Sunday, May 22, 2011

Brunei's biodiversity hotspots grab Oxford's attention

By Azlan Othman

There is a high potential for Brunei Darussalam having a higher percentage of biodiversity 'hotspots' (high species diversity, high endemic diversity and high risk of losing species and habitat loss).

This was highlighted by Dr William Hawthorne from University of Oxford who delivered a talk on 'Hotspot measurement and biodiversity management in Brunei, Heart of Borneo (HoB)' yesterday at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

The chief guest was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Dr Awg Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

Dr William Hawthorne also highlighted Oxford University activities on biodiversity conservation such as hotspot measurement, mapping and publication; biodiversity database development, field guides, education and training in biodiversity assessment and taxonomy and plant genetics.

He also touched on proposed Oxford/HoB collaborative activities or interventions such as national botanic survey, training of Forestry, herbarium, UBD staff and students in rapid botanic survey (RBS) techniques, database including photos of the Brunei flora and its distribution, rapid field guides by project and others, building Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), mapping hotspots at local and broader scales, producing Brunei biodiversity-related websites and recording local name and usage data along with basic RBS.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources said Brunei Darussalam is one of the assemblage sites for rich tropical biodiversity contributing significantly to the Borneo biodiversity. The country should take stock of its present advantage of having rich biological resources and therefore, exploring new technology and more advanced scientific approach on this biological resources is very timely.

The biodiversity survey, in particular on flora, is one of the biodiversity resources strategies to document and develop further the national herbarium database.

In line with the ongoing construction of the nation's first Tropical Biodiversity Centre situated within the Andulau Forest Reserve, Jln Labi to house biodiversity database in complementing the existing facility in the national herbarium, Brunei Forestry Centre, Sg Liang, the project will help to further develop the existing institutional capacity.

There have been many research projects undertaken by the Department of Forestry under the purview of the Brunei HoB initiative collaboration in which the experts from the department have an opportunity to work together with regional and international researchers or scientists.

The research projects currently undertaken are NITE, Japan on forest microbes; Nparks, Singapore on mangrove and biodiversity resource management; SMART, Singapore on Carbon monitoring at peatland and wetland international on peatland management and rehabilitation.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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