Research crucial in green policy formulation

Rokiah Mahmud

The Brunei Darussalam Conference on Forest with the theme ‘Forests and Biodiversity: Unveiling its Economic Potential’ ended yesterday, with a wrap-up session.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong was among those present.

At the wrap-up session, Senior Forestry Officer at the MPRT’s Forestry Department Zaedi bin Haji Berudin alluded to the minister’s keynote address stating the objective of the conference which, among other things, aimed to promote knowledge-sharing and increase business activities that would contribute to economic growth.

He added that the conference explored the economic potentials of the forests that would support the country’s effort towards economic growth and diversification, while at the same time not undermining the ecological value of forests.

Thirteen topics were delivered during the two-day event, which were divided into three thematic topics: biodiversity and economy; green economy for sustainable future and research opportunities; and economic diversification and protection.

The senior officer said, “Thematic 1 discussed the important link between forest biodiversity and how it contributes to the economy. It was pointed out that forests and the biodiversity within provide direct economic benefits, mainly timber products, as well as indirect economic benefits, such as climate change mitigation and ecological services”.

“It was pointed out that our forests are under threat of deforestation and forest degradation that would somehow attribute to 11 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong at the event. PHOTO: ROKIAH MAHMUD

“In combatting this, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) is crucial for the conservation, protection and utilisation of our forest resources, including the biodiversity within. In implementing SFM, it is important to have legislations and policies in place to serve as guiding principles in line with the three pillars of sustainability: balancing between social, environmental and economic needs.

“To promote the implementation of SFM, Forest Certification has been widely used. Forest Certification ensures that timber and timber products came from an origin that strictly adheres to the principles of SFM. Other than that, for the case of Malaysia, Forest Certification has contributed significantly towards its socio-economic development.

“Forest Certification also ensures minimal negative impact to the environment and safeguards biodiversity. A programme to reduce deforestation and forest degradation by taking advantage of the value of carbon through its investment was also highlighted in this thematic topic, known as REDD+. REDD+ creates financial value for the carbon stored in the forest. Through the programme, rewards are given to the recipient countries for conserving and enhancing forest carbon storage.

“Thematic 2 discussed the concept of green economy and how it is relevant for the sustainability of our socio-environmental and economic future. Green economy involves low-carbon industry, promoting resource utilisation efficiency, and benefits that are enjoyed equally by society. With the changing climate, it was pointed out that our country and the rest of the world communities have been experiencing its adverse impacts which are detrimental to our socio-economy and environmental conditions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further impairs these impacts by doing more damage to the economic sector. Hence, it was highlighted and urged that a transition towards green economy, as part of the many solutions is needed, as a way forward to recover from these impacts.

“It was also mentioned that transitioning to the green economic approach will ensure sustainable economic growth. Further to that, a green economy will further support the economic growth and diversification targets and forest conservation aspirations for case of Brunei Darussalam.

“It was also highlighted that Public Private Partnership (PPP) is important in catalysing green economic growth. For instance, this can be achieved via nature-based tourism or ecotourism that promotes and supports biodiversity conservation and benefits the local communities.

“Capacity development among stakeholders, the sharing of knowledge among public and private sectors and equitable sharing of benefits must also be made available. For instance, the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre has implemented an access and benefit sharing (ABS) programme with its indigenous communities in their research project on utilising local natural resources sustainably, as an income generator for their communities.”

Meanwhile, Thematic 3 with the theme ‘Research Opportunities – Economic Diversification and Protection’, highlighted the importance of research initiatives for better protection of Brunei’s forests and biodiversity, and also for new and sustainable economic opportunities.

The speakers shared their research experiences and how they are important, not just for the gain of scientific knowledge, but also for a better understanding on how to manage Brunei’s forest and biodiversity sustainably, including the management of important faunal species.

It was shared that through research – specifically behavioural, distributions and population research or studies of key faunal species that have conflicts with human or faunal species that are threatened – are crucial for the formulation of appropriate management plans, legislations, policies and strategies for their proper management, conservation, while also safeguarding local communities welfare.