Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Preserving Sg Ingei forests worth more to Bruneians than they know

WWF special adviser to the Heart of Borneo Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh (L) helps other Melilas locals pushing the temuai blocked by sand banks and logs along the Sg Ingei at low water level during the second phase of the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey recently. Picture: BT file

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PRESERVING the rich forests of Sungai Ingei holds more interest for the people than they are aware of, as it is a foothold for hydrological management, currency in the international carbon trade market and atransboundary security buffer, said the special adviser to the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature's (WWF) Special Adviser to HoB Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh recently spoke of the economic advantages in keeping the 18,000 hectares of Sg Ingei's pristine forests.

"This area is the upper most reaches of the Belait (River). Without it, if you strip the forests from here,Belait District will become very sedimented and much more prone to floods and droughts, much more uneven flow, even than we have now," he told The Brunei Times. He also said that the area was part of the source of raw water that the BLNG plant in Lumut needed for its daily operations.

"If the water stops flowing out of the Heart of Borneo, in the quantity and quality that they need, they stop producing LNG (liquefied natural gas) within 24- 36 hours," Kavanagh said.

Similarly in 2008, the former Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources spoke of the importance of managing the waterways and the conservation of the rainforests.

"The natural gas that Brunei LNG exports cannot be produced without the water from our forests," DatoPaduka Hj Hamdillah Hj Abd Wahab said.

Kavanagh also touched on the role of forests such as Ingei in trapping global warming contributor carbon in carbon sinks or stores, and thus its potential in carbon trading.

"Under the rules of the voluntary market, if Brunei increases the protection of forests that might otherwise be logged, then they can sell carbon credits on the voluntary market. That's a possibility, (getting) paid money for sequestrating (sic) or storing carbon."

Dismissing criticism surrounding the current functionality of carbon trading, Kavanagh said, "Yes it does work to some extent in that when people do the right thing, they get the financial reward for it".

"I'm no expert on what will happen in the long term, but one thing we can all say without a shadow of doubt is that (environmental issues) is probably one of the highest global agendas now," he said.

Brunei enjoyed "far better" air quality than the rest of the populated areas on Borneo island because of the Sultanate's forests.

The WWF conservationist pointed out that forests on other parts of the island were being "destroyed", and this is made evident in incidences such as haze, which affects all the countries regardless of national boundaries.

"This is something where we need to cooperate with our neighbours. That's what makes the HoBimportant because this area will be much less secure if the forests just over the border are utterly denuded," he said.

The Brunei Times

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