Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall arrive today
By Lyna Mohamad

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will begin their two-day official visit to the Sultanate today as guests of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

This afternoon, the Prince of Wales will be planting the 1,000th tree of a reforestation project in the Badas reserve area, which is part of the Heart of Borneo initiative that is aimed at preserving 220,000 square kilometres of rainforest.

Children from international and local schools, over the past six months, have planted hundreds of trees to rehabilitate the fire-damaged primary rainforest zone in degraded peatlands.

The planting of the 1,000th tree is an important milestone for the International School of Brunei's "Million Trees" project, which aims to help to restore the forest continuity across Borneo.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner in Brunei Darussalam John Saville said, "We are delighted that the Prince and Duchess are visiting Brunei and seeing for themselves the strong educational link with the United Kingdom, as well as the important work, which is being done in the Borneo rainforest as part of the fight against climate change."

He also said, "Brunei has played a pivotal role in achieving consensus for the three-nation Heart of Borneo initiative, has allocated around 60 per cent of its land area to the initiative, and has created strong popular civil society support. I am particularly pleased that the UK has been able to help in practical ways."

According to a press statement from the British High Commission, during the Prince's visit to the Heart of Borneo Rainforest project in Badas, he will meet the main movers behind Brunei's conservation work, both inside and outside of the government, and talk to local school children about their involvement in the "Million Trees" project and wider environmental advocacy.

Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist Professor Wangari Maathai, who launched the "Million Trees" project when she visited the country with the help of the British High Commission in 2007, said, "I have been very impressed with the popular grassroots support in Brunei for the Heart of Borneo initiative; I am delighted that the Prince of Wales will have the chance to see the progress that has been made to date."

Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Dato Paduka Haji Hamdillah Haji Abdul Wahab, who is also Chairman of the Brunei's Heart of Borneo Council, said the visit will give them a chance to showcase their work on the initiative to the Prince of Wales, whose keen interest in the environment is well known.

"It will give our efforts a great boost as Brunei strives to be a beacon of the Heart of Borneo project and a strong model of public and private sector partnership."

The Prince and Duchess will have an official audience with His Majesty before the royal banquet dinner this evening at the Istana Nurul Iman.

Tomorrow, they will meet students and staff at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), which has strong links with a number of British universities, including the University of Wales, of which the Prince is the chancellor.

During the visit, the Prince will also present certificates to 25 local graduates who obtained their degrees from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff over the last two years.

The Prince and Duchess will also attend a workshop for students on Islamic art techniques, run by the Prince's School of Traditional Arts, a charity located at his foundation in Shoreditch.

The workshop is one of a series by PSTA, highlighting Britain's Islamic credentials and promoting inter-faith dialogue.

The Prince and Duchess will also visit the British Garrison in Seria, where they will meet soldiers and their families as well as see for themselves some of the equipment and training techniques used for both desert and jungle warfare. - Borneo Bulletin (31st Oct 2008)