Brunei success in forest protection cited in new study
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI has been successful in protecting its forests in comparison to its neighbours Sabah and Sarawak, according to a study published by PLOS ONE journal.
The study revealed that 54 per cent of the Sultanate’s forests remained intact, with neighbouring Malaysian states only averaging between 20 and 25 per cent.
Researchers from Australia, Papua New Guinea and the United States used the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite) – a satellite with the ability to capture high-resolution images – to reveal the vast and previously unmapped extent of heavily logged forest.
The study, published in July last year, reported that three and eight per cent of the land area in Sarawak and Sabah, respectively, have been designated as protected areas.
Meanwhile, Brunei, which has largely excluded industrial logging from its borders, has 58 per cent of total land protected under the Heart of Borneo initiative.
The mapping by CLASlite over land cover in 2009 also showed that Sabah had 31 per cent of its total land containing forest that is either degraded or severely degraded; while Sarawak was found with 37 per cent of land with forests under similar conditions.
Only 16 per cent of degradation was mapped in Brunei.
The results are alarming, the study states, as reductions in biomass – a measure of organic matter – is critical to creating a net carbon balance. An area containing significant amounts of biomass has the ability to absorb more carbon than it emits.
“The history of forestry in Sarawak and Sabah indicates that attempting to reform the logging industry does not result in meaningful forest conservation.
“A far better approach, as shown in Brunei, is to prevent logging of natural forests in the first instance, or in places where logging has occurred, to exclude further logging from what remained,” the study prosposed.
Newer research published in May under the Journal of Ecology reported that trees in Southeast Asia contain the most biomass in the world, after examining 26 hectares of forest and 12,000 trees which have been monitored for over 20 years.
The study calculated the amount of biomass gained in the woody parts of a tree, which can be estimated from repeated measures of tree diameter, and estimates of wood density and tree height.
The Brunei Times