Ignorance Unplanned Development Threaten Brunei Environment

PUBLIC ignorance of environmental protection and unplanned development is among the major environmental threats identified in Brunei, which joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Environment Day 2010 on June 5, 2010.

“Lack of knowledge about environmental protection has led people to resort to activities such as illegal dumping and open burning, two of the main factors harming our environment, and this is still going on in the country,” said Martinah Tamit, head of the Environment Planning and Management Division.

She added: “Unplanned development also contributed in this regard, with no proper assessment such as the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) being undertaken before certain developmental projects were implemented; projects which have potential harmful impact towards the environment.”

In an email interview with The Brunei Times, the officer from the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRE) said that several measures are being taken to overcome the situation. Among these are efforts to increase public awareness, stricter enforcement of the law as a deterrence and making it compulsory for all development projects to undertake EIA before implementation.

Martinah said that various inter-ministerial committees have been set up to look into these measures, adding: “Relevant departments are now encouraging members of the public to report any offences committed so that action can be taken against whoever causes destruction to the environment.”

She encouraged members of the public to register themselves as environment envoys to assist Jastre in promoting awareness of the environment.

“There are various campaigns which are already in place to promote this, such as the Environment Youth Envoy (EYE) programme. This EYE programme is for youth in Brunei who make up almost 60 per cent of our population, and we organise various activities for the envoys to encourage them to do their own environmental projects after sufficient training,” said Martinah.

She said that the response from the participants so far has been encouraging and more youth are aware of environmental issues today.

“This can be seen by the number of students who have chosen environmental courses in their studies abroad. There are also more NGOs established comprising youth today, such as the Beach Bunch,” she said.

In order to ensure that the members of the public could take part in environmental conservation actions and activities, Jastre now focuses on providing education, engagement and empowering the public in environmental conservation.

“We are confident that Bruneians are now more aware of environmental issues, therefore our activities will be more on engaging and empowering them so that they can be part of the initiators as we want to instill a greater sense of ownership and responsibility on the activities undertaken,” she said.

She pointed out the country’s high rate of waste generation. A ministry survey conducted in April 2005 showed that every inhabitant of this country produces about 1.4kg of waste daily.

“Just imagine, if we do not try to reduce our waste, we may face difficulties in disposing of them in the future as it requires more land, which is scarce,” she said.

Therefore, Bruneians need to change their behaviour to become more environmentally conscious and do their best to reduce their carbon footprint to achieve sustainable development.

The theme for this year’s WED, “Many species, one planet, one future”, focuses on conservation of biodiversity.

“The theme depicts the need to preserve our biodiversity for our future generation,” Martinah said.

Activities which have been laid out in line with the theme include the launching of the Kg Putat Herbal Recreational Park which is held on June 5, 2010, as well as the planting of “Karamunting” trees at the Pangkalan Pinang Penanjong Beach in Tutong on June 6, 2010.

The Herbal Recreational park is an initiative by “Kg Putat Consultative Council” with support from JASTRE. The park will be planted with varieties of Herbal Species that can be used for medicine as well as be an Eco-tourism destination.

The planting of “Karamunting” trees at the Pangkalan Pinang Penanjong Beach is to preserve the “Karamunting” species that may be under threat due to development and forest fires. Various tree species provided by Forestry Department will also be planted. The Brunei Times

This piece is taken from the website of the Brunei Times.

See on-line at: http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2010/06/05/ignorance-unplanned-development-threaten-brunei-environment

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