Workshop on Forest Biodiversity Conservation and Improvement of Rural Livelihoods (1st - 14th November, 2014 Yunnan Province, China)

Updated:2014/12/3 16:17:12


Although there has been significant progress in the pursuit of sustainable forest management and the pace of forest loss has slowed down, deforestation and forest degradation remain major challenges in most developing tropical countries.  An important consequence of this is the loss of biodiversity, which directly and indirectly affects the livelihood of present and future generations.  Biodiversity loss is not just confined to forests and changes in land use due to urbanization, development of infrastructure, etc. continue to undermine biodiversity outside the forests as well. Recent assessments of the status of biodiversity have indicated little evidence of improvement in the situation.  

The Asia-Pacific region is a biodiversity rich region; yet it is a region where biodiversity is facing severe threats, having 13 of the world’s 34 identified biodiversity hotspots. Rapid growth of the economies and associated direct and indirect impacts on land use have resulted in the rapid erosion of biological diversity. During the last few decades almost all Asia-Pacific economies have embarked on efforts to conserve biodiversity. A core of the biodiversity conservation strategy is the establishment of protected areas and their improved management.  Although initially biodiversity conservation through protected areas focused on excluding all human interventions, challenges in implementing such an approach have led to a paradigm shift. In view of the high level of dependence of rural people on forests for livelihood, it has become necessary to integrate livelihood considerations in the management of protected areas.

At the global level, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted in 1992 provides a robust framework to promote global, national and sub-national efforts to conserve and manage biodiversity.  Over 190 countries/ territories are signatories of the Convention which has three broad objectives, namely (a) conservation of biological diversity, (b) sustainable use of its components and (c) fair and equitable sharing of the benefits.  In line with the above broad objectives the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets have been adopted by the parties to CBD.  The plan contains five strategic goals and defines targets for achieving the vision of “a world living in harmony with nature and where, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.  Under strategic goal D (Enhance the benefit to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services)  Target 14 envisages that “By 2020 ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being are restored and safeguarded taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable”. Article 6 of CBD stipulates that every country is to prepare a Country level Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and currently 180 countries have prepared such national strategies and action plans.

The increasing recognition of the linkage between biodiversity conservation and improvement of the livelihood of rural communities needs to be analyzed in the context of these ongoing initiatives by governments, international agencies and civil society organizations. Most developing economies face major challenges in improving the livelihood of rural communities and often areas with high level of biodiversity overlap areas with high levels of poverty. Traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation, especially creation and management of protected areas, had largely adopted a strategy of exclusion; however this has not yielded the desired results. In many cases, conflicts between local communities and protected area management have undermined effective biodiversity conservation. This has led to a rethink, leading to the integration of social goals with conservation objectives.  In fact past neglect of livelihood needs has enhanced resource use conflicts and there is wider recognition of the need to enhance the synergy between social needs (livelihood improvement) and environmental needs (biodiversity conservation).

A wealth of information and experience is available based on the past and ongoing efforts relating to biodiversity conservation and how social objectives like livelihood improvement of local communities could be integrated with conservation objectives. However many challenges persist in the pursuit of an integrated approach, especially on account of the complexities involved in integrating divergent goals and in establishing acceptable trade-offs between competing objectives. Synthesizing the enormous information already available provides a unique opportunity to identify what works and what may not and the reasons thereof.


It is in this context that the APFNet is organizing this workshop to assess the current state of knowledge on forest biodiversity and rural livelihood improvement, share the wide ranging experience, and assess the direction of future efforts to improve the synergy between biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement.  Specifically the workshop aims to:

1. Provide an in-depth understanding of the current state of knowledge on biodiversity conservation and to what extent it has contributed to improvement of livelihood of rural communities.

2. Review the policy, legal and institutional framework  that help to strengthen the linkages between biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement.

3. Discuss the different approaches to biodiversity conservation, including local, national and global efforts and how these have succeeded in dealing with social and economic aspects of biodiversity-based livelihood improvement.

4. Provide an opportunity to share the experience of participants enabling them to learn from the diverse context-specific approaches.

5. Enable the development of a framework for future action in strengthening biodiversity conservation along with fulfilment of the livelihood needs of local communities.

Key issues and questions

Drawing upon the vast experience and knowledge from implementing biodiversity conservation within and outside the Asia-Pacific, the Workshop will attempt to address the following issues/ questions:

• What are the linkages between biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement?  What are the opportunities and limitations for livelihood improvement through biodiversity conservation?

• To what extent rural livelihood improvement has been mainstreamed into the national biodiversity strategies and action plans?

• To what extent existing policies, legislation and institutions have helped to enhance the synergy between biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement? How are the conflicts between competing social and environmental objectives resolved and trade-offs established? What needs to be done to improve the policy and institutional framework to strengthen the linkage between biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement?

• What are the implications of various international conventions/ agreements on promoting an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation/

• What is the experience in pursuing a landscape approach to biodiversity conservation and to what extent this has helped to improve rural livelihoods?

• What is the current experience as regards resolving the increasing human-animal conflicts?  What are the options available to reduce such conflicts and minimize the negative impacts?

• How effective are market driven approaches – for example PES – in strengthening conservation efforts and at the same time augmenting rural livelihoods? What are the lessons that can be learnt from efforts hitherto on developing PES in support of biodiversity conservation?

• What are the future scenarios as regards biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement in the Asia-Pacific region?

More questions will emerge during the course of the Workshop and the entire thrust will be to provide an opportunity for objective and critical thinking.

Main Topics/Areas

The Workshop will attempt to provide a broad analytical framework to assess the current state of forest rehabilitation specifically focusing on the following:

• Global overview of biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement.

• Policies, strategies and plans for biodiversity conservation and how they have mainstreamed livelihood issues.

• Community management of protected areas:  Its effectiveness in accomplishing environmental, social and economic objectives.

• Human-animal conflicts:  Options for dealing with conflicts and their social, economic and environmental implications.

• The economics of biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement:  The potentials and challenges in implementing PES.

• State of knowledge in improving biodiversity conservation- livelihood linkages.

• Future scenarios for biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement.

• Participant Paper on integrating biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement.

List of Experts Invited

Dr. C.T.S. Nair

Dr. Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt

Ms. Li Minguo

Dr. Prasit Wangpakapattanawong

Prof. Shen Lixin

Prof. Xue Dayuan

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