Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brunei's majestic mangrove forests

By HAL

Mangrove forests cover 3.2 per cent or about 184.48 square kilometres of the land area of Brunei Darussalam.

Eighty-four per cent of mangrove forests in Brunei Darussalam are found in the coastal inland areas of Brunei-Muara District along the Brunei Bay in Kg Batu Marang and along the Damuan River. In Tutong District, mangroves can be found at the Tutong River estuary while in Belait District, it is located on the western banks of the Belait River.

The plants in the mangrove forest come from several main families namely Rhizophora, Avicennia, Sonneratia and Bruguiera. The ecosystem of the mangrove forest is very productive and provides a diverse habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, fishes, shellfish, crabs and insects.

The mangrove tree is the star in the mangrove forest ecosystem. The tree produces nutrients for itself using photosynthesis. As the plant grows, its fruits,

flowers, leaves and branches provide food and nutrients to the animals and other plants that inhabit the ecosystem.

Herbivores such as worms and insects feed on the leaves which in turn feed the birds and small reptiles. Fallen tree matter is digested by bacteria and fungi in the ground and enriches the soil. Monkeys especially proboscis monkeys also thrive in the area.

According to a study carried out in Queensland, Australia, mangroves produce one kilogramme of plant waste for every square metre per year and one teaspoon of mangrove forest mud contains 10,000 billion bacteria. The study noted that mangrove forests are essential in maintaining a stable and healthy ecosystem in the coastal areas.

Mangrove forests provide breeding grounds for fishes and shellfish including shrimps and crabs. This resource can be used to develop Brunei's budding fishery industry. Mangrove forests also act as natural barriers against coastal erosion. Mangrove forests are far better than any man-made structure in preventing coastal erosion. Besides that, mangrove forests produce oxygen which is important in keeping carbon dioxide levels balanced in the atmosphere.

Acknowledging these facts about mangrove forests- its economic and environmental significance, the public in the country is urged to preserve Brunei's precious mangrove forests.

The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources is actively promoting awareness on the environment especially about forest preservation.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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