunei Darussalam is among those countries with a leading forest area, according to Asia Development Bank (ADB).

According to ADB’s Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2016 (Key Indicators 2016) report published this week, Laos topped the list with a forest cover of 81.3 per cent followed by Bhutan (70 per cent), Brunei (70 per cent) and Papua New Guinea (70 per cent).

The report was prepared by the Development Economics and Indicators Division (ERDI) of the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department (ERCD) of the ADB.

Forest area is a crucial foundation for maintenance of biodiversity, management of sustainable water sources, and even in mitigation of harmful consequences of extreme weather conditions, the report said.

Estimates based on the latest data suggest that about 22.2 per cent of Asia and the Pacific’s total land area is covered by forest.

Forest cover in East Asia is estimated at 30.9 per cent and in Southeast Asia at 28.6 per cent. On the other hand, forest cover in Central and West Asia is estimated at 2.6 per cent.

According to the report, the economies with air pollution levels that are below the maximum air pollution level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, the Federated States of Micronesia and New Zealand.

Brunei now has the highest proportion of intact peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia. According to the Forestry Department, about 80 per cent of the peat swamp forest is still in good quality, covering around 16 per cent of the country’s total land area.

The department said last year that forest law and the national forest policy have been further strengthened with the formulation and implementation of the National Master Plan or Vision 2035.

Embedded in the five-year national plan are the implementation strategies and programmes of the forestry sector that provide allocation of government funds for projects that would facilitate economic and environmental development as envisioned under the Vision 2035.

In Brunei Darussalam, there has been a strong political will at all levels of the society to manage and conserve its forest resources since 1934 when the Forest Act was formalised in the country.

The high appreciation for forest and the role of forestry in the Bruneian society have ensured active participation from a wider range of stakeholders in the protection and conservation of the Sultanate’s natural forests.

Meanwhile, commitment by three governments in Borneo to a common conservation vision to effectively manage the island’s forest resources was further strengthened with the International Conference on the Heart of Borneo, which ended on Wednesday (November 9, 2016) in Sabah with a promise not to let the future generations down.

Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia had made a commitment nine years ago to secure a sustainable future of Borneo’s highland rainforest by signing the historic Heart of Borneo Declaration that committed them to a common conservation vision.

Under the common vision, the countries are to ensure the effective management of forest resources and the creation of a network of protected areas, sustainably managed forests and land-use zones across the 22 million hectares which constitute the Heart of Borneo – an area which covers almost one third of the island.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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