The establishment of Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre (KBFSC) was during a joint expedition of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), London, and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), in the early 1990s. During the launching expedition, 74 scientists of various specialisations have conducted research at the KBFSC. On 1st April 1992, UBD took over the responsibility for the station.
The core mission of the KBFSC is to generate, describe and disseminate knowledge in Science and Education related to the vast diversity of Brunei’s tropical rainforests, including all the varied life forms and ecosystem processes.
Brunei Darussalam is home to some of the most diverse and species-rich forests on earth. Recent research findings by the scientists attached to the KBFSC indicate that there are still plant and animal species waiting to be discovered in the Belalong forest. The behavior and ecological roles of the majority of species reported in this forest remain completely unknown. Such knowledge is fundamental to conservation strategies as well as the potential for sustainable utilisation.
Tropical forests like Belalong are under increasing threat due to anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Understanding the responses of forest ecosystems to human-induced impacts and natural impacts are critical to their long-term conservation and sustainable management. The World’s climate is changing more rapidly than ever in human history. There has never been a time when scientific information on the role of forests and its ecosystem processes and functions in the global environment has been in greater demand. New research at KBFSC investigates the global climate change impacts on Brunei’s forests using the forest dynamics plots. Researchers also investigate changes in animal ecology in response to changes in aquatic and terrestrial environments and options for alternative energy.
Developing the next generation of scientists required to tackle the environmental problems facing tropical forests is a critical goal of the KBFSC. The KBFSC provides unparalleled opportunities for field-based training. Since 1992, the KBFSC had been offering highly successful environmental education programs for secondary school children, graduate students (both local and international) and government sector employees in collaboration with the academic staff from UBD.
It has been said that field stations are places where the book of life can be read in the language in which it was written. The teaching and research from KBFSC have helped write that book in the Sultanate and will provide a solid basis for government decisions regarding critical environmental issues in an ecosystem under tremendous pressure from unfocussed exploitation.
Innovative and cutting-edge research of our own UBD researchers, collaborations with internationally acclaimed scientists, research and higher learning institutes and entities such as CTFS- Arnold Arboretum (Harvard University), UBD-IBM Centre, iCUBE (International Consortium of Universities for the Study of Biodiversity and the Environment) will no doubt take the KBFSC to greater heights in the years to come. It is clear that the KBFSC has a very bright future as it continues to contribute to an understanding of the fascinating and complex Bornean rainforest system.