AS A member of the tri-nation Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative, Brunei must preserve its environment "corridors" to allow animal species to migrate from neighbouring countries, especially if their habitats there are being threatened by deforestation and the effects of climate change, a visiting professor of botany told The Brunei Times yesterday.
Following his presentation on "Mitigation Options in Forestry" during the third day of the Asem (Asia-Europe Meeting) Workshop 2010, Prof Nimal Gunatilleke of Sri Lanka's University of Peradeniya spoke on the need to ensure the continuing existence of forest species by either introducing or preserving these "mobile links or walkways", providing a pathway for forest creatures to move from a less forested area to a more forested one.
"We don't wait in the sun, if there is shade elsewhere," he said, referring to the behavioural movement of animals.
Gunatilleke explained that due to climate change and human activity such as logging and agriculture, degradation of forests has increased in recent years, thus increasing the threat of extinction of species.
"A global mean temperature increase exceeding 2-3C would increase the risk of extinction for about 20-30 per cent of species (worldwide) and have widespread adverse effects on biodiversity and ecosystem health," he said during his presentation at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
In curbing this threat, preserving corridors connecting bordering countries’ forests would allow species unique to the HoB to escape to a new home, where the forest and surroundings would be similar to their original one, Gunatilleke said.
This would ensure greater chance of survival for these species, he added.
The professor suggested that Brunei could make use of "home gardens or analogue forests" to be used as these natural corridors. Home gardens are forests where selected tree species, or wild crop relatives, are cultivated for their fruits or other useful purposes for humans, he explained. He said that animals would be enticed into travelling through such forests since they too feed on the fruits. This would give an added advantage of protecting agro-biodiversity, he highlighted, adding that walkways along the course of a river were also suitable.
Gunatilleke said the preservation or introduction of such corridors would be in line with the "Man and Biosphere" concept, through the preservation of transnational biosphere reserves. However, despite providing such corridors, the success of guaranteeing the survival of HoB animal species would depend on international cooperation, as the corridors would have to connect to the corresponding corridor in the neighbouring country. "Do your part as a start, and then this will encourage the other parties to join," he said.
He outlined his main concerns of "mitigation in forestry". These included monitoring, reporting and verifying data for national inventory purposes, capacity building, ensuring enabling policy environments, and minimising what he called "perverse incentives".
The Brunei Times
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