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Bukit Pagon Expedition


Bukit Pagon Expedition

Groundbreaking iCUBE Bukit Pagon Expedition studies Brunei’s montane forests

The International Consortium of Universities for the Study of Biodiversity and the Environment (iCUBE), led by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), launched the Bukit Pagon Expedition on 1 July at the Core, UBD.Present as the guest of honour for the ceremony was Yang Mulia Hajah Normah Suria Hayati ebinti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr.) Haji Awg Mohd Jamil al-Sufri, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.  The opening ceremony included a welcoming address by the Chair of the Organsing Committee, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Dr. Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina binti POKLWDSS HajI Awang Abdul Aziz.  The ceremony also included an overview background of the expedition presented by Professor Dato Haji Mohamed bin Haji Abdul Majid, head of the expedition. The Bukit Pagon expedition marked a major milestone for ecological studies in Brunei by providing the first inventory of flora and fauna of a montane heath forest, a rare and threatened forest type. As part of Brunei’s commitment towards biodiversity conservation efforts, the Brunei government has committed 58 percent of Brunei’s total land area to the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative and Project Implementation Framework, and has also commited to optimising the use of land and forest resources through research and development activities, protection, education and training.

The expedition has played a vital role in providing scientific data essential for making informed decisions with regards to the protection of biodiversity, conservation of natural resources and sustainable development. This study has generated crucial data to help the authorities manage the long-term protection and conservation of Bukit Pagon under the Brunei HoB initiative, and to highlight the endemism of flora and fauna at Bukit Pagon.

Highlights from the expedition included the possible discovery of a new species of an aroid and a new species of caecilian, new records of plant and animal species that previously were only found in lowland dipterocarp forests of Brunei, as well as records of endemic plants and animals.Participating in this expedition were scientists and graduate students representing several of the world’s top universities from the iCUBE, as well as from Yale University and Old Dominion University from the United States, in addition to colleagues from the Forestry Department locally. The participation of several graduate students ensures capacity building and training of the younger generation.

Saerom Han of Korea University and Lee Jo Kien of Monash University recording light measurements in a forest gap
Kate Baker of Kings’ College London examining macroinvertebrate specimens from a study stream at Bukit Pagon

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