Country Profiles

Brunei Darussalam - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brunei Darussalam is a small country on the northwest coast of Borneo, an island in southeast Asia hosting three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. In the northeast, the 130-kilometres-long coastline bordering the South China Sea consists of high-profile sandy beaches with a complex estuarine mangrove and mudflat zone. In the western part of the country, the alluvial and often swampy coastal plain is backed by low hills, with further swamps inland. Most of the interior is below 90 metres, rising to almost 400 metres in the extreme west. The eastern part comprises a swampy coastal plain rising gradually through low hills to mountainous terrain inland. The main mountain range along the border with Sarawak rises to 1,850 metres (Bukit Pagon).

The natural vegetation throughout Brunei Darussalam is tropical evergreen rainforest. Forest covers 81% of the total land area, of which 22% is secondary forest and plantations and 59% primary forest. The mangroves on the coast represent the largest remaining intact mangroves in northern Borneo. Together with those in neighbouring countries in Brunei Bay, they comprise one of the largest tracts of relatively undisturbed mangroves in eastern Asia. Mangrove resources are exploited for various purposes however to a lesser extent than in other countries in the region. Coral reef along the coastline comprises 45 km2 and is most notable for its unusual co-occurrence of a highly distinctive suite of hard and soft corals and gorgonian sea fans, with more than 50% live coral cover. These are host to a surprisingly rich coral fauna, with a total of 400 reef-building coral species. The main areas of peat swamp forest are along the basin of the Belait River in western Brunei Darussalam; other substantial areas of seasonally flooded peat swamp forest occur in the middle reaches of the Tutong River. All of these swamp forests are still in almost pristine condition. The forests have not been widely exploited because most people live along the coast, and most of the country's development and economy have been centred around hydrocarbon fossil fuels. Timber extraction for local consumption is allowed, under strict control by the Forest Department, however clear felling is prohibited and no timber is exported.

In regard to species diversity, Brunei Darussalam has an estimated 15,000 species of vascular plants, with an estimated 2,000 species of trees. The mammals and bird populations of Brunei Darussalam are similar to that of the Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo as a whole. Endemic species include the proboscis monkey and the ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis. Two crocodile species occur in the country, namely, the estuarine crocodile and the false gharial. Freshwater species in Brunei are diverse, inhabiting a great variety of habitats, ranging from small torrential streams to estuarine highly acidic ecosystems and also alkaline waters. On the other hand, invasive alien species have affected all sectors, causing serious damage to habitats by reducing yields and quality, and increasing production costs.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Threats to ecosystems include land development, pollution, encroachment, climate change and invasive alien species. Threats to species include poaching and collection and invasive alien species. Some of the drivers of these threats are: economic growth; demand for goods and services, exotic (wild) meat, traditional and herbal remedies, wild ornamental plants; tourism in pristine areas. These have caused habitat loss, fragmentation of ecosystems, pollution of inland waters, loss of ecosystem benefits and loss of species. Other threats to biodiversity, such as climate change, are also emerging.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Various policy and laws in Brunei address biodiversity conservation; direction is also provided for implementing the Convention through 15 relevant strategies, consisting of 87 action plans. Activities are carried out by various agencies. The programmes of work for thematic areas and cross-cutting issues under the Convention are coordinated by ministries which are supported by several other implementation agencies. The existing institutional framework for implementing biodiversity conservation activities considers the cross-sectoral integration of many agencies in implementation. Through this, the process of mainstreaming is also achieved.

Brunei Darussalam is currently developing its first NBSAP, with the intention to integrate the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in it.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

All notified protected areas are forest reserves. Except for swamp forest habitats, in general, the major habitat types are well represented within the protected areas system. Forest reserves cover 41% of the total land area and another 15% of the land is being proposed for further gazettement, thus bringing the total size of forest reserves to 55% of the total land area of the country. This exceeds the global 2010 biodiversity target of 10%. The forests of Brunei Darussalam are categorized according to the primary function they are intended to serve: protection, production, recreational, conservation, or a national park. Six key critical sites, meriting priority attention and continued protection, are: the primary inland forests of Ulu Temburong (Batu Apoi); the peat swamp forests of the Belait River system (Ulu Mendaram); the mangroves of Brunei Bay; Tasek Merimbun (an area of freshwater and peat swamps); the Bukit Batu-Sungei Ingei area, which is contiguous with Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak; and the coastal kerangas forests.

Currently, forest reserves in Brunei Darussalam are managed based on sustainable management practices following the formulated proposals for forest development and conservation in the Strategic Plan for Forestry. The plan is one of the major vehicles for consolidation of the nation's protected areas system, as well as for maintaining the sustained use of forests for production purposes. Brunei Darussalam is in the process of preparing its Criteria and Indicators (standards for forest management certification) based on the principles of the International Timber Tropical Organization (ITTO). These Criteria and Indicators and the Forest Stewardship Council’s Principles and Criteria will be the basis for sustainable forest management. In terms of marine conservation, artificial reefs were placed in a few locations within Brunei Bay. The Fishery Department started this project to deter illegal trawling, provide secure and environmentally-friendly anchorages for buoys, eco-tourism dive sites, create new colonies of coral growth and enrich marine resources.

Various efforts have been made by organizations (e.g. government ministries, NGOs, institutions of higher learning) to promote cooperation and exchange programmes for biodiversity education and awareness-raising, organize seminars and conferences to advance and exchange knowledge and expertise on biodiversity research and management, among other matters. One such project is known as the Princess Rashidah Young Nature Scientist Award, which has been carried out for the past 13 years. Programmes and activities are also organized, including World Forestry Day, Nature Camp, Nature Excursion, Environmental Talk, Mass Tree Planting, Turtle Rehabilitation Project, Use Less Plastic Campaign, Cleaning Campaign, and many others, all widely supported by media. Media coverage on biodiversity issues has thus been enhanced, with subjects of environmental and biodiversity management part of daily coverage by national TV channels, and news on the importance of biodiversity receiving regular coverage in major national newspapers.

In terms of conservation programmes/activities, Brunei has conducted several programmes, such as the establishment of ex situ and in situ conservation areas; delineation of genetic resources areas, as well as germplasm collection, the latter of which is conducted by the Agriculture Department. Varieties of rice and agricultural biodiversity are stored in field genebanks and arboretums. Seedlings of local fruit species were also given to the community for free as part of the efforts of the genebanks. The only specimens (flora) holding in Brunei Darussalam is at the Brunei National Herbarium.

Every year, the Government of Brunei Darussalam plants trees as part of its conservation programme through the Forest Department; in one year alone, the Government committed to planting 60,000 trees throughout the country. Land is allocated for biodiversity rehabilitation projects such as this, and free seedlings were given out to the community as part of this project. Additionally, as part of the 60,000 trees planting campaign and for the Heart of Borneo Trust Fund, one travel agency has introduced a mechanism to offset greenhouse gas emissions: passengers are making voluntary contributions to reducing the carbon footprints of their flights by contributing to tree planting. The Heart of Borneo Initiative is a conservation project to strengthen collaboration among three countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam) in biodiversity conservation. This will also improve connectivity of forests for wildlife mobility, biodiversity reservoir, protection of watershed areas and create a destination for eco-tourism.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

There are various legislations that contribute towards implementation of the Convention in the country. Each sector has its own sets of laws, regulations and guidelines to regulate biodiversity-related issues. This has also indirectly provided a platform for the mainstreaming process. Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is consistently reflected in Brunei’s five-year plans (the Ninth National Development Plan is currently in force) as well as in other policies and plans. Environmental Impact Assessment processes are required for the assessment of impacts to ecosystems.

Biodiversity issues are largely governed by the 1984 Act which covers the establishment and management of forest reserves. Amendments to the National Forestry Policy (1989) through the Forest Act Order (2007) and Forest Rules (2007) updated the administrative aspects of the law, but also revised the enforcement aspects by introducing heavier fines and penalties. The Wildlife Act (1978), on the other hand, details measures for wildlife conservation and protection and the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries in the country. In line with the CITES requirement, the Wild Fauna and Flora Order (2007) was passed to specifically deal with the import, export and re-export of CITES-listed species throughout Brunei Darussalam. Other relevant environmental laws include the Land Code, the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act, the Town and Country Planning Act, the Fisheries Enactment, and the Proposed Environmental Protection and Conservation Order (2010).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Monitoring of the water quality of river basins, which provides indication of biodiversity that is dependent on water quality, is carried out by the Department of Parks and Environment, as well as the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.