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Cablegate: Brunei Moving Forward On Heart of Borneo

VZCZCXYZ0013
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBD #0156/01 1520609
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADC81E0B MSI1495 538)
O 010609Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3824
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

UNCLAS BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000156

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y/ADDED INFO ADDRESSEE

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, EAP/PD, AND OES
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV PREL BX
SUBJECT: BRUNEI MOVING FORWARD ON HEART OF BORNEO

REF: KUALA LUMPUR 380

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Government of Brunei is pushing forward with projects
under the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative that it hopes will
establish Brunei as a leader of this rainforest protection project.
This month Brunei will receive the first-ever ASEAN peer review of
its forest management practices and next month Brunei will host a
key technical meeting of the HoB partners at which Brunei will lay
out implementation objectives and advance itself as the site for the
HoB secretariat. The GoB welcomes USG support, including our
proposed tri-lateral IV project (co-developed by AmEmbassies Kuala
Lumpur and Jakarta). END SUMMARY.
------------------
HoB Boundaries Set
------------------

2. (SBU) The GoB has engaged WWF's HoB driving force Dato Mikaail
Kavanagh to help finalize its Strategic Framework. The plan
currently includes 58 percent of Brunei's total territory under the
HoB framework. Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources
Dato Hamdillah Abdul Wahab told us recently that Brunei
intentionally maximized HoB territory along its border with Malaysia
in order to leverage the HoB process to get Malaysia to take
stronger action against illegal loggers who routinely cross the
border into Brunei for high value trees like sandal wood.

--------------------------------------
Forestry Plan to Get ASEAN Peer Review
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The GoB has invited representatives from Cambodia and the
Philippines to participate in Brunei's discussion of its new
National Forestry Plan. Scheduled for June 20-21, this review will
be the first conducted under a new ASEAN peer review process. Dato
Hamdillah told us that he hopes that by opening itself first to peer
review, the GoB will encourage greater transparency by Indonesia
(and Malaysia) on forest management policy and practice. The
Director of the Forestry Department, Saidin Salleh, told us May 23
that one of Brunei's greatest challenges is that the Forestry
Department has only partial jurisdiction over Brunei's forest
reserves. The Ministry of Defense also has the authority to use any
part of Brunei's territory. The ASEAN peer review will help push
Brunei to coordinate internally forest use and management among all
interested agencies.

-------------------------
HoB Agenda and Next Steps
-------------------------

4. (SBU) Brunei will host the next trilateral coordination meeting
July 18-19 to prepare a report on HoB status and next steps to the
BIMP-EAGA Secretariat. Saidin Salleh said Brunei was pushing to
complete its HoB Strategic and Implementation plans to establish its
credentials and position itself better to lobby for the HoB
Secretariat to be located in Brunei. Dato Hamdillah confided to

SIPDIS
Ambassador that he hopes to secure a grant of BDOLS 203,000 (approx
USD 132,000) from Brunei Shell Petroleum to support the preparation
and initial execution of Brunei's HOB implementation plan.

5. (SBU) Saidin said the GoB has four strategic objectives it will
work under the HoB initiative. The first is to encourage all
parties to adopt selective logging practices and stop clear
cutting/burning land clearing practices for plantations. Saidin
commented that Indonesia would have fewer flash floods if it
practiced inter-planting as it developed palm-oil plantations to
leave more natural vegetation in place to hold back soil and absorb
rainfall. Second, the GoB wanted to see better budget support for
replanting and conservation efforts. He noted that his department
was able to secure better budget support in the last year in part
from the high profile the HoB initiative has gained in Brunei.
Third, Brunei wanted to develop joint promotional materials for the
HoB protected areas to encourage eco-tourism. Dato Hamdillah had
previously told us that while Brunei had developed the "Green Heart
of Borneo" as an ecotourism brand before the HoB initiative was
started, he welcomed the help HoB had given Brunei in marketing
itself for ecotourism. Finally, Brunei would like to see all three
HoB partners conduct joint research expeditions into the HoB area to
gain better baseline data on the state of the region and to set the
stage for more joint activities.

----------------------------
Comment: USG Support Welcome
----------------------------
6. (SBU) GoB officials have told us on numerous occasions that they
welcome USG support for the HoB initiative. Dato Hamdillah told us
that given how stretched his small Forestry Department is, the seed
money we had given WWF was critical in getting substantive work
started on Brunei's strategic plan. Hamdillah welcomed a proposed
HoB International Visitor program to bring key implementation level
officials from Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to the U.S. to study
cross-border national park and natural resource management
practices. Post has worked closely with our colleagues in
AmEmbassies Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to develop a program for this

IV and identify the people who need to overcome national biases and
learn to work together to make the HoB initiative a success.
Sustained USG support of HoB will keep this initiative moving
forward and help burnish our environmental credentials among the
three Muslim-majority nations covered by the HoB.


SKODON

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