Monday, 15 June 2009

Saving our forest at Badas

Last Friday on 12th June 2009, I joined the BPYs on a road trip to Sungai Liang. Right after we had our breakfast at a restaurant in the Soon Lee building, we met the other volunteers at the parking area, where we got on a bus to get to the designated tree planting site.

I had hurried to bed by midnight so as to be sure I could drag myself out of bed by six to meet the gang at the JP car park. Meeting the BPYs are always fun. There's always laughter and silliness to be shared. And, reminiscing on the SSEAYP days for the ten millionth time never bore us.

The tree planting went smoothly and very quickly too. We planted 600 trees in less than an hour! I was so excited about the whole thing and I am sure everyone who participated felt the same. The moment after we were briefed on the simple steps to have the tree planted, we each took our area and started without hesitation.

Lined holes were already pre-dug for us to efficiently placed the young trees in. All that was needed was burying the roots with soil, which laid in small heaps by the holes. We also had to make sure that the trunks of the young trees are placed upright.

Bush fires that had claimed some areas of the forests

Water pipes that run along the dirt road that leads into the forest reserve

Several other tree planting projects have already started such as those by ISB and BLNG.

Prepared holes for the tree planting

Volunteers at work

Other tree planting project that is adjacent to the area we were working on.

Irrigation system for the trees

Along the Bandar-Seria highway, we could see many areas with fumes of smoke coming from the smouldering forest.

And, there is most of us. Pablo is not in it because he took this picture.

More stories and pictures on this can be found here, here, here and here.
Click out the ISB Million Tree Project.

600 trees planted in an hour

The Brunei Times
Hard work: Planting trees at the Badas Forest Reserve yesterday. The activity was organised by the British High Commission and International School Brunei. Picture: BT/Haji Mohd Ali

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A TOTAL of 600 trees were planted at the Badas Forest Reserve in a continuous effort to increase awareness in reducing carbon emissions.

Organised by the British High Commission in collaboration with David Taylor, executive principal of International School Brunei (ISB) "One Million Trees" project, the trees were planted by staff of the High Commission, well-known bloggers and journalists.

A total of eight hectares is allocated for the project, where half of it is included in the Badas Forest reserve area. Designated under the Heart of Borneo, the kerangas (heath) forest is characterised by its sandy soil.

Taylor said the slightly blackish colour of the soil is attributed to pieces of charcoal from a forest fire that happened in 1998. One hour was all that it took to plant 600 trees by a group of 20 people. "Once the trees are planted, we have to maintain it on a regular basis. For the first few weeks, it is important to water them regularly. We have dug a well in the peat swamp forest to supply the water," said Taylor.

The trees planted will replace trees in the burnt areas so that it will become a solid forest again, he said. In addition to agathis borneensir (tulong) which had been planted in the area, the group was given 600 drybalanops rappa (kapur paya) tree saplings to be planted. Introducing another species of trees, he added, will create tree diversity in the area.

He said, "The British High Commission over the last year had presented over $6,000 to the ISB 'One Million Tree' project which is equivalent to 1,200 trees". He added, "We are going to plant all the trees before the British High Commissioner leaves in July. Half of the trees are planted today and the other half next Wednesday morning by the British High Commissioner himself."

"The British High Commission in Phnom Penh, Singapore and Jakarta are also going to plant trees here to offset the carbon footprint of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration," he added.

"Every trees you plant can offset equivalent to about 20kg of Carbon Dioxide per year," he said. Forestry Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources have provided all these trees free of charge, he said adding that the expense is in doing the survey, setting it all out and maintenance for two years. With 600 trees planted yesterday, the project has already succeeded in planting 6,000 trees around the Badas forest reserve. The project began last year with the planting of the first 1,000 trees.

Taylor added, 80 members from the Brunei Darussalam Motorcycle Association (Pemoda) will plant 2,600 trees on Monday, and another 1,000 trees will be planted by ISB students on Tuesday.

He also said that the British High Commission and Standard Chartered Bank are funding a study into peat land around the Badas Forest Reserve area "to convince the Public Works Department to block the drainage channel along the pipeline that lowers the water level". He added, "If the water level goes down, the top of the peat land dries up and this makes it prone to fire." The fire can be stopped, he said, by restoring the water level.

He said other schools have also been invited to get involved in the project.

The Brunei Times

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