Brunei can benefit from ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ASEAN member countries, including Brunei, stand to benefit from the cooperation extended by South Korea under ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation (AFoCo), especially in strengthening forest management, commitment in addressing climate change as well as moving towards sustainable development.

Speaking to The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the eighth Governing Council meeting for the Agreement on ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation last Wednesday, co-chairman for the council meeting Dr Henry Bastaman, said AFoCo’s role is to promote regional cooperation for reforestation and forest conservation.

ASEAN has 10 member countries with a total forest cover of 213 million ha, according to data made available in 2010.

The AFoCo Agreement is a continued effort by ASEAN to ensure sustainable forest management through enhancing forest laws and enforcement, sustainable forest product development and utilisation, wildlife conservation and livelihoods of forest communities and indigenous people.

Bastaman, who is also the Director General for the Research, Development and Innovation Agency under Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, was in Brunei for the meeting with the director-general of the International Affairs Bureau under the Korea Forest Services, Dr Yongkwan Kim.

AFoCo aims to facilitate forest cooperation, undertake projects and translate sound forest policies and proven technologies into action with a mission to rehabilitate degraded forest land to prevent deforestation in the context of sustainable forest management as well as under the broader scope of addressing the impact of climate change.

According to Bastaman, all AFoCo member countries submitted their reports for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) last year.

Dr Yongkwan Kim said AFoCo was important because, in addition to increased activities and cooperation in the forestry field, it also focuses on the welfare of indigenous people.

He said the indigenous people’s source of income comes from the forest which is why sustainable development and access to natural resources are important.

One of the projects under AFoCo was the “Capacity Building on Improving Forest Resources Assessment and Enhancing the Involvement of the Local Communities to Address the Adverse Impact of Climate Change”.

The two-year project (2013-2015) hoped to enhance the involvement of the local communities in forest related activities to address climate change and strengthen community resilience through alternative livelihood.

“We need capacity building and technical support exchanges from each member state, as well as platforms for discussions on forestry issues in regional and international arena such as climate change, forest resources, wildlife and habitat as well as sustainable development,” he said.

Brunei is one of the 195 countries party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Brunei, in its report, stated its intention to increase the total area of forest reserves to 55 per cent of the country’s total land area. Currently, the total area of forest reserves makes up 41 per cent of the total land area.

According to AFoCo’s website, Brunei is slated to be one of the five countries that will be part of a project currently under AFoCo’s review ‘Capacity Building on the Application of Landscape Approach to Support Sustainable Natural Resources Management in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore’.

The website added that the US$0.6 million project is slated for 2016 to 2019.

The Brunei Times