ASEAN Takes Further Steps to Conserve Natural Heritage

Bandar Seri Begawan, 24 June 2010

Natural heritage experts from the region are meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan to discuss ways to promote cooperation in protected area management. The 3rd ASEAN Heritage Park Conference gathered managers of the ASEAN Heritage Parks, members of the ASEAN Heritage Parks Committee and relevant national experts in an effort to further enhance the on-site management of the ASEAN Heritage Parks.

The ASEAN Heritage Parks, a list of protected areas in the region, was set up in 1984 in line with the view that the region should own a regional conservation and management mechanisms to complement and support national conservation efforts. Following a review in 2003, there are now 28 national protected areas on the list. The ASEAN Heritage Parks is the first and only such regional network of national protected areas.

This year’s ASEAN Heritage Park Conference, themed “Moving Forward Towards Effectively Managed ASEAN Heritage Parks”, provides participants with a venue to share experiences and the indigenous solutions they had developed to effectively manage their own parks.

Haji Mohd Rozan Bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, Permanent Secretary for Administration and Finance of the Ministry of Development of Brunei Darussalam, who opened the Conference, challenged the participants to initiate steps that can be taken individually and collectively to develop and promote effective management of the ASEAN Heritage Parks.

“Effective management and conservation should provide the means to enable local people to become part of the solutions to ensure effective management of the parks,” Haji Mohd Rozan emphasised. “Alongside with the natural wealth and beauty of a place, the most important aspect about the ASEAN Heritage Parks is its benefits to local people and the local economy,” he added.

He stressed that local communities should have a voice in sustainable development. “They should share revenue flows and earn their livelihoods with minimal impact on the environment of the ASEAN Heritage Parks,” he continued.

Dr Raman Letchumanan, Head of the Environment Division at the ASEAN Secretariat, said that the roles of park managers are also crucial to the success of conservation of the heritage parks. “Park managers have first-hand knowledge of the challenges of park management, and they have each developed smart solutions to manage their respective parks while maintaining conservation to an optimum level,” he added.

The Conference, which opened yesterday, is expected to close tomorrow with the formation of a draft regional action plan for ASEAN Heritage Parks. Earlier, the 28 park managers had also received in-principle approval to access small grants from the European Commission to undertake site-level work at their respective parks.

The 3rd ASEAN Heritage Park Conference is organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.

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