The 15th International Peat Congress officially started today, the 16th of August, officiated by the Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Haji Adenan Bin Haji Satem. The theme of the congress is Peatland in Harmony Agriculture, Industry and Nature. It is aimed at highlighting the closely intertwined relationship of the environment, industry and socio-economic factors in relation to peat. There are six different themes and special sessions structured to encompass and explore the various peatland subjects.
The congress started with four keynote presentations and a plenary talk as an introductory to the concurrent sessions that will be happening in the next three days. Today, it was impressive because there is an increased recognition among the stakeholders regarding the wise use of peatlands hence the increase in research being conducted, together with policies and regulations implemented on the ground. However, in one of the presentations, there was a concern expressed by a speaker regarding environmental NGO for disseminating wrong information regarding the status of tropical peatlands in SE Asia and the unfairness of the exploitation of natural resources in SE Asia that has been always magnified as compared to the situation in the west. It is worrying that there is still disagreement between the local and western scientists in addressing the consequences of peatlands conversion such as subsidence. It is hoped that this congress can act as a platform in addressing these challenges and we are able to work on Peatlands in Harmony for our future generation.
Overall we are happy to note that there is an increase in recognition for the wise use of peatlands among the various stakeholders. We should learn from mistakes made by the west concerning the peatlands and ensure that we conserve whatever peatlands left so that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of intact peatlands.