Workshop on Biodiversity Conservation Challenges in the Asia-Pacific: The Trans-Boundary and Livelihood Dimensions (1-13 November 2015)

Updated:2015/11/19 9:45:20

Despite the ongoing national and international efforts to implement sustainable forest management, deforestation and forest degradation remain major challenges in most developing economies. Deforestation and forest degradation have severely eroded the natural capital, including the loss of biodiversity, altering the flow of goods and services. Many of the environmental functions have been undermined, whose long term consequences on the livelihood of people could be significant. Expansion of agriculture through forest clearance, mono-cropping, urbanization, development of infrastructure, mining, etc. remain major drivers of biodiversity loss. Climate change has become a major direct and indirect driver that could have important consequences on biodiversity conservation.

Being a densely populated and rapidly growing region, biodiversity conservation faces enormous problems in the Asia-Pacific economies. Though extremely rich in biodiversity, the fact that 13 of the world’s 34 identified biodiversity hotspots are in the Asia-Pacific region (of which 8 are in Asia and 5 in the Pacific), gives an indication of the severity of the challenges facing biodiversity conservation. During the last few decades, and more particularly after the adoption of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, the Asia-Pacific economies have stepped up their efforts to conserve biodiversity through CBD's National level Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and many other international, regional and national initiatives.

Establishment of protected areas and their improved management remain the main strategy for biodiversity conservation. Largely protected area management has been pursuing an “exclusion approach”, severely restricting or even totally prohibiting human interventions. However such an approach had significant negative impacts on the livelihood of local communities, resulting in conflicts and creating a negative perception about conservation, undermining the interest of local communities in supporting biodiversity conservation. The post 1990 period has witnessed a paradigm shift, favoring people’s participation in conservation efforts and the incorporation of livelihood concerns in protected area management. Yet many challenges persist in the pursuit of integrated approaches that simultaneously accomplish conservation and livelihood improvement objectives.

Trans-boundary issues, especially relating to management of protected areas that straddle two or more economies and the growing illegal trade of plants and animals, are of particular concern in the effective management of conservation areas. As per an assessment in 2007 there are 227 trans-boundary conservation complexes in the world with 3043 protected areas straddling 112 economies extending over an area of 4.6 million km2. In Asia alone there are over 45 trans-boundary parks with an estimated area of over 570,500 km2. Notwithstanding their ecological contiguity across national boundaries, divergences in policies, laws and institutional arrangements undermine their management as an ecological unit. Another important trans-boundary dimension is the rapid growth in the trade of animals and plants (and animal/ plant parts). According an estimate made by the International Police Organization (Interpol)the annual value of illegal trade of animals and plants and parts are of USD 7 to 23 billion. Although efforts to counter this are being stepped up within the framework of CITES, illegal trade is also becoming more sophisticated undermining conservation efforts.

A wealth of information and experience is available based on the past and ongoing efforts relating to biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement and in addressing trans-boundary issues, both management of trans-boundary protected areas and combating illegal trade. Synthesizing the enormous information already available provides a unique opportunity to identify what works and what may not and the reasons thereof as also what may be done to improve the situation.

It is in this context that the APFNet is organizing this training workshop to assess the state of knowledge on forest biodiversity conservation particularly focusing on the rural livelihood and trans-boundary dimensions in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically the workshop aims to:
   • Provide an overview of the on-going global and national level efforts to conserve biological diversity and how the diverse challenges are being addressed, especially in the context of the impact of the different drivers.
  • Review the policy, legal and institutional framework that helps to strengthen the linkages between biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement.
  • Assess the current state of management of trans-boundary conservation areas and the efficacy of existing mechanisms in addressing the policy, legal and institutional challenges in accomplishing improved  trans-border cooperation.
  • Discuss the challenges in combating illegal trade of animals and plants and the efficacy of implementing CITES.
  • Synthesizing available information develop policy briefs relevant to improving biodiversity conservation efforts focusing on the key topics discussed during the Workshop.

Key issues
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:
  • Impact of international agreements and related initiatives on biodiversity conservation, at the national level, including through the formulation and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans;
  • Challenges in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in national development plans. How are the Asia-Pacific economies dealing with the different challenges?
  • Policy, legal and institutional issues in the management of trans-boundary conservation areas;
  • The challenges in combating illegal trade of wild animals and plants;
  • Improving the synergy between biodiversity conservation and fulfilling the livelihoods of local communities;
  • Lessons learnt from community involvement in the management of protected areas and how such involvement can be improved;
  • Strategies and approaches in managing human-wildlife conflicts;
  • Enhancing economic viability of biodiversity conservation: To what extent PES (Payment for Environmental services) can help and what are the limitations?
  • Asian cultural values and biodiversity conservation: What can be done to develop an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation?

More issues and questions will emerge during the course of the workshop and the entire thrust will be to provide an opportunity for objective and critical thinking on how Asia-Pacific economies could pursue a balanced approach dealing with the multitude of complex issues in the use of forests and other allied natural resources ensuring that the needs of the present and future generations are fulfilled.

Main topics/ issues proposed to be addressed
The topics proposed to be addressed during the workshop primarily consist of the following three modules:

Module 1: Biodiversity conservation: An overview of global and national efforts
  • Global overview of biodiversity conservation – International agreements and their implementation
  • National level efforts for biodiversity conservation – National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans – The process of preparation of NBSAP and their implementation – How the various economies are mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in their development plans.
  • The Asian philosophy of conservation - Cultural and religious beliefs and how local communities have mainstreamed biodiversity conservation in their lives.

Module 2: The trans-boundary dimension
  • Evolution of trans-boundary conservation area management – Examples of successes in trans-boundary conservation – Policy, legal and institutional dimensions of management of trans-boundary conservation areas.
  • Trade of wild species – Policy, legal and institutional issues in combating illegal trade of wildlife – Implementation of CITES – Regional and sub-regional initiatives to combat illegal wildlife trade- Success stories in combating wildlife crimes.

Module 3: Biodiversity conservation and improvement of rural livelihoods
  • 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.

Workshop Structure and Training Approach
The workshop is designed to provide the maximum learning opportunity to the participants and the entire thrust will be on dialogue, group work, discussions and debates.
Thematic lectures:
Keynote lectures will be delivered by invited resource persons and will cover the focal themes such as global, regional and national efforts for biodiversity conservation, biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood improvement and the trans-boundary aspects especially focusing on management of trans-boundary protected areas and combating illegal trade of plants and animals focusing on implementation of CITES.

Presentation by participants:
Preparation of papers relating to the workshop themes is a pre-requisite for participation in the workshop. These papers may address the ongoing national efforts to conserve biodiversity or deal with issues such as trans-boundary management of protected areas, combating illegal trade of wild animals and plants, local community involvement in biodiversity conservation, linkages between biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement, managing human-wildlife conflicts, etc. drawing upon the experience/ knowledge of the participants.

Group discussion:
During the workshop the participants will be involved in group work, including debates, role playing, etc. These are intended to share knowledge and experience with other participants, helping to understand how problems are addressed in divergent conditions.

Preparation of policy briefs:
During the Workshop participants will have to work in groups and prepare policy briefs on issues directly related to the theme of the workshop. A provisional list of the issues will be prepared (see Box 1 for a provisional list of the policy brief themes) and each group will be required to work on one of the issues drawing upon on their knowledge and experience and reviewing the available literature. Electronic copies of some of the relevant publications on the different topics will be provided to the participants and the Course Coordinator along with experts in different topics will provide necessary guidance to the group in drafting the policy brief.

Field visits:

Field visits will be arranged to sites that showcase ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts including how rural livelihood issues are mainstreamed in the management of protected areas.

Targeted Participants

The workshop is designed for land use policy makers, planners and managers, specifically dealing with biodiversity conservation and protected area management from the Asia-Pacific developing economies, especially in the East, South and South East Asia region. Depending on availability of funds a limited number of participants from other tropical regions will be accepted especially to facilitate sharing of experience. The total number of participants will be limited to 20.

Workshop Venue
Provisionally the workshop will be conducted in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The exact venue will be decided by the time the nomination process is completed and the details will be provided to the selected participants. Accommodation and meals will be provided at the workshop venue.

List of Experts Invited

> Dr. C.T.S. Nair

> Dr. Li Wei

> Dr. Prasit Wangpakapattanawong

> Dr. Rahimatsah Amat

> Prof. Yongyut Trisurat

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