Sunday, August 21, 2005

Focus: Fearing the worst for Borneo


There is much still untarnished and beautiful about the island, but in recent years, it has seen massive land conversion, forest loss, destruction of peat land and disturbance of watersheds, Dr Murtedza Mohamed tells ELIZABETH JOHN in a recent New Straits Times publication.


HE will never forget the view when he first saw Borneo, or at least Sabah and Sarawak, which lie on the Malaysian side of the third largest island in the world.

"It was pristine... beautiful," says Dr Murtedza Mohamed, the professor of industrial organics and environmental chemistry from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, with a wistful, faraway look on his usually stern face.

Borneo today is quite a different place laments Murtedza, who heads the university’s Research and Innovation Centre.

In recent years, it has seen massive land conversion, forest loss, destruction of peat land and disturbance of watersheds.

While there is much still untarnished and beautiful about the island, Murtedza worries that logging activities, fires and rapid expansion of plantation estates will eventually leave Borneo with no natural forest cover at all.

This will result in gross depletion of biodiversity, extensive soil loss and serious threat to the sustainability of water resources.

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