Royalty in novel green opening of ATF 2010
By Siti Hajar

The opening ceremony for the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) 2010 left a lasting impression on the minds of the audience when His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, The Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office officiated the ATF 2010 opening ceremony by witnessing the 'surfacing' of tree sprouts after pouring water into a huge vase, which is symbolic of Brunei's vision in playing its role in protecting the eco-system, and in line with this year's theme - 'Asean: the Heart of Green - 10 Countries, One Conservation Vision'.

The plant used to emphasise the dedication to conservation is known as Agathis borneensis Warburg, which is locally known as Tolong or Kayu Raja and is an emergent tree that can grow up to 55 metres tall and one metre in diameter. This tree species is geographically distributed in Sumatra, Peninsula Malaysia and on Borneo Island. In Brunei, Tolong trees can be found well-grown mainly on infertile white sand podsoils of lowland Heath Forests in Badas Forest Reserve, stretching discontinuously north to Bukit Puan, Bukit Teraja and the base of Labi Hills in the Belait district.

The Tolong's medicinal value is derived by peeling off the outer, rough layer of the bark, which can help in treating diabetes and high blood pressure. It is also best known for its high quality softwood where the pale featureless timber has a natural brightness and is used for contemporary furniture as well as for plywood and the outer veneer for interior strip paneling. - Borneo Bulletin (26th January 2010)