Climate change is expected to have far-reaching and detrimental impacts on the ecosystems, economies and communities, as the global temperature is headed towards a four degrees Celcius increase by 2100.
This was addressed by Dr. Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak, Permanent Secretary (Planning, Land Use and Environment) at the Ministry of Development while delivering her presentation on “Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP) – Towards a Low Carbon and Climate-Resilient Brunei Darussalam” during the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition (MYCE) 2021 on Forest held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Berakas.
Increasing heat, changing rain patterns, drier droughts and other climate-related changes, in particular, exacerbate the factors inducing large-scale forests fire. This is already the case for Brunei Darussalam, although the country only contributes to about 0.025% of the global total greenhouse gas emissions.
Dr. Nor Imtihan emphasised the need to strengthen the resilience of Brunei forests against climate change threats is further accentuated by its dominant roles as carbon sources when removed or carbon sinks when preserved. Forests remain today’s most effective nature-based solution for climate mitigation, as it is for climate adaptation. The restoration of forests not only reinstates ecological functioning but also accelerates the recovery of biodiversity.
“We (Brunei) are so lucky as 72 per cent of our country is still covered by forests, and about 58 per cent of this are conserved under the Heart of Borneo initiative”, she said.
According to her, Brunei’s forest has also been under the threat of climate change caused by the increasing temperature resulting in the occurrence of a forest fire.
“We have lost about 4 per cent of forest cover area since 2000”, she said.
In a forest fire data over the last ten years that she shared in her presentation, Dr. Nor Imtihan revealed that forest fire events were relatively high, with lower rainfall recorded between 2016 and 2019.
Dr. Nor Imtihan, in her presentation, later on, highlighted the concept of nature-based solutions emphasising the role of trees, forests and forestry in addressing the threats of climate change. Among Brunei’s initiatives in creating nature-based solutions, according to her, including this year’s target to plant a total of 26,000 trees to help increase the carbon sink; the blue carbon initiatives to increase the capacity of carbon sink and strengthening the nation’s resilience against climate change impact; the adoption of Cut 1 Plant 4 Policy to ensure sustainable logging industry and Cut 1 Plant 1 for any land development; and, to increase forest reserves cover from 41 per cent to 55 per cent of the total land area.
“Historically, Brunei’s forest has the capacity to absorb all the carbon emissions – which makes Brunei a carbon-negative country. However, as of 2020, due to the increase in energy consumption from the industry, Brunei is no longer at a net carbon sink, and this simply means that we need to step up our effort to increase our carbon sink by planting more trees”.
In July 2020, the Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP) was launched with ten core strategic areas to be taken into account, said Dr. Nor Imtihan. In the second strategy, Forest Cover seeks to increase Brunei’s carbon sink through afforestation and reforestation.
Under the Forest Cover strategy, 500,000 new trees are targeted to be planted by 2035 as a way to create the potential in contributing 0.1 per cent of emission reduction and at the same time, to maintain the forest cover at 72 per cent, the adequate capacity to absorb 80 per cent of the overall national carbon emissions.
By enabling robust policies on sustainable forests management and sustainable land use, further, development is crucial to preserving Brunei Darussalam’s green ecological system and doing so with the utmost urgency.
“Increasing our carbon sink through sustainable forests management presents us with vast opportunities for a green economy transition – green investments on reforestation programmes, nature-based eco-tourism, ecosystem services, forests management and certification, as well as expansion of the agroforestry sector to name a few”.