SEB says research on dams’ impact on environment to continue

Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Aisah Eden talking to (from left) Professor Dr Lee Nyanti, Professor Dr Andrew Alek Tuen and Dr Chen Shiun, Vice President of Research and Development-SEB

Kuching: Sarawak Energy Bhd will continue its research into the impact of hydroelectric dams on the environment line with its commitment towards sustainability said its executive vice president for corporate services, Aisah Eden.

Speaking at the opening of a biodiversity and ecology seminar at its corporate headquarters, Menara Sarawak Energy, Aisah said SEB is working with institutions of higher learning and hydropower sustainability specialists to ensure that SEB is meeting the global sustainability standards and expectation.

“Sarawak Energy is committed to developing clean and renewable energy in the state and developing hydropower in accordance with the internationally accredited sustainability principles covering the four pillars of sustainability in economic, technical, social and environmental aspects of the project.

“Findings of the research will enable us to address any emerging concerns as well as to demonstrate to our globally based customers of our commitment and ability to deliver truly green and sustainable energy for their businesses,” Aisah said.

She said results from the research would also facilitate in decision-making for future sustainable project development.

The one-day seminar, jointly organised by SEB and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), was to present the findings of their collaboration into studies of aquatic and terrestrial ecology and biodiversity under the SEB’s hydropower environmental sustainability programme.

SEB’s vice president of research and development Dr Chen Shiun speaking at the seminar said since Sarawak Energy is a key partner in the state government’s drive for continuous development, one of the ways that the state power company could give back to the state is to minimise the impact on the environment.

The aquatic ecology and biodiversity studies were led by Professor Dr Lee Nyanti while the studies on terrestrial fauna ecology and biodiversity was led by Professor Dr Andrew Alek Tuen.

In the course of their studies, the researchers had discovered a new species of water skink at one of the streams in Batang Baleh tributaries in 2015.

The skink was subsequently named Tropidophorus Sebi, derived from the acronym “SEB” which stands for Sarawak Energy Berhad with a latinised version of genitive ending “i”, in recognition of the funding from the utility company.

Besides collaborating with institutions of higher learning, SEB at the end of last year had also engaged an internationally recognised hydropower sustainability specialist, Dr Helen Locher, together with experts from the International Hydropower Association, to conduct a review on the phase 1 of the hydropower environmental sustainability programme.

“With the review of outcomes, Sarawak Energy is now planning the next phase of this research programme to ensure we continue to make strides towards high standards of sustainability”, she added.

At the same seminar, delegates also heard from Professor Lee that his team of 108 students completed the first phase of the studies within 3 years. Their scope of studies included establishing the environmental baseline data and identifying pertinent environmental issues. The data were collected from Baleh, Pelagus, Baram, Murum and Batang Ai areas.

As for Professor Dr Andrew, his team of eight students collected their data in Pelagus, Baleh and Ulu Baram. During their research, they had recorded 229 species of birds, 51 species of bats and more than 50 species of reptiles. They had also captured on camera 35 medium to large mammals, most of which are of high conservation value.

A total of seven papers were presented during the seminar. Among them were on water and sediment quality in relation to aquatic fauna; macroinvertebrates fauna of three major rivers; and two man-made reservoirs and distribution of heavy metals in the environment. –