KUCHING: Scientific research in peat soil has made Sarawak a role model in sustainable peatland development.
The research has been conducted by Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL), a unit under the Chief Minister’s Department.
Its director Dr Lulie Melling said Sarawak currently has managed to develop peat soil science which has been proven to be successful in increasing palm oil production, maintaining its sustainability and reducing peat fire, among others.
“Indonesia is now trying to learn from Sarawak on how to deal with peatland. With effective management of peatland, it is possible to reduce haze and minimise chances of fire in peatland areas.
“Reducing peat fire and haze has been of paramount importance because every time when it happens, many South East Asian countries are affected,” said Lulie to The Borneo Post yesterday at TPRL, Kota Samarahan.
Lulie said Sarawak has not been known for its scientific development but TPRL has made a start and is ever ready to share with whoever is ready to listen to what Sarawak has learnt about peat and other related issues.
“Clearly research tradition is not strong and research work is not sufficient in Sarawak. TPRL has started it and hopes to continue the research spirit and practice by passing it on to the next generation.”
To continue her effort in encouraging more Sarawakians to get involved in research work, Lulie has brought in International Peat Congress (IPC), a quadrennial meeting which for the last 60 years had been held in Europe and North America.
“It is about giving an opportunity for locals to jump start in scientific and research development by having global communities who are more advanced in research coming to our door steps and share with us their scientific findings and their concerns.
“Through the conference, Sarawakians can establish networking with research centres in the world and tap on other resources that the world may be able to provide.
“At the same time, we can show to the world that Sarawak has the best management practice of peat. It will also be a platform to show the world that we are doing the right thing.
“IPC is more than peat. It is also about science and research, sustainability of forestry, deforestation, government policies, prevention of peat fire, palm oil and oil palm industries and its environmental and social impact, so on and so forth,” said Lulie who is the congress general.
IPC which will be held in Kuching from Aug 15 to 19 has been receiving overwhelming support from local and international scientists, students, researchers, NGO members, plantation industrial players, students and agriculturists.
As of yesterday, the congress, which cost some RM2.5 million to organise, will see 200 scientific papers and 200 posters presented.
The event themed ‘Peatlands in Harmony – Agriculture, Industry & Nature’ which is organised by Malaysian Peat Society (MPS) in partnership with International Peat Society (IPS) and supported by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) is expected to receive more than 3,000 delegates, both overseas and local.