‘HoB project can preserve diversity’

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THE Heart of Borneo (HoB) corridor project — a landscape connectivity project that will link a series of protected areas in Borneo under the HoB initiative — will be able to preserve the genetic diversity of the sultanate’s wildlife, said the initiative’s leader.

In his keynote address during the opening ceremony of the Heart of Borneo Youth Seminar yesterday, Dr Henry Chan of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia and Indonesia said that the corridor project will benefit the sultanate in two main ways.

The first, he said, was in relation to the conservation of the country’s biodiversity, namely in the corridor component that will link Brunei’s Sungai Ingei Conservation Forest with the protected forest in Sarawak that will be further connected to the forest of Indonesia.

“This well connected forest landscape allows free movement of animals, which in turn allows for the maintenance of genetic diversity (in the sultanate),” he said.

“In contrast, if the forest in Brunei is fragmented and disconnected from the wider forest landscapes, the species would breed among a small population pool and eventually inbreeding would be widespread resulting in long-term genetic decline,” he continued.

The project, which will create a four million-hectare corridor with a length up to two thousand kilometres, will also result in clean water flowing into the Brunei Bay.

He said Brunei Bay is currently experiencing an overflow of sedimentation from the rivers of neighbouring territories, said Dr Chan.

“There are three main rivers that flow into the surrounding of the bay (and) they are the Padas in Sabah, and the Trusan and Limbang in Sarawak,” he said.

He said although the source of these rivers are protected, logging and forest conversion are taking place in the lower reaches, causing the excess of sedimentation at the estuaries.

He said that the WWF is working with the logging companies involved, as well as forest agencies and local communities, to reach an integrated approach for conservation and sustainable development in the area.

“We hope that this initiative will gain acceptance from the people of Brunei who would then work together with the people of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Indonesia to strive towards this common goal of ecosystem integrity,” said Dr Chan.

He added that Brunei will have the opportunity to actively be involved in the HoB trilateral process as it will host the 10th HoB Trilateral Meeting next week.

“Brunei will also chair the Technical Committee which serves to deliberate and consider proposal as well as facilitate implementation of joint activities,” he said.

The opening ceremony was followed by a forum panelled by Dr Henry Chan, CEO of Brunei’s HoB Centre Mahmud Yussof, Vice President of BruWILD Fahim Ibrahim and Farm Manager of the Food Jungle Jeffery Ong.

The Heart of Borneo Youth Seminar will be conducted for three days with the theme ‘Empowering Youth Leaders for Sustainable Development’ in a bid to strengthen youths’ understanding of the HoB initiative.

The seminar — organised by Green Brunei — will see 31 participants from Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia promote sustainable development through their own ideas.

Source: The Brunei Times