Nature-based solutions and sustainable forest management should be at the core of the sultanate’s efforts towards economic diversification, as global challenges like climate change have proven the crucial role environmental conservation plays in economic growth.
This was highlighted by the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT), Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong during the launching of the Brunei Darussalam Conference on Forest, which was held at the International Convention Centre recently.
“Forest has been providing us the much-needed services from the air we breathe, timber that we use, food for our sustenance, medicines to cure sickness and other essentials for our well-being,” he said in his keynote address.
Citing statistics from the 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) the minister noted how the rate of global forest loss has been in decline for the last three decades, from 7.8 million hectares per yer year thirty years ago to around 4.7 million hectares per yer in the last decade.
The same report also showed that Asia has the highest net gain of forest area from 2010 to 2020 of about 1.2 million hectares per year.
Despite these positive outcomes, however, deforestation and forest degradation remain a major global challenge as socio-economic pressures continue to cause deforestation and forest degradation through agricultural expansion, infrastructure development and unsustainable logging activities.
Due to this, a reassessment is needed on our forest management strategies, said the minister, adding that the sultanate needs to employ Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to address important global challenges such as climate change, human health, food and water security, natural disasters and biodiversity loss.
NbS as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are actions to address societal challenges through the protection, sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems that benefit both biodiversity and human well-being.
“I would urge the forestry and any other relevant sectors to consider NbS as part of the approach in strategic planning be it for environmental and/or for socio-economic purposes,” he continued, adding that sustaining our natural resources is paramount for the present and future generations.
The minister went on to highlight how Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) plays an important role against this backdrop as the SFM balances socio-economic importance with environmental relevance.
With this in mind, YB Dato Hj Ali noted the national efforts that ensure the preservation of the sultanate’s forests and ecosystem which include the ten strategies that have been outlined in the Brunei National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP).
One of the strategies directly calls to action the forestry sector, as it aims to increase the carbon sink of Brunei Darussalam through afforestation and reforestation with a target of planting 500,000 new trees by 2035.
“Brunei Darussalam is blessed to have 72% of its total land area still forested, and most of it is still unexplored and in pristine condition,” he said.
“Our forest resources and the biodiversity within, have the potential to provide a wide range of forest goods and services that would contribute to Brunei Darussalam’s economic diversification and growth,” continued the minister.
“We need to pursue our scientific research initiatives continuously and objectively. We need more understanding, knowledge, and insights on how our natural environment works. I believe that there are many things that are still yet to be discovered and remain questionable to us,” he added.
“The results and findings of these researches can be a valuable input in our decision making and the formulation of effective policy directions towards SFM,” concluded YB Dato Hj Ali.
The Brunei Darussalam Conference on Forests is part of the Brunei MYCE 2021 which is an initiative by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism to attract and strengthen the meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN