Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
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Press Release: Curtin Baram Project enters a new phase
The Curtin Baram Project is an integrated study which spans the highlands to the sea. Different teams of Curtin University researchers from the university’s Perth and Sarawak campuses are currently conducting studies in selected sites in an area of around 24,000 square kilometres of land and sea. A documentary on the project can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGmZ0MWhHNk.
Research conducted by Curtin University in the Baram region and the sea offshore of it
In the Upper Baram catchment, Associate Professor Dominique Dodge-Wan and her team from the Department of Applied Geology at Curtin Sarawak are precisely mapping land use via information from satellite imagery.
“It is important to know the types of land use in the 9,000 square kilometre Baram Catchment because changing land use can impact soil erosion,” said Associate Professor Dodge-Wan.
Assoc. Prof. Dodge-Wan and Dr Vijith establishing ground truth for satellite imagery
Soil erosion can impact not only the sediment load carried by the Baram River but also where this load eventually deposits. Thus, the relationship between the materials carried out to sea by the Baram River and the offshore Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park is something which Curtin University is seeking to establish.
From the Upper Baram catchment through to the sea off Miri, another team from Curtin Sarawak’s Department of Applied Geology led by Associate Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan is studying the distribution of heavy metals and their geochemistry. Water, river sediments and plant material are regularly sampled at various points along the Baram River to build baseline data set on the presence of heavy metals.
Collecting water sample on the Baram
The baseline established for heavy metals will be an important reference point for assessing the impact of any developments in the Baram Catchment into the future. “When higher than baseline amounts of toxic metals are found in the Baram environment, it may indicate disturbance in the landscape which will need attending to,” remarked Associate Professor Nagarajan.
The last 18 months or so has seen the rise of self-expression. Bruneians have been expressing themselves more. This is a good thing. We are finding out new ways to speak up, both online and offline. Snapchat, Stories on IG, new blogs, creative gatherings, vlogs, Reddit and pop-ups. It has to be said that it was not always like this. There has been a collective awakening of sorts.
When we take a step back, we see that we are a young country. We are discovering our voice. We are speaking our first words. We are thinking about big concepts like the Future, Society, Progress, Tradition, Culture, Faith, Success, and as our minds are thinking about these things, so are we debating these things for the first time. We are speaking in broken sentences. There is grammatical error, but that does not matter. We are speaking our first words. We are speaking up for ourselves and this country that we love, and that is a good thing.
We are going through growing pains . . . a kind of I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it type of pain from rapid growth and stretching of our conscience, and the realisation that, hang on, 2035 is not that far away anymore.
Brunei is dependent on O&G which accounts for . . . pretty much everything. We have a singular economy. For better or for worse, we have not diversified, and this period of low oil prices brings this cold reality into sharp focus. These are unnerving times. Some say that these low prices are the best thing that has happened to Brunei in a while, like a strange blessing in disguise. Like an alarm clock waking a child from slumber. Like caffeine jolting our central nervous system.
I have written this post a thousand times in my mind before. I have never shared it because it feels like a speech with no conclusion. But I share this with you today, because it is important to lift up things that matter to us, and Brunei matters to me.
Today, I remind myself that it is okay and not always necessary to wrap our thoughts up in a neat bow. It is okay not to have a conclusion. What is more important is that we speak up about things that matter to us. That we keep an open mind. That we are prepared to hear different perspectives. That we don't react. That we don't get all defensive. That we take our conversations deeper. That we debate strategically.
Moving forward, let's think critically. Let's pray fervently. Let's act decisively.
We cannot rest on our laurels.
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