Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Brunei To Expand Forest Reserve Cover From 41% To 55%

Brunei To Expand Forest Reserve Cover From 41% To 55%

By Qistina Rangga

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei is planning to expand its forest reserve cover from 41 per cent to 55 per cent of the country's forested area, a forestry officer said yesterday.

Muhd Safwan Abdullah Bibi from the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) said that the increase in coverage will fulfill the 55 per cent forest reserve commitment embodied in the 1989 National Forestry Policy.

To date, 76 per cent of Brunei's land area of 5,765 sq km is covered by forest, according to Muhd Safwan, a decrease from 78 per cent.

In addition, "logging is limited to an area of 100,000 cubic metres which is a 50 per cent reduction from previous logging area coverage," he told The Brunei Times, noting it as one of the government's preservation strategies.
Muhd Safwan was speaking at the opening of the training workshop on "Timber Verification of Legality Systems" at MIPR yesterday.

Officiating the event was Pg Hjh Mariana PDNLDR Pg Hj Abdul Momin, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of MIPR, who spoke about Brunei's commitment to forest protection and illegal logging, in particular the Heart of Borneo project.

According to Pg Hjh Mariana, 58 per cent of Brunei's total land area is allocated to the Heart of Borneo initiative to sustain the island's natural richness. It is perceived to be a "giant step forward".

"(This is to ensure) that the natural riches of the Island of Borneo is developed and managed sustainably for the benefit of the present and future generations," she said.

Illegal logging contributes to the continued degradation of the ecosystem and has far-reaching environmental and economic implications. As such, implementation of appropriate forest governance to sustain economic growth is needed, she added.

She also said that commitment at all levels, including the government, non-government organisations and the private sectors, is needed in the development of policies in both the consumer and producer countries.
"There is a need to implement appropriate forest governance, cooperation between the local communities, public and private sectors. It would also call for the establishment of collaborations and networking between enforcement agencies of member countries," she said.

She also stressed the importance of investing in the development aspect of forest management. This will see the involvement of the forestry stakeholders and allow them to have abetter appreciation of the basic resource.

Pg Hjh Mariana also mentioned that Brunei has successfully completed the pilot Peer Consultation Framework (PCF) in which Asean member states have assessed the country's National Forest Policy.

Recommendations were made to improve policymaking, emulate best practices and to consider recognised standards and principles.

Also present at the opeling ceremony was Hj Saidin Salleh, Director of Forestry, Dr Andreas Obser, principal advisor of Asean-German Regional Forest Programme and Brunei's senior government officials. -- Courtesy of The Brunei Times
22nd July