International Symposium in Brunei

International Symposium in Brunei

24 October 2004
Photos and text kindly supplied by Reiko NAKAMURA,
Secretary General, Ramsar Centre, Japan
 International Symposium
Conservation and Wise Use of Mangroves in Southeast Asia
6th-8th of October 2003, Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam 
jointly organised by the Forestry Department of Brunei Darussalam, University Brunei Darussalam, and the Ramsar Center Japan

Brunei Darussalam is an independent sultanate on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, wedged in the northeastern corner of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Three-quarters of the country is covered with tropical rainforest, including Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Peat Swamp Forest, and Mangrove Forest. Because the country is rich in oil and gas, which contribute the major portion of the national GDP, the forests are still in an almost undisturbed condition.

One of the most remarkable forest types in the country is the pristine mangroves as exemplified by those found in the Selirong Forest Recreation Park, located on a 2,566-hectare island at the estuary of the Temburong River in the Temburong District. Rhizophora apiculata, one of the most common mangrove species in the region, usually reaches 5-7 m in height and 10 cm in diameter; however, on this island it attains heights of 30 m with diameters of 50-60 cm.

The climax mangrove forest on Selirong island  

Participants visiting the Park 

The island is currently designated as a Forest Recreation Park, with plans to develop it into an ecotourist destination. In order to wisely utilize this significant patch of mangrove forest, a project was jointly initiated by the Forestry Department, the Ramsar Center Japan and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, in August 2000, with the financial support of the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF) and Ricoh Co., Ltd., Japan.

This international symposium, attended by more than 80 participants and experts from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Viet Nam, was organised to present the results of the project, to receive comments and suggestions from the experts, and also to establish information networks for mangroves in Southeast Asian countries. During the symposium Ramsar’s Lei Guangchun gave a presentation on "The Ramsar Convention as an International Instrument for Mangrove Conservation and Wise Use" and strongly encouraged Brunei Darussalam to accede to the Ramsar Convention in the near future.

Lei Guangchun, Ramsar's Regional Advisor for Asia, addressing the participants


Participants at the Symposium

Before and after the symposium, the participants enjoyed the opportunity to visit the mangrove forest on Selirong Island as well as the intact tropical rainforest of the Ulu Temburong National Park which covers the catchment area of the Temburong River.

The catchment area of the Temburong River is covered by undisturbed tropical rainforest. The whole area is designated as Brunei's only National Park.

Now available. Mangrove publications on Southeast Asia. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Conservation and Wise Use of Mangroves in Southeast Asia, 6th-8th of October 2003, Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, has been published by the Ramsar Center Japan and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, at the beginning of 2004. All presentations at the workshop have been nicely divided into two volumes. The first one is entitled "Mangroves in Southeast Asia, Status, Issues and Challenges" -- the second is entitled "Education for Sustainable Development, Putting Research Knowledge into Action".