Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

The ASEAN region has a land area of approximately 4.47 million sq km (447 million hectares). The total forest cover in the region in 2005 was 203 million ha or about 45% of the region’s total land area. Although the region occupies only 3% of the world’s total surface, 20% of all known species live deep in its mountains, jungles, rivers, lakes and seas. Three of the world’s 17 megadiversity countries, namely, Indonesia , Malaysia and Philippines are in ASEAN. However, the region also contains seven of the world’s 25 recognised biodiversity hotspots – biologically rich areas under greatest threat of destruction.

As a region rich in biodiversity, the conservation of this valuable heritage is high on the agenda of ASEAN, as evidenced, among others, by the establishment of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) in 1990 to enhance co-operation among ASEAN member countries in the promotion of conservation of nature and biodiversity. To achieve this objective, the Working Group focuses on the following five priority areas:

  • To promote the conservation of diverse ecosystems and its sustainable development
  • To strengthen the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (formerly known as the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Project (1999-2004)
  • To formulate and adopt common mechanisms for access to genetic resources
  • To promote regional coordination for the protection of the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves
  • To monitor, implement, and where applicable develop common ASEAN position/understanding on international and regional conventions and agreements, related to nature conservation, biodiversity and bio-safety issues.

The specific programme areas and measures in the Vientiane Action Programme ( VAP) on natural conservation and biodiversity are as follows:

3.3.8 Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

3.3.8.1 Significantly reduce the current rate of loss of biological diversity by 2010 (WSSD target)
3.3.8.2 Promote further listing and coordinated management of ASEAN Heritage Parks as a platform for ecosystem-based protected areas management
3.3.8.3 Facilitate access and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the region’s biological and genetic resources, by effectively implementing the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Access to, and Equitable Sharing of Genetic and Biological Resources
3.3.8.4 Set in place measures to minimise impacts of transboundary movement of living modified organisms in accordance with the ASEAN Guidelines on Risk Assessment of Agricultural GMOs
3.3.8.5 Promote national and regional cooperation to address measures related to the cluster of multilateral environmental agreements addressing biological diversity such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, RAMSAR
3.3.8.6 Establish a functional regional database or network of national databases containing inventory of the biological resources of the ASEAN Region
3.3.8.7 Enhance the role and capacity of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity to function as an effective regional centre of excellence in promoting biodiversity conservation and management
3.3.8.8 Address issues pertaining to invasive alien species

ASEAN’s commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of its rich biological resources is further evident with the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)in September 2005. The Centre continues the work of the previous ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC) Project in promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable use through networking, training, research, and database management.

ASEAN is also in the process of concluding the draft ASEAN Framework Agreement on Access to, and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from, the Utilisation of Biological and Genetic Resources which aims, among others, to ensure consistency of access regulations among the Parties by setting minimum standards for national implementation and to maximise opportunities for the conservation and sustainable use of biological and genetic resources.

The ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme is one of ASEAN’s flagship programmes whereby member countries designate unique and representative national protected areas and reserves as ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) . To date, 27 sites have been designated as AHP.

Other key programmes include the ASEAN-ROK Flagship Project on Restoration of Degraded Forest Ecosystem in the Southeast Asian Tropical Regions (AKECOP Phase I and II) and the ASEAN-German Regional Forest Programme for Southeast Asia (ReFOP Phase I and II).

On 1 December 2005, the ASEAN Ministers responsible for the implementation of CITES officially launched the establishment of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN). This follows the adoption and endorsement of the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora (2005-2010) , in particular to fulfil the second objective of the Action Plan which aims “to promote networking amongst relevant law enforcement authorities in ASEAN countries to curb illegal trade in wild fauna and flora”.

The Working Group currently focuses attention on assisting member countries in the implementation of the following major conventions:

•  1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) ;

•  1972 Convention Concerning the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) ;

•  1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) ;

•  1983 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention) ; and

•  1993 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity .

ASEAN Member Countries’ Participation in Biodiversity related Conventions

Convention

ASEAN

World

CITES (r)

100%

86%

Convention on Biological Diversity (r)

90%

96%

Cartagena Protocol (r)

60%

69%

Ramsar (r)

70%

78%

World Heritage (r)

80%

93%