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CONTENTS VOL. 11

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16 SPECIAL REPORTS 6 10 10 12

13 14 The ASEAN region is home to a treasure trove of marine ecosystems and species. This richness, however, is facing grave threat from over-exploitation, pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. Fortunately, there are groups working to conserve marine biodiversity across the ASEAN region. Photo by Dr. Klaus Stiefel

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Status of marine biodiversity in the ASEAN region Youth initiatives on marine biodiversity conservation My shark tale Adopt-A-Stream Team: Inspiring students to conserve streams Sahabat Alam: Conserving marine biodiversity Green Community: Protecting coastal ecosystems Asuncion National High School: Reviving the walking catfish The Scouts Association of Malaysia: Training scouts for nature Business initiatives on marine biodiversity conservation Business and biodiversity fuels hopes for mangroves

21 19 HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad: Ensuring healthy wetlands 20 Intel Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.: From land to ocean: Conserving various ecosystems 20 Shangri-La Mactan: Caring for a marine sanctuary 21 Ten Knots Development Corp.: Advocating responsible tourism 22 Climate change adaptation at the frontlines of the Coral Triangle Region 25 Sustaining Ecosystem Services to Enhance Food Security through Integrated Coastal Management – the Outcomes of the Subtheme Workshops at the East Asian Seas Congress 30 Beauty and action, small and large MAY - AUGUST 2012

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SPECIAL SECTION – CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF A BIODIVERSITY CHAMPION 34 Rodrigo U. Fuentes (July 9, 1958 – August 13, 2012)

SPECIAL SECTION – GIZ 38 Mining our ecosystems – overconsumption, climate change and biodiversity

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SPECIAL SECTION – ASEAN-WEN 42 Top ASEAN lawmakers join fight against wildlife crime 42 Joint ASEAN and US government mission starts review and analysis of regional wildlife forensic initiatives 43 China and ASEAN-WEN tighten cooperation and pave way for official agreement 43 Asia’s Regional Response for Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST)

SPECIAL SECTION – RIO+20 44 Rio+20 outcome recognizes importance of biodiversity for sustainable development 45 Rio+20 highlights business’ role in sustainable development 46 Rio Conventions reaffirm collective responsibility for sustainable development 47 Rio+20 highlights justice, governance and law for environmental sustainability

FEATURES 48 World Migratory Bird Day, May 12-13 Celebrating people and migratory birds 48 International Day for Biological Diversity, May 22 4

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44 49 World Environment Day, June 5 Be part of a green economy 50 World Oceans Day, June 8 Protect our blue planet 51 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, June 17 52 World Refugee Day, June 20 Refugees to increase due to biodiversity loss, climate change

PROFILES 53 Malaysia Tunku Abdul Marine Park 56 Indonesia Wakatobi National Marine Park

BOOKMARKS 59 Brunei contributes to ASEAN Biodiversity Fund 59 ACB and KfW to strengthen ASEAN Heritage Parks 59 ACB trains Thailand on biodiversity information management

60 Misamis Occidental celebrates declaration of Mt. Malindang as latest ASEAN Heritage Park 62 ASEAN countries boost capacity on managing taxonomic information 62 ASEAN workshop strengthens access and benefit sharing of genetic resources 63 ASEAN countries enhance capacity on project management 63 IDB 2012: Business sector leads tree growing 64 Bhutan biodiversity experts visit ACB 64 Search for best reporting on biodiversity and climate change is on 64 UNU graduate students visit ACB HQ 65 Nagoya Protocol Committee adopts recommendations on future work, financial issues 65 UNEP launches GEO5 66 GEO5: focus on the Asia-Pacific region 68 ESCAP launches low carbon, regional green growth blueprint ahead of Rio+20 68 UNEP publishes report on voluntary and compliance regimes for biodiversity offsets 68 FAO publishes Yearbook of Forest Products for 2006-2010 69 WHO, Rio Conventions publish report on health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification 69 World Bank releases study on illegal logging 70 BIODIVERSITY NEWS

SOUTHEAST ASIA 79 FOCUS www.aseanbiodiversity.org


Publisher Rodrigo U. Fuentes Editor-in-Chief Rolando A. Inciong Managing Editor Leslie Ann Jose-Castillo Head Writer and Researcher Sahlee Bugna-Barrer Designer, Graphic and Layout Artist Nanie S. Gonzales Circulation Assistant Angela Rose Crissie A. Metin Editorial Board Clarissa C. Arida Rodrigo U. Fuentes Rolando A. Inciong Wilfredo J. Obien Monina T. Uriarte Sheila G. Vergara

Keep the fish swimming. Conserve marine biodiversity now.

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)

About the Contributors

Headquarters 3/F ERDB Building, Forestry Campus University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna, Philippines

Dr. Klaus Stiefel is a neurobiologist and underwater photographer based in Sydney, Australia. Underwater photography is a special art form to him. He says it combines the incredible beauty of nature he experiences underwater with fascinating lessons about the lives of the animals he photographs. He is especially keen on shooting animal behavior, such as symbiosis, mating, territorial fighting or parasite removal. He hopes his images convey the great aesthetic pleasure he experiences when diving. He also hopes that they convince a few more people that the planet’s oceans are worth protecting. He has published a book, “Sex, Drugs and Scuba Diving” on, among other things, underwater photography and marine naturalism. He is also organizing the Evolution Photoganza, a yearly underwater photography event in Malapascua, Philippines.

Telephone: +6349.536-3989; +632.584-4210 Telefax: +6349.536-2865 E-mail: contact.us@aseanbiodiversity.org Website: www.aseanbiodiversity.org ACB Annex Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City 1156 Philippines Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent any official views of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The authors are responsible for any data or information presented in their articles. Letters, articles, suggestions and photos are welcome and should be addressed to: The Editor-in-Chief ASEAN Biodiversity Magazine ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity College, Laguna E-mails: rainciong@aseanbiodiversity.org lavjose2@aseanbiodiversity.org sbbarrer@aseanbiodiversity.org

Ms. Anna Oposa is the co-founder and “Chief Mermaid” of Save Philippine Seas, an independent movement to protect the country’s marine resources through lobbying for the enforcement of environmental laws and harnessing the power of social media. When Anna is not in or by the water, she is a freelance lifestyle journalist, project manager, and public speaker. Anna is best at being an ambassador of good vibes. Dr. Darmawan is the Coordinator of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has a background in Marine Policy and Fisheries Management. As Coordinator, he manages the dayto-day activities of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat and ensures that the CTI-CFF working groups ‘activities, such as the Climate Change Adaptation Working Group, are being implemented on time and are aligned with the provisions of the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action. The Coordinator liaises with the focal points of the six CTI National Coordinating Committees, development partners to ensure that various activities supporting the CTI-CFF at the regional and national level are aligned with each other. Ms. Nicole Marie Afable is a technical writing assistant at the PEMSEA Resource Facility, the component of the PEMSEA Regional mechanism that provides secretarial and technical services to PEMSEA’s participating partners, including the ACB. She has been with PRF since April 2012 and was involved in the preparations for the triennial East Asian Seas Congress 2012. She has a degree in Behavioural Sciences from the University of the Philippines Manila and is currently taking graduate studies in Political Science at the De La Salle University Manila. Her research interests include human-animal interaction, environmental governance and policy, and environmental co-financing mechanisms. Mr. Philipp Gassner is a cross-disciplinary environmental scientist with an international track record in project management, research, consultancy and science communication. He has a B.Sc. degree in Geoecology and Ecosystem Management, with technical expertise and strong interest in both the science-policy and the development-environment interface. Philipp is currently enrolled in a M.Sc. of Environmental Governance, and works as an external consultant and project correspondent for the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project. Sahlee Bugna-Barrer is the publications consultant of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. In the past 15 years she has worked with a number of environmental organizations in developing and editing content for publications and advocacy materials on biodiversity conservation, protected areas, ecotourism, climate change and fisheries resource management. Previous engagements include the National Integrated Protected Areas Programme and the Fisheries Resource Management Project. Sahlee has a degree in Communication Research from the University of the Philippines and has finished course work towards a masters degree in Environmental Studies from Miriam College.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Photo by Ng Kim Tee

Mangroves

Status of marine biodiversity in the ASEAN region From the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook

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But, there is hope. A lot of steps – big and small – can still be taken to conserve marine ecosystems and the species that they harbor. For one, governments can develop, encourage, enhance and implement wide-ranging integrated marine and coastal area management. People can also take simple such as learning more about marine biodiversity and teaching others about it, planting mangroves, refraining from throwing trash in bodies of water, and not patronizing delicacies made from endangered marine species. Photo by Dr. Klaus Stiefel

The territory occupied by the ASEAN Member States houses a third of the world’s coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass areas. The region is home to 30 percent of coral reefs, 35 percent of mangroves, and at least 33 percent of all seagrass environs on earth. Nine out of ten ASEAN Member States are endowed with extensive coastlines, providing an aggregate total of some 173,000 kilometers of shore. These ecosystems support the highest biodiversity of coastal and marine fauna and flora in the planet. An estimated 600 million people depend directly on these resources for food and income, which also forms the economic base for the fishing and tourism industries of the region. Marine ecosystems are also important in maintaining marine plant, animal, and microbial biodiversity. They provide fish and other marine fauna a place to live and breed. They sequester carbon. Moreover, they provide outdoor recreation, education, and ecotourism. Despite its importance, however, marine biodiversity has suffered immensely owing to over-exploitation and unsustainable human practices.

Soldier fish

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SPECIAL REPORT

Source: ReefBase and ReefCheck. ReefBase and Reef Check are constantly adding information (observations) on coral reefs. For more up-to-date information, visit the ReefBase and ReefCheck web sites at: www.reefbase.org and www.reefcheck.org. Relief: USGS GTOPO30

• Uncontrolled human population growth has been one of the major factors of pressure build-up in coastal areas in the last 40 years. In turn, such pressures have caused widespread resource exploitation and degradation, particularly in South Asia, Southeast Asia and China, where a significant portion of the population depends on viable fisheries for livelihood.

Corals

Photo by Dr. Klaus Stiefel

dilemma is the fact that the rest of Asia, namely South Asia and East and North Asia, are not faring any better – with current rates of losses and threats being also greater than world figures. The only reason why the “reefs at low threat” percentages are lower than the world total is because the rest of the reefs of the region are in the more badly damaged categories.

cent of it has effectively been lost. • Moreover, country estimates based on various reports revealed a significantly lower aggregate coral reef area for the region at 69,734.5 square kilometers. • Although Southeast Asia hosts the largest coral reef areas in the world, it also has the highest rate of loss, which today stands at 40 percent. Further compounding that Photo by Dr. Klaus Stiefel

Coral Reefs: The marine forest • Coral reefs are complex marine ecosystems found in shallow tropical waters that provide refuge to approximately 25 percent of all marine species. • Coral reefs provide home to many marine species. Comparable to tropical rain forests in having the highest biological diversity on earth, coral reefs serve as the physical framework of critical habitats that support the nursery needs of fish and invertebrate larvae. • Reefs protect coastlines from storm surges, support productive fishery industries and provide the main source of protein and income for millions of coastal families in Southeast Asia. Coral reef-dependent species have scientific, pharmaceutical and educational value, and are extremely valuable as tourist destinations. • The fifth global report on the Status of Coral Reefs of the World, published in 2008, indicates that the coral reef area of Southeast Asia spans 86,025 square kilometers, but reports that 40 per-

Soft coral tentacles

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Photo by Dr. Klaus Stiefel

SPECIAL REPORT

Seagrass wrasse

Seagrasses: The least understood of the coastal canaries • Seagrasses are flowering plants that spend and complete their life cycles under water. To persist, seagrasses must have access to sunlight, sufficient immersion in seawater, and adequate rooting substrate to avoid being washed away by tides and currents. • Southeast Asia has 18 of the world’s 60 seagrass species and 33 percent of all seagrass areas on earth. The Philippines, Malaysia and Viet Nam have the most diverse numbers of species, with 16, 15 and 14 kinds of seagrass, respectively. • Seagrasses form the basis of a complex coastal ecosystem, supporting both threatened and economically important fishery species. • Seagrass leaves harbor epiphytic algae and animals, like sea

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Source: UNEP-WCMC 2005. World Atlas of Seagrasses accessed on 15 April 2010 at http://stort.unep-wcmc.org/imaps/marine/seagrass/viewer.htm. Relief: USGS GTOPO30

squirts, which serve as the base of food sources for a hierarchy of larger animals such as fish, sea birds, crabs, lobsters, dugongs and sea turtles. • The foliage of seagrasses also slows down water currents and traps sediments,

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thus, improving nearshore water clarity. • Bottom-trawling, extensive coastline destruction and modification, decline in coastal water quality, and human-induced development have endangered seagrass beds in Southeast

Asia. Anthropogenic effects on seagrasses have become apparent in some sites of the Sulu Sea, where epiphytes have been observed to cover entire leaf canopies indicating nutrient enrichment from organic domestic waste.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Source: World Conservation Monitoring Center. Mangroves of the World data set. Relief: USGS GTOPO30 Note: Mangrove areas are enhanced for visibility. Data quality varies by country.

Dr. Klaus Stiefel

Mangroves: A critical support ecosystem • Mangroves are tropical, salt-tolerant plants that straddle inter-tidal zones around estuaries and lagoons. • With massive root systems, mangrove forests serve as buffer zones in coastal areas. These ecosystems regulate the impact of strong storm surges to coastal communities by absorbing the energy of strong waves and wind. • As forests, mangroves serve as carbon sinks that mitigate pollution, as carbon dioxide stores that improve the fertility of the land, and as soil erosion checks that capture and accumulate rich sediments in its roots. These same roots attract marine species that may be harvested, sold or consumed by local inhabitants. • Mangroves in the ASEAN region occupy an area of over 60,000 square kilometers. In the last few decades, mangroves in many parts of the region have suffered significant levels of deforestation, mainly due to conversion to fishponds. • Presently, the region has the largest extent of mangroves in the world, with Indonesia accounting for almost 62 percent of the ASEAN territory’s total. In 1980, the estimated regional total mangrove area was 63,850 square kilometers. As of 2005, this whittled down to 46,971 square kilometers, for an aggregate decline of about 26 percent within a 25-year period.

• The chief cause of mangrove depletion in the ASEAN territory has been the conversion of mangrove inter-tidal areas to mariculture ponds, most commonly for shrimps. Pond culture is responsible for 50 percent of mangrove losses in the Philippines, and from 50 to 80 percent of Southeast Asia’s. • There is urgency in taking action that will better protect mangrove ecosystems. Mangrove communities are spread across the world’s tropical coastlines, mostly in localities with limited funds for conservation or research, and with only modest technical capacities for assessing biodiversity threats and developing conservation strategies. „ For more information on marine biodiversity, log on to chm.aseanbiodiversity. org.

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YOUTH INITIATIVES ON MARINE My shark tale By Anna Oposa* n September 2012, I moved to Malapascua, Cebu in the central part of the Philippines to pursue my most ambitious project yet: to intensify the protection of Monad Shoal as a working marine reserve. Monad Shoal, a seamount 8.16 kilometers due east from Malapascua, is a cleaning station of thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus ). The sharks, with their trademark tails as long as their bodies, regularly visit Monad Shoal because of their significant relationship with resident Cleaner and Moon wrasses. This cleaning activity is unique to the Philippines, making these species valuable to Philippine tourism and the economy. A study conducted by the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP) shows that the value of a slaughtered thresher shark is only PhP8,125 (USD 190), while scuba divers pay amounts that collectively draw in over PhP6,000,000 (USD 138,535) per annum to see living thresher sharks. The consistent early morning presence of the sharks fuels about 80 percent of the regional economy. My life here looks like something made out of the pages of Eat, Pray, Love. I live alone in the second floor of a house. The sink doesn’t work and the toilet has no flush. Sometimes there’s no electricity or running water. When the rain is strong, water forces itself through the window,

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ceiling, and door. Not that I’m complaining — as my friend pointed out, my humble home on the beach has a “priceless view.” The best part is that Divelink, a dive shop run by friends, is a three-minute walk away. When there are large groups of divers, the Divelink boys invite me to join the dives as a sweeper or safety diver. Diving with thresher sharks By 4:30 a.m., a number of boats are already on their way to Monad Shoal. Research shows that the thresher sharks appear early in the morning to get cleaned, thus the before-sunrise call time. Divers descend from the moorings, sink to about 30 meters (90 feet), and wait near the plateau ledges for the sharks to come. I have seen the threshers at their “salon” many times, but the feeling I get when I see them is still like the first time: excited and in awe. It never gets old. They swim slowly, with their tails undulating behind them, like the ribbon of a gymnast. They are curious beings; they have come within reach, just watching me watching them. Each time, I wonder, “How can people be scared of sharks?” Followed by the thought bubble, “How can people be so greedy and kill these animals?” The pelagic thresher shark is classed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union

Thresher Shark

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BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Teaching students at Verde Island about marine biodiversity

Attending the World Economic Forum

Diving at Monad Shoal

Examining planktons

for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Sharks, as the top predator of the sea, play an important role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. When these mainly oceanic sharks venture into shallow coastal waters, they become highly vulnerable to fishing and finning. Thresher sharks are among the more demanded species because of their high quality meat. Thresher shark fishery is ongoing in areas like Bicol, Surigao, and Leyte. Eighty percent of global thresher shark populations have been lost to fishing pressure over the past 15 years. They represent 12 percent of Taiwan’s shark catch with an average 3,100 units (222 metric tons) taken per annum.

Trouble in paradise Majestic as Monad may be, it cannot continue the way it’s being treated. While I can say with confidence that no one from Malapascua fishes the threshers, I can’t say the same about nearby communities. There are no limits to the number of divers at the site, so you might bump into two or 20 at any given time. But the problem is not so much the quantity of divers, but the quality. Not all divers and their guides are competent enough not to stand, kneel, or lie down on the reefs. Divers can be seen trampling on the reefs everyday, which is why a lot of the sites have pulverized corals. There are currently no policing and reporting mechanisms, or enforced

legislation. All these factors, plus the major Crown of Thorn infestation, results in suffering marine life. Learning about species conservation The more involved I become with species conservation, the more I realize that it’s less about the species and more about the people who are capable of taking care of the species. The current project I’m working on entails major stakeholder mobilization — training the dive guides, getting the support of the dive shop managers, involving the teachers, government officials, and law enforcers. Funding is not a problem. The bigger challenge is getting the stakeholders interested, and motivating them

to sustain their efforts. I’ll be the first to admit that I am making this up as I go. I graduated with a degree in English Studies in April 2011, so the only compass I have is my instinct. Luckily, I’m surrounded by an incredible support system on the island and across the country, from my family to other marine conservationists. I only hope that my willingness to learn makes up for my inexperience. The pursuit to positivity It can be a struggle to stay positive. There’s been resistance, as expected. People doubt my capabilities and sincerity. The recent filing of Certificates of Candidacy for the 2013 elections damp-

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SPECIAL REPORT ened my enthusiasm, as well. As I read tweets and articles about political dynasties and celebrities declaring their intention to run for public office, I caught myself thinking, “What I do doesn’t matter, especially with politicians like those.” It was and will continue to be disheartening to watch this circus called Philippine politics. But what else to do but to keep going? If the people will lead, the leaders will follow. I must admit, I sometimes wish I could stop caring. But like my friend Chely pointed out, apathy would be the harder choice. Not a lot of people can say they have the opportunity to pursue what they love, what they’re

good at, and what makes a contribution to society all at the same time. Given the blessings within my reach, apathy would really be the harder choice. Whenever I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall, I remind myself that the wall will break eventually if I remain consistent and persistent. In a recent interview, a journalist asked me what else I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime. At my age, there are still so many. But my answer that afternoon was simple: “I measure how effective I am as an advocate based on the little things. For as long as I still see people throwing trash out of their cars and into the sea, it means I haven’t been

Accepting the Future for Nature Award

effective at all.” This means that there’s still so, so much work to be done. „

*Anna Oposa is the co-founder and “Chief Mermaid” of Save Philippine Seas

Adopt-A-Stream Team (Malaysia)

Inspiring students to conserve streams nitiated in 2009, the Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) Team is composed of Grade 7 students from the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL). Under the program, students monitor water quality, habitat diversity, macroinvertebrate biodiversity and stream ecosystem health in areas adjacent to their school community. The project contributes to conservation through data collection and data sharing. The AAS Team believes that using data they collect to educate their peers and local community, they can inspire local communities to advocate stream biodiversity conservation in Malaysia. According to Mr. Kenneth Peavy, a science teacher at ISKL and advisor of the AAS Team, the program allows students to be young scientists. “It empowers students with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about environmental issues. Apart from making a difference in conservation efforts, the program can also be easily replicated at other schools because of its low cost and high effectiveness,” Peavy said.

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Since the team was established, they have conducted several water quality-sampling trips, held one community forum, been featured in newspapers, radio and magazines in Malaysia. They have also received a US$1,000 grant to purchase equipment from the East Asian Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) and an ISKL development fund grant for US$1,500 to continue their stream monitoring efforts. “The field experience in their local stream has made the students very aware of biodiversity in the stream and the importance of knowing more about stream ecology, biodiversity and conservation. They have plans to continue their stream sampling and implement an online database to share data with future students and concerned citizens, which will also hopefully attract the attention of policy makers and land developers in Malaysia,” Harold L. Harbert, director for outreach and education of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said. „

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


SPECIAL REPORT Sahabat Alam (Indonesia)

Conserving marine biodiversity ahabat Alam or Friends of Nature is a wellknown environmental education program with almost 2,000 members – an extraordinary feat for a young organization. Led by high school student Adeline Suwana, the program is being used as a tool to generate awareness of biodiversity conservation through school seminars, events, talk shows, films and various activities to encourage young people to save and protect the environment. Sahabat Alam implements conservation activities across various ecosystems. In the area of marine biodiversity, the organization is active in planting mangroves. It also helps

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free hawksbill turtles (known as penyu sisik in Indonesia) into their natural habitat. “In the conservation area, turtle eggs are incubated. After reaching 36 months, the turtles are released into the ocean. By freeing the turtles, we hope that their population will increase,” Adeline said. Apart from freeing penyu sisik, Sahabat Alam members also teach young people not to pollute the ocean as the dirty environment will affect the turtles and many other species. In celebrating World Environment Day on June 5, 2009 and the World Sea Day on June 8, 2009, Sahabat Alam joined other organizations such as Yayasan KEHATI, Yayasan

Terumbu Karang Indonesia, Teens Go Green, Ciliwung Merdeka, Joint Society for Nature and other groups in cleaning the Ciliwung River in Bogor. Apart from gathering river trash, the groups held a river expedition and a story-telling session about the importance of maintaining the river’s cleanliness. They also launched a “no styrofoam” campaign that aims to reduce trash being thrown into seas and rivers. Related to this project is a coral reef conservation initiative at the Indonesian Thousand Islands of Pulau Pramuka. Sahabat Alam brought together children to educate them about the importance of conserving marine biodiversity. Members

of the youth organization plant coral reefs to provide homes to many species of fish and to encourage ecotourism. Recently, Sahabat Alam gathered seven schools from Pulau Tidung to plant 15 types of coral reefs and clean up the community’s white sand beach. According to Adeline, the objective of the project is to equip Indonesia’s young generations with knowledge on marine ecosystem conservation. “We involve in planting coral reefs. This activity will contribute to the conservation of coral reefs and can be used for Sea Laboratorium and attract Eco Tourism,” the young biodiversity champion said. „

Planting corals (top, left), cleaning up the beaches (above), explaining the importance of water (left).

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Orienting volunteers about marine biodiversity conservation

Planting mangroves

Green Community (Indonesia)

Protecting coastal ecosystems omposed of 50 members who are between 19 and 26 years old, Green Community seeks to involve students in conservation initiatives. Members are expected to form a cadre of environmentalists who will spread the word of conservation. One of the organization’s major projects is the protection of coastal ecosystems. Witnessing the severe damage to the coastal areas in nearby Kendal, Green Community members decided to involve themselves in the management of coastal ecosystems in areas near the university. This initiative uses a threepronged approach which includes conducting research, promoting community awareness and planting mangroves. The biology majors study the socio-economic conditions of communities living in the coastal areas and how their activities affect the coastal ecosystems in those places. Regular educational activities are also held to inform the locals

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about the extent of damage suffered by the bodies of water near their communities and the species they contain. After this, the student lecturers highlight the many services offered by coastal ecosystems to communities such as food and livelihood in hopes of inspiring locals to protect their “source of life.”

Another key activity under this project is the planting of mangroves with a number of partners such as the Go Green Movement and the PRENJAK Youth Group. Young people are encouraged to participate in mangrove reforestation activities. Prior to planting, participants are educated about the role played

by mangroves in ensuring the integrity of coastal resources. Green Community members highlight the fact that mangroves provide nursery grounds for fish, prawns and crabs, and support fisheries production in coastal waters. They also protect coastal areas from storm surges, waves, tidal currents and typhoons. „

Asuncion National High School (Philippines)

Reviving the walking catfish n the province of Davao del Norte in the Philippines, high school students are learning about agro-biodiversity – the variety of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture. Dubbed “Revival of Native Species of Philippine Hito or Walking Catfish (Clarias macrocephalus),” the project allows students to experience

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first-hand how to conserve an important species. Under the project, learn about habitats, collection of biodiversity samples, identification of threats to biodiversity, the food chain, and planning for habitat conservation activities. Participating students meet four hours per week for 16 weeks to attend orientations and hands-on training sessions on growing native catfish. Students also harvest catfish and

distribute their catch to interested parents. The catfish was chosen as the project’s focus because it is considered an important food source. The freshwater catfish is native to the Philippines. It is, however, fast becoming scarce in many natural habitats. “It is wonderful that our students are having a hands-on experience in the revival of our endangered species such as the native hito (catfish). Knowing this

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The Scouts Association of Malaysia (Malaysia)

Training scouts for nature or many decades now, the scouting movement has been molding millions of young boys and girls to be responsible members of society. Among the values instilled in scouts is love for the environment. In Malaysia, Persekutuan Pengakap-Pengakap Malaysia (PPM) or The Scouts Association of Malaysia is going the extra mile in training scouts who will champion the cause of biodiversity conservation. PPM established the Scouts for Nature program which seeks to raise the

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awareness of the general public in Malaysia about the urgent need to conserve biological resources. Through the project, scouts across the country are conducting an information and petition campaign to encourage the public to stop the consumption of turtle eggs and report wildlife crime to authorities. They also inform people about the importance of conserving wetlands through a wetlands camp and participated in mangrove replanting in Setiu Wetlands with local children. In 2009, Scouts for Na-

ture partnered with WWFMalaysia for the “Egg=Life” campaign which sought to improve the protection of marine turtles in Malaysia. Through the campaign, scouts collected signature pledges. “This showcased that scouting can truly reach out to the youth while encouraging the next generation of turtles conservationist. The effort from this youth group in their support to WWF-Malaysia generated 19,425 pledges in less than a month. This is the first time such attempt for turtle conservation has

been conducted simultaneously throughout Malaysia for turtle conservation by a youth group,” River Foo, community liaison officer of WWF-Malaysia, said. To spread awareness on turtle conservation and gather pledges, the Scouts for Nature used a variety of channels such as social networking and scouting events. “It is important to note that the scout network proves to be an effective platform in spreading conservation awareness and reaching out to the youth,” Foo underscored. „

effort, I am sure that other students would also show enthusiasm and awareness of bringing back this endangered species,” Mr. Bonifacio Guillano, president of Asuncion National High School’s Parents-Teachers Association, said. The activity falls under the “Schools and Community Agro-Biodiversity Conservation and Pesticides Impact Assessment” project, a collaboration among the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Department of Education, the local government of Davao del Norte, KASAKALIKASAN and the Thai Education Foundation. „

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BUSINESS INITIATIVES ON MARINE

Business and biodiversity fuels hopes for mangroves By Sahlee Bugna-Barrer n biodiversity conservation, it has always been emphasized that collaboration among all stakeholders – encompassing government, conservation organizations, the private sector, academe, media, local communities, and the general public – is key to ensuring the restoration of degraded habitats and ecosystem services, and the sustainable conservation of natural resources. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has continued to exert efforts to involve multiple stakeholders in conservation activities, and one of these events is the Mangrove Tree Planting and Media Tour and Forum for the International Day for Biological Diversity and National Oceans Month 2012 conducted in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines on 15 May 2012. The Month of May is relevant among international conservation organizations because it marks the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB) on 22 May. This year, the theme for the IDB is marine and coastal diversity, which coincides with the Philippines’ celebration of the month of May as the National Oceans Month. As such, ACB decided to commemorate both

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events with a mangrove tree planting activity, media tour and forum at the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park in Brgy. Kilitisan, Calatagan, Batangas. The event was organized by ACB with the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (ACB-GIZ BCCP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENRPAWB), Nissan Motor Philippines, Inc. (Nissan), Shell, the Philippine Science Journalists Association, Inc. (PsciJourn), Batangas Government Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the Municipal Government of Calatagan. The Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park The Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park is a successful community driven initiative to rehabilitate the local mangrove forest, with support from the municipal government of Calatagan and the province of Batangas, the Batangas government Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO), and international organizations such as Conservation International.

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SPECIAL REPORT

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION The Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park is a 7.5kilometer marine protected area in Brgy. Kilitisan, Calatagan, Batangas. The park is home to about 20 species of mangroves, a wide variety of shellfish and crustaceans, and other marine life. It also plays host to abundant species of birds, many of which nest and stay in the area to feed in the vicinity. Many years before the park was created, the mangrove area was slowly being degraded as mangrove trees were felled to serve as fuelwood for charcoal, and to make way for housing and aquaculture areas. Residents saw the changes wrought by the damage to the mangrove forests as pollution increased; catches of shrimp, fish and other marine species slowly declined; coastal areas were damaged from stronger waves and floods during storms; and the general condition of the coastal areas generally declined. In a community where residents relied heavily on fishing and other marine resources for their livelihood, these changes led to declines in incomes and loss of economic opportunities. These triggered concern among community residents and led to efforts to restore the mangrove areas in Brgy. Kilitisan. Conservation and management Residents worked with the local government and sought support from conservation organizations for assistance in regenerating the mangrove forest. The community initiated the mangrove conservation project since they re-

alized that they will be the primary beneficiaries of the project. They are also aware that the project will benefit others since they are helping create a buffer against the impacts of climate change. The Sangguniang Bayan or local government of Brgy. Kilitisan provided technical and logistical support for the development of the area and help solicit support from government environment agencies and non-government organizations. Organizations such as Conservation International and other NGOs readily supported training to improve knowledge in biodiversity conservation; capacity development for reforestation and management of mangrove areas; establish community organizations and regulations to support conservation actions; and development of the ecotourism potential of the mangrove and coastal area.

To strengthen local management of the mangrove conservation park, the local residents formed Tagapangalaga ng Likas Yamang Dagat Mula sa Kilitisan (Stewards of the Natural Marine Resources of Kilitisan) or TALIMUSAK. TALIMUSAK works with the municipal office of the DENR and other local government organizations in developing a system to manage the park, extract fees to support conservation efforts, create businesses that will support and benefit the reforestation project, and create campaigns that will encourage more visitors to the area. Ecotourism Currently, the park has a landing site where a small barge can transport visitors to the main visitor site in the mangrove park. A nipa hut is available where guests can rest and marvel at the view or take in the fresh sea air. A watch tower provides

a commanding view of the park and the ocean, and a perfect vantage point for bird watching enthusiasts. There is also a network of boardwalks that allows visitors to roam the area without getting wet, and protects the fragile habitats from human intrusion. For adventurous visitors who wish to stay overnight a campsite is available for guests to pitch their tents. Visitors to the park pay a PhP 100 entrance fee (US$ 2.50), which is divided into payment for tour guides, maintenance of the facilities of the park, and others. Additional income is generated when guests order meals and snacks, through the sale of seedlings for tree planting, through tour guiding services, the sale of souvenirs, as well as the sale of fruits from trees that dot the neighboring areas of the mangrove conservation park. In early 2010, Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation

Mr. Val de Leon, Senior Vice President for Administration and IT, Nissan Motor Philippines, Inc. (NMPI); Dr. Dicky Simorangkir, International Senior Advisor, GIZ-Biodiversity and Climate Change Project; Mr. Danilo Quidem, Barangay Captain of Brgy. Quilitisan, Calatagan; Ms. Mien Custodio, Batangas Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer; Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director for Biodiversity Information Management, ACB; and Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr.; Program Development Specialist, ACB

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SPECIAL REPORT Park began offering study tour packages to both high school and college levels. Students of natural sciences, particularly ecological biodiversity, are assisted by polite guides of the park. Future activities include the enhancement of ecotourism plans as well as the improvement of current infrastructure. The Ang Pulo management sees the need to further improve the existing facilities. They aim to construct a pavilion at the campsite, another nipa hut that will serve as a birdwatching point and a reception office beside the boat landing area. Business and biodiversity working together in Ang Pulo Nissan Motor Philippines decided to partner with ACB as part of its responsibility to help realize a sustainable society through environmental efforts. Nissan strives to maintain a corporate culture that is sensitive to and is quick to act appropriately and rapidly to changes in society. Since 1992, the global headquarters of Nissan institutionalized an environmental philosophy using the phrase symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature. Since that time, Nissan has worked to realize this ideal, always trying to understand

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the impact of our products and corporate activities on the environment. Part of Nissan’s effort in this regard has been the development of more eco-friendly vehicles; reducing emissions and the use of substances that impact the air, water, soil, and biodiversity; and attention to details in production that require consideration for the life cycle of a vehicle from development and production to use and disposal. The Nissan global office has also carried out extensive studies on the relationship between mobility and ecosystem services with the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies. Apart from the development of energy-efficient vehicles and various clean energy technological innovations, Nissan has decided to participate in various environmental programs and activities. Their participation in the International Day for Biodiversity event serves as another testament to their commitment to a sustainable society. Nissan sought to go the extra mile in preserving biodiversity by planting 200 mangroves in Ang Pulo, which serves as an important step in response to the growing threats and concerns brought about by climate change.

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Nissan Motor Philippines officials and staff worked hand in hand with local government officials, members of TALIMUSAK, and media representatives in the mangrove tree planting. Nissan expressed their hope that this will only be the first of many activities where they can work with ACB and other organizations in protecting Philippine biodiversity. Media tour and forum on marine biodiversity The ACB-led celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity was also a venue for business and conservation organizations to raise public awareness of the significance of mangroves and the need to ensure their conservation, particularly in the light of increasingly damaging impacts from climate change. Bringing media personnel to mangrove conservation areas such as Ang Pulo provided an opportunity for the media to see conservation in action; witness the efforts and collaboration between various stakeholders; and contribute to environmental protection. The media tour also included a forum in marine biodiversity, featuring experts on marine and environmental resources in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. At the forum, Dr. Filiberto Pollisco Jr., Program Development Specialist of ACB, provided a Briefing on the Status, Challenges and Outlook: ASEAN Mangroves and Marine Biodiversity. He provided an insight into the formerly extensive mangrove areas of ASEAN, and the impacts of their degradation. He stressed that lost ecosystem services from the destruction of mangroves have led to the vulnerability of coastlines and communities to intense waves, tsunami, coastal erosion, depleted

fish stocks, loss of livelihood, and others. A positive outlook for mangrove rehabilitation is the use of such areas for ecotourism, to generate income for the local community as well as restore the ecological services of mangrove areas. Dr. Domeng Bravo, Chief of the Coastal and Marine Management Division and Deputy Site Manager of Manila Bay from DENR Region 4, gave a Briefing on the Status, Challenges, Outlook: Philippine Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity. He gave an overview of the approach of the DENR in the protection of marine and coastal diversity. He stated that uncontrolled distribution and monitoring of fishing licensing agreements, conversion of mangrove areas for aquaculture, as well as a number of other factors contributed to the deterioration of mangrove areas in the country. He also elaborated on various ongoing efforts being undertaken by the DENR, such as the National Greening Program, to rehabilitate mangrove areas. Dr. Dicky Simorangkir, International Senior Adviser of ACB-GIZ-BCCP, provided a Briefing on Mangroves and Climate Change. He mentioned the interdependent relationship between mangroves and biodiversity and climate change. Mangroves help mitigate the impacts from climate change, while its degradation aggravate climate change effects. He also stressed that mangroves are among the first lines of defense against climate change, since they protect coastal communities from intense storms, flooding, coastal erosion and tsunami. Their high sequestration capacity also highlights the significance of mangrove rehabilitation. Mr. Luis Awitan, Department Head of the Batangas

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SPECIAL REPORT Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park.

Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office, gave a Briefing on the Mangrove and Marine Programs of Batangas. He enumerated the ongoing mangrove rehabilitation projects in the province, many of which were learning from the experiences of the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Project. Mr. Dionisio Gonzales, President of the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Project, gave a Briefing on Ang Pulo Mangroves and People’s Participation. He explained that many of the members of the barangay saw the impacts of the degradation of the mangroves,

which is why they decided to become part of the mangrove conservation initiative. They have high hopes for the project, and while the project had a difficult start, the community is now reaping the benefits of their efforts through increased fishery stock and increased earnings through the mangrove conservation park. The forum ended with a discussion among participants of the efforts of business in biodiversity conservation, challenges to the management of the mangrove conservation park; the role of media in biodiversity conservation; and the future of the Ang

Multiple stakeholder collaboration leads to successful conservation initiatives When stakeholders work together, there is greater understanding of the need to conserve the environment, as well as a desire to continue efforts in biodiversity conservation. Businesses and media, sectors that are increasingly providing more support to environmental initiatives and are helping focus people’s attention on urgent environmental issues, need more opportunities to see firsthand the challenges and efforts being exerted by government, conservation organizations, and affected communities. Involvement in activities such as tree plantings and participation in discussions and activities on various environmental concerns allow them to have a better understanding of what still needs to be done to ensure that conservation measures continue. Their roles in con-

serving the environment become clearer and there is an increased sense that all sectors have a responsibility to care for and nurture the environment. The mangrove tree planting and media tour and forum to the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park is an example of activities that bring together various stakeholders that will benefit from and can contribute to increasing sustained environmental efforts. It must be clear to stakeholders that everyone benefits and any form of contribution and support is a significant input to meaningful action and change that can reverse the negative impacts wrought by human neglect on the world’s natural resources. It is hoped that further activities between ACB and organizations such as Nissan Motor Philippines will continue to thrive and provide significant support in generating sustainable conservation initiatives such as the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Park. „

HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad (Malaysia)

Ensuring healthy wetlands eeking to enhance the level of environmental awareness in Malaysia’s Kuala Selangor community, HSBC Malaysia Berhad is working with the Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP) under the Green Partnership Program. The five-year project which commenced in 2006 involves three phases. The first phase which covered 2006-2008 focused on mangrove conservation at KSNP. Between 2009 and 2010, the partnership positioned KSNP as a center for outreach and focused on capacity building for local communities, regional trainings, habitat and species protection, and environmental education for local authorities, school children, fishermen and other stakeholders. The final leg of the project will continue to focus on education and positioning KSNP as a regional resource center for wetlands information in 2011 and 2012. The project has resulted in an alternative source of income for the communities in Kuala Selangor through the establishment of mangrove nurseries. The establishment of KSNP as a learning center has also made the

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nature park a main resource on wetlands biodiversity. Its greatest achievement is its ability to inspire the youth of Kuala Selangor to conserve wetlands. The young locals are now more aware about the consequences that they will face if they do not preserve the mangrove. „

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SPECIAL REPORT Intel Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)

From land to ocean: Conserving various ecosystems he name Intel is synonymous with cuttingedge microprocessors and chipsets. Over the past few years, however, the company has been increasingly known in the environment arena. In Malaysia, the company launched the program dubbed “From Land to Ocean: Intel Malaysia’s Commitment to the Environment.” Under this project are several key initiatives one of which is the “Intel and Friends Solid Waste Recycling” which the company conducts with the Department of Education, Malaysia Newsprint Industries and 58 schools and colleges. Funds generated from the solid waste sale are used to support projects such as a turtle satellite tracking system. A key part of the project is

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the series of talks featuring Intel employee volunteers who encourage students and teachers across Penang and Kedah to apply the 5R principle: rethink, replace, reduce, reuse and recycle. Another project is the River Ranger Program, an education program and sci-

ence project that involves students and teachers from 35 schools to analyze and evaluate river water quality and river biodiversity as a hands-on approach to understanding the importance of river ecosystems. Vermi-composting with the University Science of Malaysia, Mangrove Forest

Rehabilitation, Marine Turtle Conservation, and Fruit Tree Planting are the other notable projects conducted involving a wide range of stakeholders from government, non-government organizations, local communities, fisherfolk, as well over 150,000 students and teachers. „

Shangri-La Mactan (Philippines)

Caring for a marine sanctuary n the island of Cebu lies Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, the first resort in the Philippines to achieve ISO 14001, the international environmental management systems standard. Over the past few years, the company has been implementing

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a number of initiatives that seek to reduce its operations’ impact on the environment. Its sewage treatment plant, for one, manages waste by means of processing waste to water and simultaneously providing water to irrigate the resort’s gardens. The resort also en-

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sures proper waste disposal and recycles used paper. The resort’s most notable project is its stewardship of the five-hectare ShangriLa Marine Sanctuary which was established in 2007. The project aims to protect the marine life fronting the resort, increase the number

of species that live in the sanctuary, and develop a tool to promote ecological tourism. The sanctuary is home to over 100 species of fish, clams and corals. The resort’s management and staff participate in regular coastal clean-ups, reef checking, giant clam tagging, and dive clean-ups. Under the resort’s coral recovery program, employees transplant loose corals in the snorkeling area. The corals are sealed back on rocks by using a mixture of cement and clay. Regular environmental education programs are also conducted for the resort’s staff and guests. „

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


SPECIAL REPORT Ten Knots Development Corp. (Philippines)

Advocating responsible tourism ristine waters, breathtaking views, astonishing level of marine biodiversity – these make the municipality of El Nido in Palawan, Philippines a favorite holiday destination among local and international tourists. Unfortunately, these are the same qualities that make it a target of poachers and illegal fishers. To ensure that El Nido’s richness will be protected, Ten Knots Development Corporation (TKDC), owner and operator of El Nido Resorts, is balancing resort operations with environmental conservation. In 2007, it launched the Be GREEN (Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido) program which requires all

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personnel to participate in five learning sessions on waste management, water and energy conservation, biodiversity conservation and environmental laws. Guests are also involved in environmental education activities. Every guest is provided with information on the natural surroundings of the resorts, including an introduction to the species found in El Nido, and is encouraged to contribute his share in protecting biodiversity. TKDC also supports conservation efforts. In April 2006, El Nido Resorts partnered with the local community and El Nido Foundation, Inc. in installing artificial reef modules or EcoReefs in Tres Marias,

a former dive site devastated by illegal fishing, coral bleaching, and typhoons. El Nido Resorts provided assistance during the installation. The company also conducts regular inspection of the artificial reefs. One of the resort’s most notable projects is El Nido Biodiversity Online, a database of El Nido’s flora and fauna. Apart from the online database, it also produces various information materials such as “A Guide to the Birds of El Nido” and “Enchanting El Nido.” El Nido Resorts also supports scientific studies on the flora and fauna of El Nido by hosting visiting experts and by providing them with logistics and personnel. Examples of studies

conducted are the reef fish surveys by Dr. Gerry Allen and Dr. Mark Erdmann and carrying capacity of dive sites by Dr. Lyndon deVantier and Mr. Emre Turak. The company also champions the conservation of endangered sea turtles with tag-and-release programs in cooperation with the local Protected Area Office, and hatchling releases from nests safeguarded by resort staff. “El Nido Resorts has embraced its responsibility for environmental stewardship, preserving the diversity and maintaining the ecological system of El Nido in Palawan,” Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Vice Chairman and CEO of WWF-Philippines said. „

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SPECIAL REPORT

Photos courtesy of USCTI

Coastal communities work hand in hand to enhance the resilience of their marine resources and their communities to climate change.

Climate change adaptation at the frontlines of the Coral Triangle Region By Dr. Darmawan* y the 2030s virtually all coral reefs in the Coral Triangle Region will be threatened by a combination of local human activities, ocean warming, and acidification, with more than 80 percent facing high, very high, or critical threat levels according to the predictions of the Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle Report by the Washington-based World Resources Institute.

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The Coral Triangle is a geographic area encompassing almost six million square kilometers of ocean and coastal waters in the territorial waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The region is home to some 363 million people; one-third of them directly dependent on coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Communities in the Coral Triangle learn how to assess their vulnerability to sea level rise caused by climate change.

It is considered the global epicenter of marine biodiversity – home to over 500 species of reef-building corals and 3,000 species of fish. The Coral Triangle faces multiple threats such as unplanned coastal development, over-fishing and climate change that severely impact food security and employment opportunities of its people. Some of the threats brought by warming weather have been dramatically affecting coastal communities and ecosystems in the Coral Triangle, including incidences of massive coral bleaching due to higher ocean temperatures reported across the region. To address threats brought by the impacts of rising temperatures, the six countries formed the Coral

Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and formally committed to and began implementing a plan to rapidly increase the social and economic resilience of the region’s coastal communities to climate change. Under the CTI-CFF, the Coral Triangle countries adopted a Regional Plan of Action with five goals: 1) strengthening management of seascapes; 2) application of ecosystem approach to fisheries management; 3) developing and strengthening the management of marine protected areas; 4) implementing climate change adaptation measures; and 5) protecting threatened marine species. These goals are supported by clear sets of actions and timelines to

specifically address regional marine resource conservation and sustainability priorities. The impacts of climate change are expected to be among the most extreme in the archipelagic nations and small island states that make up the Coral Triangle – from losses in fisheries to increased risks in coastal areas and threats to public safety. The Coral Triangle’s valuable mangroves, salt marshes and sea grasses provide an important carbon sink critical for mitigating climate change. There is an immediate need to strengthen the capacity of the Coral Triangle countries to adapt and prepare for these imminent challenges. In 2011, the six countries further adopted the CTI Re-

gion-wide Early Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation for Near Shore Marine and Coastal Environment and Small Island Ecosystems and in 2012 worked to develop tools for communities at the front lines including the Local Early Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit. The Local Early Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation toolkit is a comprehensive collection of cutting-edge scientific and social instruments that local governments and communities can use to work with their constituents to conduct climate outreach, develop qualitative climate change vulnerability assessments, and create site-specific adaptation plans. The implementation of the toolkit in communities across the Coral Triangle was supported by a series of capacity building and training programmes throughout the region. The training programmes, adapted to respond to the varying needs of the Coral Triangle countries, enabled participants to identify climate change risks and assess adaptation options for critical coastal infrastructure, habitats and vulnerable areas with links to marine protected area and coastal fisheries management and develop local climate change adaptation plans for their respective coastal communities. “I have learned so much from this training course and I will adapt it in my local government unit, as well as in different barangays (communities) so that people will be aware about climate change,” Neneth Ordono, a government official from southern Philippines who attended one of the trainings said. As a result, the trainings and toolkits have begun to catch on. In 2012, communities, government and academic institutions in the Philippines, Solomon Islands

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SPECIAL REPORT and Papua New Guinea have started replicating the trainings and developing their own vulnerability assessments and climate change adaptation plans. The trainings and socialization of the toolkit have also led to the development of a regional learning platform called the CTI Coastal Learning and Adaptation Network where practitioners can exchange experiences and good practices on how they were able to improve their communities’ adaptive capacity to climate change impacts. The network, which is managed by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, is composed of close to 100 government, non-government organization and academic staff who attended the trainings. The network aims to advance science-based planning and share tools and practices to reduce the risk

Through cutting edge tools coupled with traditional knowledge systems, the Coral Triangle Initiative is helping people living within its six member countries sustain its biodiversity despite climate change threats.

of climate change impacts and strengthen the resiliency of the people who live in the Coral Triangle’s coastal areas. CTI’s partner organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Government and USAID’s US Coral Tri-

angle Initiative Support Programme through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coral Triangle Support Partnership (a consortium of nongovernment organizations composed of WWF, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy) contin-

ue to help local communities across the Coral Triangle in strengthening their capacity to adapt to climate change impacts by strengthening the CTI Coastal Learning and Adaptation Network and working with the CTI Interim Regional Secretariat and National Coordinating Committees to widen the reach and adoption of the CTI Region-wide Early Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Local Early Action Planning Tools for Climate Adaptation. For more information about the Coral Triangle Initiative, log on to www. coraltriangleinitiative. org or connect with us on Facebook at www. facebook.com/cticff *Dr. Darmawan is the Coordinator of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Residents of coastal communities, such as those in the Coral Triangle, experience the impacts of rising temperatures.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Sustaining Ecosystem Services to Enhance Food Security through Integrated Coastal Management – the Outcomes of the Subtheme Workshops at the East Asian Seas Congress By Nicole Marie Afable* ncompassing the countries along the western Pacific margin from the Korean peninsula to the Malay Peninsula, East Asia has 234,000 kilometers of coastlines and an estimated 7 million square kilometers of semienclosed seas. The majority of the region’s 1.9 billion inhabitants depend on coastal and marine environments, with 77 percent of the total population living within 100 kilometers of the coast. Not only are these coastal and marine resources vital for the region, these resources contribute 40 percent of the world’s fish catch and 80 percent of the world’s aquaculture (Wong, 2012). This indicates the critical role of the coasts and

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oceans in the lives of the people. The East Asian Seas region’s food security, local livelihoods, climate regulation and marine economy rely on the ecosystem services and resources provided by healthy coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass and wetlands. Despite these intertwined connections, it is ironic that the primary cause of the degradation of these vital ecosystems is the unsustainable pursuit of economic development. The region suffers from one of the highest biodiversity loss rates in the world. Nearly half of the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems have already been ravaged by unsustainable fishing practices, uncontrolled coastal development, habitat loss,

Biodiversity Hotspots in Southeast Asia

Source: Fuentes, 2012

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SPECIAL REPORT overexploitation, pollution, alien invasive species and climate change. In Southeast Asia, the wealth of biodiversity supports 500 million people (ABO, 2010). The region covers a land area of 446 million hectares, of which 43 percent is covered with forest, mountainous terrain and diversified topography with more than 24,000 islands and a coastline of 173,000 kilometers. Southeast Asia has 3 of the 17 mega diverse countries in the world – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. However, it also has 4 of the world’s 34 hotspots of biodiversity which are facing serious loss of habitats and species. Unfortunately, most of these threats to coastal and marine ecosystems are interconnected. Habitat loss leads to the decreased capacity of seagrasses and mangroves as spawning and nursery grounds of fishery species, reducing the region’s food security. Pollution can also contribute to the loss of food security as excessive nutrient loading in water bodies resulting in algal bloom can compromise ecosystem services. The underlying causes of these threats are complex, ranging from poor governance, segmented management to low awareness of the inherent value of these ecosystems and lack of capacity to address threats. While various sectoral initiatives have proven effective in addressing these issues at some point, human activities and natural occurrences do not recognize similar boundaries. Sectoral efforts may eventually threaten successes in protecting ecosystem integrity. Experiences have shown that ecosystem services of coastal areas and watersheds are best protected through an integrated system of planning, 26 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Convention on Biological Diversity and Strategic Plan for Biodiversity o ramp up efforts to combat threats against biodiversity, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Nagoya, Japan in 2010, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Declared as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, the next decade will be driven by broad-based action plans in support of biodiversity over the next decade by all countries and stakeholders. The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 is comprised of a shared vision, a mission, strategic goals and 20 biodiversity targets collectively known as the Aichi Targets. These 20 Biodiversity

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implementation, evaluation of management processes. Through integrated coastal and marine governance, legislation, inter-sector coordination, financing and capacity building, the holistic approach of coastal management can be applied to inter-connected sustainable development aspects such as disaster, habitat, water resource, food security and pollution. EAST ASIAN SEAS CONGRESS 2012 The 4th East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress was held at the Changwon Exhibition Convention Center in Changwon City, RO Korea from 9 to 13 July 2012. Co-organized by the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) and the City Government of Changwon, the 4th triennial Congress carried the theme, “Building a Blue Economy: Strategy, Opportunities and Partnerships in the Seas of East Asia.” The presentations and discussions held during the congress addressed the new opportunities for the ocean economy of East Asia, the

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Targets are categorized under 6 Strategic Goals that aim to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity, promote sustainable development, protect ecosystems, species and genetic diversity, ensure equal distribution of ecosystem services and enhance implementation mechanisms. All countries in the East Asian Seas region have their own National Biodiversity Strategic Plan 20112020 that promotes the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity through national and regional targets. „

range of partnerships that have developed and are required in order to realize the full potential of a blue economy, and the progress and achievements in the governance of regional and subregional seas within the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA). A total of 14 workshops were held under the 5 subthemes of the International Conference of the 4th EAS Congress. These subthemes focused on how coasts and oceans will serve as the engine of the blue economy and the contributing role of coastal and marine ecosystem services, innovations in science and technology, coastal and ocean governance and partnerships with the academe and private sector towards building this ocean-based sustainable economy. Under the 3rd subtheme, the workshop entitled “Using ICM to Achieve the Aichi Targets” featured presentations that discussed how the application of the integrated coastal management (ICM) approach can contribute to the accomplishment of biodiversity targets. The workshop

was co-convened by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, and the APEC Marine Sustainable Development Center. This joint endeavor that deepened the continuing partnership between ACB and PEMSEA was chaired by Ms. Clarissa Arida, Director of Programme Development and Implementation, ACB, and co-chaired by Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director of Biodiversity Information Management, ACB. The workshop had three sessions that focused on: using ICM to reach the Aichi targets; initiatives in strengthening the resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems; and integrating biodiversity concerns into regional mechanisms and national and sectoral plans. The highlights of presentations, discussions and conclusions of the workshop are included in the following paragraphs. Coastal and Marine Ecosystems: Using the ICM approach to Achieve Aichi Biodiversity Targets The East Asian Seas region is rich with experiences of applying ICM to

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SPECIAL REPORT achieve the biodiversity target of meeting the 10 percent coverage of marine protected areas (MPAs) in coastal and marine areas. PEMSEA’s sustainable development strategy for coastal areas is a guiding framework for integrating MPA into the broader governance and sustainable development context. Integrating MPA targets into national and local government commitments to the 20 percent target for ICM coverage of the region’s coastline, improving and utilizing valuation of ecosystem services of existing MPAs and on-the-ground demonstrations were suggested as the way forward to achieve the Aichi Targets (Ross, 2012). Applying ICM for biodiversity conservation has yielded positive results around the region. The Cambodian experience of using ICM to enhance fisheries production at the national level, combined with co-management of marine fisheries management areas with community fisheries at the local level has resulted in the creation of the first marine fisheries management area in Preah Sihanouk Province, restoration of mangrove and coral ecosystems, and measured changes in fish catch and family income (Ouk, 2012). In Batangas, Philippines, MPA networking was strengthened through the implementation of the longterm strategic environment management plan (SEMP) and the institutional mechanism developed under the Province’s ICM program. The resulting mechanism provided policy direction, coordination and operationalization of the SEMP, as well as the necessary governance framework that was previously lacking under the MPA networking arrangement (Sollestre, 2012).

Source: PEMSEA

Cambodia has been using ICM to enhance fisheries production.

ICM in Cambodia s a holistic approach, ICM was able to address the underlying causes of the degradation of coastal ecosystems and the subsequent diminished fisheries production in Cambodia. ICM is a multi-faceted solution that addressed inadequate legal structures regarding fisheries and coasts, poor management and capacity, lack of monitoring and scientific information, coastal community’s dependence on unsustainable livelihoods and low awareness. The Cambodian government undertook legal and planning measures to designate priority ecosystems as protection and conservation areas and restore mangroves and conservation of corals and seagrass. Through zoning, a total of 16 fisheries community areas and 3 national marine fisheries management areas were established for the better management and protection of fisheries resources as well as ecosystem habitats (Ouk, 2012). Parallel to this effort is Preah Sihanouk’s effort to rehabilitate 18 hectares of mangrove areas and to deploy 50 artificial reefs to prevent the intrusion of commercial fishers. Supplemental livelihood sources were also promoted in the coastal communities to reduce fishing pressure. Collectively, these measures resulted in about 25-30 percent increase in fishcatch among small-scale fishers as reported in 2009 (Ross, 2012). „

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Through ICM, the successful conservation of the Chinese White Dolphin in Xiamen, PR China was made possible by restricting shipping and recreational activities in the habitat area of the dolphin through sea use zoning, dolphin-specific legislation, joint enforcement of laws to reduce threats, diversified sources of financing, as well as raising the awareness of ecosystems (Fang, 2012). Building resilient coastal and marine ecosystems in securing the region’s food security ICM implementation has also assisted the local governments in promoting ecosystem resilience, and consequently, enhancing productivity of resources. These eventually contributed to improved livelihood, food security and wellbeing of local communities. To

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Source: Arcamo, 2012

Restoring the spawning and nursery areas of tropical fishes

strengthen the role of sustainable fisheries in securing regional food security, it is crucial to look at the life span of the species and its interaction with habitat and surrounding environments. While there are fisheryspecific sustainable management measures, other approaches also need to be utilized to secure the region’s food security and sustainable livelihoods. These ecosystem-focused measures include the rehabilitation and conservation of habitats such as mangroves that serve as the spawning and nursery areas for 75 percent of all tropical fish species (Schmitt, 2012) and the establishment of community cooperatives to restrict open access and reduce pollution. To sustain the coastal and marine resources’ vital role in supporting the Philippines’ food security, especially fishery industries and communities, fishery regulatory measures were introduced for the sustainable management of the remaining fish stock. 28 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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The Sustainable Fisheries Resources Management (FRM) encompasses the application of a two-fold approach that is ecosystem-based, by establishing fish sanctuaries to protect the spawning and nursery areas, while at the same time supporting the welfare of coastal communities affected by these management initiatives. The partnership between the local government unit (LGU) and the community is crucial in sustaining and building resilient fisheries systems as legal framework and management measures in the country give the local government unit (LGU) full control over the municipal waters (Arcamo, 2012) The importance of comanagement and sharing responsibilities for resources management between local constituencies and government agencies is emphasized in Ben Tre Province, Vietnam. The good practice of locally managed clam fisheries through fishing cooperatives in this coastal province

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has proven to be effective using control mechanisms, including harvest quota, sustainability certification scheme and minimum size requirement. The success of this integrated solution relies on establishing and improving a participatory community model in managing coastal ecosystems that has the full support from all levels of governments and all stakeholders (Nguyen, 2012). A similar ecosystembased participatory approach can be utilized to address the significant decline in fish catch and rampant poverty incidence among the fishery community in Kota Marudu, Sabah. The success of sustainable fisheries management initiatives lies in the involvement of various parties, which include the local community, government and nongovernment agencies and other stakeholders, including the business and academic communities (Ismail, 2012). Towards sustainable use and equitable benefit shar-

ing: Integrating biodiversity concerns intro regional mechanisms, national blue economy development plans and sectoral plans ICM program have fostered the integration of MPA management and marine biodiversity into national development planning and regional initiatives. China has integrated MPA management and greening marine industries into their marine economic development planning and strategies to transition from a marine economy to a blue economy (Zhang, 2012). The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security is the regional initiative to address fishery and food security by adopting and implementing regional plans of action to conserve the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs ecosystems. This platform fosters collaboration to garner national and regional commitments on all multilateral conventions relevant for fisheries, oceans, biodiversity and climate (Yudiarso, 2012).

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SPECIAL REPORT There is a general consensus on the important role of ICM as the framework for addressing the underlying causes and drivers of coastal and marine biodiversity degradation and loss. The management effectiveness of MPAs must be strengthened through capacity development at different levels, partnership building with academia, the private sector and civil society organizations.

With the Haikou Partnership Declaration, the EAS region commits to achieve ICM coverage of 20 percent of the region’s coastlines by 2015 and thereby sustaining coastal and marine ecosystem services to secure the region’s food security. „ Nicole Marie Afable is a technical writing assistant at the PEMSEA Resource Facility. References:

Conclusions and recommendations Rapid economic development and population growth cause habitat loss , which subsequently reduces food security in the East Asian Seas region. Resilient and healthy habitats and environments in the watersheds and coasts are key to sustained food supplies. The ICM experiences across the region amply demonstrate its effectiveness in securing food security by balancing environment protection with reaping sustained economic benefits. The “I” in ICM has multiple facets: across stakeholders; economy and ecology; land and sea concerns; regional, national and local levels; scientific and institutional contexts. Within the broader framework of ICM, an MPA is a tool to achieve conservation of marine biodiversity and sustainable use of marine ecosystem services, and it is not an end unto itself (Amako, 2012). Harmonization between these facets will ensure the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources while raising the quality of life of the region’s inhabitants. It is therefore important to combine regulations on fishery and on activities that lead to habitat loss in order to achieve more holistic measures in protecting coastal and marine biodiversity.

Schmitt, Klaus. 2012. “Innovative approaches to mangrove rehabilitation and management.” Presented under Subtheme 2, “Accelerating Blue Innovations in Support of an Oceanbased Blue Economy,” Workshop 1: Enabling an Ocean-based Blue Economy at the Local Level through Innovative Technologies and Applications,” during the International Conference of the East Asian Seas Congress 2012. July 9-13, 2012, Changwon City, Republic of Korea.

Designation of MPAs in Japan.” Arcamo, Sandra. 2012. “Application of ICM in Fisheries Resource Management: The Philippine Experience.” Ismail, Illisriyani. 2012. “Community Co-management as an Approach to Achieve the Goal of Biodiversity Conservation, Livelihoods and Social Development: A Case Study in Malaysia.” Fang, Qinhua. 2012. “Using ICM to conserve Chinese White Dolphin: the experience of Xiamen.” Fuentes, Rodrigo. 2012. “Ecosystems Services and Drivers of Biodiversity Loss in Coastal and Marine Ecosystems.” Nguyen, Chu Hoi. 2012. “Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Protection through

ICM and MPA Management in Viet Nam.” Ouk, Vibol. 2012. “Coastal Fisheries Management in Cambodia, with Case Study in Prah Sihanouk Province.” Ross, Stephen Adrian. 2012. “ICM and MPA Management: PEMSEA experience in East Asian Seas.” Sollestre, Loreta. 2012. “Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Implementation for Sustainable Coastal and Marine Conservation Efforts in Batangas, Philippines.” Yudiarso, Permana. 2012. “Addressing Food Security through Conservation of Coral Reefs and Fisheries Management.” Zhang Zhaohui. 2012. “Biodiversity Protection and Marine Protection Areas in China.”

Wong, Poh Poh. 2012. “Expert Consultation Workshop on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Approach: International Experiences.” Abstract submitted for the Expert Consultation Workshop on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Approach: International Experiences, East Asian Seas Congress 2012. July 9-13, 2012, Changwon City, Republic of Korea. Workshop Proceedings for Subtheme 3, Securing Ecosystem Services through Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management, Workshop 2: Using ICM as a Tool to Achieve Aichi Targets, East Asian Seas Congress 2012. July 9-13, 2012, Changwon City, Republic of Korea. Workshop Presentations under Subtheme 3, Securing Ecosystem Services through Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management , Workshop 2: Using ICM as a Tool to Achieve Aichi Targets Amako, Naoki. 2012. “Achieving Marine Biodiversity Conservation through

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BEAUTY AND ACTION, Photos BY DR. KLAUS STIEFEL

Bumphead parrotfish Bolbometopon muricatum. About man-sized. This is one of the great things about diving in Tulamben, Bali: The groups of large, almost tame, bumphead parrotfish. They don’t mind divers, and hover in front of you for minutes if you are calm enough. I can’t help but think that there is mutual curiosity.

Mating cardinalfish These fish were mating about once a minute around sunset. They would press against each other for a few seconds every time. Taken in Malapascua, Philippines.

Goby posedown

Anemonefish hiding

These two gobies were repeatedly lining up opposite each other, and flashing one’s dorsal fins, in what I believe is a territorial display. These are two individuals of Istigobius decoratus, the decorated goby, seen in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia.

I came across this anemone at night, and the anemonefish was hiding in the folds of the anemone. Taken in Padre Burgos, Leyte, Philippines.

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SMALL AND LARGE

Shrimp goby Wheeler’s shrimp goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri). The goby is the watchman, the shrimp digs the shared burrow. There are lots of species of these, many of the genus Amblyeleotris with reddish-brown bands. The intense red in this species contrasts nicely with the yellow shrimp. Taken in Padre Burgos, Leyte, Philippines.

Mandarin fish mating plus parasite Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus) mating. Visible is a parasitic isopod crustacean on the left side of the lower fish (the male). Taken in Cabilao, Bohol, Philippines.

Cardinalfish with eggs This is a male, carrying the eggs from a recent spawning in his mouth, to protect them from predation. Taken in Malapascua, Philippines.

Hunting stargazer The stargazer (Uranoscopus sulphureus) lies in the sand, waiting, and strikes out with its sticky tongue when a prey fish approaches too closely. Seen in Padre Burgos, Leyte, Philippines. This shot was the winner of the “animal behavior” category in the photo contest at the International Coral Reef Symposium 2012 in Cairns, Australia.

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Angry damselfish

Commensal shrimp

This damselfish (Dischistodus prosopotaenia), owner of a patch of algae, was angrily defending them against a diver swimming over his patch (me). That allowed me to take some nice close-ups.

This tiny shrimp, smaller than a centimeter, lives his whole life on the colorful body surface of a cushion sea urchin. I am always fascinated by the commensalism (joint life of two organisms) underwater, and enthralled by the beautiful skin patterns of sea urchins and their other echinoderm relatives.

Squid hunting My dive guide Julian and I were swimming along at night on the reef near Mactan, Cebu, when we spotted this large (~30 centimeters) squid. As soon as we saw it, it snatched a goatfish. Bon appetit, Mr. Cephalopod.

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Pygmy seahorse This is an unusual color variant of the pygmy seahorse – this one is not red but yellow, as to blend into the yellow soft coral it inhabits. These fascinating fishes, among the smallest vertebrates, are usually found at depths deeper than 20 meters. Taken in Malapascua, Philippines.

Yawning frogfish I am so excited about this photograph! It takes quite a few things to get a shot like this: a dive guide who knows that these rare and unusual fish are found in a certain location; good buoyancy to hover in front of the fish, upside-down, looking down into the crack where it sits; a camera that is all set right; and incredible luck that the fish decides to yawn right then. I still don’t quite understand why these ambush predators yawn once in a while. Maybe they need to exercise their jaw muscles? Taken in Malapascua, Philippines.

Seafan goby I am always fascinated how often animals live on other animals in coral reefs. A goby, Pleurosicya, on a sea fan at a depth of 45 meters. Taken in Monad Seamount, Malapascua, Philippines.

Urchin shrimp A color variant of Stegopontonia commensalis. This tiny shrimp, perfectly camouflaged, lives its life on the spines of sea urchins. Hard to spot and in between the dangerous spines, it has found a safe home. Found in Tulamben, Bali.

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Celebrating the Life of a Biodiversity Champion

Rodrigo U. Fuentes July 9, 1958 – August 13, 2012 ree huggers, animal lovers, and conservationists from many parts of the world mourned the passing of Rodrigo U. Fuentes, executive director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), on August 13. Even the skies shed buckets of tears when the conservation advocate passed away after a bout with cancer. “The environment sector mourns the loss of a staunch advocate. Most of all, we lost a good friend and a great leader. He will be forever loved by his dear family; his works, contributions, and legacy will forever be remembered,” the Centre stated in an announcement. The 54-year-old forester and biodiversity expert has been working in the field of environment and natural resources in the past 30 years. “Looking back, I can’t name a single event in my early life that led me to the path I am treading on now. But I believe that witnessing the steady change of the environment around me during my childhood left me with many questions that must be answered,” Fuentes told new Filipino foresters at an oath-taking ceremony in 2009. He added, “I was born in the city but the urban environment then was very different than what it is today, which is basically a concrete jungle. Before, some lands in the city were still agricultural. I recall the simple joys of watching butter-

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flies in the field or standing in awe as fireflies circled an acacia tree at night. It did not take very long before these things were engulfed by the onslaught of urbanization.” When he entered the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, he originally intended to take up agriculture, which was the most popular course in the school during his time. But during the interview, he learned that Forestry was also offered and decided to take it up instead. “While my entry into forestry is serendipitous, I soon realized that it was a good decision as I adapted into

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it like a duck to water. It was at that time when I realized that the ecosystem is not simply a mixture of plant and animal species… that it is linked with social, political, and economic structures,” he said at an interview with The Manila Times in 2009. It was also then that he realized that he had chosen the right path to pursue. “After 30 years of working in the field of environment and natural resources here and elsewhere, I can happily tell you that I have no regrets,” he said in another interview. Armed with a genuine love for the environment,

Fuentes became a sustainable development and urban and regional planning expert. He specialized in environmental program design and project development, policy and institutional assessment, policy and institutional assessment, environmental monitoring and assessment, and capacity development in environmental management and sustainable development. His previous undertakings at the regional and sub-regional levels included assisting governments to comply with their commitments to global agreements such as the implementations of Agenda 21 and the three multilateral environmental agreements, i.e. UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), and UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD). He is also credited for developing the Regional Framework program for implementing the UNCCD and the Regional Action program for the Asian region. It was at the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity where he made the biggest difference. “Under his leadership, the ACB became an important hub for biodiversity work in the region, and a key partner in several Programmes of Work and major activities of the Convention on Biological Diversity. For example, ACB was a leader in the implementation of the Global Taxonomy

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SPECIAL SECTION Initiative, and joined forces with the environment community in the launch and celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity, as well as the 2011-2020 United Nations Decade on Biodiversity,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity. “His dedication, enthusiasm and hard work to help implement the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the context of the ASEAN region will be missed. I know that the memory of his efforts will be an inspiration to others to carry on actions in support of the rich variety of life on our planet,” he added. Prior to being appointed by the ASEAN Governing Board to head ACB, Fuentes was a consultant and technical advisor to various intergovernmental and multilateral organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asian Development Bank, United Nations agencies, and World Bank where his work brought him to such countries as China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, Switzerland, and Thailand. Before getting into the regional and international arena, Fuentes was with the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which he served for 14 years, first as Service Chief of the Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Office and concurrent Project Manager of the Natural Resources Development and Management Project, and then as National Director (1991-1994) of the Environmental Management Bureau. He holds a Forestry degree and a masteral degree in Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of the Philippines. In

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SPECIAL SECTION 2009, he was awarded the Outstanding Professional in the field of Forestry citation by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for contributing significantly to the advancement of the profession. That he walked the talk is one of the traits that friends and colleagues admire about Fuentes. In an interview with The Manila Times, Fuentes affirmed that “walking the talk should come naturally if what you are doing is anchored on your values.” His environmental tips are both practical and attainable. “In our homes, we can replace light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. This simple step can reduce our carbon footprint by 450 pounds per year. We can reduce the use of non-biodegradable materials in our daily lives, use water wisely, walk, or use cars less,” he shared. “Eat less meat because it takes more resources to grow an animal. Learn what types of fish are being endangered because of over-fishing and don’t buy them. Use fans instead of air conditioner. Buy less, especially appliances that use a lot of electricity,” he added. These are simple tips that he implemented in the home and in the office. A sought-after speaker, Fuentes simply lights up when talking about the web of life. “His passion for biodiversity and conservation is simply infectious. Whether addressing hundreds of co-experts at a global conference, a hall full of policymakers, or a small classroom of high school students, Rod is able to inspire people,” Rolando A. Inciong, a colleague at ACB, said. He added, “The world may have lost a biodiversity champion, but his legacy will live on through people he has touched.” „

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Messages from Colleagues, Friends

On behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat, I would like to convey my deepest condolences and sympathies to his bereaved family. I have known Rod since coming to work with ASEC nearly 5 years ago. He was warm, wise, and understanding; a great asset to ACB for many years and all of us will miss his steadfastness. Surin Pitsuwan Secretary-General, ASEAN

In behalf of the DENR, we express our deepest sorrow for the loss of Director Fuentes, whom we shared a common vision for the protection and conservation of not only the country’s biodiversity resources but all of the ASEAN region. As we are both foresters and fresh graduates then of the UPLB-College of Forestry, we dreamed together, along with the rest of the team, of how we could push for reforms in managing our forest resources. And somehow, we achieved a certain level of success.

with him both professionally and socially. Rod was a dear and true friend. We had worked with Rod in connection with building linkages between the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Sirindhorn International Environmental Park (SIEP) in Thailand to which he was passionate of and had put his untiring energy into the initiative, and despite his health condition he took all efforts to be physically present at the Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity held in Cha-am, Thailand last year. His leadership towards building a strong cooperation between ACB and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies is a great contribution. Mario & Monthip Tabucanon Nonthaburi, Thailand

Ramon JP Paje Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Mr. Rodrigo Fuentes was a man of multiple talents and passion. He devoted his life to put his talents and passion at the service of a better word for all of us. His achievement at the helm of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity is a case in point. Rodrigo’s talents and passion will be sorely missed by the biodiversity family...his large family. Ahmed Djoghlaf Former Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity

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Rod was a great man – a man of honor, integrity and rectitude – who cared and dedicated his lifetime career for the common good – towards saving the planet. He was kind, gentle and friendly. We, who knew him, were enormously fortunate to have had shared wonderful times

As a colleague, Rod will always be remembered as a passionate and articulate advocate of environmental conservation. As a person, he always had a positive outlook that was infectious to those around him. His passing is indeed sad, especially considering he was at the prime of his life. However, his legacy will on – in the lives he touched and in the institutions he built. Rodel Lasco Philippines Programme Coordinator, World Agroforestry Centre

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and Fellow Conservation Workers

We will all miss Rod. He had an unparalleled dedication and commitment to the preservation, conservation and rehabilitation of biodiversity and ecological balance for a sustained growth of the country and the region. He truly believed biodiversity is LIFE itself. Gil H. A. Santos President/Trustee, Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management Professorial Lecturer, and journalist

I have known Rod since his student days at the then UPLB College of Forestry and have watched him climbed into his professional ladder and assume more key leadership position. He is a very conscientious, dedicated and hardworking forester cum environmentalist. With his passing away, we have lost a staunch supporter, leader and scientist in the environmental and forest science community. We can only wish that we can have more of his kind in a world which greatly needs a man like him. May his soul rest in peace with his Maker. Dr. Percy E. Sajise Senior Fellow, SEARCA Senior Research Fellow, Bioversity International Adjunct Professor, UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM)

With deep sorrow, we have learned of the demise of Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes. ACB has been a strong partner of the United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies (UNUIAS) in working towards creating a sustainable future.

us and had devoted to the profession of environment and biodiversity. We feel that his death is not only loss to ACB and the Philippines, but also a great loss to the ASEAN Member States and most of all to the global community working on biodiversity. On this very moment we, together with his family and friends at ACB, are grieving over the death of such a great friend and colleague. We will always value and appreciate his efforts for ACB and we will support moves to further strengthen ACB. Sann Lwin Governing Board Member of ACB Director General and Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Myanmar

The environment sector lost a staunch advocate. Inside and outside the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, his passion for conservation was beyond compare. We lost an excellent leader and most of all, we lost a sincere friend. He will always be remembered. Rolando A. Inciong Head – Communication and Public Affairs, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

While we have lost a good ally in our environmental cause, Rod’s brilliance will continue to shine in the environment sector. His memories will be cherished. Stephen Adrian Ross Acting Executive Director, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia

Boss Rod is not only my employer. He is also my best friend. I have deep respect for Boss Rod. He is the most down to earth boss that I have met. From the first time I met him decades ago up to the time he passed away, he maintained his kindness and humility. I will miss him. Leonardo Brazil Driver at ACB and friend of Rod Fuentes

Govindan Parayil Director, UNU-IAS Mr. Rodrigo Fuentes has been so greatly attached to

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Mining our ecosystems – overconsumption, climate change and biodiversity By Philipp Gassner* arting dinosaurs are probably not among the first thoughts that come to mind when thinking about today’s urgent global matters. Notwithstanding, looking back a few million years to the Mesozoic – the dinosaur era – precisely this could have been considered a high-ranking environmental problem. A recent study shows that the long-necked sauropods, one of the dominant dinosaur groups, had gut bacteria to help them digest their food, akin to other herbivores. These bacteria also produce methane, which the animals released in their farts, contributing to climate change. Thus, the global sauropod population pumped out 520 million tons of methane a year, about the same as the total current emissions of the greenhouse gas. Considering that methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, this warmed the planet by about 1 °C, contributing to the fact that the climate in the dinosaur era was much warmer than today – for instance, there was no polar ice. Sixty-five million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, we are witnessing the same problem all over again, with livestock slightly different from sauropods: the 53 billion cows, sheep, pigs and chickens we eat every year produce 40 percent of the global methane and more than one-fifth of all greenhouse gases – even exceeding the transport sector. Additionally, they require 33 percent of the global arable land, use 40 percent of global grain production and, by 2025, half of the global irrigation water, thus, exert-

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ing enormous pressure on global ecosystems and their biodiversity. Bearing in mind that every citizen of the industrial world eats 80kg of meat per year, these exemplary numbers give a good hint on how our consumption goes hand in hand with our most serious environmental problems. The planetary footprint However, meat consumption – albeit compelling – is only one example for the current overconsumption, as the chief driver of biodiversity loss and climate change. Think of the demand for cheap tropical timber, chipboard and pulp, for cheap fish, for soya and palm oil, for long haul flights and automobiles, for big houses, central heating and air conditioning, for computers and endless web connectivity, for endless electric power at the

touch of a fingertip. Since 1950, world population has risen by a factor of 2.7, but our use of materials such as metals and oil has quadrupled, and greenhouse gas emissions are up more than fivefold. We are currently using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast – by 2030 even two planets will not be enough. This ‘planetary footprint’ is the inseparable product of three factors: how many of us there are, how much each of us consumes, and how we produce what we consume – that is, the prevailing technology. The huge clout of the overconsumption-equation ‘population times per capita consumption rate’ can best be exemplified using the notorious champ of the world’s

Source: New Scientist

Maps showing the size of countries proportional to their GDP and, in contrast, to their Happy Planet Index.

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census, China. If China’s per capita consumption rates do rise to First World consumption levels, and if nothing else about the world changed, then that increase alone would translate (as multiplied by China’s population) into an increase in total world consumption of 94 percent. In other words, China’s achievement of First World consumption standards will approximately double the entire world’s ecological footprint. And mind you that United Nations middle projections do not see the population peak coming before mid-century, with 10 billion people globally in 2100. So, if we could manage to freeze or even reduce the global population today, would that solve the problem? The following gedanken experiment might shed some light on this: what are the consequences, if, hypothetically, every one of the billions of people below the social justice line – and thus consuming very little – rises above it? For instance, providing enough food for the 13 percent of the world’s people who suffer from hunger means raising world supplies by just one percent. Providing electricity to the 19 percent of people who currently have none would raise global carbon emissions by just one percent. Bringing everyone above the global absolute poverty line ($1.25 a day) would need just 0.2 percent of global income. In other words, it is not the needs of the majority of the world’s population that threaten the biosphere, but the overconsumption of a

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SPECIAL SECTION few. Half the world’s carbon emissions are produced by just 11 percent of its people, while, with grim symmetry, 50 percent of the world’s people produce just 11 percent of its emissions. “Excessive resource use by the world’s richest 10 percent of consumers,” Kate Raworth of the UK charity Oxfam notes, “crowds out muchneeded resource use by billions of other people.” The ecological bank account To better understand the link between this excessive resource use and its environmental impact, just imagine, you inherit a bank account with a large positive balance, for which you assume familiar interest rates. You would expect the account to throw off large interest payments each year. Unfortunately, while our world’s natural capital is impressive to the eye – corresponding to the large balance of the bank account – that balance had accumulated very slowly (as if with low interest rates) over millennia. We are currently not living off of our ecological annual interest, but drawing down the accumulated natural capital, like biodiversity, that has taken ten thousands of years, and exhaust it within a few decades – leaving future generations with a huge debt. Inadvertently, we are not using these resources sustainably, as resources that can persist indefinitely if harvested no faster than the resources can renew themselves. We instead use them in the way that miners exploit oil and mineral deposits. The essence of mining is to exploit resources that do not renew themselves with time, and hence deplete those resources. Since gold in the ground does not breed more gold, and one does not need to take account of gold renewal rates, miners

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A herd of the sauropod Alamosaurus sanjuanensis

extract gold from a gold lode as rapidly as is economically feasible, until the lode is exhausted. Mining minerals must thus be contrasted with exploiting renewable resources, such as biodiversity and ecosystem services like topsoil, fish, or forests, that do regenerate themselves by biological processes like reproduction or soil formation. Renewable resources can be exploited indefinitely, provided that one removes them at a rate less than the rate at which it regenerates. If, however, one exploits topsoil, fish, or forests at rates exceeding their renewal rates, they will eventually be depleted to extinction, like gold in a goldmine. We are thus “mining” our renewable resources as if they were mined minerals. At present consumption rates, ironically these renewables are likely to disappear long before coal or iron reserves. This consumption driven ‘mining’ of our ecosystems, brings us dangerously close to the global destruction line, as set by the nine planetary boundaries identified in Stockholm in 2009 by a group of earth system scientists. They categorized

the levels beyond which we endanger the earth’s living systems, with climate change and biodiversity loss as the top two of nine indicators. The space between these two lines is the “safe and just space for humanity to thrive in” and we are already living above the line on the first three indicators, and close to it on several others – pushing us irrevocably over the destruction line. Scientists already speak of the sixth global mass extinction, following the prehistoric ‘Big Five’, periods in earth’s history when abnormally large numbers of species died out simultaneously or within a limited time frame. From the limit of growth to the SUV driving hyper-consumer In no means is this consumption driven destruction an issue out of the blue. On the contrary, it is on the global agenda at the latest since the 1970s, when the Club of Rome coined the mantra of the limits of growth – and consumption for that matter. Thus, one has to ask why the last 40 years have not seen a paradigm change, leaving the world leaders now

shouting for accelerated (and consumption-based) growth louder than ever, just during the biggest financial and environmental crisis in history. Political ecologist and professor at the University of Cambridge, UK, William Adams, outlines an explanation: the traditional debate about conservation, climate protection and development ignores the biggest driver involved, which is economic activity, or rather the growth in natural resource and energy consumption that accompanies it. And it ignores the fact that it is precisely this that has been, since the end of the Second World War, the means by which people escape poverty. The economic development model to which industrialized and developing country governments have long been committed has sought to reduce poverty and increase wealth through economic growth. However, as people escape poverty, others become rich, and global consumption of raw material and energy (and production of wastes and greenhouse gases) has risen inexorably. Like the USA, Europe or Japan, eco-

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SPECIAL SECTION nomic growth in the newly industrializing countries (especially in the ASEAN) is being built on surging demand for consumer goods. These products are almost universally regarded as a good thing by consumers, politicians and specialists in industrialized economies, as adding to human freedoms and human well-being. For the poor, they are the promised fruits of the process of ‘development’. Meanwhile, the atmosphere warms and biodiversity shrinks before the combined onslaught of people and wealth. As Adams summarizes, “the fundamental debate about conservation and development does concern the world’s urban heartlands; not the beleaguered forest dweller but the home-owning, holiday-booking, SUV driving hyper-consumer of Internet advertisement and television soaps, and the vast numbers of the urban and rural poor who dream, justifiably, of achieving the same lifestyle.” Over-exploitation of biological resources in ASEAN This debate is also of a particular importance for the ASEAN region, firstly, since it is mega-biodiverse, harboring about 20 percent of the global biodiversity, and for instance 30 percent of the coral reefs. At the same time, the 10 ASEAN Member States are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, while an intact biodiversity poses immense opportunities for climate protection and adaptation to climate change. These natural resources are, secondly, put at peril by the already mentioned region’s economic growth, which is increasingly based on domestic and foreign consumption. Let us explore two notorious examples for overexploitation, beginning with 40 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Donna Ozawa’s installation, using a fraction of the hundreds of billions of single-use chopsticks, or waribashi, discarded every year, thus threatening biodiversity through deforestation

illegal wildlife trade. The ASEAN region has long been targeted by illegal wildlife traders as a hotspot in the lucrative, multi-billion dollar global trade of wildlife, in which both live and processed goods of most species are traded, ranging from tigers and elephants to rare orchids and indigenous medicinal herbs, from rare marine species to endemic reptiles and songbirds. The scale of illegal wildlife trade is alarming: Experts estimate the value of illegal wildlife trade at USD 10 to 20 billion annually. Data from the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and FREELAND Foundation show the rich biodiversity of Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar as being particularly targeted. A significant proportion of wildlife trafficked through the ASEAN region is purchased by wealthy consumers from outside the region, i.e., China, Europe and the United States, with unsettling 13,000 metric tons of turtles shipped to China every year from ASEAN, as one example. Moreover, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing

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(IUU) adds to threats brought about by known and quantifiable stresses, like official (over) fishing. The growing demand for fish drives the collection of these resources way beyond their capacity to recover, leaving 90 percent of fish stocks fully or overexploited. A recent report estimated the value of IUU at the global scale to be between USD 10 and 23.5 billion annually, with Php 26.5 billion worth of losses in the Philippine in 2008 alone. This makes evident that current human lifestyle and consumption patterns are now, more than ever, critically incompatible with sustaining the region’s and the world’s remaining natural flora and fauna, and a stable climate. From peak stuff to sufficiency Having explored that the very foundation of our consumption and growth based economic system is intrinsically linked with today’s suicidal devastation of our very ecological basis, the outlook is certainly not the brightest. Nevertheless, there are numerous roadmaps and

already proven ideas, how to get to the bottom of this conundrum. There should be no illusions, however, that this can be accomplished at the drop of a hat and without substantial efforts. For instance, the often quoted concept of “peak stuff” that beyond a certain level of economic development, people simply stop consuming so much, will fail the reality-check. This hope, also known as economic “dematerialization”, states that technology and the course of economic evolution will allow prosperity to keep rising without a linked increase in our use of energy and materials. Even though some developed countries, like the UK, in fact display some symptoms of decreasing “total material requirement” with slightly falling water use, car ownership or calorie consumption, this will only apply to the billion or so people living in rich countries out of the global population of seven billion. At the global level, peak stuff it is non-existent. Can the third factor of the planetary footprint equation, technology, perform as our

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SPECIAL SECTION ace up the sleeve then? It has always had a hand in determining how many of us can survive on the planet. For instance, industrial society raised the carrying capacity of our planet substantially by exploiting fossil fuels, not least to produce artificial fertilizer for global food security. But do not the problems of overconsumption and resource depletion we face today stem from such very innovations? Notwithstanding, a further technological revolution might still help us use resources more efficiently, without trashing vital ecosystems, and again China leads by example, leapfrogging inefficient processes used in developed nations. According to the World Bank, the Chinese economy’s carbon intensity has dropped by almost 70 percent over 30 years. Nevertheless, that still won’t be enough on its own. “Even with the strongest possible assumptions, we cannot hit carbon emissions targets by energy and process efficiency within the existing system,” says Julian Allwood, a resource specialist at the University of Cambridge. A marked based approach, within a strong governance framework, might be more promising, as put out in the idea of giving cash value to finite “natural capital”, just as we do to finite material resources. Doing so, we would put a price on forests, soils, water supplies and other essential ecologi-

cal services – an approach the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), a regional intergovernmental organization based in the Philippines, coordinating national and regional efforts on biodiversity conservation and sustainable management in Southeast Asia, is promoting within the region. Since September 2010, GIZ, the German development cooperation arm, through the Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, supports ACB in this endeavor. Its focus on biodiversity and economy supports policies and actions for valuing biodiversity in the context of ecosystem services, raising awareness and integrating ecosystem services into sustainable development planning within a ‘Green Economy’, also the buzzword of the recent Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Likewise, rethinking our tax system would also help. An environmental tax reform, shifting taxes from labor and income to resource consumption, could be a big incentive to change our habits faster and more profoundly. Even easier than complex incentive structures would be the introduction of more consumer transparency. It is hard to imagine that the regular shopper in the supermarket has the attention to knowingly and purposely wreck the planet. More likely, the consumption choices are a product of unawareness of the environmental impact of the selected product, the deliberate deception of the

shopper by advertisement, and the retention of information on the resource demand of the product by the respective company. Two solutions are at hand. Certification, such as the one applied by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for timber, or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for fish, warrants transparently the sustainable production of these products. In addition, a “traffic light labelling” would show in a clear manner the environmental impact, for example, of a package of cheese, with a green, yellow or red light for parameters, such as CO2 emissions or water consumption. That certification and labelling can successfully influence consumer behavior for the better proves Germany’s organic food sector with a yearly revenue of Euro 6 billion already in 2008 – a trend that is increasing. Finally, much discussion revolves around GDP, even though this plainly is a poor measure of sustainable development, as it fails to reflect the state of natural resources or ecological conditions, and focuses exclusively on the short term, without indicating whether national policies are sustainable. Rather pick a metric that emphasizes citizen wellbeing in combination with the environment, such as the Happy Planet Index and you will be surprised to find the usual pecking order turned on its head, with countries such as Costa Rica topping

Source: Happy Planet Index 2.0.

If all people would live like people in this country, per year one would need as many planets as stated by the number.

the league, and the US on the sick list. Similar approaches embrace the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) and the Millennium Consumption Goals (MCG), both helping to ensure that the basic needs of the poor are met, preserve and strengthen earth’s natural resource base on which human society depends, and enhance global prosperity. A more quirky indicator for global overconsumption could be the total mass of humans living on Earth, which biologists of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says is a better way of measuring our impact on the planet than simply counting our numbers. According to the latest estimate, humanity weighs in at 287 million tons, or more than 5,400 Titanics. As we have seen, a comprehensive strategy for biodiversity and climate protection, and sustainable development must essentially take into account sufficiency, that is, approaches to self-limitation, modesty in consumption, and deceleration - even if this requires a longer-term societal shift in awareness. A first step to cut our total human mass could be to put one steak less on the next barbecue, thus also slowly reducing the headcount of our ‘modern-day sauropod flock’, and all the problems involved. At stake is nothing less than the sixth global mass extinction, similar to the last one the very same sauropods experienced 65 million years ago, with the only difference that this time it might include another species – the Homo sapiens. „ *Philipp Gassner is an external consultant and project correspondent for the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project.

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ASEAN-WEN

Top ASEAN lawmakers join fight against wildlife crime he top brass of ASEAN’s regional law making body met with the USAID-sponsored Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program in July 2012 to hear how they could help reverse the decline of endangered species. The Executive Committee of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) gave the floor of the widely attended, high level 10-country meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to the ARREST Program to present an update on the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia that is affecting wild animal and plant populations worldwide. Senior law makers, including four speakers, presidents of national assemblies and a deputy speaker from ASEAN, expressed their support of the need to strengthen and harmonize legislation and to support task forces operating under the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Net-

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work (ASEAN-WEN). Thailand’s National Assembly delegation reaffirmed the government’s full support of initiatives presented by the USAID-sponsored ARREST Program. Some delegations also expressed interest in joining a public awareness campaign with ARREST partners FREELAND, WildAid and ASEAN-WEN. AIPA will hold a General Assembly in September and vote on the Executive Committee-approved resolution to step up efforts across the region to curb wildlife crime, including new parliamentary task forces to review and strengthen national laws. The head delegates included Dr. Marzukie Alie, Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of AIPA; Pehin Dato Haji Judin bin Haji Asar, Secretary of the Council of Cabinet Ministers and Clerk of Legislative Council, Brunei; Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the

ASEAN Secretary-General Antonio Cuenco’s Report to the AIPA Execom

National Assembly of Cambodia; Prof. Dr. Phenethep Pholsea, Chairman, Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, Lao PDR National Assembly; Tan Sri Datuk Seri Utama Pandikar Amin bin Haji Mulia, Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament of Malaysia) - former Minister of the Office of the Prime Minister; Dr. Surahman Hidayat, Chairman, Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation, House of Representatives, Indonesia; Khin Aung Myat, Speaker of

the Parliament of Myanmar (Upper House) -former Minister of Culture; Vicente Belmonte, Chairman, Committee on Dangerous Drugs, House of Representatives, Philippines; Charles Chong, Deputy Speaker of the Singapore Parliament; Senator Pornthip Lowira Charatanapreeda, Vice President, Thai Senate; Tran Van Hang, Member of the Standing Committee and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, National Assembly of Vietnam. „

Joint ASEAN and US government mission starts review and analysis of regional wildlife forensic initiatives n June 2012, the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) Program Coordination Unit and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) Forensic Lab held a two-week mission to assess the region’s wildlife forensic capacities. The mission covered Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and China. The assessment was conducted by three genetic scientists from the USFWS OLE Forensic Lab in Ashland, Oregon, and a forensic scientist from Malaysia PERHILITAN [Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) of Peninsular Malaysia], who represented the ASEAN-WEN. The survey sought to determine the wildlife genetic forensic examination capabilities of the region; best practices being utilized by the lab personnel; and the training and equipment needs of those wildlife forensic scientists. The project is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded

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Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program, implemented by FREELAND Foundation. „

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SPECIAL SECTION China and ASEAN-WEN tighten cooperation and pave way for official agreement fficers from the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network and China produced a “statement of cooperation” through a summary of the technical consultation on cooperation, that summarizes the technical consultation between ASEAN-WEN and China to strengthen cooperation on wildlife enforcement and related CITES matters, and paves the way for an official agreement under the ASEAN +3

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framework. Over 60 officers from ten countries and 23 agencies spent two days sharing updates on cross border illegal trade, progress in curbing it, and needs to “stamp it out.” The discussion led to the ‘statement of cooperation’, which lists immediate steps that will be taken by ASEAN and Chinese government parties, including joint meetings, joint training courses, joint border initiatives, and joint public awareness activities.

The statement will be sent to the respective Ministries of the participating countries for internal consultation for further reporting to relevant ASEAN bodies for following-up under existing dialogue frameworks between ASEAN and China, including the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperative Strategic Framework. Following the agreed statement, investigators from ASEAN-WEN and China met for 2 days (20-21 June 2012) for a confiden-

tial exchange of contacts, information, challenges, and best practices. The “Special Investigation Meeting” (SIG) included 15 agencies from China, United States, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, South Africa, and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force. The SIG is slated to meet again for training and further exchanges in Bangkok in mid September at the International Law Enforcement Academy. „

Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) sia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) is a five-year program (2011-2016) funded by USAID and implemented by FREELAND Foundation. The program is fighting trafficking in illegal wildlife in Asia in three ways: reducing consumer demand; strengthening law enforcement; and strengthening regional cooperation and anti-trafficking networks. ARREST unites

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the efforts of the member states of ASEAN, China and South Asia, NGOs, and private sector organizations. Together, these dedicated people and organizations are helping Asia respond to the challenge of protecting its unique wildlife. Poacher to Protector Program selected as a top sustainable solution at Rio+20. On June 20, 2012, an ARREST program initia-

tive on eco-friendly organic mushroom farming for former poachers was highlighted in the Sustainia100 catalog of top sustainability solutions at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. Developed in collaboration with the UN Global Compact and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Regions 20 initiative, the Sustainia100 was launched at an event attended by more than 200 Ministers, Heads of State, civil society lead-

ers, CEOs, and the general public. The ARREST Program initiative, implemented by FREELAND Foundation, is currently helping former poachers to take up environmentally friendly alternative livelihoods. International study visits for farmers, community leaders, development workers and protected area managers are encouraging replication of this program across some of Asia���s most vulnerable landscapes. „

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RIO+20

Photo courtesy of the United Nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the plenary session of the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio+20 outcome recognizes importance of biodiversity for sustainable development he nations of the world, gathering at the biggest UN summit on sustainable development, have approved on June 22 a strategy recognizing the crucial role of biodiversity in ensuring sustainable development. The strategy, resulting from the Rio+20 conference, called for greater efforts to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Rio+20 gathered 191 UN members and marked the 20 years of the Rio Earth Summit, where leaders vowed the world would live within its environmental means. The strategy, contained in a 53-page statement entitled: “The Future We Want,” highlighted the many challenges facing Planet Earth whose human population is set to leap from seven billion today to 9.5 billion by 2050. The challenges include climate change, desertification, fisheries depletion,

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pollution and deforestation, and the danger of extinction for thousands of species. The statement reiterated the international commitment to the achievement of the three objectives of the CBD, which was opened for signature at the 1992 “Earth Summit” held in Rio de Janeiro. The governments affirmed the importance of implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and its 20 Aichi Targets, which were adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the CBD at their Tenth Meeting (COP10) in Nagoya Japan in 2010. Noting the adoption of a new legal instrument on access and benefit-sharing for genetic resources – the Nagoya Protocol – Parties to the CBD were invited to ratify or accede to the Protocol so as to ensure its entry into force at the earliest possible opportunity. Governments also rec-

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ognized the need for resources and therefore welcomed the strategy for resource mobilization in support of the achievement of the three objectives of the CBD, including the commitment to substantially increasing resources from all sources in support of biodiversity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the outcome of the Rio+20 “provides a firm foundation for social, economic, environmental well-being. It will guide us, all of us, towards a sustainable path. It is now our responsibility to build on it.” “The statement shows that the world recognizes that biodiversity is a central intertwined component of sustainable development, and furthers that the CBD is the tool needed to ensure that it is protected and used sustainably for all in present and future generations” said

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary for the CBD. “I call upon governments to look at the commitments in this document and to use the opportunity of implementation of the CBD and its Protocols, including the Nagoya Protocol, to take the actions in support of the future we want. The agenda of sustainable development agreed by heads of states at the Rio+20 shall provide an enabling environment for an effective implementation of the objectives and targets of the CBD” he said. The CBD, which was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force in December 1993, is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the

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SPECIAL SECTION use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The CBD seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. COP10 adopted a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, comprising five strategic goals and the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Plan is the overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related con-

Photo courtesy of the United Nations

From left: General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser; Secretary-General Ban Kimoon; Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil; Muhammad Shaaban, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management; and Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the Conference; at the Rio+20 closing ceremony.

ventions, but for the entire United Nations system. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect bi-

ological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 162 countries plus the Euro-

pean Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. CBD

Rio+20 highlights business’ role in sustainable development he role of business in sustainable development was the focus of the Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) 2012 Business Day that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 19, at the Windsor Barra Hotel, on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20). The one-day event was the official UN Major Group Business and Industry event and provided a high-profile platform for interaction between business leaders, government and NGOs with the theme: “Achieving Scale.” The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the National Business Initiative (NBI) or-

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ganized the meeting. The BASD Business Day identified key actions and catalysts to drive scale, as a final input to the Rio+20 Conference and for collaborative action by the participants going forward. The day included sectororiented dialogue sessions highlighting the business solutions being delivered; commitments to action; and hurdles to achieving scale in sectors including, agriculture, cement, chemicals, consumer goods, energy/ power, forestry, materials, oil and gas, and transport. The UNCSD marked the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference that specifically had the word “environment” in its title. The objective of the Conference was to secure renewed political

Photo courtesy of the United Nations

commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date, as well as the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. Since 1992, business has been deeply involved in the many UN and other international conferences

that have identified the crucial components of a global partnership for sustainable development. Together, the outcomes of these conferences reflect a global consensus on the challenges facing humanity and set out a roadmap for cooperative action required by all actors in society – governments, business, civil society and consumers. ISSD News

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Rio Conventions reaffirm collective responsibility for sustainable development he heads of the secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reaffirmed their determination to work to generate synergies in national implementation in support of sustainable development. In a joint statement issued on June 21 at the Rio+20, the Executive Secretaries of the three Rio Conventions committed to tackle sustainable development challenges by focusing on prioritized cross-cutting themes. These include landscape and ecosystembased approaches to adaptation, generating and sharing information on climate change impacts and vulnerability when considering biodiversity and land use, and mainstreaming gender into activities related to the implementation of the conventions act. The three top officials of the three Conventions that came of Rio in 1992 emphasized the need for “coordinated, concrete, concerted, simple and attainable solutions” to achieve “a truly sustainable future”. To this end, they called on countries and governments to set sustainable development goals, including achievable targets on land, biodiversity and climate change. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD said: “Twenty years of experience under these three agreements has produced the body of policy that we need to realize

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sustainable development. We now need to accelerate the implementation of this framework – at all levels, and in so doing, increase coordination so we can realize the important synergies that are needed for development.” Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD said: “Further commitment by the international community is needed to achieve The Future We Want. Going carbon neutral, becoming land degradation-neutral and halting the loss of biodiversity are intertwined goals. Countries and governments should set sustainable development goals that take into account existing inter-linkages among the three pillars of sustainable development and that recognize the important goals and targets already agreed upon among the Rio Conventions.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said: “Governments are on the right track in terms of designing international policy frameworks. Under the UNFCCC, they have set the goal of a maximum two degrees Celsius temperature rise, with a view to considering 1.5 degrees Celsius. They are building the support infrastructure for developing countries and are working towards a new universal climate change agreement, while increasing ambition now. There is no doubt that the scope and speed of action urgently needs to be stepped up, and that holds true for all three Conventions.” The joint statement was first disclosed on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary

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Photo courtesy of the United Nations

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, speaks at a briefing on the “Decade of Biodiversity” on the Conference’s sidelines.

Photo courtesy of the United Nations

Christiana Figueres (right), Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, during a roundtable discussion on “Looking at the Way Forward in Implementing the Expected Outcomes of the Conference”.

of the three Rio Conventions by their respective Executive Secretaries at a breakfast round-table with the current Presidencies of the respective Conference of the Parties. The Rio Conventions have played a key role in framing global and national policy

responses to the challenges of climate change, loss of biodiversity, desertification and land degradation. Their collaboration is facilitated in the context of the Joint Liaison Group run directly by the Executive Secretaries of the three Conventions. SCBD News

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Rio+20 highlights justice, governance and law for environmental sustainability ustice, governance and law for the environment was the centre of discussion at the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability held in Brazil, from June 17 to 20. The congress aimed to contribute to the support of Chief Justices, Attorneys General, Auditors Generals and other legal experts to the achievement of sustainable development and to provide inputs to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20. The meeting, held at the Portobello Resort in Mangaratiba, and at the Supreme Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro, was hosted by the UN Environment Pro-

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gramme, the Association of Judges of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Getulio Vargas Foundation and the Public Ministry of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Partners in organizing the event included the Asian Development Bank, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions, the Organization of American States, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the World Bank, the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Congress gathered high-level judges, prosecu-

tors, auditors and other legal experts for four days of interchange of experiences and discussion on leading cases and challenges in promoting a healthy environment from the legal field. The aim of the World Congress was to foster a common vision and principles on how to use justice, law and governance to promote sustainable development. More than 200 participants attended the Congress and emphasized the value of exchanging experiences at the national level and the need for enhancing international cooperation. The “Rio +20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability” sets out three main sections

on messages to Heads of State and government and the world community; procedural and substantive principles to advance the rule of law on environmental matters; and on an institutional framework for the advancement of justice, governance and law for environmental sustainability. The Declaration reflects participants’ demand for a follow-up process suggesting that UNEP lead the establishment of an international institutional network to continue engaging high-level legal officers, and promote information exchange, education and capacity building of members of the judicial, auditing and prosecuting agencies. ISSD News

Photo courtesy of IISD

Navathenem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

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FEATURE World Migratory Bird Day, May 12-13

Celebrating people and migratory birds W

orld Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated each year on the second weekend of May, and provides an opportunity for birding enthusiasts and environmentalists to celebrate, protect and raise awareness for migratory birds and their habitats. Migratory birds can cross the entire globe during their journeys, ignoring national borders and connecting the world with their migration routes. The theme for WMBD 2012 wasMigratory birds and people - together through time to stress the indispensible relationship between birds and people. There is a clear cultural, social, historic, economic and spiritual connection between birds and people, implying an intricate relationship that connects on many different levels. Migratory birds figure prominently in traditions, art, literature and legends of various cultures. Many communities rely economically on migratory birds, for instance, through a growing ecotourism and

birdwatching industry. Bird migration is a crucial indicator of biodiversity, ecosystem health, changing seasons and climate change. Migratory birds also provide essential ecological benefits and services, such as pollination, to the ecosystems we rely on to survive.

Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, said irresponsible human activities are major threats to the survival of migratory birds. “Habitat destruction, unsustainable hunting, fisheries by-catch and pollution threaten mi-

gratory birds. Tall buildings, power lines and wind turbines also serve as barriers to bird migration and endanger the journeys of migratory birds.” Highlighting the interconnectedness between people and migratory birds should make communities more conscious of the impacts of human actions on migratory species. Careful planning of infrastructure, reduction of pollution, and protection of habitats and flyways help protect migratory birds and will ensure that future generations can benefit and enjoy the important connections between migratory birds and people through time. WMBD 2012 was organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the AfricanEurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement – two international wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme. For more information on migratory birds, log on to www.cms.int. „

May 22

International Day for Biological Diversity 2012 F

rom mangrove swamps to the darkest depths of the ocean, the marine and coastal ecosystems support an overwhelming array of plants and animals which are crucial to the survival of humanity. This rich tapestry of life was highlighted on May 22 as the world celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity. The United Nations proclaimed May 22 of each year as the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. For 2012, the theme was Marine and Coastal Biodiversity. “The survival of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity is essential to the nutritional, spiritual, societal and religious well-being of many coastal communities. But even for the many millions of people who may not

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think that they have any strong reliance on the ocean, marine ecosystems and wildlife provide all kinds of benefits,” said Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The territory occupied by the ten ASEAN Member States houses a third of the world’s coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass areas. The region is home to 30 percent of coral reefs, 35 percent of mangroves, and at least 33 percent of all seagrass environs on earth, according to the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook published by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in 2010. Nine out of ten ASEAN Member

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FEATURE June 5

World Environment Day 2012: Be part of a green economy E

ach year, governments and environmentalists celebrate World Environment Day (WED) on June 5 with activities that raise awareness on global environmental issues and focus on positive actions. The first WED was held in 1972, and has since grown to become the one of the main vehicles of the United Nations to encourage increased collaboration across governments, institutions and citizens towards the protection of the environment. WED encourages participation from people from all walks of life to work together for a greener and brighter future. This year’s theme is Green Economy: Does It Include You? The theme ultimately challenges people to understand and support actions that stimulate a more environment friendly economy. What is a green economy? The UN Environment Programme defines a Green Economy as “one that results in improved human well-be-

ing and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” Simply put, a green economy is one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. It is an economy that is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Are you part of a green economy? Some people may consider the concept complex, and think that participation in a green economy should be left to

States are endowed with extensive coastlines, providing an aggregate total of some 173,000 kilometers of shore. Marine and coastal ecosystems support the highest biodiversity of coastal and marine fauna and flora in the planet. An estimated 600 Southeast Asians depend directly on these resources for food and income, which also forms the economic base for the fishing and tourism industries of the region,” said Mr. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, executive director of ACB. “Unfortunately,” Fuentes added, “the challenges facing these riches are unprecedented. Marine biodiversity is under serious threat.” Although Southeast Asia hosts the largest coral reef areas in the world, it also has the highest rate of loss, which today stands at 40 percent. Uncontrolled human population growth has been one of the major factors of pressure build-up in coastal areas in the last 40 years. There is urgency in taking action that will better protect these ecosystems,” Fuentes underscored. „

government, corporations, and environmental non-government organizations. But money drives the economy, and personal choices dictate where money is spent. By making green decisions and supporting environment friendly economic initiatives, money well spent can go to a greener economy. There are many simple ways to support a greener economy and your choices in the following sectors can provide crucial support: 1. Fisheries – Promote sustainable fishing practices by choosing sustainably harvested seafood. 2. Forestry – Help reduce deforestation and dependence on forest products by using less paper, obtaining products from certified sustainable sources, and by supporting reforestation activities. 3. Transport – Carpool, take public transport, walk, or use a bike to reduce congestion and pollution. 4. Water - Use water wisely. Turn off the tap when you’re not using it, collect rainwater for watering plants, and arrange laundry time. 5. Agriculture – Buy lo-

cally produced, inseason, organic and sustainably produced products. 6. Energy Supply – Improve personal energy efficiency by turning off lights and unplugging appliances when they are not in use. Support the development of clean and renewable energy. 7. Tourism – When travelling, buy local, travel with a group to save fuel, limit water and energy use, and support ecotourism destinations and enterprises. This way, tourism helps local communities and reduces environmental impacts. 8. Waste – Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Reduce use of plastics and compost food wastes to lessen waste in landfills and create a more resource-efficient community. 9. Manufacturing and industry – Support businesses that have sustainability plans and invest in renewable energy. Environment-friendly economic choices send signals to producers and manufacturers that people are interested in growing a green economy. Simple changes in lifestyle and purchasing behavior can help make the transition into a green economy, and a healthier planet. Celebrate World Environment Day by being part of a move towards a green economy. For more information about WED 2012, log on to http:// www.unep.org/wed „

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FEATURE World Oceans Day, June 8

Protect our blue planet O urs is definitely a blue planet as oceans cover about 70 percent of the world’s surface. Millions of people all over the world depend on marine resources for their food and livelihood, and yet it is a widely neglected ecosystem. Our oceans have been ravaged by pollution, siltation, intense and destructive fishery practices, as well as the destruction of habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows. World Oceans Day on June 8 is thus a perfect opportunity to reflect on the impact of human actions on the marine environment, as well as champion causes that serve to protect the world’s oceans. Millions depend on healthy oceans since they provide food, medicine, and jobs in industries such as fisheries, tourism, transport and energy. The oceans are also a vital thermal regulator, since they absorb more than one quarter of the carbon dioxide released by human activities. Threats to ocean environments, however, are increasing, and human activities have resulted in the deterioration of marine habitats, decrease in fish stock, death of species that mistake plastic and other debris for food, ocean acidification, and a decreased capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. This simply means less food, fewer jobs, and increased risks from impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, wave surges from intense weather events, coastal erosion and others. What people do to the oceans are currently affecting some of the world’s poorest populations, such as fisherfolk communities whose lives directly depend on the sea’s bounty and 50 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Ocean facts and figures: • Our ocean covers over 70 percent of the globe; only a little over 1 percent of the ocean is protected. • An estimated 50-80 percent of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface. • Oceans contain 99 percent of the living space on the planet; less than 10 percent of that space has been explored by humans. • Phytoplankton releases half of all oxygen in the atmosphere through photosynthesis. • The oceans account for 96 percent of all the water on the surface of the Earth, the remainder being freshwater, in the form of rivers, lakes and ice. • The ocean absorbs approximately 25 percentof the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human activities each year. • Total carbon deposits in mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows may be up to five times the carbon stored in tropical forests. Source: UNESCO

whose homes are on the frontline of global warming and climate change. As with all environmental issues, collective action is urgently needed, particularly in the protection of this common treasure. Ocean debris and other forms of pollution in one country will certainly follow ocean currents and end up in other territories;

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destruction of habitats endanger both resident and migratory species. It is important to raise awareness about the significance of oceans and their economic and social benefits, as well as join efforts to decrease pressure on marine resources. As part of the Month of the Ocean in the Philippines, the ASEAN Centre for Bio-

diversity (ACB) worked with the Department of Environment - Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, Nissan Motor Philippines, Shell, and the local province of Batangas in organizing a media tour and mangrove treeplanting in Calatagan, Batangas. The trip to the Ang Pulo Mangrove Conservation Project in Calatagan showcased the community-led mangrove reforestation and ecotourism project and was highlighted by the planting of 200 seedlings of mangroves led by Nissan Motor Philippines. The event showed that collaboration between government, the business sector and media, could spread awareness about successful conservation initiatives, spur environmental action, and hopefully the replication of these projects in other areas. In the face of intensifying environmental concerns, it is important to rise to the challenge and do your part. Save on energy and support the development of renewable energy resources; reduce litter and dispose of waste properly; be environment-friendly when travelling to coastal destinations; and participate in activities to rehabilitate ocean environments, such beach and marine clean-ups and mangrove treeplanting activities. The ocean is actually the last area where one can easily see species in the wild. Anyone who swims in a beach with healthy corals will be fascinated with the wonderful colors of the corals, fish, and other marine life. These will all be lost if we decide to do nothing. Make a difference by understanding the issue and supporting sustainable solutions. On World Oceans Day, do your part to save our

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


FEATURE

June 17

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought A side from farmers and foresters, does anyone really pay attention to healthy land and soil? When the issue of the environment comes into the conversation, people generally talk about deforestation, endangered species, air and water pollution, and extreme heat and rain because of climate change. These are familiar issues. The effects of deforestation and land degradation on soils and their impacts on humanity are largely unknown by the public or ignored by policymakers. When forests are lost, and land is converted into subdivisions, buildings, and other infrastructure, fertile soil that is needed to grow crops and store water and energy, is lost, often forever. The impacts of the loss of fertile soil will be aggravated in a world faced with climate change, and ASEAN, which generally has few dryland areas, might have to face issues of fragile ecosystems succumbing to desertification. The international agreement that links environment and development issues

to the land agenda is the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which specifically addresses environmental and development issues in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as drylands. On June 17 of every year, the UNCCD celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which is often used to promote public awareness of the efforts to address desertification in affected countries. This year’s slogan is “Healthy soil sustains your life: Let’s go Land-Degradation Neutral.” Zero-net land degradation can be achieved when, over a given period of time, non-degraded land remains healthy, and already degraded-land is restored. While desertification might not be an immediate concern for governments in ASEAN, the issue of land degradation is all too familiar in many countries in the region. According to the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook, which was produced by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and presents environ-

mental trends in ASEAN, Southeast Asia has the highest relative rate of deforestation among all major tropical forest regions. Scientists project that ASEAN could lose up to 75 percent of its forests by 2100. Deforestation leads to the immediate loss of healthy topsoil, soil erosion and biodiversity loss. The use of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture as well as land conversion into urban infrastructure also contribute to land degradation. Climate change will exaggerate these impacts since deforestation means the loss of carbon sinks, leading to more incidences of flooding, landslides, and extreme heat. Biodiversity loss from deforestation also means the loss of sources of food, medicine, clothing and shelter. Species will be lost, and ecosystem services attributed to biodiversity, such as the supply of clean water and air, will also be affected. Ultimately, the loss of fertile soil means loss of productive land that affects food security and derails

sustainable development. Thus, land degradation issues benefit from actions that focus on reforestation, comprehensive land use and planning, environment friendly agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. On the World Day to Combat Desertification, it is important to remind governments and people that ASEAN is lucky to have bountiful resources at its disposal, including lush forests, healthy marine areas, and productive lakes and rivers. These resources, however, have been stretched to their limits, and efforts must be undertaken to ensure that habitats and ecosystems are sustainably managed, and that forests in the region do not end up a barren wasteland. Help support efforts to maintain healthy soils and restore degraded land. For more information on desertification and drought, log on to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification website at www.unccd.int. „

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FEATURE World Refugee Day, June 20

Refugees to increase due to biodiversity loss, climate change N

o one chooses to be a refugee. This is the resounding theme for World Refugee Day, which is held annually on June 20 to recognize the plight of refugees and their valuable contribution to the countries that they eventually choose to call home. Millions of people worldwide have left everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror, and have to start from scratch and rebuild their lives in new environments. Today, because of impacts from environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change, the world is facing a new category of people known as environmental refugees. Though there is some debate about the proper term, climate refugees, environmental refugees, eco refugees or environmental migrants refer to people who have been displaced because of environmental impacts. Environmental refugees include those who have been uprooted because of major natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and extreme flooding. Other people may become refugees because of gradual shifts in the environment, many of which are linked to impacts from climate change. These include desertification, diminishing water supplies, and rising sea levels. People that may suffer from these long-term environmental changes already live in dire circumstances. Most of them are poor, de-

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pend directly on the environment for their livelihood, or live near disaster prone areas such as denuded hillsides or coastlines. When disaster strikes, extreme heat and drought destroys crops, diminishes the water supply, and causes coral bleaching that affects fisheries. Extreme precipitation and storms cause flooding,

landslides, rising sea levels, and wave surges that destroy communities and properties. While the ranks of environmental refugees continue to grow, it is important to consider wildlife species that also seek refuge from biodiversity loss and climate change, as they cause habitat degradation, affects mating and breeding behavior, and eventually may cause wildlife species to move. There are studies that show that species can adapt to changes in climate, but these changes often occur over long periods of time. The hastened pace that characterizes climate change today may lead to the extinction of species that may not be so quick to adapt.

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Migratory species are affected by climate change because when they travel, their former breeding or mating grounds may have been altered, or their water and food sources lost, due to climate change. This will diminish their populations and may cause the loss of already endangered species. Resident species, which are faced with habitat loss, scarce prey and water, and extreme heat, may decide to move. When species move to different habitats, they often go to areas where they have no natural predators and where conditions allow the growth of exotic species. The availability of food and water in new homes, as well as the lack of natural enemies, may cause their populations to swell and eventually overcome indigenous species. This is the reason behind the term invasive alien species (IAS). When IAS populations grow, they often cause the extinction of indigenous species, destruction of crops and native fishery stocks, and affect ecological functions. Management and eradication of IAS is an economic nightmare, and many countries take pains to ensure that native ecosystems are protected against IAS. Human and wildlife migrations are expected to increase as average global temperatures continue to rise, leading to prolonged droughts, rising sea levels, more severe weather disasters, and other impacts. While many governments

have yet to confront the reality of this issue, attention should focus on the conditions that create environmental refugees. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity said, “It is clear that human behavior has caused environmental displacement, and human activity will likely reverse it. Biodiversity conservation, reforestation and forest protection, effective management of protected areas, and sustainable use of natural resources, provide the keys to climate change mitigation, prevention of environmental degradation, and the renewed health of the planet.� The growing of a green economy, where the focus of industries is on renewable energy, conservation of natural resources and sustainable development, would help alleviate pressure on the environment, refresh agriculture and marine fisheries to enhance food security, protect ecosystems and their ecological functions, ensure the survival of species, and contribute to human health and well-being. No one, human or wildlife, chooses to be a refugee, and yet humans continue to create situations where people or species are forced to abandon their homes. We must all contribute to efforts to prevent refugee conditions, whether it is through single acts of green, or by lobbying governments, businesses and people to help transform the planet by embracing biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. „

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


PROFILES

• Malaysia

Tunku Abdul Marine Park unku Abdul Rahman Park is a state park located in Gaya Bay, MALAYSIA 3 kilometers offshore from Kota Kinabalu. Named after Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, it was gazetted in 1974 as Sabah’s second national park. The Park covers an area of 50 square kilometers comprising five islands, their surrounding reefs, and sea. Its main objective is to protect their fauna, flora, and marine eco-systems. Geologically, the islands are part of the Crocker Range but became isolated from the massif when sea levels rose after the last ice age.

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PROFILES The first historical reference to the islands comes from a native chief, Pengiran Diraup of Menkabong, when he issued rights to fell and collect timber on Gaya to a Mr. White and his colleagues in 1879. It is not known how much of the island, if indeed any, was affected, as little trace of exploitation remains today. In 1881, the islands were acquired as part of the North Borneo Chartered Company, which in 1898 started a small settlement on the eastern tip of Gaya Island, outside the present park boundary and where now there is a thriving fishing community. After only two turbulent years, and when the need for a deep water port came up, Gaya was abandoned and the Chartered Company established Jesselton, (now Kota Kinabalu). The islands were left largely undisturbed, and in 1974 the government gazetted the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park as Sabah’s second National Park. The names of the islands are symbolic of their history and early discoverers. Pulau Gaya (‘big’), Manukan

(‘fish’), Mamutik (‘for shell collection’), Sapi (the sound of a mowing buffalo), and Sulug (commemorating the ancestry of the Sulu peoples of Sabah). Initially, the Park covered two islands - Gaya and Sapi. In 1979, the Park’s boundaries expanded to include three other islands : Manukan, Sulug, and Mamutik. Habitats and Wildlife Sabah’s coral reefs are home to some of the largest, most varied communities of marine life on earth. These include five major divisions of echinoderms (sea stars, brittle stars, featherstars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers); seven phyla of marine worms comprising over 20,000 different species; sponges; soft coral; mollusks; 200 hard coral species; fish and crustaceans. The fish are almost as numerous and even more colorful than the corals. Pink-and-green parrot fish, the turquoise moon Wrasse and butterfly fish, scorpion fish, blue-spotted rays, cuttlefish, mantis shrimps, clown fish, sea cucumbers

and star fish can all be found in the park. At some locations, rare creatures such as the harlequin ghost pipefish and mandarin fish can be found especially with the help from local dive guides. During the cooler months from November to February, plankton blooms attract krill which in turn attract whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. In terms of flora, only Pulau Gaya has undisturbed coastal dipterocarp forest and mangrove swamps. In the tropical lowland forest of Pulau Gaya, figs - including strangling varieties - provide food for birds and monkeys. Lush growths of false bracken fern line the trails. Much of the original vegetation on the other islands has been replaced by secondary forest. The shoreline vegetation shares similarities with those of other Pacific islands. Pine-like aru and pandan are common. In more exposed areas, primitive cycads cling to rocky cliffs while twisted sea teak trees line the outcrops, stunted by strong winds. Fauna includes a variety of birds and small

mammals. Among bird species recorded are the white bellied sea eagle, the pied hornbill, the green heron, sandpipers, flycatchers and sunbirds. Wood swallows, pigeons and other fruit eaters are occasional visitors. Flocks of migrant wading birds and Great Crested Terns are also seen. Insects including butterflies and cicadas are common. Land animals include longtailed macaques, monitor lizards, bearded pigs and pangolins. Conservation and Management Apart from their biological significance, these reefs fringe a number of exotic islands which have become important centers for marine research and conservation. These include the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga, the Turtle Islands, the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and Pulau Sipadan Park, under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks. The administrative centre of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is in the Manukan island. Each of the five islands, however, had their own administrative offices. Ecotourism The reefs lie in shallow waters with little current making it an ideal location for novice divers, and provide a training ground to the ultimate diving place - Sipadan Island. The diverse and sometimes rare marine creatures also make it an interesting dive location for experienced divers and underwater photographers. To dive in the marine park, visitors must contact one of the local dive centers based in Kota Kinabalu that also offer a full variety of PADI courses. The park has also become a site for whale shark encounters. During

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PROFILES

Sea cucumbers (Bohadschia)

Sea slugs (Phyllidia sp.)

Monitor lizard

Polip coral

peak months when the plankton blooms, the density of the krill can be so thick and water conditions become murky, thus increasing the already exciting whale shark encounter when they suddenly appear out of the gloom. Non-diving visitors can still have as much fun in the islands with other optional activities such as snorkeling in Pulau Sapi and Manukan and seawalking in Pulau Sapi. There are also various attractions specific to the islands that comprise Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Pulau Gaya At 15 square kilometers, Pulau Gaya is the largest of the five islands. On its eastern corner is a village which lies outside the park. From a height of

300 meters in the centre, the land slopes down to secluded bays and sandy beaches. Gaya’s popular Police Beach fringes the large semi circular Bulijong Bay in the north. Coral reefs surround the forested island and are ideal for snorkelling and diving. There are 20 km of marked trails including a plank-walk across a mangrove swamp. Pulau Manukan Pulau Manukan is the Park’s second largest island and the most developed. Shaped like a crescent, it is one and a half kilometers long and a third of a kilometer wide in the middle. The best beach is on the eastern tip of the island and has good snorkelling to the south and east. The Sabah Parks Headquarters are located on Pulau Manukan. Nature trails are available for

those who want to explore the island.

tide, it’s possible to wade between the two islands.

Pulau Mamutik The smallest island, Mamutik is also nearest to the mainland. Easy access makes the roughly triangular island very popular. Rocks line one side while sandy beaches fringe the others.

Getting there The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is accessible via 15 – 20 minutes speedboat ride from Kota Kinabalu. The departure and arrival point for the boat transfers is at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, situated next to the Malaysia Royal Custom Department. Boat transfers to the islands are available daily from 7.30 A.M. to 5 P.M. „

Pulau Sulug Sulug is the furthest from the mainland. It’s a rocky island less than 200 meters across. A long sand spit facing east drops sharply near an extensive coral reef. Remoteness makes Sulug a favored swimming spot. Pulau Sapi Just 200 meters wide and half a kilometer long, Sapi is one of the more popular islands with 5 kilometers of nature trails. A sand bank links it to Gaya. At low

References: Sabah Parks (http://www. sabahparks.org.my/eng/ tunku_abdul_rahman_park/ default.asp) Sabah Tourism Board (http:// www.sabahtourism.com/ sabah-malaysian-borneo/en/ destination/83/) Sabah Travel Guide (http:// www.sabahtravelguide. com/mapguide/default. asp?page=tar)

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PROFILES

• Indonesia

Wakatobi National Marine Park akatobi National INDONESIA Park (WNP), located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, spans an area of 1.4 million hectares off the southeast tip of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The park is formed by four main islands, Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko and several small islands. Wakatobi derives its name from the first syllables of the four main islands. Found within one of the world’s most recognized centers of biological diversity, the area is known for its coral reef diversity. Legendary underwater explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau is said to have called the Wakatobi islands, then known as the Tukangbesi islands, an underwater nirvana. The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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PROFILES Throughout Sulawesi, marine and coastal ecosystems are of high ecological and economic importance, particularly for fisheries and commercial use. The rich biodiversity, as well as the ecological and economic values of the marine area thus led to the declaration of 3.4 million acres of islands and waters of Wakatobi National Park in 1996. Habitats and Wildlife The islands of Wakatobi are all coral islands with a maximum elevation of 300 meters. The island group comprises 143 larger and smaller islands where only seven are inhabited counting a total population of around 100,000, while the others remain uninhabited. Most notable residents are the Bajo communities, the seafaring nomads who inhabit many of Indonesia’s remote islands. Wakatobi National Park comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are decorated with different, colorful species of tropical coral reefs. Wakatobi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. This is the habitat of large and small fish species, the playground of dolphins, turtles and even whales. Wakatobi is said to have 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species. Recorded fish species include Argus spots (Cephalopholus argus), takhasang (Naso unicornis), pogo-pogo (Balistoides viridescens), napoleon (Cheilinus undulatus), red fish (Lutjanus biguttatus), baronang (Siganus guttatus), Amphiprion melanopus, Chaetodon specullum, Chelmon rostratus, Heniochus acuminatus, Lutjanus monostigma, Caesio caerularea, and

others. Several species of seabirds can also be found in the park, including swan-stone brown (Sula leucogaster plotus), Malay plover (Charadrius peronii) and King Prawn Eurasia (Alcedo atthis). Three species of sea turtles can often be seen on the islands. These are the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), loggerhead turtle (Caretta Caretta), and Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). Threats In 2003, a Rapid Ecological Assessment of Wakatobi was conducted which revealed widespread coral damage, primarily from fishing pressures, and minimal coral bleaching. The immediate threats to Wakatobi National Park result from destructive fishing practices such as

Cephalopholus argus

blast fishing and the use of cyanide, and overfishing. In addition, costal development threatens the coral reef and coastal environment of the area. Commercially valuable fish species, such as grouper and snapper, are highly vulnerable to overfishing in Wakatobi National Park due the Live Reef Food Fish Trade, and because these species reproduce in fish spawning aggregations (FSAs). FSA is a phenomenon in which fish gather at predictable locations and times, as a means to reduce predation of eggs, find mates and maximize reproduction success. Unfortunately, this behavior also makes the fish easy prey for fisherfolk. Conservation and Management There are a number of conservation organizations

working on projects to protect the marine biodiversity of Wakatobi National Park. The Wakatobi District government and the Wakatobi National Park Authority jointly manage the WNP, while local fishermen also play an important role in fisheries management in several locations through community forums. Additionally, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and WWF-Indonesia have provided technical management support to WNP since 2003. The goal of the management plan in Wakatobi is to support the establishment of effectively managed Marine Protected Area (MPA) sites as foundations for resilient networks of functionally connected MPAs. The objectives of this goal are as follows: • Management planning and design: Improve management framework, and provide efficient, transparent and collaborative management of Wakatobi National Park that is supported by the majority of stakeholders. • Monitoring for biodiversity protection: Monitoring provides inputs for adaptive management, as well as feed-back on management success. • Sustainable resource use/outreach: Increase stakeholders’ understanding and appreciation for the Park and its management, contributing to increased support for Park management and high compliance with Park regulations. • Sustainable financing for Park management. To address overfishing

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PROFILES and destructive fishing practices in Wakatobi, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have been working with the Wakatobi National Park Authority and a broad range of stakeholders to redesign the Park’s management plan. By involving communities, focusing in collaborative management and building firm legal foundation for Park zoning and enforcement, conservation action at Wakatobi is intended to be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. To address threats to fish spawning aggregations, the

TNC-WWF joint program, alongside local management agencies, conducted surveys to identify FSA locations and establish ecological baselines in WNP, which influenced the Wakatobi Park Authority’s decision to declare all FSAs in WNP as “no-take” zones in 2007. AS a result of this intervention, surveys conducted between 2005 and 2010 have shown that fish counts in two of the park’s FSAs—where local fishermen have been directly involved in management— have stabilized. At FSA sites where local communities have not been involved in management, the number of fish has continued to 58 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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decrease, likely due to continued fishing in these notake zones. As a result, TNC and WWF have facilitated regular training sessions to build the capacity of local fisher groups in community organizing, and to provide training on conservation, marine protected areas, and the importance of protecting the FSAs. In June 2006, members of one community forum called KOMUNTO (Komunitas Nelayan Tomiya), came to an agreement to halt fishing in locations they refer to as “fish banks” after hearing about the results of the FSA monitoring

studies. Since its formation, KOMUNTO has been able to mobilize and organize previously isolated and scattered fishermen groups, thereby promoting community participation in park management decisions and the local enforcement and monitoring of protected areas. In 2010, KOMUNTO won the United Nations Development Programme’s prestigious Equator Prize for outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and KOMUNTO’s “fish bank” model is being adopted by other local fishing

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communities. Other communities have followed KOMUNTO’s lead by implementing their own patrols of the no-take zone and regulating fishing effort of cooperative members in surrounding areas. The conservation group “Operation Wallacea” is very active in the marine park, conducting underwater research and conservation. It has done extensive work on the island of Kaledupa, one of the four main islands in Wakatobi National Park. Initial work by the Opwall Trust and Operation Wallacea indicated that there were significant problems of overfishing on the Kaledupa reefs from artisanal techniques. In 2004 a management plan for the Kaledupa fisheries was proposed and in 2005 the Trust funded an initial investigation into whether the concepts set out in the management plan would be effective. This work led to a Darwin Initiative application to establish the Kaledupa reef fisheries as a best practice example of reef management. Efforts to reduce fishing pressures in Kaledupa include the introduction of a monitoring programme, development of a database on fish stocks and abundance, conduct of a Kaledupa Fisheries Forum to discuss fisheries management bylaws, and others. These actions have resulted in community enforcement of fisheries management agreements, reduced fishing pressures, and the development of business opportunities to help residents diversify sources of income. These business opportunities include the development of a plant to process 3000 tonnes per year of seaweed, and the development of ecotourism using homestays.

Ecotourism Due to its magnificent underwater life, Wakatobi is fast gaining worldwide attention for its quality dives that can be made by beginners to professionals. Wakatobi National Park has many fringing reefs, atolls and barrier reefs and offer more than 50 spectacular dive sites easily accessible from the major islands. As a result, many liveaboards make this one of their main stopover points. Aside from its dive sites, Wakatobi has many superb beaches. Even without scuba diving, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the underwater marine life by snorkeling and swimming where they can wonder at the beautiful clusters of coral reefs and other marine species. Getting there The District capital of Wakatobi is Wanci on Wangi-Wangi. Since the opening of the Matohara Airport on Wangi-Wangi, these remote islands are now more accessible and can be reached by flights from Jakarta or Makassar. Wanci is the first gate into the Wakatobi National Park area. There is also another landing strip on Tomia island, which receives charters from Bali. „ References: Indonesia Travel (http:// www.indonesia.travel/en/ destination/630/wakatobinational-marine-park-theunderwater-nirwana) Opwall Trust (http://www. opwalltrust.org/index. php?option=com_content&vie w=article&id=60&Itemid=81) Reef Resilience (http://www. reefresilience.org/Toolkit_ Coral/C8_Wakatobi.html) World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org/ publication/reefs-at-riskrevisited/stories/indonesiawakatobi)

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


BOOKMARKS Brunei contributes to ASEAN Biodiversity Fund Brunei Darussalam is the first ASEAN Member State to contribute to the ASEAN Biodiversity Fund. This was announced by Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). The contribution, US $50,000, was facilitated by Haji Muhammad Lutfi Bin Abdullah, Brunei’s ASEAN Senior Official on the Environment and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Development of Brunei. The ASEAN Biodiversity Fund was established by the ASEAN Member States to provide a sustainable financing mechanism that will enable ACB to continue fulfilling its mandate as ASEAN’s centre of excellence on biodiversity. ACB, as a regional intergovernmental organization, facilitates cooperation and coordination among the ten ASEAN Member States and with relevant national governments, regional and international organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such natural treasures. Director Fuentes said Brunei’s contribution hopes to inspire other ASEAN Member States and donor organizations to contribute to the ASEAN Biodiversity Fund. “By contributing to the Fund, Brunei has shown its concern for regional cooperation in helping reduce biodiversity loss,” Director Fuentes stressed.

ACB and KfW to strengthen ASEAN Heritage Parks The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and Germany’s KfW have agreed to launch a project that will strengthen the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs). KfW’s financial assistance will enable ACB to support rural communities and NGOs within and around the AHPs in selected countries to implement biodiversity conservation initiatives. AHPs are protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving in total a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems of the ASEAN region. The AHP Programme aims to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage, through a regional network of representative protected areas, and to generate greater collaboration among ASEAN countries in preserving their shared natural heritage.

Andrea Johnston, Team Leader for the Appraisal Mission and Chief of Natural Resources Division, KfW; Anna Maria Santa Cruz Melgarejo, Junior Professional, KfW; ACB Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes; and ACB PDI Director Clarissa Arida, after signing the minutes of the ACB-KfW Meeting for the AHP Programme.

Haji Muhammad Lutfi Bin Abdullah

The AHP Programme underlines the need for greater collaboration for biodiversity conservation in ASEAN, particularly since the region provides habitats for some of the world’s most enigmatic species and harbors a globally significant wealth of biodiversity.

ACB trains Thailand on biodiversity information management Twenty government and NGO staff involved in biodiversity information management in Thailand underwent a two-day training on Data Organization and Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM) Enhancement and Maintenance. Conducted by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and held at the Kasetsart University in Bangkok on May 10-11, the training was part of Thailand’s efforts to meet its obligations to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the area of information management. Target 19 of the new Biodiversity Strategic Plan under the CBD provides for Parties to take necessary actions such that by 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied. To achieve this target, there is a need to consolidate and make information, particularly species and protected areas, interoperable and available to support national, sub-regional and regional planning and decision making for sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity resources. Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director of ACB’s Biodiversity Information Management Unit, said the Bangkok training was part of a series of workshops focusing on increasing capacities of ASEAN Member States to manage biodiversity information, as well as set up and maintain their national CHMs, an information exchange platform espoused by the CBD to facilitate technical cooperation and information sharing at the national and regional levels. The training enhanced capacities of Thailand to digitize species and protected areas (PA) information; organize species and PA information into summaries useful for species

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BOOKMARKS Misamis Occidental celebrates declaration of Mt. Malindang as latest ASEAN Heritage Park Politicians, government officials, protected area personnel and conservation organizations all turned out for the launch of Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) on August 4 at the Town Center in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, Philippines. Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park (MMRNP) straddles the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao, Philippines. The park has a total land area of 53,028 hectares, which constitutes the core zone of 34,694.00 hectares and the buffer zone of 18,334 hectares. MMRNP is now part of 30 AHPs in the region and is the 4th AHP in the Philippines after Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park, and Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. The launch coincided with the conduct of the Second National Conference in ASEAN Heritage Parks. The event was organized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), GIZ, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) with the support of the Office of Senator Pia Cayetano; Office of the Governor Herminia Ramiro, Office of Congressman Loreto Leo Ocampos, 2nd District, Misamis Occidental; Office of Mayor Jason Almonte, Oroquieta City; and the Protected Area Office of MMRNP. The guests at the launch were headed by the Hon. Nereus O. Acosta, Secretary and Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection; Atty. Monalisa L. Barro, Legislative Officer, Office of Senator Pia Cayetano; Hon. Herminia M. Ramiro, Governor, Misamis Occidental; Hon. Eleuterio Blasco, Chairperson, Committee on Environment, Sangguniang Panglungsod, Oroquieta City; Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, DENR Assistant Secretary for Lands; Dr. Corazon B. Galinato, Regional Executive Director, DENR-Region 10; Dr. Dicky Simorangkir and Philip Gassner of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project; and Nelson Devanadera, PAWB Assistant Di-

Workshop organizers and participants

and ecosystems management; and map species and habitats based on available information. It also strengthened Thailand’s capacity to manage its Clearing-House Mechanism focusing on the following aspects: agreement on a new structure for the Thailand CHM website; agreement on data translation schedule; and roles, responsibilities for the implementation of website enhancements. 60 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Photo by Sahlee Barrer

Mr. Lauro Punzalan of ACB (second from left); Mayor Philip Tan, Tangub City; Asst. Director Nelson Devanadera, PAWB; and PASu Eden Pito, MMRNP, discuss the proposed Ecotourism and Visitor Center.

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Photo by Angie Metin

RTD Belen Daba, DENR-10; Asst. Dir. Nelson Devanadera, PAWB, Atty. Roberto Oliva, DENR; RED Corazon Galinato, DENR-10; Sec. Nereus Acosta; Gov. Herminia Ramiro; Atty. Monalisa Barro; and Hon. Eleuserio Blasco are flanked by representatives of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, Office of the Governor, ACB-GiZ-Biodiversity and Climate Change Project; and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

rector. The launch was also attended by the managers of the other, namely, Deputy Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) Samuel Gambong of Mt. Apo Natural Park; PASu Rodel Boyles, Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park; PASu Felix S. Mirasol, Jr., Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park; and PASu Eden Pito of MMRNP. Also in attendance were the mayors, barangay chairmen, and other stakeholders that comprised the Protected Area Management Board of MMRNP. The launch was highlighted by the awarding of a Plaque of Recognition which was received by the Gov. Herminia Ramiro

Grounbreaking ceremony of the proposed Ecotourism and Visitor Center in Tangub City.

Photo by Angie Metin

Congressman Loreto Leo Ocampos, 2nd District, Misamis Occidental, addresses guests at the launch of the Philippine Eagle Expedition at the Hoyogoy Stone Chapel Highland Adventure Park.

Photo by Angie Metin

Dr. Dicky Simorangkir, Head of ACB-GIZ-BCCP, plants a tree at the hillside of Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park.

and DENR Regional Executive Director Corazon Galinato. ACB GiZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project Head, Dr. Dicky Simorangkir, discussed their upcoming project in MMRNP that would focus on agroforestry, ecotourism and alternative livelihoods for local communities. At the Second National Conference on ASEAN Heritage Parks, the AHP managers shared their experiences and achievements in the management of their respective protected areas. Action plans were also made for 20122015 to further improve the management of the AHPs. The following day, the participants went on a media tour to highlight the projects and biodiversity values of Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park. The group traveled to Tangub City where they were welcomed by Mayor Philip Tan. Tangub is the site of the soon to be established Ecotourism and Visitor Center of MMRNP. This was followed by a tree planting activity at a hillside of the park. The media tour group proceeded to the Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park where they were welcomed by Congressman Loreto Leo Ocampos. The congressman launched the Philippine Eagle Expedition with members of local mountaineering groups to document the habitat and presence of the Philippine eagle on Mt. Malindang. The event was supported by the Philippine Eagle Foundation, which also presented an overview of the status of the Philippine eagle. The successful two-day event would not have been possible without the considerable efforts of Regional Technical Director Belen Daba, PAWCZM Service of DENR-Region 10; and PASu Eden Pito and his staff at the Protected Area Office of MMRNP. ACB also expressed its appreciation for the all out support shown by Misamis Occidental in the declaration of Mt. Malindang Range as the region’s latest AHP. The visit provided an opportunity for guests and the media to know more about Philippine biodiversity, the significance of the AHPs and the ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme, as well as values of the MMRNP that make it worthy of its declaration as an ASEAN Heritage Park. It is hoped that increased awareness of the biodiversity values of the park will result in greater support for Philippine ASEAN Heritage Parks, and other protected areas in the country.

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Representatives from ASEAN Member States discuss biodiversity data organization.

species and protected areas information are likewise fragmented and are held in different formats, vocabularies and metrics. Making such information interoperable is important to facilitate information sharing and data integration and analysis across locations,” Dr. Vergara explained. Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr., coordinator of the ACB-JAIF project, said that after the training course, participating ASEAN Member States are expected to digitize their species and protected areas information; use new technological developments evolving on GPS and other related tools on geo-referencing; and enhance their capacities to manage and share biodiversity and taxonomic information. “Lack of scientific information on biodiversity in Southeast Asia has affected the assessment and prediction of biodiversity changes, caused mainly by the lack of taxonomic capacity in data collection and analysis. “Adequate taxonomy is a necessary tool required for the global community to implement the Millennium Development Goals and the development targets set by the World Summit for Sustainable Development. Without adequate long-term investment in the human, infrastructural, including important biological collections, and information resources necessary to underpin the science of taxonomy, the now well-recognized taxonomic impediment will continue to prevent implementation of sound, scientifically-based sustainable, environmental management and development policies,” Dr. Pollisco explained.

ASEAN workshop strengthens access and benefit sharing of genetic resources Workshop participants

ASEAN countries boost capacity on managing taxonomic information Taxonomists and information management personnel from the ten ASEAN Member States underwent a three-day training to enhance their skills in biodiversity data organization and mapping. Held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia from July 23 to 25, the training course was conducted by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and funded by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). The training course, part of the Expanded Taxonomic Capacity Building and Governance for Conservation and the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Project, oriented participants on biodiversity-related data organization, data entry, processing and mapping. The project is developing and enhancing capacities of ASEAN Member States in taxonomic knowledge, particularly on biodiversity data organization and management for strengthening scientific basis in decision making vital for environmental governance, business and technologies development. Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director for Biodiversity Information Management of ACB, said the capacity for biodiversity-related data storage, retrieval and processing into useful information is uneven in the ASEAN region. “Some countries are far advanced and equipped with exceptional capacity in taxonomy and database management. However, other ASEAN Member States are yet to establish the facility to collect, store and share information. Available 62 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Fifty representatives from government agencies, academe, non-governmental organizations and indigenous and local communities involved in promoting access and benefit sharing of genetic resources in the 10 ASEAN Member States and Timor Leste convened in Bangkok, Thailand from August 20 to 23 for the Southeast Asia Training Workshop on Building Institutional and Stakeholders Capacities on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising (ABS) from their Utilization. The workshop, which provided a venue for the participants to better understand and apply ABS concepts at the national level, was the second activity under the Project on Building Capacity for Regionally Harmonized National Processes for Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity Provisions on ABS.

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BOOKMARKS With the first workshop in 2011 discussing the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, the event in Bangkok focused on developing the capacities of different stakeholders in each of the participating countries on ABS concepts. The ABS Management Tool, a best practice standard and handbook for implementing genetic resource ABS activities, was used during the workshop. The event enabled the participants to discuss ways to develop and implement ABS frameworks in their respective countries, raise awareness on ABS, and develop their national clearinghouse mechanisms on ABS information. Highlighting the training workshop was a field trip to Bann Santitham where the participants and community folks shared experiences on local community biodiversity management, community protocol governing the utilization of biological resources, and the different ways of sharing benefits in communities. Resource speakers included Mr. Geoff Burton, consultant of the ABS project; Dr. Andreas Drews of GIZ; Mr. Rolando Inciong, head of ACB’s communication and public affairs; and Dr. Sheila Vergara, director of ACB’s biodiversity information management unit.

ASEAN countries enhance capacity on project management Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management personnel from the ten ASEAN Member States underwent a five-day training to enhance their skills in project development and management from August 13 to 17 in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines. Organized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the training course was part of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP). The five-year BCCP is an initiative aimed at enhancing capacities of ASEAN Member States to mitigate climate change through biodiversity conservation. “Through this workshop, we equipped the participants with the much-needed know-how in developing and implementing project proposals. We all know that the failure of a project is usually traced to poor planning and preparation, as well as the failure to carefully study factors affecting long-term sustainability, possible risks, and lessons from past experience. In the field of biodiversity conservation where there are so many issues to address, but very mea-

ger funds, we have to ensure that conservation projects are well-designed and superbly implemented. Otherwise, we waste precious resources and efforts,” Ms. Clarissa Arida, director for programme development and implementation of ACB, said. Among the topics discussed in the workshop were project design and development, project implementation and management tools, and project proposal writing and packaging. The activity also served as a review of the Project Cycle Management (PCM) method, with emphasis on the Logical Framework and Results-based Monitoring and Evaluation. PCM is a widely followed method in the development, implementation and review of proposals.

IDB 2012: business sector leads tree growing On May 26, around 200 officers and employees of Belle Corporation, Highlands Prime, Tagaytay Highlands, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and GIZ, as well as media representatives, planted 1,800 fruit bearing trees at the Bird Sanctuary in Tagaytay Highlands, Philippines. The multi-sector event dubbed “One Tree at a Time” was part of the celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity and the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (20112020), global celebrations that seek to promote the involvement of a variety of national and intergovernmental actors and other stakeholders in the goal of mainstreaming biodiversity into broader development planning and economic activities. The annual “One Tree at a Time” of Tagaytay Highlands started in 2010 when ACB partnered with the leisure destination for its first tree planting activity. Because of this joint project, Tagaytay Highlands was recognized by ACB as a “Friend of Biodiversity”. Since then, Tagaytay Highlands has maintained its position as an agent of change on how it sees business through environmental conservation. “The third One Tree at a Time coincided with Tagaytay Highlands’ 18th anniversary celebration. Planting 1,800 trees is part of our thanksgiving to Mother Nature. Without

(Left to right) Mr. Jerry C. Tiu, President, Tagaytay Highlands; Ms. Tran Thi Nam Phuong, Counsellor of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam; Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director, Biodiversity Information Management-ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity; Ms. Claire T. Kramer, General Manager, Tagaytay Highlands; and Mr. Christof Wegner, Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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BOOKMARKS trees, there will be no air to breathe and without air, there will be no life to live. The trees we planted will also provide Tagaytay Highlands’ various species of birds and insects a new home. More importantly, we will pass on an important legacy to the future generation,” Mr. Willy Ocier, founder of Tagaytay Highlands, said.

Bhutan biodiversity experts visit ACB To learn about the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), specifically its work on promoting access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources, a group of biodiversity experts from Bhutan recently visited the Centre’s headquarters in Los Banos, Philippines. Mainly from the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, the Bhutanese officials were accompanied by a representative from the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), a non-government organization working on plant genetic resources conservation development and use in Southeast and East Asia. Bhutan, a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, is planning to develop a national ABS legal framework and an ABS clearinghouse mechanism (CHM). Dr. Tashi Yangzome Dorji, Programme Director of NBC, said the visit to ACB drew ideas and concepts that can help Bhutan in developing its national policy on ABS. He added that Bhutan’s vision is to conserve and sustain the country’s biodiversity through securing the economic, social and spiritual well-being of the Bhutanese people. “In order to realize this vision, NBC and SEARICE will build institutional collaboration with ACB and share experiences on biodiversity information management. The Bhutanese trip the Philippines included visits to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, International Rice Research Institute and Pascual Laboratories. ACB officials led by Ms. Clarissa Arida, director for programme development and implementation, provided the visitors an overview of the Centre’s activities. Mr. Anthony Foronda, ABS Project Coordinator and Ms. Ana Maria Tolentino, Programme Development Officer, shared information on the UNEP-GEF funded project on ABS while Dr. Shiela Vergara, director for biodiversity information management (BIM), and Ms. Lilibeth Cabebe of BIM, showcased the regional CHM.

Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), GIZ and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) launched the special award on “Best in Biodiversity and Climate Change Reporting” at the recent National Press Forum held in Manila. This is a special award under the 2012-2013 Civic Journalism Community Press Awards. According to Dr. Berthold Seibert, project director of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, “the relationship between biodiversity and climate change cannot be translated into a gut issue that the man-on-the-street can understand without the help of the media, especially the newspapers. GIZ and ACB recognize media’s significant role as partner in demystifying biodiversity and promoting the link between biodiversity and climate change and highlighting their importance to humans”. Rolly Inciong, head of ACB’s communication and public affairs, said that through this special category, ACB, GIZ and PPI will recognize the efforts of community journalists in educating the public on the linkage between biodiversity and climate change. Are the Filipino community journalists up for this challenge? Now is the opportunity for local newspapers to publish articles related to biodiversity and climate change and submit entries to PPI from September 2012 to March 2013. The winners of this category will be announced in April 2013. Community journalists may check the following websites for more information on climate change and biodiversity: UN-REDD www.un-redd.org, Global Issues www.globalissues.org, PBS Newsletter www.pbs.org, Science and Development Network www.scidiv.net, Conservation International www.conservation.org.

UNU graduate students visit ACB HQ Graduate students from the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) based in Tokyo, Japan visited the ACB headquarters in the Philippines to advance their knowledge and learning on sustainable development. To equip UNU graduates with the skills to initiate innovative biodiversity policies and facilitate effective implementation, students undertake overseas fieldwork and participate in research projects. In photo are the UNU students with ACB officials Rolando Inciong, head of communication and public affairs, and Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr., policy research specialist.

Search for best reporting on biodiversity and climate change is on The search is on for the best news and feature reporting on biodiversity and climate change in the Philippines. The hot issue of biodiversity and climate change received a much-needed public awareness boost when the ASEAN

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BOOKMARKS Nagoya Protocol Committee adopts recommendations on future work, financial issues The second meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol (ICNP2) on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted eight recommendations setting the groundwork for the Protocol’s implementation and entry into force. Held from July 2 to 6 in New Delhi, India, the meeting was preceded by a capacity-building workshop on ABS, co-organized by the Secretariats of the CBD and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. ICNP2 adopted eight recommendations on modalities of operation of the ABS clearing-house; measures to assist in capacity building, capacity development and strengthening of human and institutional capacities in developing countries; measures to raise awareness of the importance of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge; cooperative procedures and institutional mechanisms to promote compliance with the Protocol and address cases of non-compliance; the need for, and modalities of, a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism (Article 10); guidance for the financial mechanism; guidance for resource mobilization for the Protocol’s implementation; and future work in preparation for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol. The meeting prepared for implementation and entry into force by identifying questions requiring clarification at the international level. Although entry into force is expected to take at least another two years, many countries showcased legislative and policy developments highlighting that the Protocol already has had an impact at the domestic level. Participants discussed the need for consistent funding to support these initiatives, and for clarifying the role of the Global Environment Facility in this regard. According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, the meeting also demonstrated that some Protocol provisions remain obscure, and additional efforts are required to reach common understanding, including regarding the ABS clearing-house and its role in the internationally recognized certificate of compliance. Similarly, deliberations on compliance and the multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism identified a series of issues and unanswered questions, but also set the groundwork for further discussions. IISD RS News

UNEP launches GEO5 The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human well-being, according to a new and wide-ranging assessment coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), launched on the eve of the Rio+20 Summit, as-

sessed 90 of the mostimportant environmental goals and objectives and found that significant progress had only been made in four. These are eliminating the production and use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, removal of lead from fuel, increasing access to improved water supplies and boosting research to reduce pollution of the marine environment. Some progress was shown in 40 goals, including the expansion of protected areas such as National Parks and efforts to reduce deforestation. Little or no progress was detected for 24 – including climate change, desertification and drought. Further deterioration was posted for eight goals including the state of coral reefs and wetlands while no assessment was made of 14 other goals due to a lack of data. The report cautions that if humanity does not urgently change its ways, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which abrupt and generally irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur. “If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and ‘decoupled’, then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. But it’s not all bad news. The report says meeting an ambitious set of sustainability targets by the middle of the century is possible if current policies and strategies are changed and strengthened, and gives many examples of successful policy initiatives, including public investment, green accounting, sustainable trade, the establishment of new markets, technological innovation and capacity building. GEO-5 also points out that where international treaties and agreements have tackled goals with specific, measurable targets—such as the bans on ozone-depleting substances and lead in petrol—they have demonstrated considerable success. For this reason, GEO-5 calls for more specific targets, with quantifiable results, across a broader range of environmental challenges. “GEO-5 reminds world leaders and nations meeting at Rio+20 why a decisive and defining transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient, job-generating Green Economy is urgently needed,” said Mr. Steiner. “The scientific evidence, built over decades, is overwhelming and leaves little room for doubt.” “The moment has come to put away the paralysis of indecision, acknowledge the facts and face up to the common humanity that unites all peoples,” he added. “Rio+20 is a moment to turn sustainable development from aspiration and patchy implementation into a genuine path to progress and prosperity for this and the next generations to come.” UNEP News

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BOOKMARKS GEO5: focus on the Asia-Pacific region Asia and the Pacific is the fastest growing economic region in the world, yet unsustainable growth, population increase, increased consumption and urbanization challenge the region’s sustainable development. This is one of the key findings for Asia and the Pacific from the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO 5), which analyzes the worldwide state of the environment and tracks progress towards the achievement of agreed goals and targets. GEO 5 also found out that robust governance structures, enhanced accountability and coordinated sustainability approaches need to be integrated across all policy levels, if the region is to overcome environmental challenges, which include rising greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, and the management of chemicals and hazardous waste. The report said many countries are adopting innovative policies that can put the region on a more sustainable path: from balancing water management through quotas and pricing in China and the introduction of payments for ecosystem services in Vietnam, to building climate resilience in the Maldives and implementing a national green growth policy in the Republic of Korea. If scaled-up and accelerated, such measures could assist in a transition to a Green Economy. Under a business as usual scenario, Asia-Pacific – often described as the global engine of economic growth – is expected to contribute approximately 45 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2,) emissions by 2030 and an estimated 60 percent by 2100. However, encouraging signs include voluntary pledges by ten countries to reduce their emissions by 2020. Meanwhile, intra-regional diversity means that the region is home to the largest emitter of CO2, China, and the smallest emitters, the Pacific Island nations. Similarly, water endowments in the region range from the abundant resources of the tropics and the Himalayan snowfields to the highly arid temperate zones and water-stressed small island states. Balancing water supply and demand and improving the management of water quality and resources are essential to achieving regional and global freshwater goals. Economic growth in Asia and the Pacific is coupled with an increase in unsustainable consumption patterns and waste production. Changing consumption patterns, which reduces waste from the outset, lies at the core of effective waste management policies in the region. The sustainable management of chemicals in the region is identified as a key policy concern. While the use of chemicals remains on the increase, the impact of their use on health and the environment is poorly monitored and regulated. Appropriate controls on chemicals production and use and the management of contaminants need to be addressed at the policy and enforcement levels. Meanwhile, experts agree that improved governance structures and enhanced accountability are critical to addressing environmental degradation and unsustainable development in Asia-Pacific. On a regional level, GEO 5 pays particular attention to policy approaches, highlighting successful national and regional policies that can be scaled up and replicated elsewhere. Emerging trends and regional priorities for action are analyzed and highlighted.

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Drivers of environmental change Central to the GEO 5 methodology is the concept that environmental pressures can only be effectively tackled if underlying drivers are addressed. Policies are most effective, argues the report, when they pro- actively address the causes of environmental degradation, rather than reacting to the effects. The drivers of environmental change in Asia-Pacific highlighted in GEO 5 include population, economic growth, urbanization, and consumption and resource use. Population According to 2010 estimates by the UN Population Division, just over 3.9 billion people live in the Asia- Pacific region – making up almost 58 percent of the world’s population. Yet, population growth in the region has been steadily declining over the last two decades. Population density and inequitable resource management have been identified as the root causes of water scarcity, especially in rapidly developing countries. In China, for example, urban growth has exacerbated a decline in the availability of clean water by overwhelming the water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Economic development and resource use At the beginning of the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific region overtook the rest of the world to become the single largest user of natural resources (Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlook for Asia and the Pacific - UNEP 2011). As economies in Asia and the Pacific urbanize and industrialize, the use of primary materials (metal ores and industrial minerals, fossil fuels and construction minerals) continues to grow. Energy The use of fossil fuels is predominant in the Asia-Pacific region, with hydro-electricity, renewables and nuclear energy typically accounting for less than 20 percent of overall energy use. According to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, oil remains the fuel of choice in most AsiaPacific economies, accounting for 30-40 percent or more

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BOOKMARKS of energy needs in most economies. The key exception is China, which relies heavily on coal. Coal production increased by 3-5 percent per year during 2005-2009, with China experiencing a 16 percent increase in production during 2008-2009, reaching 44 percent of the world’s total coal production of 3.05 billion tons. With rapidly increasing energy demand, however, China became a net importer of coal for the first time in 2007. Coal constitutes more than 20 percent of overall energy use in the majority of Asia-Pacific economies, while natural gas typically accounts for 10-20 per cent of the energy mix (China is again the exception, with only 4 per cent of its energy needs met by natural gas). Urbanization Urban areas house half of the world’s population, utilize two thirds of global energy and produce 70 percent of global carbon emissions. In the Asia-Pacific region, rapid economic growth is closely linked with urbanization levels. By and large the more developed countries have relatively high levels of urbanization – for example, high income countries in the region have an average urbanized proportion of 75 percent, while the LDC’s of the region have an average of 27 percent. In 2010, 43 percent of the Asia and the Pacific population lived in urban areas, the second lowest urban proportion of a region in the world; however, in the last two decades the Asia-Pacific urban proportion has risen by 29 percent, more than any other region – according to ESCAP figures. South and South-West Asia had the fastest urban population growth rate of all the Asian and Pacific subregions at an average of 2.4 per cent per year during 2005-2010. State of the Environment - Priority Issues During regional preparatory consultations for GEO 5, five priority issues were identified for Asia and the Pacific: climate change, freshwater, biodiversity, chemicals and waste, and environmental governance. Climate Change Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Rapid economic growth over the past 20 years, particularly in the larger economies, has been accompanied by increasing emissions of greenhouse gases and degradation of natural capital. A business as usual scenario suggests that the region will contribute around 45 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions by 2030 and an estimated 60 percent of global emissions by 2100. Meanwhile, transport-related emissions are expected to increase by 57 percent worldwide between 2005 and 2030, with China and India accounting for more than half. Of the ten countries in the world that are most at risk from climate change impacts, six are in Asia-Pacific - including low-lying Pacific island countries, which may eventually disappear due to sea level rise and extreme weather events. The priority concern for these countries is to build resilience to climate change impacts, especially across the most vulnerable communities. Freshwater Water endowments in Asia-Pacific range from the highly arid temperate zones and water stressed small island states to water-abundant zones in the Himalayan snowfields and

the tropics, often alternating between drought and floods. Balancing water supply and demand, through coordination and improved integrated water resources management, is essential to freshwater conservation at the regional and global levels. Only a handful of countries in the region have established the necessary legal and institutional capacities for the implementation of integrated water resources management. In most countries, water resources are still managed through a sectoral approach. Biodiversity The emerging economies of Asia and the Pacific are exerting considerable pressures on biodiversity and ecosystems. The principle pressures on biodiversity include habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, alien invasive species, climate change and pollution. Despite efforts by governments to expand protected areas and encourage innovative policies and financing, the scale of these efforts does not match the extent of biodiversity and ecosystems loss in the region. • South-East Asia is a primary terrestrial and marine biodiversity “hotspot”, yet two thirds of countries in the region have experienced an increase in the number of threatened species between 2008 and 2010 (ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook). • South-East Asia has lost 13 percent of its forest area since 1992 (an area equivalent to the size of Vietnam), making it a major contributor to the global deforestation. • Pressure on forests is caused by the growing population which depends heavily on timber for livelihood; wood for fuel; and new land to convert into agricultural and industrial estates. • The threat to vertebrates from overexploitation in Asia-Pacific is particularly severe, driven by demand for wildlife and wildlife products from East Asia. The GEO-5 biodiversity goal for Asia-Pacific emphasizes conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of genetic resources. Chemicals and waste The Asia-Pacific region is facing rapidly growing challenges in the area of waste and chemicals management, fuelled by economic growth, population increase, rapid industrialization and urbanization. In low and middle-income countries, volumes of waste continue to grow as waste streams contain larger amounts of hazardous substances. The global goal for chemicals and waste for the region focuses on life-cycle analysis, transparency and minimization of risk to human health and the environment. Environmental governance and the way forward Improved governance is critical to establishing accountability as a means of achieving sustainable development. Key governance recommendations in Asia-Pacific include: integrating sustainability concerns across all policy areas; increased multi-stakeholder participation and capacity improvement; allocating sufficient authority to appropriate levels of government; improved monitoring and data collection; access to information and legal redress; greening fiscal policy; and improving compliance and enforcement measures, including environmental courts and dispute settlement mechanisms. GEO5

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BOOKMARKS ESCAP launches low carbon, regional green growth blueprint ahead of Rio+20 The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) unveiled on May 28 a blueprint to help developing countries in the region sustain economic growth needed to reduce poverty amidst worsening resource constraints and climate impacts. The ESCAP Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific: Turning Resource Constraints and the Climate Crisis into Economic Growth Opportunities outlines a menu of policy options and practical strategies to convert the crisis of shrinking natural resources and climate change into a driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Proposing a five-track path of change with 63 policy options and 51 examples, the Roadmap calls for a fundamental transformation of the current economic system by reforming the “invisible” as well as “visible” structures of the economy. The former comprise, among others, market price, lifestyles, regulations and governance, while the latter encompass the physical infrastructure of transport, buildings, urban design, energy, water and waste systems. “The Asia-Pacific region cannot achieve development goals fully by following conventional growth strategies,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP in her foreword to the Roadmap. “Resource constraints, price volatility and the climate crisis have removed business as usual as an option and require a serious re-examination of resource- and carbon-intensive growth strategies. If our region is to sustain the high economic growth that we need to achieve our development goals, then we must shift to a different growth trajectory,” Dr. Heyzer said. The Roadmap aims to help policymakers in the region, “turn the till-now trade-off between the ecological crisis and economic growth into a synergy in which resource constraints and climate crisis become opportunities for the growth necessary to reduce poverty in the region,” said Rae Kwon Chung, Director of the ESCAP Environment and Development Division which has prepared the blueprint. According to the Roadmap, it is possible to sustain higher economic growth by shifting the tax base from traditional taxes to levies on resource consumption and pollution without increasing the aggregate tax burden. Thus, a tax of $10 per ton of CO2 emission in developing Asia-Pacific countries, if accompanied with reductions in other taxes, such as corporate tax, would help reduce global CO2 emissions by 8 per cent by 2020 while boosting economic growth by up to 2.8 per cent. 68 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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According to ESCAP, Asia-Pacific developing countries must shift towards a resource- and energy-efficient growth pattern because of growing resource constraints and climate impacts. Countries in the region use three times the resources as the rest of the world to produce a unit of gross domestic product. The shift towards low-carbon green growth has to be jump-started by the government and requires political will. It also requires international collaboration and the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) offers an exceptional opportunity to forge the necessary global partnerships, says ESCAP. “The countries of Asia and the Pacific should lead this process by generating the regional momentum necessary to move towards a green economy capable of lifting people out of poverty and achieving inclusive, resilient and sustainable development,” said Dr. Heyzer. ESCAP News

UNEP publishes report on voluntary and compliance regimes for biodiversity offsets The UN Environment Programme has released a report, “Biodiversity Offsets: Voluntary and Compliance Regimes.” The report reviews existing biodiversity offset schemes and initiatives and appraises the opportunities and risks of using biodiversity offsets to businesses. The 24-page report features sections on biodiversity offsets and the financial sector. The report said the current global annual biodiversity market size is between US$2.4 - 4.0 billion, and is primarily driven by offset programmes in the US that operate through wetland banking and species or conservation banking. The report highlights challenges and difficulties facing business aiming to use biodiversity offsets including reputation problems related to poor outcomes and metrics, issues of design, costs and timing, and application needs for different business clients. UNEP News

FAO publishes Yearbook of Forest Products for 2006-2010 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published the 64th issue of its Yearbook of Forest Products. The publication contains annual data on the production and trade in forest products from 20062010. The yearbook compiles statistical data, based on country information, on basic forest products. They include information on volume of production and volume and value of trade in forest products. FAO has been compiling such information since 1947. The book may be accessed at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2715m/i2715m00.htm.

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BOOKMARKS WHO, Rio Conventions publish report on health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a discussion paper on the linkages between health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification, the representation of health in the three Rio Conventions, and the opportunities for more integrated and effective policy. Produced in collaboration with the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the report is titled “Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future - Human Health and the Rio Conventions: Biological Diversity, Climate Change and Desertification.” It demonstrates the importance of human health as an integrating theme across sustainable development and calls for more coordination in addressing global environmental change. On collaboration with the CBD, the paper highlights a recent decision of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) to strengthen collaboration with WHO on the consideration of health issues as contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and addressing the impacts of climate change on public health. On climate change, the paper suggests, among other opportunities: increasing the use of health expertise within UNFCCC work programmes to monitor adverse impacts of

climate change on health, develop adequate response measures and avoid negative impacts through adaptation measures; better integration of health impacts and co-benefits in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and National Adaptation Plans; and improving health-related reporting. On synergies with UNCCD, the paper highlights opportunities to integrate health into actions towards the Convention’s strategic objective to improve living conditions of affecting populations and the Advocacy Policy Framework on Gender. The final section outlines opportunities in the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), including: improving synergies in policy design and support; strengthening research and operational capacity on environmental change and human health; and monitoring and evaluating progress across health, environment and sustainable development. The report may be downloaded from: http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/reports/health_rioconventions.pdf

World Bank releases study on illegal logging A World Bank study, entitled “Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging,” reviews law enforcement tactics to prevent corruption and prosecute criminal organizations dealing in “dirty money” from illegal logging. The study said illegal logging is controlled by organized crime, accounts in some countries for up to 90 percent of all logging, and involves “dirty money” that is untaxed and used to pay off corrupt government officials. The World Bank study, which discusses policy and operational strategies to combat corruption, aims to inform policy makers and forestry and law enforcement actors how they can use the criminal justice system in fighting illegal logging. The study underscores that illegal logging has “enormous environmental and societal costs,” as it leads to biodiversity loss, increases carbon emissions, causes landslides, and undermines the resource-based livelihoods of rural peoples. WB News

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA UBD conference on sustainable energy may draw 150 researchers. Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) announced preparations for the first Sustainable Future Energy Conference in November 2012. The conference is expected to receive more than 150 researchers from across the world. The conference is jointly organised by the UBD Energy Research Group, Material Research Cluster with the Sustainable Energy and Environment Forum and the ASEAN University Network. The conference aims to bring the energy research community to a common platform to share recent advances in various areas of energy research and to deliberate on the possible pathways for clean energy solutions. The focal theme of the conference is “Innovations for Sustainable and Secure Energy” and research areas for presentation papers include Renewable Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Advanced Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage, Energy Modelling and Simulation, Energy Management, Policy and Economics Energy, and Emerging Energy Technologies. The Sustainable Future Energy Conference will be held together with the 10th Sustainable Energy and Environment Forum in Brunei Darussalam. The Brunei Times

Expedition at the Core, UBD. This expedition is the very first undertaking of any systematic study of the Brunei’s montane forests, an ecosystem that is anticipated to harbour high numbers of unique and endemic plants and animals. The Brunei Government has declared 58 percent of its total land area to the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative and Project Implementation Framework, and is committed to optimizing the use of land and forest resources through research and development activities, protection, education and training. The expedition will play a vital role by providing scientific data essential for making informed decisions regarding the protection of biodiversity, conservation of natural resources and sustainable development. This study will generate crucial data to help the authorities manage the long-term protection and conservation of Bukit Pagon under the Brunei HoB initiative, and highlight the endemism of flora and fauna at Bukit Pagon. The expedition is supported by the the Royal Brunei Air Force, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Forestry Department, the Royal Brunei Police Force, Ministry of Health, Brunei Methanol Company Sdn Bhd, Mc Quipp Technisell Marketing Sdn Bhd, Hanafi Konsaltan and the Brunei Times Sdn Bhd. iCUBE

iCUBE Bukit Pagon Expedition launched. The International Consortium of Universities for the Study of Biodiversity and the Environment (iCUBE), led by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), launched the Bukit Pagon

Brunei pledges $200M for Research & Development. As part of efforts and a serious commitment towards increasing research and development projects under the 10th National Development Plan 2012-2017, the Government of

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Brunei Darussalam

Present as the Guest of Honour for the ceremony is Yang Mulia Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Awg Mohd Jamil al-Sufri, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

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Brunei Darussalam has allocated B$200 million for research and development. The 10th National Development Plan aims to increase productivity and enhance economic growth through knowledge and innovation. Priority areas include science and technology, engineering security, economy, business, entrepreneurship, health and agrotechnology. Some research and development activities will be done by the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), which signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gyeonggi Institute of Science and Technology Promotion (GSTEP). The MoU will focus on biodiversity, energy research, food security or agrotechnology, Islamic banking and finance, and Asian studies. Research and development on biodiversity and energy research will focus on bioprospecting, isolation in medicinal plants, renewable energy and energy economics. Borneo Bulletin

50 schools take part in ‘Green Wave’. Youth from 50 schools planted trees at the Berakas Forest Reserve in support of the “Green Wave” in celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity. Trees donated by the Forestry Department were planted simultaneously at 10am by the youths in 51 locations all over Brunei, accompanied by officers from the Forestry Department, students from University of Brunei Darussalam and Petrokon Utama Sdn Bhd. School representatives noted that the Green Wave is good opportunity for students learn about the importance of biodiversity conservation. The Green Wave is an

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA annual activity by the Convention on Biological Diversity where children and youth in participating schools around the world plant a tree on May 22, the International Day for Biodiversity, at 10am local time, creating a “green wave” across time zones. The Brunei Times „

Cambodia

Cambodian agronomist Yang SaingKoma wins 2012 Ramon Magsaysay Award. Dr. Yang SaingKoma, an agronomist from Cambodia, is one of this year’s six recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Asia’s highest honour for humanitarian and development achievements. Dr.Koma was recognized for “his creative fusion of practical science and collective will that has inspired and enabled vast numbers of farmers in Cambodia to become more empowered and productive contributors to their country’s economic growth.” Dr.Koma specialized in agriculture and earned his PhD from the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 1995. Championing sustainable agriculture, Koma founded in 1997 the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC). Today, CEDAC is the largest agricultural and rural development NGO in Cambodia. In 2000, CEDAC introduced the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an ecologically sustainable approach to growing rice using less water and fewer external inputs. Starting with 28 reluctant farmers, Dr.Koma has painstakingly promoted SRI in Cambodia and it is now practised by over 100,000 rice farmers. They have recorded 60 per cent increase in yields. Today, CEDAC is supporting 140,000 farmer families in twenty-one provinces. Between 2002 and 2010, Cambodia’s rice production rose from 3.82 million tons to 7.97 million tons, and CEDAC’s work has been credited as the major factor in this increase. TVEAP Cambodia to create its first Marine Protected Area. Cambodia will begin the creation of its first Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2012, covering some 300 square km of coral-rich seas around islands of

Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem in the Gulf of Thailand. This follows a successful two-year scientific survey of the area by Coral Cay Conservation, which said it would continue to work closely with the Government of Cambodia, project partners and local stakeholders, to assist in the development and management of the project. The managed area will include a wide diversity of habitats rich in coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds, in addition to the upland rainforests found on both islands. The project is receiving funding from the Blue Moon Fund, with further support from Cambodian partners, and Flora and Fauna International. Coral Cay said the next steps are to continue to monitor the marine habitats and work with local partners, communities and the private sector to ensure that a consensus is reached to support different conservation management zones and encourage the development of low-impact tourism initiatives. People & Planet

by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Because of the government ban on the use of diclofenac, there are reports of new nests and population increases in vultures in Cambodia. NY Daily News Cambodia suspends new land concessions to companies. Cambodia’s government, facing growing protests by villagers and warnings about disappearing wilderness, suspended the granting of land to domestic and foreign companies in a move to curb forced evictions and illegal logging. The area granted rose six-fold between 2010 and 2011 as the government encouraged mining and growing of rubber. Protected wilderness was not supposed to be on the list but changes to the law have carved out some of these areas for companies to use. Environmental activists say national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Cambodia could soon vanish as foreign companies, including Chinese investors, accelerate work in protected areas. There have also been reports of land grabbing and illegal logging. Civil society groups stated that they would continue to monitor the situation to gauge the effectiveness of the order. Reuters „

Vultures increase in Cambodia. Vultures, which are critically endangered across Asia, are increasing in numbers in Cambodia and raising hopes that the scavengers can come back from the brink. Vultures almost everywhere are facing dangers to their existence due largely to a veterinary drug diclofenac. Widely used as an antiinflammatory drug for cattle in South Asia, diclofenac is toxic to vultures, causing death through renal failure and visceral gout to birds that feed on the cattle carcasses. It has led to a global population declines higher than 99 percent in some vulture species, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The slender-billed vulture, white-rumped vulture and red-headed vulture are all listed “critically endangered”

Indonesia

New rodent discovered in Indonesia has only 2 teeth. Researchers recently discovered a new rodent on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, specifically in the montane forests on Sulawesi’s Mount Latimojong and Mount Gandangdewata. The new species of rodent (Paucidentomys vermidax) is different from over 2,000 known species of rodents since it lacks cheek teeth, making it impossible for the species to gnaw on food.

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA Stomach contents from a single specimen suggest that the species consumes only earthworms. Scientists speculate that the species actually lost its gnawing incisors, which in most other rodents grow continuously, allowing it to “exploit resources that were not previously available,” such as earthworms or other softtissued prey. Although somewhat related to shrew-rats, researchers decided the new species was unique enough to warrant its own genus: Paucidentomys, which means ‘few-toothed mouse’, while its species name, vermidax, translates to ‘worm-devourer’. mongabay.com

dwarf squirrel (Prosciurillus abstrusus) and Dollman’s spiny rat (Maxomys dollmani), both considered Data Deficient. The discovery of new mammals is quite rare. In 2009, scientists discovered 19,232 new species, however only 42—or 0.2 percent—of these were mammals. mongabay

New mammal discovered in Indonesia. Researchers have discovered a new species of rodent in Indonesia’s Mekongga Mountains. The new rodent, Christine’s Margareta rat (Margaretamys christinae), is only the fourth in the genus Margaretamy, all of which are found on the island of Sulawesi. The new mammal’s discoverer, Alessio Mortelliti with the Sapienza University, stated that the new species differs from its relatives by its smaller size, the white tip of its tail, and its habitat in high altitudes. Mortelliti named the new species after his girlfriend who accompanied him on the expedition. Of the other three Margaretamys species, one is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, a second Near Threatened, and a third Data Deficient due to a lack of information. Deforestation for agriculture is the primary threat. Around 80 percent of Sulawesi’s forest have been lost or degraded. On the same expedition Mortelliti was also able to find the secretive

Indonesia declares 2012 International Rhino Year. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared 2012 International Rhino Year during World Environment Day as part of an initiative from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Indonesia is among 11 countries supporting the declaration, which include Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Zimbabwe. Photos released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) of a Javan rhino and a female calf captured by hidden cameras in the jungle of the rhino sanctuary in Ujung Kulon National Park in 2010 is proof that Javan rhinos are breeding in Indonesia’s national park. Indonesia is home to the world’s two most endangered rhino species, namely the Sumatran and Javan rhinos. There are currently just five rhino species in the world: the Sumatran and Javan rhinos in Indonesia, Indian rhinos in Nepal, India and Bhutan, and white and black rhinos in South Africa, Nambia, Kenya, Congo, Zimbabwe and a number of other African countries. The latest data shows that there are 35 to 40 Javan rhinos in Indonesia (and the world at large). The only other country that once shared in the Javan rhino population, namely Viet Nam, reported that its last rhino died last year. The population of Sumatran rhinos currently stands at 200, concentrated in Lampung’s Way Kambas National Park and Aceh’s Leuser National Park. The Jakarta Globe

Photo by Alessio Mortelliti/Sapienza University

Christine’s Margareta rat

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Balikpapan Gulf dugongs in danger. The endangered dugong (Dugong dugon), or seacow, which is found in the Balikpapan Gulf, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, is at risk of extinction as its numbers have continued to decrease due to industrial expansion. Massive industrial expansion, including waste and land expansions, has caused sedimentation in Balikpapan gulf waters while heavy metals and other pollutants threaten seaweed, the seacow’s food. Noise pollution and ship traffic have also affected the dugong’s habitat. An estimated 1,000 to 10,000 dugongs survive in Indonesian waters although that number is believed to have decreased significantly over the past few years. Dugongs were declared extinct in 1996, but the Indonesia Rare Aquatic Species spotted dugongs in 2000 in Balikpapan gulf. The Jakarta Post/ANN „

Lao PDR

Lao Government announces dramatic shift in land and forest policy. The National Assembly of Lao’s Committee on Economic Planning and Finance announced the government’s intention to undergo a nationwide formal process of large scale land reform, and prioritize the need for increased local land management, given that access to land for rural households is fundamental to sustained poverty alleviation. This commitment follows a recent change in the government organization responsible for land matters, which is now managed by the new Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), though the Lao National Assembly plays a key role in balancing accelerated economic development and growth with ensuring that benefits from this process are distributed equitably

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA across Lao PDR. It also responds to increasing demand from villagers in Lao PDR for a review of existing land laws to ensure development projects don’t encroach on their land as they have in the past. The commitment is a sign that the Lao government is dedicated to working closely with civil society and community groups to develop and implement a new national strategy to grant significant land rights to the people who live in and around the nation’s land and forest resources. PR Newswire Controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos officially suspended. Work on the controversial Xayaburi dam in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao has been officially suspended. The proposed $3.5 billion dam had angered environmentalists and local communities for its potential impact on fisheries. Viet Nam had also opposed the project, which was mostly backed by Thai companies. About 95 percent of the electricity would have gone to Thailand. The dam would have been the first to span the lower Mekong River, one of the region’s most important rivers. Three dams already exist upriver from the Xayaburi dam site on the Chinese stem of the Mekong. Ten other dams are planned for the main stem of the Mekong, but the suspension of the Xayaburi could slow progress on those projects. mongabay

Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Khong Phapheng falls in Laos

Government halts new mining projects, land concessions for tree farms. The government won’t consider any new investment proposals in mining or land concessions for rubber and eucalyptus plantations until December 31, 2015. The slowdown will give the government time to review policies and assess the effectiveness of existing projects. The government will also speed up

the survey and allocation of land to identify which areas are suitable for investment, and which areas should be preserved. Investment plays a significant role in the development process, but has caused problems for villagers who have lost their land and livelihoods to make way for projects that exploit natural resources. The government now plans to inspect all approved investment projects, as well as ensure that a thorough survey and allocation of land is undertaken before approving any more projects. The government will also review a land-compensation policy for villagers affected by such projects. EC-FAO Food Security Programme Bamboo preservation enriches lives and the environment. Over 900 people in eight villages in Sangthong District are part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported scheme turning bamboo, a cheap and plentiful wood, into high-value products that help low-income villagers to turn a profit. Villagers work through the Sangthong Bamboo Traders Association, which makes household products such as outdoor furniture, lamps, bamboo baskets, bags, dining sets, hammocks, and sofas. The stylish products sell locally in Vientiane and are even exported overseas. Sangthong is one of Lao PDR’s poorest districts in a country where the GDP per capita is about US$1,200. The project has brought over US$175,000 into the district and is facilitating a significant rise in income for farmers. The association trains members in making high-end bamboo products. It also provides advice on the best techniques for cutting bamboo, a process that must be timed properly to ensure regular regrowth and a sustainable crop. The project receives support from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants

Programme and is implemented by UNDP in partnership with Oxfam Novib, the Netherlands Development Organisation, and the local nonprofit Gender and Development Group. UNDP „

Malaysia

Sabah protects 183,000 hectares of rainforest in Borneo. Sabah has reclassified 183,000 hectares of forest zoned for logging concessions as protected areas.The Sabah Forestry Department recently re-gazetted Ulu Segama Forest Reserve and Northern Gunung Rara — formerly Class 2 commercial forests — as Class 1 protection forests, effectively protecting them from further logging or conversion to plantations. The reserves border the Danum Valley conservation area, which is renowned for its research facilities and high levels of biodiversity. Although the area has been selectively logged, it remains key habitat for endangered orangutans, Bornean clouded leopards, Sumatran rhinos, and pygmy elephants.The move boosts Sabah’s protected areas to 1.3 million hectares, about 18 percent of its total land area. Oil palm plantations, a major driver of forest conversion in Sabah since the mid-1980s, cover about 1.4 million hectares across the state. Sabah’s lowland forests have also suffered from heavy industrial logging, which have largely depleted the state’s timber resources. Sabah’s forests are nevertheless in considerably better shape than those in neighboring Sarawak, which have been, and continue to be, decimated by logging and conversion to plantations.A coalition of environmental groups and businesses in Sabah are now leading a push toward greener development, including more sustainable use of its forests and a low carbon economy. mongabay New Malaysian snail named after late conservation mentor. Researchers have discovered a new snail, which is so unusual that it has been granted its own genus: Kenyirus. The mysterious forest snail, found in selectively logged forests around Malaysia’s

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA Lake Kenyir, is only known from its unique shell. This is the first snail to be described from the State of Terengganu and the first to be named after Lake Kenyir, the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia. The new species is notable because it was discovered in hill dipterocarp forests and not limestone karsts, where the majority of new snail species are being discovered of late, which is proof that malacologists (scientists who study molluscs) should also survey non-karstic forests. Littleknown outside Malaysia, the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, which surrounds the massive lake, is home to a wide-variety of imperiled species, including Asian elephant , dhole, Asian tapir, and the Sunda pangolin. Discoverer Gopalasamy Reuben Clements decided to name the species, Kenyirus sodhii, after his late mentor, Navjot Sodhi. Clements describes the new snail, along with co-author Siong Kiat Tan from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. mongabay

and contributing to health problems across the region. Indonesia’s government has outlawed landclearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored. Agence France-Presse Malaysia plans to increase number of marine parks. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry plans to increase the number of marine parks in Malaysia to 50 by 2020 from the current 42. The Marine Parks Department is currently working with several state governments to finalize the islands to be gazetted as marine protected areas. Proposed marine parks include three in Kedah state, several island in Perak, and one island in Sabah. The move is part of measures towards achieving the ‘Aichi Biodiversity Target’ of the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted in 2010 whereby every CBD member needs to have at least 10 per cent of marine protected areas by 2020. Currently, Malaysian marine parks are home to about 1,100 fish species, 550 coral species and 200 species of other marine life. Borneo Post Online „

Photo courtesy of Reuben Clements

Malaysian snail Kenyirus sodhii

Haze returns to Malaysia. Haze caused by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia including the capital, causing air pollution to hit unhealthy levels. Haze is an annual problem during the monsoon season from May to September as winds blow the fumes from Sumatra across the Malacca Strait to Malaysia. Skies over Kuala Lumpur were gloomy and visibility was described as poor by the Meteorological Department. With dry weather, air quality is expected to deteriorate further. As in previous years, several hotspots in central Sumatra in Indonesia are causing the haze. Haze builds up during the dry season, affecting tourism 74 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Myanmar

Myanmar in deforestation crisis. The country’s Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee said total forest coverage area was down to 24 percent in 2008 from 51 percent in 2005. The main cause of forest depletion, was excessive cutting down of trees, illegal logging, less replanting and increased use of firewood.Log exports, both legal and illegal, left the country with insufficient raw timber to manufacture finished products.Myanmar exported $453 million in finished wood in the fiscal year 2008-09.Myanmar is also a major exporter of teak with 75 percent of the world market, most of it going to India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. UPI Myanmar’s environment law ready soon. Myanmar’s new Environmental Conservation Law is in its final draft process and should be ready before the end of the 2012. Officials from relevant

ministries and environmental groups are now discussing changes to the legislation, which has been criticized by some groups as too weak. Environment officials have decided to revise the law since formulating an environmental conservation law is very complex and effective rules are necessary in preparation for an expected foreign investment and growth in domestic businesses. The Irrawaddy Middle school curriculum gets disaster, environment subjects. Environmental conservation and natural disaster knowledge have been introduced to the middle school curriculum across lower Myanmar according to the Ministry of Education. The contents of the Life Skills subject have been revised to include information on environmental conservation, water usage, proper disposal methods for rubbish and natural disasters. The revised Life Skills subject also includes knowledge on general health, social skills, drug use and reproductive health. Students will learn about eight types of natural disasters that can afflict Myanmar, including storms, floods, earthquakes, landslides, tornadoes, thunder, fires and tsunamis. Myanmar Times Myanmar ripe for environmental plunder. Myanmar is regarded as one of Asia’s last bastions of biodiversity, which is why environmentalists view the country’s steps toward opening its doors with some fear. As foreign investors begin pouring in, activists say endemic corruption, virtually nonexistent environmental laws and a longrepressed civil society make the country “ripe for environmental plunder”. “The ‘development invasion’ will speed up environmental destruction and is also likely to lead to more human rights abuses. Environmentally, Myanmar is certainly no longer pristine, but it has been spared some of the wholesale ravages seen in the economically booming, more open societies across Asia. Environmentalists say Myanmar’s government has an abysmal record of protecting its resources, which are often exploited by enterprises linked to generals

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) to effectively and efficiently manage their forest resources according to the needs and interests of its local constituents. Once declared a Critical Habitat, a CH Management Plan will be formulated through the assistance of the two GIZ projects in Panay Island in coordination and partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other local stakeholders. The Manila Times

White elephants in Myanmar

and their cronies. Fortunately, there are some grounds for optimism. Myanmar has a conservation tradition, including sound forestry practices that are lacking in many surrounding countries, and it appears eager to seek outside assistance. A number of international environmental organizations are already planning to set up operations, some in partnership with the growing number of local groups. The Wildlife Conservation Society is currently the only major organization with a permanent presence in the country. 3News „

Philippines

New owl species discovered in Philippines. Scientists and birdwatchers have discovered 10 new owl species in the Philippines, using advanced recording equipment that can distinguish between their hoots.Eight of the new species were previously considered sub-species while two are totally new according to the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Programme. Many of these new species were possibly endangered because they were found only in small isolated islands or in tiny pockets of forests.The two new species are the Cebu hawk owl and the Camiguin hawk owl, found in the central Philippine islands of Cebu and Camiguin respectively.They are described as about eight to 12 inches (20 to 30.5 centimetres) in size and hard to spot. guardian.co.uk

Rainforests in Panay to be declared critical habitat. Around 12,000 hectares will be declared as Critical Habitat (CH) within the Central Panay Mountain Ranges (CPMR) by the local government of Valderrama in Antique province. CPMR is one of the 117 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) according to Birdlife International and the Haribon Foundation. It is also considered as one of the important Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in the Philippines. The proposed CH covers huge tropical rainforests comprised of two adjoining mountains, BaloyDako and BaloyGamay, which serve as habitats and refuge of various threatened species of flora and fauna in Panay Island such as Visayan hornbill, Visayan warty pig, Visayan monitor lizard, Rafflesia, and Visayan spotted deer. The forests are also home to a community of indigenous peoples belonging to Iraynon Sulodnon tribes as prime protectors and defenders of their forestlands. The local government of Valderrama is among the few remaining municipalities in Antique with remaining vast tropical rainforests in the whole island of Panay. To continuously protect and conserve the remaining forests, the local government through the assistance of the two German International Development projects in CPMR, the KfW-Community-based Forest and Mangrove Management Project and the Forest and Climate Protection Panay Project formulated their

Eco-School vies in ASEAN tilt. To showcase its environmental practices to the international community, national eco-friendly school winner Iliranan Elementary School (IES), San Carlos City, Negros Occidental will represent the Philippines in the 2012 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Eco-Schools Awards on July 17-18, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources awarded the school in 2011 during the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools for being an active implementer of Republic Act 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. IES trains pupils, parents and the local community to practice the solid waste management 3Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle - and proper waste segregation. The initiative is supported by the community and students and faculty members sell their collected recyclable materials to junkshops to generate income, while the biodegradable wastes are utilized as organic fertilizers to plants and vegetable gardens within the campus. The 2012 ASEAN Eco-School Award aims to recognize learning institutions in the 10 member-countries of the ASEAN that demonstrate environmental sustainability practices, and implement ecofriendly school policies, programs and practices for the benefit of surrounding communities. The 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools awards is organized by the government of Malaysia, in partnership with Hanns-Seidel Foundation, US Agency for International Development, Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund and ASEAN Secretariat. Manila Bulletin

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA MOA for biodiversity conservation signed. Local chief executives of three southern towns in Cebu signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 7 for the establishment of the proposed 15,000-hectare Nug-as Forest-Palinpinon Range-Mount Lantoy New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP). As indicated in the MOA, the areas of cooperation among the three local government units, the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., include the development, adoption and implementation of a biodiversity conservation management plan consistent with the existing forest and comprehensive land use plan, and promotion and practice of good governance including transparency, accountability, and participation in the decision-making process. The Nug-as Forest-Palinpinon Range and Mt. Lantoy which shelter such Cebu endemic bird species as rufous-lored kingfisher, black shama, and Cebu flowerpecker, straddle the towns of Alcoy, Dalaguete and Argao. They are also among 117 terrestrial areas as key biodiversity areas based on criteria of vulnerability and irreplaceability in the country. The MOA also stated that local government units will constitute a Biodiversity Conservation Team for the establishment of the conservation area and management-related activities. Manila Bulletin Online „

Singapore

Asia’s best environmental journalists honoured. The winners of the inaugural Asian Environmental Journalism Awards (AEJA) 2012, organised by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), wasannounced at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.The winners for the three categories of the AEJA 2012 are: • Coca-Cola Environmental Story of the Year - Augustine Anthuvan (Mighty Mekong: Mother River of Southeast Asia), MediaCorp • CDL Environmental Journalist 76 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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of the Year - Grace Chua, The Straits Times • TOYOTA Excellence in Environmental Reporting by a Media Organisation - Agence France – Presse SEC received entries of outstanding quality from renowned journalists within the regional mainstream media, as well as passionate, outspoken pieces from citizen journalists. Media organisations from individual web news portals to international news agencies applied for theawards and SEC relied solely on effective channel marketing through its media partners and networks.Mr. Augustine Anthuvan’s Mighty Mekong: Mother River of Southeast Asia was chosen as the winning entry for the Coca-Cola Environmental Story of the Year category as it offered a delicate balance between economic and social development, as well as environmental sustainability. Singapore Environment Council New facility in Singapore to boost environment research. The Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) has launched a $5.1 million Advanced Biofilm Imaging Facility at Nanyang Technological University in partnership with optical and opto-electronic leader Carl Zeiss. SCELSE, a first-of-its-kind research institution that aims to harness the powers of micro-organisms for environmental and water sustainability, is a S$120 million center funded by the Singapore government. With the new facility and state-of-the-art imaging equipment from Carl Zeiss, SCELSE aims to become the first research center in the world to achieve real-time observation of how bacteria interact with each other and to conduct unique DNA testing so as to develop new research techniques not possible before in this field. This new facility is part of a long-term collaboration between SCELSE and Carl Zeiss. Leveraging advanced imaging technologies from Carl Zeiss such as the high-resolution, high- sensitivity laser scanning confocal system, SCELSE will embark on bacteria research projects in used water

treatment, public health and other critical environmental life sciences engineering research in Singapore. BioSpectrum Zero-waste target for Singapore Green One 2012 event. Singapore Green One (G1) 2012 to be held on September 2 is being touted as the country’s first zero-waste affair. The use of posters and banners will be kept to a minimum and a light-emitting diode screen will be used as the backdrop on the actual day to reduce waste. The event will involve a five-kilometer walkathon and a cycling route, and participants will converge at the Marina Barrage where activities such as a corporate trishaw race and exhibitions will be held. The public can also test-drive the new Nissan Leaf - the world’s first mass-produced 100 percent electric vehicle - during the G1. This year’s event, which aims to draw 15,000 participants, hopes to show people how walking, using public transport, and cycling can help reduce one’s carbon footprint and maintain one’s health. The Straits Times Nature reserves made more accessible to public. New features in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve aim to make the park more accessible to the public. These include observation towers as well as a cycling loop that will allow residents to cycle from the heartlands to the nature reserves by 2018. The loop will be built around the perimeters of the forests to safeguard the biodiversity cores of the reserve. The intention is to bring nature closer to people and people closer to nature. These developments are also part of Singapore’s transformation into a City in a Garden. Channel News Asia „

Thailand

Rubber agroforests under threat in Thailand. Rubber smallholdings, where rubber trees are grown alongside various local fruit trees, bamboo bushes, herbs and other forest food plants, are set to be destroyed under a government plan to remove settlements from Thailand’s national parks.Nationwide there are 2,700 forest communities

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA targeted as part of a crackdown on human settlements within national parks. If the crackdown goes as planned, more than a million farm families will be uprooted. Residents argue they have been there long before these areas were rezoned as national parks. Accused of destroying the environment, they claim the opposite; that landslides and flash floods are nearly unheard of in the areas they farm. World Agroforestry Centre Thai farmers fight ‘global warming fines’. Thousands of smallholders with farmlands abutting national forests have been in distress ever since the environment ministry began enforcing the 1992 National Environmental Quality Act five years ago. According to the Land Reform Network that represents communitybased farming throughout the country, approximately 2,000 small farmers have been booked for causing global warming nationwide. The law prohibits “destruction, loss or damage to natural resources owned by the state” and allows the government to take legal action against those farming in and around national forest areas. In 2004, the environment ministry announced its intention to use a formula to determine economic loss from global warming caused by forest encroachment and compute the fines. The ministry’s formula claims to measure environmental damage under several categories such as increase in temperature caused by cutting down trees, loss of soil through erosion, decrease in rainfall, and others. Farmers found guilty of causing global warming are required to pay fines as high as 150,000 baht (approximately $4,839) per rai (1,600 sq m) per year – an amount

Photo by Prangtip Daorueng/IPS

Smallholders in Thailand’s northeast.

of money that far exceeds the annual income of most smallholder farmers. Environmental NGOs along with affected farmers have been trying to negotiate the abolishment of the formula since 2007. Inter Press Service News Agency Disasters hold climate change lessons for Thais. The Kiriwong community in southern Thailand is confident of handling climate change, thanks to lessons learned from a natural disaster that hit its village 25 years ago. In 1988, a massive landslide triggered by floodwaters cascading down from southern Thailand’s high mountains hit the foothills where the Kiriwong village of about 400 habitants was located. The whole village went under mud that uprooted trees and killed at least 13 people. The Kiriwong were left to rebuild their agricultural economy from scratch. Rather than leaving, the community recognized that the disaster was as much manmade as it was natural. The landslide was caused by heavy rain, but it was aggravated by the villagers’ logging practices. The villagers returned to organic, mixed-orchards to preserve soil and water quality. They also devised a system of monitoring by which villagers actively prevented forest encroachment. A number of village groups promote ecobalanced solutions to different aspects of people’s livelihood. Among these are eco-handicraft and eco-tourism groups that aim to generate supplementary income for the villagers. An active youth group has also been working with village youngsters to raise their awareness of issues such as cultural heritage and environmental protection. The emphasis on ecological balance in the community also helped build up a capacity to withstand severe natural disasters and the impacts of climate change over the past 24 years so that Kiriwong is now a selfreliant, food-secure community. InterPress Service News Agency Bangkok swelters, sparks debate on city planning in Asia. Five months after the worst floods in half a century, the Thai capital is facing a heat wave with temperatures at three-decade highs, stoking debate

over chaotic urban planning that blights many of Southeast Asia’s overcrowded capitals. The daily average high in Bangkok in April was 40.1 Celsius (104.2 Fahrenheit), prompting warnings from authorities for residents to be alert for heatrelated ailments. Critics say the heat has been exacerbated by poor urban planning in the fastgrowing city of 12 million people - from a thinning of trees by city workers, often to accommodate electrical power lines, to heattrapping building designs and a small number of parks. Though a tropical city, Bangkok has fewer trees and green spaces in proportion to its population than other Asian cities. An Asian Green City Index of 22 cities released in 2011 by the Economist Intelligence Unit put Bangkok’s green spaces at 3 square meters per person in the metropolitan area. That is well below the index average of 39 square meters and contrasts with Singapore, 1,430 km (890 miles) to the south, which has 66 square meters. Authorities hope to bring some order to the city with a new urban plan that takes effect from May 2013. Reuters „

Viet Nam

Poor urban planning to blame for climate change affects. Roads in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City face serious flooding after heavy rains, which while often blamed on climate change, are in fact, the result of loopholes in urban planning. The Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies said that integrating climate change adaptation issues into urban planning remains a pressing issue

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA in Viet Nam.Over the past 50 years, up to 80 percentof the capital’s water surface area has been filled as a resulted of rapid urbanisation. Meanwhile, the city has the only one pump station for drainage.The inundation in Ho Chi Min City is also blamed on a lack of sufficient drainage and weak urban planning. The city had a thick network of rivers, canals and marshes which could easily deal with flood tides or rain water. However, over the past decades, many of them have been filled in for new urban area projects, affecting the water flow and causing flooding. Environmental experts also pointed out that underground water exploitation and the construction of high-rise buildings on weak foundations have also contributed to the depression in land levels, worsening the city’s drainage situation. Meanwhile, the flooding in the central region is the result of riverhead forest destruction, and improper water discharge by hundreds of hydropower lakes. To address these issues, Viet Nam is currently working in several provinces within the framework of a project to help Asian countries manage climate change adaptation. Vietnam Bridge Affluent Vietnamese driving rhino horn poaching in South Africa. Conservationists warned that conspicuous consumption from a growing middle class in Viet Nam is driving the catastrophic poaching of rhino horns in South Africa. While the country’s appetite for rhino horn was in recent years largely driven by the mistaken belief it was a cure for cancer, lately it has become a party drink for corporate events and promoted as “the alcoholic drink of millionaires” when ground down and taken with wine. While trade in rhino horn has been illegal since 2006 and the law carries the threat of fines and up to seven years in prison, there is little enforcement in Viet Nam. Several seizures were made in Viet Nam between 2004-2008, but none have been made since 2008, despite rhino killings in South Africa hitting a record high of 448 rhinos in 2011. Based on killings so far in 2012, 532 rhinos are projected to die this year from poaching driven by the illegal wildlife trade. 78 ASEAN BIODIVERSITY

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Rhino horn

Of 43 arrests of Asian nationals for rhino crimes in South Africa this year, 24 were Vietnamese, according to a report by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic. One of the main routes for rhino horn from Johannesburg to Hanoi is believed to be through Vietnamese on “pseudo trophy hunts” for white rhinos, where the actual hunting is done by professional hunters on behalf of non-hunters. Vietnamese and South African authorities met in 2011 and agreed to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the truth that rhino horn is not a cure for cancer. The Guardian Miners must set up green fund. Mining companies will have to deposit at least 15 percent of their committed costs for environmental rehabilitation and restoration prior their mineral extraction. This is part of a draft decision compiled by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment. Under the newlycompiled draft, the rehabilitation and restoration would be made at the same time as extraction. As soon as mineral exploiters ask for an exploitation license, they have to outline a scheme to rehabilitate the environment together with an environmental assessment plan. Miners with less than five-year licenses will have to deposit their entire committed amount before receiving approval. Those with longer licenses can make deposits by installments. The deposits will be transferred into the Viet Nam Environmental Protection Fund or local ones aimed at rehabilitation. Vietnam News Service

Viet Nam’s climate woes ignite national strategy. Viet Nam is hailed as a development success story for lifting millions out of poverty and staying on track to meet all of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. But the country’s future progress is severely threatened by the impact of global climate change. This nation of 86 million people shares the vast Mekong river system with Lao PDR, Thailand, Myanmar, China and Cambodia. Unprecedented climaterelated catastrophes in recent years have turned government and citizen attention onto the pressing need for proactive climate change policies. Viet Nam’s National Climate Change Strategy focuses on both adaptation and mitigation, while setting guideposts for the short, medium and long term as well as ten strategic tasks. These include developing wide-ranging actions on food and water security, sea level rise, increasing forest cover and renewable energy use, emission reductions, community capacity development for adaptation and scientific and technological development. Provinces and cities are tasked with developing their own plans, merged with national goals, involving the private sector and civil society. The government admits that its climate change actions can only succeed as part of a broad ‘green economy’ framework, a radical departure from the environmentally destructive growth policies followed after 1975. The related National Green Growth Strategy being drafted under the Prime Minister’s leadership will hopefully be launched in time for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, known as Rio+20, from Jun. 20-22. IPS

www.aseanbiodiversity.org


FOCUS

Jean Francois Helias

Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) Also known as the Mekong giant catfish, the giant catfish is the world’s largest freshwater fish. It has a whitish underside and the back and fins are grey. The eyes are located low on the head and point downwards. While juveniles have barbels, adults can be distinguished from other large catfish by their reduced barbels and lack of teeth. They can grow up to 3 meters long and weigh up to 300 kilograms. The giant catfish shows one of the fastest growth rates of any fish in the world, reaching 150 to 200 kilograms in six years. A migratory species, the giant catfish is thought to move from the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia from October to December each year and into the Mekong River from which it progresses upstream into northeastern Cambodia, Lao PDR or Thailand to spawn. The giant catfish feeds on detritus and algae on the bottom of the river. It also eats the vegetation growing on the river bed. Little is known on its general pattern of life and migratory journeys for spawning. The giant catfish is endemic to the parts of the Mekong River basin that run through Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam and possibly Myanmar and China. It is primarily found in the Tonle Sap River, the Tonle Sap Lake and the Mekong River. Legislation restricting the hunting of Mekong Giant Catfish exists but is rarely enforced. The

giant catfish is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is protected under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species. The giant catfish has been subject to over-fishing for many years. Catches at the beginning of the 20th century were in the thousands each year but declines have been so severe that less than ten are now caught per year. Habitat loss and degradation as a result of damming and the clearance of flooded forest near the Tonle Sap Lake have disrupted the giant catfishâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s migration, spawning, eating and breeding habitat. Artificially spawned individuals have been released into the River Mekong since 1985, and captive breeding has b een taking place since 2001. References: Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/giant-catfish/pangasianodongigas/#biology FishBase (http://www.fishbase.org/summary/ Pangasianodon-gigas.html) Hogan, Z. 2011. Pangasianodon gigas. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 December 2012. IUCN Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/sotdfiles/ pangasianodon-gigas.pdf)

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Océanopolis

Javanese cownose ray (Rhinoptera javanica) Cownose rays (Rhinoptera javanica) have earned their common name for their unusual-looking heads, which feature a double-lobed snout and indented forehead. As with most rays, the body is flattened, with the pectoral fins broadly expanded and fused with the head and trunk to form a disc. This smooth-skinned species is characterized by a kiteshaped body-disc, which is brown on the upper surface and white below. The long, thin, whip-like tails of cownose rays are distinctly demarcated from the body and armed with one or more stings. The Javanese cownose ray is a benthic species and can be found over sand and mud bottoms of inshore coastal waters, in bays, estuaries and near coral reefs. They can sometimes be found in extremely large groups, with schools of up to 500 rays having been reported. Feeding on a diet of clams, oysters and crustaceans, the ray uses its large plate-like teeth to crush the shells of its prey. Reproduction is ovoviviparous, with live young being ‘born’ after they have hatched inside the female. The Javanese cownose ray ranges across the Indo-West Pacific, from Durban, South Africa, north possibly to India, Thailand, Indonesia, and southern China. It can also be found in Okinawa, Ryukyu Island and possibly Australia. Although widespread, little is known of the species’ biology. Current data and the large size at birth suggest that fecundity is likely to be only 1 or 2 pups.

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Rhinoptera javanica occurs in coastal inshore waters in depths less than 30 meters, including estuarine and brackish waters, where fishing pressure is typically very heavy and unregulated. The species’ behavior and inshore occurrence make it highly susceptible and available to a wide variety of fishing gear. The small litter size, its tendency to form large schools, its inshore and estuarine habitat and hence availability to a wide variety of inshore fishing gear, its marketability and the generally intense and unregulated nature of inshore fisheries raises concerns for the conservation status of the species. It is currently listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Current and future fishing pressure over large parts of species’ distribution can result only in serious population declines for this highly susceptible species since it has a low intrinsic potential for recovery following overexploitation. References: Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/javanese-cownose-ray/ rhinoptera-javanica/) Dudley, S.F.J, Kyne, P.M. & White, W.T. 2006. Rhinoptera javanica. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 December 2012. FishBase (http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Rhinopterajavanica.html) IUCN Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/sotdfiles/ rhinoptera-javanica.pdf)


FOCUS

Siamese Bala-shak (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda) Also known as the Burnt-tailed barb, the Siamese bala-shak is considered endemic to the Mae Khlong and Chao Phraya basins in Thailand. The species inhabits lowland riverine and marshland floodplains. Its life history is poorly known although it is believed that one generation length is around 10 years. The Balantiocheilos genus was previously considered to be monotypic, with just a single species, the Silver shark, Balantiocheilos melanopterus. However, a detailed comparison between Indochinese and Sundaic specimens previously believed to be B. melanopterus has shown that two distinct species can be recognized. The species from Indochina, named ambusticauda, can be told apart from melanopterus by its shorter snout, narrower black margins on the pelvic and anal fins, a posteriorly directed groove at the rictus, versus straight in melanopterus. The original distribution of this species included the Chao Phraya River drainage from Bangkok upriver to the lower Nan River and in the Mekong from Viet Nam and the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) to the lower Nam Ngum River. This Siamese balashak has not been seen alive, either in the wild or in captivity, for over three decades (last specimen was found in 1974), and may already be extinct. Surveys that have been carried out in the last 15 years have showed no signs of the species. Causes of population decline have been overfishing

for the international aquarium trade, habitat loss due to infrastructure developments, and probably deterioration in water quality, particularly from pollution caused by agro-chemicals. It is therefore listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), with an assumed population of less than 50 mature individuals. Further survey within Thailand is recommended, and records of the species from the Mekong basin should be further investigated. The name of the species comes from the Latin ambustus (burned around, scorched) and cauda (tail), and refers to the black edges of the fins. This name evokes the Thai name for the fish, pla hang mai, meaning â&#x20AC;&#x153;burnt tail fishâ&#x20AC;?. References: Encyclopedia of Life (http://eol.org/pages/225939/details) FishBase (http://www.fishbase.org/summary/ speciessummary.php?id=63409) Ng HH and M Kottelat. 2007. Balantiocheilos ambusticauda, a new and possibly extinct species of cyprinid fish from Indochina (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae). Zootaxa 1463: 13-20. Vidthayanon, C. 2011. Balantiocheilos ambusticauda. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 06 December 2012.

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Koen van Uitert

Siamese tiger perch (Datnioides pulcher) The Siamese tiger perch is distinguished by its regular color pattern consisting of four or five regular and broad bars on body. The species inhabits mainstreams and tributaries, including larger lakes connected to rivers. It prefers habitats with submerged woods and rocky crevices. Its generation length is estimated at 10 years. This species used to be widespread in the IndoChina area, from the Mae Klong and Chao Phraya basins to the middle and lower Mekong. It was extirpated in Thailand in the 1990s and is now very rare in Cambodia, Viet Nam and Lao PDR.

as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List because of the inferred population decline of more than 90 percent within three generations based on continuing declines in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence, and habitat quality, and levels of exploitation. Artificial breeding has been attempted in Thailand since the 1990s, but without success. The species is now protected in Thailand making it illegal to catch or posses it.

References:

The global population of this fish is suspected to have declined by more than 90 percent over the past 20 years after high levels of exploitation for the international aquarium trade. Other major threats are habitat alteration from large dams and infrastructures in tributaries (small dams, weirs, locks) that block lateral movements between main rivers and tributaries. This species is assessed

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Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/siamese-tiger-perch/ datnioides-pulcher/image-G129505.html) FishBase (http://fishbase.org/summary/Datnioides-pulcher. html) Vidthayanon, C. 2011. Datnioides pulcher. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 December 2012.


We are all connected.

From the smallest ant to the tallest tree, FROM THE BIRDS ROAMING THE SKIES TO THE FISH SWIMMING IN THE SEA,

Each and every creature is part of the biodiversity family.

LETâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S PROTECT OUR FAMILY

Conserve biodiversity now. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, LOG ON TO

www.aseanbiodiversity.org or chm.aseanbiodiversity.org


The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Conserving Southeast Asia’s Biodiversity for Human Development and Survival

T

he ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is an intergovernmental regional centre of excellence that facilitates cooperation and coordination among the ten ASEAN Member States and with relevant national governments, regional and international organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such natural treasures. ACB’s goals are: • To serve as an effective coordinative body to facilitate discussion and resolution of cross-country biodiversity conservation issues; • To provide a framework and mechanism for sharing information, experiences, best practices and lessons learned for efficient access of ASEAN Member States; • To implement a pro-active approach in monitoring and assessing biodiversity conservation status as a strategic approach towards identifying critical issues and future trends; • To deliver/facilitate conduct of capacity-building services and technology transfer through engaging relevant and appropriate expertise; • To enhance common understanding of biodiversity conservation issues, strengthening ASEAN regional positions in negotiations and in compliance with relevant multilateral environmental agreements; • To promote public awareness to develop champions and enhance support at different stakeholder levels on biodiversity concerns; and

• To undertake innovative resource generation and mobilization measures to pursue highimpact activities that will enhance biodiversity conservation in the region. ACB supports ASEAN Member States in the following thematic concerns that are of global and regional importance: Agriculture and food security, including food certification and biodiversity; Access to, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits from biological and genetic resources; Climate change and biodiversity conservation; Ecotourism and biodiversity conservation; Payment for ecosystems services and valuation of biodiversity; Wildlife enforcement; Managing invasive alien species; Peatland management and biodiversity; Support to the Global Taxonomy Initiative; Support to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Programme of Work on Protected Areas; Managing biodiversity information and knowledge; and Business and biodiversity. For more information, log on to www.aseanbiodiversity.org. ACB Headquarters 3/F ERDB Building, Forestry Campus College, Laguna 4031, Philippines Telephone Numbers: +6349 536-3989 / +632 584-4210 Fax: /+6349 536-2865


ASEAN Biodiversity Vol. 11 No. 2 May-August 2012