Expedition proposed under the iCUBE Initiative
Bandar Seri Begawan - A reconnaissance visit will be made to the Bukit Teraja Forest Reserve and the White Sands area near Tutong on January 29, as part of the programme for the iCUBE 2nd Governing Board Meeting.
According to the itinerary for the visit, which was disclosed in a press release from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), the participants are expected to hear a briefing from the Forestry Department officers at the Bukit Teraja Forest Reserve.
The participants are then scheduled to go to Wasai Wong Kadir Recreational Park for lunch, after which they will visit UBD research projects in the White Sands area.
The press release stated that the Bukit Teraja Forest Reserve is one of the forest reserves currently included in Brunei's Heart of Borneo (HoB) area.
"In line with Brunei's commitment to the HoB initiative and Brunei's HoB Project Implementation Framework, a detailed botanical and faunal exploration of the Teraja area, and in particular the BTPF, is urgently needed.
"This will generate biodiversity and environmental data that will help the authorities to manage the longterm protection and conservation of the Teraja area under the Brunei HoB initiative, and to highlight the Teraja forests as one of the biodiversity hotspots of Brunei's HoB.
"In its capacity as a centre of research excellence and expertise in Brunei Darussalam, Universiti Brunei Darussalam proposes a two-week expedition to the Teraja area under its iCUBE Initiative from May to June 2014."
Meanwhile, the press release stated that the White Sands area near Tutong is a very unusual place, with a unique ecosystem, which is believed to have arisen on Pleistocene terraces formed during the higher sea levels of the interglacial periods in the past.
"The forest here is known locally as Kerangas (heath forest) and it develops on the infertile, nutrient-poor, highly acidic sandy soils.
"The forest is very vulnerable to disturbance, particularly burning, and much of the coastal Kerangas forest in Brunei Darussalam has been seriously damaged.
"The Tutong White Sand area burns regularly, but there are still many interesting plants to see among them carnivorous plants, parasitic plants (mistletoes) and several species of plants that form mutualistic relationships with ants known as my rmecophytes (Dischidia sp).
"Several different strategies have evolved to allow plants to cope with the poor nutrient status of the White Sands area.
"One of the most spectacular is carnivory - plants obtain nitrogen by catching and digesting insects.
"There are several plants in the White Sands area that do this - the Sundews (Drosera), the Bladderworts (Utricularia), and the Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes). Studies conducted by UBD researchers and students have shown how some carnivorous pitcher plants capture the faeces of bats and sequester nitrogen from it.
"Furthermore, research projects on the impacts of climate change related to the growth and development of hemiparasitic mistletoe & Cassytha - host associations and edaphic and environmental influences on species diversity and distributions of Nepenthes in Brunei Darussalam are currently in progress", according to the press release.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin