Brunei forest loss among lowest in SE Asia

Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Dato Hj Yahya (L) viewing the handicrafts at the opening of the 2nd ASFN Conference 2011. Swiss Ambassador for Asean Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn (C) looks on. Picture: BT/Rudolf Portillo

UBAIDILLAH MASLI
AND FITRI SHAHMINAN
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BRUNEI’S deforestation rate from 2005 to 2010 was among the lowest in Southeast Asia, according to the Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC).

During the period, deforestation in Brunei was recorded at an average annual rate of change of less than 0.5 per cent.

Laos shared a similar record in forest cover with Brunei, but the republic suffered a higher annual rate of change, of slightly over negative 0.5 per cent.

Cambodia lost its forest at the highest rate among the Asean nations, at more than one per cent annually, with Myanmar close behind, at about one per cent.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and Vietnam were the only countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to record positive change in their forest cover, between 0.5 and one per cent annually.

However, the Sultanate has maintained one of the highest proportion of forest cover to total land area among the Asean member states.

These statistics were presented by RECOFTC Manager of Capacity Building and Technical Services Dr Yurdi Yasmi, in his working paper during the Second Asean Social Forestry Network (ASFN) Conference here on Tuesday .

“This is our qualitative challenge in Asean how to maintain high forest cover while (maintaining) low deforestation rates,” he said.

Asean as a whole lost a “huge amount” of forest in the last 10 to 20 years, Yurdi said in an interview.

Asean has 213 million hectares of forest, covering about half of the land in the region, and estimated to store as much as 23,437 million metric tonnes of carbon, Yurdi said in his presentation.

Considering Brunei’s relatively high forest cover and low deforestation rates compared to its Asean neighbours, the country can be a role model for forest protection, the RECOFTC official told The Brunei Times.

“Brunei possesses really nice, intact dipterocarp forests, which is probably one of the last frontiers of the dipterocarp forests in the region,” he said.

He attributed this to the country’s policy to maintain “pristine” forests, aside from being small enough to manage forest resources effectively. “Brunei is rich … and that actually also contributes to forest protection in one way.”

The Brunei Times http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2011/06/23/brunei-forest-loss-among-lowest-se-asia

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