Peatswamp ecology and sustainable development in Borneo

Phillips, Victor D. (1998) Peatswamp ecology and sustainable development in Borneo. Biodiversity & Conservation, 7 (5). pp. 651-671. ISSN 1572-9710

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While tropical lowland peatswamp ecosystems are well-represented among the major forest formations of Borneo, they are rare outside South-East Asia. They are richly endowed with biological diversity, including the crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), which is a threatened species, and are characterized by their organic (histosol) soils that have developed recently, approximately within the past 5000 years. Their unique ecological features, as well as logistical difficulties in accessing and utilizing peatswamps, have not, however, deterred exploitation. Some of the tallest, most commercially desirable timber species, such as ramin (Gonystylus bancanus) have been harvested routinely in the peatswamp forests of Sarawak. Also, due to its primary location in coastal lowlands in close proximity to human activity, drained and reclaimed peatswamp land is desirable for development of highways, housing, and industrial and plantation estates. Ecological information is needed urgently by decision-makers and land-owners, who may be contemplating conversion of natural peatswamp ecosystems to other land uses, to undergird conservation policy and best management practices for the wise stewardship and sustainable development of this ecosystem. The paper provides an overview of peatswamp ecology with recommendations for avoiding or reducing potential ecological impacts associated with peatswamp development in Borneo, which include a moratorium on further development until a Borneo peatswamp survey and inventory as well as a holistic, multi-sectoral, integrated environmental assessment and planning procedure are completed; gazetting of pristine peatswamp forest parcels as totally protected areas; implementing highly restricted multiple-use policy that allows development only in degraded areas, and insuring protection of the critical hydrological role of peatswamps in providing fresh water supply for human use as an overriding criterion in assessing any development scheme.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: tropical, peatswamps, peatlands, conservation, biodiversity, research, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, unimas, university, universiti, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, ipta, education
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
Faculties, Institutes, Centres > Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
Depositing User: Karen Kornalius
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 07:38
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 07:46

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