Estonian researcher finds Maludam National Park to be world’s best tropical peatland research station

Prof Dr Ülo Mander

By Nur Ashikin Louis and Ling Hui

SRI AMAN, Sept 24: Estonian scientist Prof Dr Ülo Mander opines that Sarawak’s Maludam National Park may be the best tropical peatland research station in the world.

The Professor of Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology and Head of the Department of Geography, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences at the University of Tartu, Estonia, said this is because it already has a comprehensive set of data as well as high-level equipment.

“They have very good publications already, previously, and the equipment is of quite a high level, and also the laboratory that we visited is trustable, and it is very useful for the continuation of this work,” he told DayakDaily when met at a campsite of about 3,450-metres from the Maludam National Park riverbank yesterday (Sept 23).

Mander has been leading a group of seven Estonian researchers to conduct a wetland research project in the tropical peat swamp of Maludam National Park since Thursday (Sept 22).

“We are so happy that the local tropical institute of peat — Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (TROPI) — headed by Dr Lulie Melling, is so cooperative and helping our expedition.

“We are seven Estonian researchers here, analysing the greenhouse gases emission from this tropical rainforest which is one of the hotspots in carbon dioxide (CO2) but especially methane emission.

“Our interest is also in nitrous oxide, which is a very dangerous ozone layer killer but also quite a remarkable greenhouse gas,” he added.

Mander explained that the team would measure the soil and stem fluxes from different tree species in the area, noting that it is also important that Sarawak has one of the best functioning Eddy Covariance (EC) towers which measure the fluxes above the canopies and contribute to the data on fluxes.

He also hoped that the research project would bear a positive outcome, which would lead to some solutions to mitigate the global warming effect, largely caused by greenhouse gases where hotspots are mostly identified in tropical countries.

“We installed the equipment partly yesterday (Sept 22) when we came over by boats, and transporting all the equipment with the help of fantastic local Malaysian (TROPI) colleagues who also provide a very nice lunch and discussions,” he elaborated.

He further said that the team would stay for several more nights at the campsite and depart to another research site involving an oil palm plantation in Betong on Sept 27.

He said the team will also spend several nights in the next site in Betong until Oct 1 and return to Kuching to take a flight home to Estonia on Oct 2.

On Sept 20, Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, during the AsiaFlux 2022 gala dinner, announced that TROPI is conducting wetland research with the University of Tartu, Estonia, and team members, including scientists from the University of Helsinki, Finland and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

He also mentioned that the four-year research project is titled ‘LiWeFor: Living Labs for Wetland Forests Research’.

Watch DayakDaily’s interview with Mander below:

— DayakDaily