The year 2019 marks a significant year for our research institute as we celebrate our 10 year anniversary since our founding. Sarawak TROPI, formerly known as the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL), was initially founded under the mandate of the Sarawak government with the intent to discover and develop scientific knowledge and understanding of tropical peatlands and peat in order to facilitate effective and responsible management of these resources.
Tropical peatlands are a unique ecosystem and are quite unlike the other types of peatlands found in the boreal and north temperate zones. Sarawak accounts for about 70% of the total peatlands in Malaysia (approximately 1.7 million hectares) and this emphasises the importance of the need for research in this complex ecosystem. Tropical peatlands and peat play a vital role in the global carbon cycle because they store disproportionately vast amounts of terrestrial carbon in their thick underlying peat and have a high vegetation biomass. However, the inevitable utilisation of peat swamps for agricultural mirrors Sarawakâ€™s immense effort to counter the limited arable land, by maximising the wise use of her natural abundance of peatland for the betterment of her peopleâ€™s livelihood. Therefore, the government together with the associated agencies are compelled to seek solutions to offset the carbon emission problems that come with peat development.
We are incredibly proud of the work that we do here in the institute and to lead a new generation of current and aspiring researchers in this field. A major achievement to date was to prevent the incidence of peat fires via good land preparation and water management. This practice, backed by TROPIâ€™s scientific research has resulted in considerable reduction of the haze that afflicts Sarawak every year.
Our institute intends to continue working towards both for conservation and finding solutions that meet the needs of the industry and its corresponding environmental impact. Our strategies include working with both local and international collaborators from a wide range of disciplines, and to train and nurture our own researchers in this field so as to enhance our expertise and competency. Armed with new knowledge and expertise, we would continuously improve our advisory services to ensure the responsible and sustainable management of tropical peatlands whilst supporting socioeconomic growth.
Thank you and we look forward to another exciting 10 years ahead!
Lulie Melling, PhD