Crown Prince launches Brunei Tropical Biodiversity Centre
Azaraimy HH

HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, officially launched the $34.5 million Ulu Belait Dam and $3 million Brunei Tropical Biodiversity Centre in the Belait District yesterday.

HRH also visited three project sites under the National Development Plan, namely, Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Secondary School in Lumut, the nearby construction of Kampong Lumut Secondary School as well as the 282-hectare Lumut/Sungai Liang National Housing Project.

National Committee of the 10th NDP.

The day saw HRH launching the Brunei Tropical Biodiversity Centre at KM4 in Jalan Labi.

Upon arrival at the centre, HRH was greeted by Minister of Industry and Primary Resources YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Hj Awg Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, as well as Deputy Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources Awg Mohd Riza bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos (Industry and Entrepreneurial Development) and Hajah Hasnah binti Haji Ibrahim (Primary Resources Development).

The event started with the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah, following which HRH, who is the incumbent royal patron of the Brunei Heart of Borneo Initiative, launched the Brunei Tropical Biodiversity Centre. A short video clip on the centre was then presented.

HRH later signed a plaque and received a pesambah, before moving on to view an exhibition on the Tropical Biodiversity Centre and the types of forests found in the Sultanate.

During a visit to the laboratory, HRH was briefed on the research and study of microbes found in the forest biodiversity of Brunei Darussalam.

Following this, HRH visited the Lecture Theatre, where a briefing on biodiversity was being held as a school holiday programme for students from Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College.

Before departing, HRH planted a local Silad forest sapling.

The constructing of the Brunei Tropical Biodiversity Centre comes under the 9th and 10th National Development Plans implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources with a budget of $3,569,000.

The project, located in an area of 2,317 hectares in the Andulau Forest Reserve, commenced on March 23, 2010 and was completed on November 22, 2011.

Situated strategically within one of the highly diverse flora species assemblage sites in the world, the design concept (calyx-shaped) of the building reflects its significant contribution to the rich biological diversity (biodiversity) of the country. Therefore, its establishment is timely as a rich biodiversity landmark within the sub-regional biodiversity hotspot (Borneo Island) and is primarily aimed for various matters.

These include in the field of research and development, which is to house the digital terrestrial biodiversity information including the microbes for national references and resource provider for academicians, relevant experts and potential investors or private sector.

Technical collaborations have been undertaken with foreign research institutions to study, identify and document microbe resources in the forest.

Under the Brunei HoB Initiative, a five-year project to study microbes has been embarked on by the National Institution and Technical Evaluation (NITE), Japan.

To date, 600 collection units have been deposited and some of the species are believed to be novel. Steps have been taken to work with CABI (Commonwealth Agriculture Bureaux International) based in London to assist the Tropical Biodiversity Centre (TBC) in the development of biological resource database and in the long term, TBC will be designated as the recognised national depositary authority and provider of high quality biological materials (micro-organisms) for any related biotechnology industry in the country.

It also eyes areas of education and learning programmes, including to document information on the wealth of the nation’s terrestrial biodiversity to facilitate more effective and efficient biodiversity knowledge to promote strategised efforts on sustainable and wise use of biodiversity resources; and in the area of eco-tourism, by providing facilities such as lecture room, discussion room, exhibition and library.

The natural botanical garden of mixed dipterocarp forest which stands within the Tropical Biodiversity Centre complex also aims to promote ecotourism activities and biodiversity educational programmes. - Borneo Bulletin (24 March 2013)