ASEAN intensifies conservation of protected areas

ON THE second day of the 22nd Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 22) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on July 3, 2018 in Montreal, Canada, the ASEAN Member States (AMS), through Myanmar, joined other Parties in recognising the importance of other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) in sustaining protected areas, particularly in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.

“The identification of OECMs in the ASEAN region are timely as the region assesses its progress towards the achievement of Aichi Target 11 and quantifying areas covered by OECMs will help AMS close that gap,” said Dr Naing Zaw Htun of Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, as he read out on the floor ASEAN’s group statement on the agenda item 10 on protected areas.

At the recent Target Setting meeting on the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment, the AMS identified a gap of 180,000 square kilometers to enable compliance with the 17 per cent target for terrestrial and inland waters from a baseline of 13 per cent.

The Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 aims that, “by 2020 at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascape.”

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are 20 global targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the CBD.

Dr Naing Zaw Htun, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar. – IISD/ENB

Strengthening protected area conservation: E-NIPAS

One AMS that has enacted a new law to expand its protected areas is the Philippines through its Republic Act No 11038, also known as “Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018” or E-NIPAS which mobilises government resources to conserve and protect ecologically-rich and unique areas within the classification of a national park. The said law was signed on June 22, 2018.

Through the law, 94 more protected areas are identified for conservation, which expanded the coverage of protected areas in the Philippines and is thus a direct contribution to the achievement of Aichi Target 11.

“The approval of this law resulted to94(3,096,410.01hectares)new legislated protected areas in the Philippines; a dramatic increasefrom the 13 (894,262.16hectares)existing legislated protected areas,” said Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim, the current CBD SBSTTA Chair.

Dr Lim is currently the Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the former Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines.

“This represents a giant leap. These new protected areas not only contribute to improving the quantitative elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, but they also improve the qualitative aspects of this target, other Aichi Targets, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and other globally agreed goals,” complimented Cristiana Pasca Palmer, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Increasing the network of protected areas

The ASEAN Member States are implementing various measures to protect its uniquely representative habitats and ecosystems through its ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) programme.Protected areas benefit from being declared as an AHP through capacity building activities for park managers and stakeholders in the form of various learning events, such as trainings and workshops. AHPs also receive technical assistance from the AHP Secretariat and its network of partners. Being an AHP also increases the park’s visibility as a prime ecotourism destination and model for effective protected area management. Participation of and collaboration among AHP stakeholders in the implementation of research and development programmes and projects are also maximised and strengthened when a protected area is declared as an AHP. The AHP Programme also provides a regional platform for information sharing among AHPs by way of AHP Committee Meetings and AHP Conferences. Parks declared as AHPs are first in line for available funding through the Secretariat’s programmes and projects. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) serves as the Secretariat of the AHP Programme. To date, there are 40 declared AHPs, and this network of biologically rich protected areas continue to increase through the collective efforts of the AMS. – IISD/ENB