Protected area management has always had its challenges: habitat loss and destruction, poaching of wildlife, law enforcement, encroachment, and many more. In recent years, protected areas with increasingly fragile biodiversity had to contend with increasing pressures from climate change. This provided the impetus for the establishment of the Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP) by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and Germany’s GIZ.
Addressing the interface between biodiversity and climate change, the project has supported ACB through studies in areas such as payment for ecosystem services and management effectiveness of protected areas, capacity building activities, organization of the 4th ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Conference, and the funding of six pilot initiatives in selected AHPs and protected areas in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines and Viet Nam.
The pilot initiatives are “Strengthening the Management of Nam Ha National Protected Area through the Development of Community-based Ecotourism” in Lao PDR; “Development of a Collaborative Management System for Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary” and “Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity Conservation through Community Participation in Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary”, both in Myanmar; “Improved Management of Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park through Participatory Approaches and Development of Ecotourism and Agro-based Production” and “Enhancing Biodiversity Awareness at the Makiling Botanic Gardens and Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve” both in the Philippines; “Development of Guidelines for Biodiversity Management Plan to Mitigate and Adapt Climate Change in Bai Tu Long National Park” and “Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in Marine Protected Areas”, both in Viet Nam.
The BCCP also funded the introduction of organic vegetable farming in Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park in the Philippines. The project provided additional livelihood options for the indigenous peoples’ community and reduced dependence on the park’s resources.
The results, challenges, recommendations, and future steps upon the conclusion of these projects were discussed at the Closing Workshop for the ACB-GIZ BCCP Pilot Projects on February 7-10, 2015 in Ha Long City, Viet Nam. Organized by the ACB-GIZ BCCP and the Biodiversity Conservation Agency of Viet Nam, the workshop discussed good practices and lessons learned from the projects.
The projects provided insights to endeavors that sought to balance issues of biodiversity conservation, climate change, and local community welfare. Some successful initiatives include the introduction of firewood saving stoves in Myanmar to reduce dependence on firewood and lessen extraction of wood in protected areas. The projects highlighted the significance of engaging multiple stakeholders to ensure the success of conservation actions, as well as the importance of strategic public awareness activities to generate greater appreciation for protected areas and biodiversity conservation.
During the workshop, the participants recognized that management of AHPs and protected areas needs to build staff capacity; develop strategies to reduce pressures on biodiversity; develop comprehensive data collection and management systems; and establish market systems for products and services. There should be clear mechanisms for policy translation across all levels, including a feedback mechanism to ensure that policies are appropriate and fully implemented.
The workshop participants concluded that the implementation of the pilot projects has been successful, with areas for improvement, such as timely release of funds; need for sound monitoring and evaluation; strategies for sharing lessons and experiences; and replication and up-scaling of successful project impacts. Valuable lessons and good practices from the BCCP pilot projects will pave the way for future collaborations that aim to further strengthen biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region.