While many may immediately relate Brunei with the oil and gas industry, one key aspect that can be seen throughout the nation is the lush forest area that is home to many flora and fauna that are hidden in plain sight.
This home to the many plants and animals collectively referred to as biodiversity is where some new species of flora and fauna are still being discovered until the present time.
While the discovery of the various flora and fauna can still be seen, it being synonymous with everyday life, with residents living close to such biodiversity, can lead to some easily overlooking the rich natural habitat, along with the various initiatives and efforts made to discover, record, preserve, and maintain them.
One such location is the Tropical Biodiversity Centre (TBC), located near the main Tutong to Belait highways, which plays a key role in the preservation of biodiversity found in the Sultanate, while also simultaneously being a centre to disseminate information on biodiversity and ecosystem.
Officially launched on March 23, 2013, the BND3-million centre located within an area of 2,317 hectares in the Andulau Forest Reserve comes under the 9th and 10th National Development Plans implemented by the then Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (now Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism).
Since its launch and establishment, the centre has continued to be the focal point for the discovery, recording, maintaining and preserving of the local biodiversity.
To learn more about the centre’s effort and initiative, I spoke with Senior Forestry Officer at the Forestry Department Zaeidi bin Haji Berudin.
“The centre is a facility under the Forestry Department at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, and since its inception, there are four main programmes that the centre focusses on, including the management and maintenance of Brunei’s biodiversity, educating people, raising public awareness on its importance, and to support the ecotourism effort for the nation.”
These programmes are reflected in the centre’s architectural design, with the building’s exterior concept (calyx-shape) reflecting its significant contribution to the rich biodiversity of the country. Inside, it houses several exhibitions on biodiversity.
“At the TBC, there are spaces with exhibitions that display information regarding the resources found in the biodiversity and forest of the nation. These exhibitions are broken down into easy-to-understand sections, such as ones that first discuss what biodiversity is, and what is so important about the local biodiversity.”
Zaeidi shared that other exhibitions found in the centre include various enclosed samples of the flora and fauna that are uniquely found in the Sultanate.
“There is also an exhibit displaying samples of the various research conducted by experts in their respective fields from within the nation and across the world.”
Some of the research were conducted in close collaboration between local and international experts, and showcasing them helps disseminate information and form digital terrestrial biodiversity information which can provide references to academicians, experts, potential investors and the private sector.
While the scale of the samples and research that has been conducted may seem intimidating for the uninitiated, the TBC maintains its effort to provide easy access to the public wishing to learn more about the nature that is hiding in plain sight.
According to Zaeidi, the TBC also offers trails behind it to allow visitors get a first-hand look into the biodiversity.
Accessing these trails helps visitors to appreciate the local flora and fauna, in a serene ambience.
“Furthermore, various species of interest found along the trails are also tagged, adding to the learning experience alongside the other facilities found in the area,” the senior officer added.