Brunei at the forefront of peatland conservation

|     Azlan Othman     |

THERE has been major progress in the initiatives for conservation and sustainable management of peatlands in Brunei Darussalam, thanks to the effective cooperation between government agencies, the private sector and local communities.

This was stated by Martinah binti Haji Tamit, Acting Director at the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe), Ministry of Development, at the third meeting of the Asean Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP) at the International Convention Centre in Berakas yesterday.

Martinah said the initiatives include, among others, total ceasing of logging operations in peat swamp forests from October last year, improved coordination mechanisms and approaches to control peatland fires and rehabilitation and restoration of peatland in the Badas peat swamp forest.

“Peatlands provide a wide range of benefits to human beings and the environment due to its unique features including its rich biodiversity. Its ecosystem plays a vital role in reducing the impact of climate change,” she noted.

“Increase in development, land conversion and degradation caused by forest fires in our region have reduced peatland resources significantly over the past few years. In Brunei Darussalam, peat swamp forest covers around 90,000 hectares which is about 16 per cent of the country’s total land area. It is estimated that 80 per cent of these peatlands are still relatively intact and covered with good quality of peat swamp forest,” Martinah said.

Martinah binti Haji Tamit, Acting Director at the JASTRe chairing the meeting. – AZLAN OTHMAN

“It is a privilege again for Brunei Darussalam to host and chair the 3rd meeting of the Asean Task Force on Peatlands this year,” she added.

Delegations from Asean member states, Asean Secretariat, Global Environment Centre (GEC), European Union (EU), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) attended the meeting yesterday.

Martinah chaired the meeting with Dr San Oo, Director at the Environmental Conservation Department, Ministry of Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar as the Vice-Chairperson.

The meeting discussed among others country updates by Asean member states on the status of implementation of national action plans on peatlands; regional initiatives to support the Asean Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (2014-2020 APSMPE); potential cooperation with dialogue/development partners; review of the implementation of Asean Peatland Management Strategy (APMS); and updates on the roadmap for Asean cooperation towards trans-boundary haze pollution control.

The 3rd ATFP meeting provided a platform for Asean member states to discuss and strengthen collaboration and cooperation towards successful development and implementation of Asean Peatland Management Strategy (APMS) to achieve its goals by the year 2020.

The APMS is being developed within the framework of the Asean Peatland Management Initiative (APMI) and the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, with the purpose to guide actions to support management of peatlands in the region during the period of 2006-2020.

After the adoption the ATFP report, the delegates were briefed at the Tropical Biodiversity Centre, Sungai Lumut, after which they visited the peat swamp forest at Jalan Badas, Seria.