DEER is the prime target of hunters while wood is the favourite of encroachers of Brunei forests that are rich in flora and fauna.
However, their movements have been effectively restricted with the ever-alert forest officials thwarting every attempt to intrude into the wild with high-precision anti-poaching measures.
The country incurred losses amounting to $95,000 last year due to forest poaching. Wood stealing constituted the biggest loss totalling $44,000 and this includes the pricey agarwood worth $37,000 and mangrove products worth $13,000.
According to Forestry Officer at the Development and Forestry Industry Management Reni bin Haji Yahya, Forestry Department officers, Ranger Police and other government agencies conducted 174 forest patrols last year and 24 operations detected illicit activities in the Brunei forests.
Briefing agricultural and forestry entrepreneurs on Forestry Act Chapter 46 of the Laws of Brunei on Thursday, Reni said four arrests were made last year in connection with poaching. In addition to loss of logs and mangrove, chopping of trees to get the ever-popular ‘Kelulut’ (stingless bees) is a major concern to the Forestry Department, and last year, losses amounting to $40,000 were recorded.
Reni said offences committed by the public relating to forest include encroaching forest reserves, chopping trees without approval, taking forestry products without permission, clearing forest without consent, disposing rubbish in the forest, hunting animals and lighting up fires inside the reserves.
“Cases of hunting for deer at protected forests have been reported and arrests have been made in this connection. One should not simply open up forest for agricultural activities or rearing livestock. Taking trees from the forest needs permission from the Forestry Department and other relevant agencies,” he said.
Brunei Darussalam has gained international acclaim for having bio-rich tropical rainforests, the majority of which are still in pristine condition and protected by effective legislation despite occupying just one per cent of the total forest in the island of Borneo.
Keeping up the spirit of the Heart of Borneo Declaration, Brunei has been effectively managing its forest resources through commendable conservation efforts over the past years.
The Sultanate recently garnered global recognition as one of the top 10 countries in the world with most protected areas. The country took 7th place globally with 44.1 per cent of land designated as protected, according to the latest World Bank report.
The Sultanate is among those countries with a leading forest area, according to Asia Development Bank (ADB). In the bank’s Key Indicators 2016 report for Asia Pacific published last year, Laos topped the list with a forest cover of 81.3 per cent followed by Bhutan (70 per cent), Brunei (70 per cent) and Papua New Guinea (70 per cent).