THERE is a strong chance of Brunei suffering from droughts due to an increase in temperatures, despite the Sultanate enjoying good forest cover, said a climate change researcher.
Dr Daniel P Bebber, head of climate change research at Earthwatch Institute in United Kingdom, said that a small temperature increase in the tropics could push trees and plants to their limit of being able to survive.
"Global warming increases temperature and this may result in droughts. So in the future, it could be a problem, even for Brunei which has a good forest cover," he said in an interview after presenting a paper on "Drought and Fire in Tropical Forests" at the Asia-Europe (Asem) workshop on climate change in Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).
However, he said that fires and droughts rarely occur in Brunei, which leaves its forests relatively intact.
"The forest is more resilient to drought. If there is a drought, it won't affect the forest as much as it would in other parts of Borneo, where the forest has been logged," he said.
Dr Bebber also talked on the importance of sustainable development. He said Brunei is moving towards the right path with its sustainable development measures.
"We must minimise our impact on the environment. We must think about reducing fossil fuel use, alternative energy sources, protect our forests, fresh water."
"We have to be careful about overfishing, be careful with plastic bags usage, reduce our energy use and reduce our use of natural resources," he added.
Commenting on the Heart of Borneo initiative, he said: "I really hope that it will be successful in protecting its rainforest. We have the heart, but we have lost a large quantity of the exterior of the body in the last century."
"Brunei has amazing forest cover. It is important for Brunei to ensure that whatever bills that come out of the UN negotiation, it takes that into account."
"Countries like Brunei which has always maintain its forest cover need to ensure that whatever mechanisms (are put in place), they can also benefit," he said.
He said that Brunei has a small historical carbon footprint, as it is still covered with forests.
"Many other countries in the world, particularly the developed countries - Europe and North America need to work much harder than Brunei to move to a sustainable economic system," he said.
He urged Bruneians to enjoy their forests. "Go out there, look at the trees, birds and animals. Visit the forest and appreciate the beauty of the country. You're lucky," he said.
Themed "Towards Understanding the Impact of Global Climate Change on Biodiversity and Tropical Rainforests", the workshop involves the participation of 44 undergraduate students of universities from 24 countries whose main interests are on biodiversity and climate change, are participating in the workshop at UBD from January 4-14.
During the workshop, a series of lectures will be delivered by invited experts on five themes: biodiversity, forest ecosystems and function; global climate change and its causes; understanding impact of climate change on biodiversity of tropical rainforests; climate change mitigation and adaptation; methods to monitor and assess biodiversity and ecosystem responses to climate change.
The participants will also be doing laboratory and field work on Brunei's rainforests at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre in Temburong.
The Brunei Times
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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