Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tropical rainforests pride of Brunei

By James Kon

Seventy-eight per cent of Brunei Darussalam is still covered with tropical rainforests. This is still the highest in Asia, and should become the pride of our nation.

This was stated by Dato Paduka Awang Hj Hamdilah bin Hj Abdul Wahab, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, during the launching of World Forest Day 2006 at the Sungai Liang Forest Recreational Park yesterday morning. This year's theme is "Forest in Perpetuity: Assured Source of Water".

A large area of the nation's forest, namely the Ulu Temburong National Park, has been recognised by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the "Heart of Borneo" area, he said.

"This represents an international recognition and approach to highlight the country's rich biodiversity resources in the joint project 'Heart of Borneo' with neighbouring countries such as Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah," he said.

The ministry hopes that with the partnership with WWF, it will attract Foreign Direct Investment through the eco-tourism industry, which could in turn produce social economic benefits and development in rural areas, he said.

According to Dato Paduka Awang Hj Hamdilah, who was also the guest of honour at yesterday's event, out of the 2,000 species of trees recorded in Borneo, 60 per cent can be found in the Sultanate.

The Proboscis monkeys, which can be found along the beaches and riverbanks in the Sultanate, could also become one of the strengths for development in the tourism industry.

The deputy minister pointed out that around 270,000 people visited the recreational forest park in 2005; an increase in the number of visitors compared to previous years. The increase was due to the Nature Camp project, which was participated by lower secondary students throughout the country.

In the 9th National Development Plan, the local private sector is encouraged to be involved in the forestry and tourism sector, where a number of long term projects are in the pipeline and will be implemented in the span of five years.

It is hoped that the projects would spur the progress of local economy activities and develop the downstream sector, Dato Paduka Awang Hj Hamdilah said.

In order to guarantee an effective administration and smooth planning of the nation's forest resources, Chapter 46 of the Forestry Act is in the process of its final amendment with assistance from the Attorney General's Office, the deputy minister said.

Dato Paduka Awang Hj Hamdilah then proceeded to present certificates to the participants of the logo design competition. This was followed by a walk around the Sungai Liang Forest Recreational Park trail and a tour of the exhibition.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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