Project Collaborations for Brunei’s Peatlands

With the support of Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), Wetlands International Brunei (WI) and the Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER) are currently collaborating on several projects highlighting the importance of Brunei’s peatlands to our ecosystem. As a result, various collaborative activities have been planned for the year 2020, particularly in conjunction with the celebration of the Super Year for Nature and Biodiversity (according to United Nations Environmental Programmes). Whilst some activities have successfully taken place, others have had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

On 5th February 2020, Dr Jonathan Davies from Wetlands International (Brunei) gave an insightful talk entitled “Fire in Belait’s Peatlands” for the IBER Seminar Series at UBD. The presentation described the ongoing work on rehabilitation of the peatland to reduce the fire risk, which will safeguard people’s health and keep intact the valuable services and biodiversity that the Badas peat dome provides. The seminar was attended by officials from Forestry Department, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, secondary school teachers, as well as UBD researchers and students.

Dipterocarp Seedlings/Saplings Donation

UBD Botanical Research Centre has received 4 of Dipterocarp seedlings/saplings from Wetlands International (WI) on 8th February 2020. They are:

  1. Dipterocarpus borneensis (2 ‘Keruing Sindor’),
  2. Shorea albida (1 ‘Alan Batu’)
  3. Shorea pachyphylla (1 ‘Meranti Kerukup’).

Additional donations also included Barringtonia racemosa (‘Putat Sungai’), Heritiera sp. (‘Dungun’), Terminalia catappa (Telisai) and Intsia bijuga (‘Ipil’) seedlings/saplings. Furthermore, WI has placed nursery equipment such as seed beds, multi-level plant shelves and propagation tables to be shared with UBD BRC. WI and UBD BRC shares the same vision in collecting more endangered tree species in the form of seeds and seedlings to further preserve these trees through ex-situ conservation, as well as propagation and reforestation projects. Such collaboration has allowed both teams to conduct more nursery work, care for the acquired seedlings from their monthly monitoring trips, as well as having a space for any nursery set-up training opportunities.

As part of the rehabilitation efforts focusing on burnt and degraded peat swamp forest at Jalan Badas in Belait district, BSP and WI have blocked the canal that had lowered the water table, increasing the susceptibility to fire. Further rehabilitation work such as reforestation is required. Thus, nursery development and seed collection projects have been initiated to produce healthy and high quality seedlings ready for future reforestation activities at degraded areas of Jalan Badas. WI has engaged with IBER to run a volunteering activity through its ‘Friends of Belalong’ programme in which at least 15 volunteers (per session) will be thoroughly trained before conducting seed collection activities around Jalan Badas. Not only that, volunteers will also be trained to work in a nursery on how to take care of the seedlings grown in a nursery and the  maintenance of a nursery. This programme was initially scheduled to run in March-September 2020 – however, it is now postponed until further notice.

In the meantime, the UBD Botanical Research Centre (BRC) team is currently involved in this initiative, assisting WI with their monthly seed collection and monitoring at selected sites.

Text by: Roshanizah Rosli, Hazlina Zaini (IBER), Wetlands International Brunei

Photos by: IBER, UBD BRC