Brunei — The Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRE) under the Ministry of Development yesterday held a field trip to the Belait District, as part of the Peatland Rehabilitation Project – an action plan within the “Heart of Borneo” area in the context of rehabilitation degraded peatlands and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Thirty people from various ministries and departments such as the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation, Land Department, Survey Department, Forestry Department, Public Works Department, the Fire and Rescue Department, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Kuala Belait District Office and the Town and Country Planning Department, participated in the field trip.
Speaking to the Bulletin, consultant for the project, Jonathan Davies said the Peatland Rehabilitation Project was created due to the problem of dry spells during hazy weather conditions thus the project was designed with the intention to resolve the problem by lessening fire risks in the peatland.
Aside from that, the group will also be looking at ways to raise water levels in swamps to reduce fire risks without causing floods.
Prior to the field trip, a briefing was held at the Ministry of Development’s Training Centre, Old Airport Berakas, conducted by Mr Jonathan Davies.
He said that 18 per cent of the land area in Brunei is peat swamp and it is mostly located in the Belait District.
He also told the participants on the importance of peatlands in the country as it prevents saline water intrusion, maintains minimum flow in rivers during dry periods and accumulate carbon as peat.
“Peat swamp forest is a fragile ecosystem and once they are developed for agriculture or forestry, it normally involves drainage, a major threat to peatlands.
“Drainage leads to very damaging ‘knock on’ effect, as once the water table is lowered, the peat dries out and decomposes resulting in land subsidence, flooding, damage to infrastructure, susceptibility to fire outbreaks, hence leading to smog, a health hazard and carbon dioxide emissions contributing to global warming,” he said.
Therefore, according to Mr Davies, the project is aimed at collecting support and establishing conditions necessary for implementation of pilot rehabilitation studies.
To assist in the project, two Indonesian experts are currently in the country to share their views, ideas and expertise on ways to manage peatlands.
Yesterday’s field trip included visits to Lumut Pipeline road, Jln Badas, sand mining sites (Seria highway) and Seria ring drain.
A workshop will be held today at the Training Centre for participants to give their feedback on the rehabilitation strategies.