A tree planting ceremony was held along a stretch of road leading to Badas Dam as part of the Badas Tree Planting 2021 project yesterday.
It is a collaborative research project between Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER) and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) aimed at supporting Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP) particularly in increasing forest cover.
The Badas Tree Planting 2021 contributes to BNCCP’s Strategy 2 of planting over half a million trees by 2035 via afforestation and reforestation programmes.
The project is supported by the Forestry Department of Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP).
The one-year research programme will see volunteers from UBD, BSP and the public monitor the survival and growth of the 200 saplings of the native tree species, shoreaalbida.
UBD Lead Researcher for the project Associate Professor Dr Rahayu Sukmaria binti Haji Sukri said shoreaalbida is endemic to Bornean peat swamp forests and is currently classified as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
“Brunei’s peat swamp forests are one of the last strongholds for the least disturbed stands of shoreaalbida, as populations elsewhere in Borneo have been extensively logged,” she said, adding that “this valuable tree species does not reproduce regularly”.
According to Dr Rahayu Sukmaria, the project serves several functions – it helps reforestation as well as raises awareness of peat swamp’s role in the nation’s ecosystem.
Acting Director of Forestry Noralinda binti Haji Ibrahim officiated the tree planting ceremony. UBD Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Dr Abby Tan Chee Hong, BSP Head of Health, Safety Environment (HSE) and Security at Haji Osmera bin Haji Othman and BSP Corporate Manager Haji Mohd Jaafar bin Haji Bakar were also present.
The Badas Tree Planting 2021 project complements other scientific studies being conducted in the area by the UBD-SMART research team on biodiversity, hydrology, geology and forest recovery of the Badas peat dome.
These projects aim to increase the visibility of the Badas area to the international scientific community and establish Brunei as a centre for tropical peat swamp forest research with UBD as a key player in tropical peat swamp and biodiversity research.