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Conserve Biodiversity, Save Humanity!

ASEAN Region’s Rich Biodiversity Despite occupying only three percent of the earth’s surface, the ASEAN region hosts 20 percent of all known species that live deep in the region’s mountains, jungles, rivers, lakes and seas. The region includes three mega-diverse states (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines); several bio-geographical units (e.g., Malesia, Wallacea, Sundaland, Indo-Burma and the Central Indo-Pacific); and numerous centers of concentration of restricted-range bird, plant and insect species. ASEAN has one-third, translating to 284,000 square kilometers, of all coral reefs, which are among the most diverse in the world. Common land and water borders have allowed the ASEAN states to share many species that are biologically diverse from the rest of the world. All these make the ASEAN region significant to global diversity.

The Threat The region’s rich biodiversity is heavily under threat. Out of 64,800 known species, two percent or 1,312 are endangered. Seven of the world’s 34 recognized biodiversity hotspots are in the ASEAN region. If the rate of deforestation continues, the region will lose up to three-fourths of its forests, and up to 42 percent of its biodiversity by 2100. Some 80 percent of coral reefs are at risk due to destructive fishing practices and coral bleaching. Forest conversion, forest fires, shifting cultivation, large-scale mining, wildlife hunting and trading, population growth and poverty, climate change, and lack of conservation resources greatly contribute to biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss could trigger enormous effects on food security, health, shelter,

medicine, and aesthetic and other life-sustaining resources. Without a concerted effort to protect and conserve biodiversity, the ASEAN region’s 567 million people and the entire human race would be in danger.

ASEAN’s Response: ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity As an intergovernmental regional organization, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) facilitates cooperation and coordination among the members states of ASEAN, and with relevant national governments, regional and international organizations, on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity guided by fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such biodiversity in the ASEAN region. ACB aims to contribute to the reduction of the current rate of loss of biological diversity by enhancing regional cooperation, capacitating stakeholders, promoting awareness for biodiversity conservation, and maintaining the regional biodiversity database. To contribute to the achievement of socially responsible access, equitable sharing, use and conservation of natural ecosystems and the biodiversity these contain, ACB builds strategic networks and partnerships geared to mobilize resources towards optimally augmenting effective programmes on biodiversity conservation.

Contact Us

ACB Headquarters

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Inside Vol. 8, No. 1  Janury - April 2009

Message Towards a Regional Management Framework for Invasive Alien Species in Southeast Asia


Global Conservation News




Special Reports Status of Global Alien Invasive Species An Overview


Developing A National Framework for Invasive Alien Species


Cambodia’s Report on Invasive Alien Species


12 17 21

National Regulations on Invasive Species Management in the Philippines


Managing Invasive Alien Species and Protecting Indigenous Species in Thailand


Invasive Alien Species in Vietnam: Their Impacts and Management


Are There Benefits from IAS? Janitor Fish


One of the World’s Worst Invaders: Mimosa pigra











Towards a Regional Management Framework for Invasive Alien Species in Southeast Asia Excerpts from messages delivered by Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, and General Director Phung Van Vui, Biodiversity Conservation Agency, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment during the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management held on 17-21 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam


hen talking about invasive alien species, what comes to mind is how a few years ago, the janitor fish caused alarm in Laguna Lake in the Philippines. It started as a pet for cleaning up aquariums. When the fish was released into the Laguna waters, its population rapidly grew and eventually disrupted the ecosystem. Fishermen complained about the pet that turned into a pest. The janitor fish not only gobbled up the algae in the Lake and deprived other fish with food, it also destroyed fishing nets with their sharp fins. Another story is that of the golden apple snail that wrought havoc in Viet Nam’s rice fields. The golden snail was introduced in Viet Nam in 1988 to encourage people to culture it in their gardens as a high protein duck and fish food. Two snail farms were established then as a joint venture between Vietnamese and Taiwanese companies for large-scale culture and export to Taiwan. Some snails escaped and spread to nearby ponds, trenches and rice fields, where they quickly reached pest status. The government eventually banned snail farming and spent vast sums of money on control programs and public awareness campaigns. These are but two examples of how Southeast Asia has witnessed how the introduction of certain species into ecosystems turned into virtual nightmares. We have seen how some species, when left uncontrolled, affect the environment and the livelihood of people. The management of invasive alien species is truly a crucial step for ASEAN Member States. As an initial step, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity collaborated with Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for the conduct of a workshop to enhance the capability of the ASEAN Member States to protect the environment against invasive alien species. Among the capacity needs that have to be developed and /or addressed include capacity for the prevention of entry and control of invasive alien species; strengthening national policies, laws and regulations on invasive alien species management; promoting business opportunities to utilize invasive alien species; public awareness; and inclusion of concerns on invasive alien species in regional trade agreements. – Rodrigo U. Fuentes


nvasive Alien Species (IAS) are now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well being of the planet, causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural agricultural systems upon which we depend. Direct and indirect health effects are becoming increasingly serious and the damage to nature is irreversible. These impacts have been recognized in the Convention on Biological Diversity, which calls for the control and monitoring of alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats and species. More significantly, the Convention on Biological Diversity has declared “Biodiversity and Invasive Alien Species” as the theme of the 2009 International Day for Biological Diversity. Invasive alien species are invading and threatening habitats, species and their production capacity. These species have serious negative impacts on ecosystem services including a stable hydrology for water supply and containment of floods; stable soils, pollination and containment of crop diseases for food crop production. Efforts to prevent and manage the introduction and establishment of invasive alien species in each country are not effective as activities are spread out in various government agencies and research institutes and sometimes are not coordinated. In Viet Nam, invasive alien species emerged as an issue in the mid 1990s and has become a major threat not only to biodiversity but also to sustainable development and human health. The Viet Nam government had invested billions of dollars to control the spread of invasive alien species such as the golden snail, Mimosa pigra, and Brontispa longissima. Still exotic species continue to be introduced to Viet Nam for agriculture and aquaculture development, commerce and other purposes such as entertainment and decoration. International collaboration plays an important role in managing the risks of invasive species. Region-wide sharing of early warnings about potential invaders, their rapid detection and identification as well as the sharing of biological information, risk assessments, and monitoring and control techniques are invaluable tools to help prevent the spread and establishment of potential invasive species. – Phung Van Vui

“The Convention on Biological Diversity has declared ‘Biodiversity and Invasive Alien Species’ as the theme for the 2009 International Day for Biological Diversity.”



GLOBAL CONSERVATION NEWS New rare orangutan found in Borneo

Whale sharks threatened by interbreeding

April 12 – A formerly unknown population of orangutans numbering around 1,000-2,000 has been found on the island of Borneo by conservation researchers who were tipped off by locals. The primates were found in a rugged, largely inaccessible mountainous region. More than 200 nests were found crammed into just a few kilometers and spotted three wild orangutans in the canopy. Researchers say that this could be a kind of orangutan refugee camp - with several groups moving into the same area following widespread forest fires. Scientists are now working with local groups to try to protect the area. – BBC News

April 8 – A new study on the whale shark, the world’s largest living fish, shows that it is threatened by interbreeding. Comparing the DNA of 68 individual whale sharks from eleven locations across the globe, geneticists found that the whale sharks had little genetic variation between the populations. This also means that whale sharks move across great distances, and may find themselves in areas where they are not legally protected. The massive plankton-eating whale shark is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, but some countries still allow it to be hunted. -

Endangered Philippine orchids to find ‘home’ in the wild again April 9 – A project led by Dr. Nestor Altoveros of the University of the PhilippinesLos Baños has embarked on the collection and reintroduction of indigenous orchids in selected protected areas in the Philippines. The Philippines is home to more than 800 species of orchids, although unabated collection has resulted in the significant loss of natural orchids growing in the wild. In 2005, some 143 orchid species in the Philippines have been listed as endangered by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The team has collected 200 orchid genotypes, representing 22 genera, from nine provinces. There are now 41 orchid species with 111 accessions being reared in vitro. Of these, 73 accessions are in the rooting stage, the last stage before the plants are potted out into community pots. Cultures have been transferred to partner organizations to facilitate the re-introduction of the orchids in protected areas. - Innovations Report


Project to study carbon storage in Malaysian forests March 22 – The Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP) of Universiti Putra Malaysia joined hands with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia (MOSTI) in a program called “Brain Gain Malaysia”. The program aims to assess future carbon storage in Malaysian forests with the project “Control of Diversity and the Carbon Balance of Tropical Forest”. INTROP’s expertise is in the area of sustainable forest management, exploration of carbon and the dynamics of tropical forest biodiversity, as well as global climate change. – The Star Online

Law on Biodiversity to take effect in July

Humpback whale beaching in Alaska. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Marine protected areas too small April 7 – According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), 40 percent of the 300 marine protected areas worldwide are too small to offer any protection to whales and dolphins. A worldwide effort must be made urgently to identify and define whale and dolphin critical habitats and hot spots. Whales migrate thousands of miles annually, and dolphins are wide-ranging and will follow food sources. The WCDS adds that probably less than 1 percent of the world’s marine mammal critical habitat has been identified much less protected. Strategies for addressing gaps in marine protected areas must be implemented. –

March 20 – The Law on Biodiversity of Viet Nam will take effect on 01 July 2009, six months after its ratification by the National Assembly. The Law stresses that biodiversity preservation is a decisive factor in sustainable economic development and an urgent need for Viet Nam and the whole world. Viet Nam has over 2 million hectares of forest and once the Law on Biodiversity takes effect, the country will need up to VND600 billion ($35.3 million) a year to preserve the area. – VietnamNet

Gibbons in Bach Ma National Park


Mekong Delta: more flood and drought March 19 – A forecast by the Climate Change Research Institute in Viet Nam shows that in 2030, drought in the Mekong Delta will be very intense because of rainfall reduction. In 2030, the rainfall from January to July will decrease by around 20 per cent compared to 1980. In addition to the drought, climate change will cause a one-meter rise in sea level, resulting in encroachment of seawater into most of the rivers in the delta. Predicted droughts, flooding, sea level rise and increased storms will affect economic development and cause unemployment, hunger and poverty, disease, pollution, and the decrease of biodiversity. The Climate Change Research Institute is currently developing a strategy to cope with climate change and to train local people to adapt to the situation. – VietnamNet

Critically endangered vulture saved from poisoning March 19 – Seven criticallyendangered white-rumped vultures were found dead in Cambodia after feeding on the corpse of a poisoned buffalo. The only two survivors, an adult and a juvenile, were sick. The pair was sent to a veterinary clinic in Phnom Penh to be cared for by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity. The white-rumped vulture experienced declines in the 1990s largely due to the anti-inflammatory cattle drug diclofenac. The drug proved effective in cattle but caused

GLOBAL CONSERVATION NEWS renal failure and mortality to any vulture that fed on the cow corpses that still retained the drug. Populations of white-rumped vultures dropped to a staggering 95 percent and have yet to recover. Cambodia is one of the last strongholds for the species. –

Veterinarians examine a whiterumped vulture. (Allan Michaud)

Ifugao rice terraces are GMO-free March 17 – The Ifugao province in the Philippines has declared itself free from genetically modified organisms (GMO). The provincial government worked with conservation organizations to encourage organic farming since GMO rice threatens the way of life of the Ifugaos. Hybrid varieties of rice are harvested faster than the local Tinawon variety. Usually, the rice cycle from planting to harvest season takes six to seven months. Use of GMO would break the cycle and the traditional activities of indigenous groups. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Rare white-rumped vulture (Allan Michaud)

Tigers found in logged forests of Malaysia March 18 – Wild tigers caught on camera in Malaysia show that the endangered carnivores can thrive in partially logged forests. The rare study indicated that better wildlife protection in those areas, long thought to be less valuable in conservation efforts, can help Malaysia meet its aim of doubling its tiger population in 12 years. Officials estimate Malaysia’s wild tiger population has decreased from 3,000 to 500 due to illegal hunting, human encroachment and the destruction of the tigers’ natural jungle habitat. The Government announced in

New forests to help ease poverty

2008 a plan to have 1,000 tigers roaming in the wild by 2020 through increased protection of jungle corridors where poachers prey on the big cats. – The Seattle Times

Farmer in Banaue ( Morales)

Indonesia must boost palm yields to save forests March 16 – Indonesia should aim for higher yields from existing palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s top palm oil producer, but plantations yield only about 2 tons per hectare, compared to 6 to 7 tons in Malaysia. Indonesia has 7.1 million hectares of palm oil estates, but is hoping to expand. Many conservation organizations state that there is no need to encroach on forests and peatlands to get increased economic benefits from palm oil. The government recently

Destroyed rainforest in Kalimantan province, Indonesia. (Reuters/Hardi Baktiantoro)

announced that it would allow 8 percent of its 25 million hectares of peatlands, which harbor huge carbon stocks, to be used for palm oil. – Reuters

Hydroelectric dam threatens livelihoods and endangered species March 13 - A government plan to build a hydroelectric dam a few meters above the Mekong River flowing through Siphandone in southern Laos would ruin a magnet for tourists and an important site for conservation. The dam would have a major impact on endangered species such as Irrawaddy dolphins and giant catfish, and reduce water flow to the Khone Falls, Asia’s largest waterfall. In 2006, the Lao PDR signed an agreement with Mega First Corporation Malaysia to do a feasibility study to build a 240MW dam across Mekong’s Hou Sahong channel, bordering Cambodia. A Project Development Agreement was signed in 2008, but construction has yet to start. Other organizations also note that the dam would affect breeding cycles and migration of 300 species of fish, thus reducing fish catch and affecting the livelihoods of thousands of fisherfolk. –

Lao fisherman on the Mekong River. (Suthep Kritsanavarin/ONASIA)

March 12 – Viet Nam has been striving to spread its forests to cover 43 percent of the country by 2010, which will be vital in eradicating hunger and reducing poverty among its citizens. Currently, Viet Nam has 12.6 million hectares of forest (10.3 hectares of natural forests and 2.3 million hectares of plantations), and 85 percent of forest preservation areas are located in poverty-stricken regions. The new forests of 7 million hectares will also help to boost economic development, as well as reduce the impact of climate change. – BERNAMA

Floods in Bangladesh last year, where coastal areas are already affected. (AFP/Getty)

Sea levels rising twice as fast as predicted March 11 – Sea levels are predicted to rise twice as fast compared to United Nations forecasts made only two years ago. Rising sea levels are caused by the thermal expansion of the ocean – where water increases in volume as it warms. Melting into the sea of land-based ice is causing the rise in sea levels. The accelerated melting of the vast, land-based ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica caused by rapidly rising temperatures is now speeding up the increase of sea levels. The Greenland ice sheet, in particular, is not simply melting but melting “dynamically” and collapsing in parts as melt water seeps down through crevices and speeds up its disintegration. These melting ice sheets are ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


GLOBAL CONSERVATION NEWS likely to push up sea levels by a meter or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and obliterating the living space of 600 million people who live in deltas, low-lying areas and small island states. – The Independent

A whale shark “interaction officer” cradles a baby whale shark

Smallest whale shark discovered in the Philippines March 9 – The discovery of a baby whale shark could help protect these rare giants by shedding light on where whale sharks are born. Whale sharks feed mainly on plankton and can grow to at least 40 feet long. One key to safeguarding whale sharks, listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is finding their birthing grounds. The baby whale shark’s discovery in Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines suggests that the Donsol area may be such a place. – National Geographic News

Rarest rhino caught on film March 6 – The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) has caught the world’s rarest rhino on film. There are less than 60 Javan rhinos estimated to exist in the wild. One of the world’s most imperiled species, the rhinos are very shy and are rarely seen. Using 34 spy cameras with infrared triggers that take video every time they sense movement, the WWF team was able to get some footage


is the only mammal known to exist on the island. According to Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at Chicago’s Field Museum, more new species will likely be found due to the unusual geology of the region. The museum co-led the 2006 expedition with the Philippine government. – National Geographic News

of these mysterious animals. WWF is currently planning on resettling a portion of the rhino population in another suitable region in Java to help their chances of long-term survival. –

Indonesia applies for REDD partnership March 4 – Indonesia has applied to join the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, becoming the largest developing country to apply to the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism. REDD could eventually send billions of dollars to tropical nations for forest conservation and sustainable development activities. Indonesia already has more than 20 REDD projects, most of which are in Kalimantan, Papua, and Sumatra. –

Unique reforestation plan March 4 – Garut district in West Java has ordered couples planning to get married to provide 10 trees to local authorities for a reforestation program. Anyone filing for divorce would also have to provide at least one tree. The new regulation will help support a national reforestation program. – Reuters

Sumatran tiger faces extinction March 3 – The Sumatran tiger is in danger of becoming the first major mammal to become extinct in the 21st century, as villagers fight a deadly war with the ferocious predator. At least four tigers and nine people have been killed this year as the shrinking of Sumatra’s already depleted forests brings an increase in attacks on farmers, hunters and illegal loggers. The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered with less than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, and is the most vulnerable of the six surviving

Female Sumatran tiger (Irwin Fedriansyah/AP)

tiger subspecies. Tigers usually have little taste for human flesh, and their attacks on humans suggest how hungry and desperate they are becoming, as economic exploitation of their habitat confines them to ever smaller and more impoverished patches of jungle. – The Times

Hairy-tailed rat is new species February 18 – The Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat is the newest member of the mammalian family. The yellow-brown rodent was discovered in 2006 in pygmy forests of Mount Hamiguitan on the Island of Mindanao, the Philippines, but was only recently identified as a new species. The mammal was so distinctive that DNA testing was not needed to determine it as a new species. The rat, which scurries through a tiny habitat of less than 3.9 square miles (10 square kilometers),

An agricultural worker at the Nam Nung Nature Reserve in Dak Nong, Viet Nam (VNA/VNS/Ngo Lich)

Forests disappear at rapid rate February 18 – The Central Highland province of Dak Nong in Viet Nam is rapidly losing large tracts of tropical forests, with rangers struggling to cope with the increasing number of illegal loggers. Deforestation intensified during 2008, with 440 hectares lost – an increase of 55 percent – according to the province’s Department of Forestry. The most vulnerable areas are located on borders with other provinces where officials’ responsibilities are not clearly defined and forests are inhabited by migrant slash-and-burn farmers. Even closely-guarded national parks and conservation areas like Nam Cat Tien, Ta Dung, and Nam Nung are beginning to be violated. Conservation work is complicated by the vast areas, difficult terrain, and massive migration by people in search of arable land. – VNS

Honeybees under attack on all fronts

Hamiguitan rat


February 16 – The world’s honeybees are dying off in horrifying numbers, and there is no single cause for their

GLOBAL CONSERVATION NEWS Crop biodiversity decreases fertilizer damage

Honeybee populations are now in crisis (Nature Picture Library/Rex)

demise. Infections, lack of food, pesticides and breeding are having a synergistic effect, pushing bee survival to a lethal tipping point. A third of the world’s food supply relies on bees for pollination. There is little information on how the causes work together, but the situation should become clearer in the next few years as the United States government, the European Union and others are pouring money into bee research. – NewScientist

Agricultural expansion since 1980 came at expense of forests February 15 – More than half of cropland expansion between 1980 and 2000 occurred at the expense of natural forests, while another 30 percent occurred in disturbed forests, reported Holly Gibbs, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago. Gibbs analyzed more than 600 satellite images from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and other organizations. Forests were the primary source for new croplands as they expanded across the tropics during the 1980s and 1990s. Cropland expansion for fuel, feed or food has undoubtedly led to more deforestation, and evidence is mounting that this trend will continue. This is a major concern for the global environment, particularly as biofuels are being promoted to help reduce climate change, despite their potential to transform rainforests and savannas into expanding biofuel croplands. –

February 13 – In the “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment” e-View paper, ecologists show that when the biodiversity of crops is high, less dissolved nitrogen can be found exiting the surrounding watersheds. Nitrogen from agricultural fertilizers leaches through soils to groundwater and runs off into rivers and lakes, increasing aquatic dissolved nitrate. Too much nitrate in the water can lead to prolific growth of aquatic algae, which can use up most of a water body’s oxygen when they die and are decomposed, creating “dead zones” that cannot support life. Diverse farms tend to have smaller fields with more edges, thus there is a greater buffering effect on nitrogen runoff by surrounding grasslands or woodlands. – ScienceDaily

Tracking the Cambodian tiger February 13 – A German wire-haired pointer trained to sniff for tiger droppings will help conservationists determine if tigers still roam one of Cambodia’s largest nature reserves. The dog will begin scouring the undergrowth and sniffing for tiger scent on trees at the 3,000-square kilometer Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area in northeastern Cambodia, where a paw print was last spotted in 2007. Tracking the tigers is part of a 10-year initiative by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera called “Tigers Forever”. It aims to increase the numbers of tigers by 50 percent in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Russian Far East and Thailand through several measures that include better monitoring, assessments of threats and efforts to minimize the dangers facing the big cats. – Associated Press

Dolphins stranded at Philippine bay February 11 - Dozens of Philippine fishing boats tried to stop hundreds of disoriented dolphins from beaching themselves in Bataan, near the mouth of Manila Bay. Many of the dolphins were found in shallow water and some had come ashore. Three dolphins died, but the rest eventually went back into deeper waters after several hours. – Philippine Star

Forest exploitation puts endangered rhinos at risk February 11 – The residents of two villages near Cat Tien National Park in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong have affected the lives and only known habitat of a group of endangered one-horned rhinos. Illegal logging and other activities by locals were affecting the food supply of the rhinos. The residents have yet to be relocated, although in 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved a project to move local residents out of the National Park’s core. Illegal logging has destroyed rhino habitats and pushed them into very inhospitable ecoregions where there is a lack of food and natural salt licks, which are crucial to the rhino’s survival. If efforts are not made to set aside protected areas within Cat Tien where the rhinos can live undisturbed, then the animals may become extinct. The onehorned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the world’s most endangered large mammals. – VNS

Jakarta ‘most at risk’ of climate change January 29 – The Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) ranked Central, North and West Jakarta at the top of a list of administrative regions prone to climate change. The report reveals that Jakarta is vulnerable to all types of climate-change related disasters except for tropical storms. EEPSEA assessed Jakarta’s history of exposure to five types of natural disaster — floods, landslides, drought, sea-level change and tropical storms — from 1980 to 2000, along with those of 530 other areas in Southeast Asia. The results were drawn up by considering exposure to disasters and ability to adapt to such threats, and comparing those findings with the vulnerability assessment framework of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Other vulnerable areas in Indonesia include West Sumatra and South Sumatra. The study also reveals that all regions in the Philippines, Viet Nam’s Mekong River Delta, Cambodia, North and East Laos and Bangkok are vulnerable. – The Jakarta Post

UN urges release of billions for world food crisis January 27 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged donors at an international meeting on food security to quickly release $22 billion in development aid pledged at a 2008 food crisis summit. The ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


GLOBAL CONSERVATION NEWS FAO warned that the global economic crisis must not cause countries to neglect the nearly billion people in the world that do not get enough food to eat. The World Food Program identified four effects the global financial meltdown is already having on the hunger crisis: remittances to poor countries are down; nations that depend on exports of farm goods are suffering because of the economic slowdown in buyer countries; investment in agricultural infrastructure is declining; and the credit crunch is particularly painful for small-scale farmers who need to borrow money for seeds and other supplies. – Associated Press

Asian cities prepare for climate change January 27 – Asian cities will form a network to prevent disasters and prepare for the impacts of climate change with initial backing of around $50 million from the Rockefeller Foundation. The network, which will start with six cities in India and Viet Nam, aims to help poor and vulnerable residents become more resilient to extreme weather and rising seas. It will receive some 70 percent of the $70 million the philanthropic foundation is committing to its five-year program on climate change that includes agriculture projects in Africa

and policy initiatives in the United States. – Reuters AlertNet

Giant Knotweed, originally from the Far East Sakhalin Island, threatens the natural habitats in Europe. (Milan Chytr)

Invasive alien species mapped in the EU January 27 – The first map of the level of alien plant invasions in the European Union has been published in the Wiley-Blackwell journal, Diversity and Distributions. A team of plant ecologists investigated the species composition of vegetation in more than 50,000 sites in northwestern, southern and central Europe. In each of these sites, they quantified the proportion of alien to native plant species. The team also found that the highest risk of alien plant invasions was in agricultural and urban ecosystems. Low levels of invasion were noted in natural and seminatural grasslands and most woodlands, and the lowest levels in the Mediterranean evergreen vegetation, heathlands and peatlands. This pattern was quite consistent among European regions with contrasting climates, biogeography, history and socio-economic background. – ScienceDaily

Global warming could unleash ocean ‘dead zones’

People wade through a flooded road in India. (Reuters)


January 26 – In a study published by the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists in Denmark built a computer model to simulate climate change over the next 100,000 years. The study showed that global warming may

create “dead zones” in the ocean that would be devoid of fish and seafood and endure for up to 2,000 years. The authors say that deep cuts in the world’s carbon emissions are needed to break a trend capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas. At the heart of the model are two well-used scenarios that use atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide as an indicator of temperature rise. Marine “dead zones” already exist today, in shallow areas next to the coast, where runoff from agricultural fertilizer causes an explosion in oxygen-gobbling algae. The paper warns that wide oxygen depletion of the ocean, though, poses a far greater threat, touching at the heart of biodiversity. – AFP

Deforestation in Sumatra. (David Gaveau)

Prices of agricultural products affect deforestation January 22 – The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program assessed the effectiveness of conservation in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Indonesia over a 34-year period using satellite imagery, ecological data, interviews, and GIS modeling. The study found that law enforcement effectively “reduced deforestation to nil” in areas where it was undertaken. In areas where enforcement activities were lax or non-existent, forest areas were rapidly replaced by coffee plantations, the expansion of which was closely correlated with coffee prices. This indicates that law


enforcement is critical but insufficient alone, and also highlights that rising costs of agricultural commodities can be detrimental to tropical forests. Preserving forests in Bukit Barisan Selatan over the long run will require a strategy that reduces the incentives for coffee cultivation. – mongabay. com

Ecologists warn the planet is running short of water January 22 – The Pacific Institute in California warned that a swelling global population, changing diets and mankind’s expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water. Agriculture, industry and other demands use about half of the world’s renewable and accessible fresh water. But even at those levels, billions of people live without the most basic water services. United Nations calculations suggest that more than one third of the world’s population is suffering from water shortages: by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40 percent, and by 2025, two out of three people could be living under conditions of “water stress”. – Times Online

Wildlife trade creating “empty forest syndrome” across the globe January 22 – In a talk at a Smithsonian Symposium on tropical forests, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) emphasized that for many endangered species, it is not the lack of suitable habitat that has imperiled them, but hunting. In certain areas, pristine forests stand empty and quiet, drained by hunting for bush meat, traditional medicine, the pet trade, and trophies. Hunting in the last few decades has increased exponentially and most of the species targeted by hunters are not able to recover fast enough to sustain the levels


Tapirs are especially vulnerable to over-hunting.

aircraft to fire visible light towards the ground and analyze the wavelengths that are reflected from the leaves. This generates a three-dimensional map of the chemical composition of the trees, from the canopy to the forest floor, and hence the biodiversity of the forest. – NewScientist

New species hotspot in remote Cambodian Mekong

Red howler monkey killed for food.

at which they are hunted. Primates are very vulnerable to overhunting due to a slow breeding process, as are other species like elephants and tapirs. Animals that live in groups, like birds and primates, are also vulnerable since one population can be wiped out by a single hunter. The implications of all this for loss of ecosystem function are still not fully understood, although many studies show that tropical forests depleted of large vertebrates experience reduced seed dispersal, altered patterns of tree recruitment and shifts in the relative abundance of species. –

January 15 – A series of surveys jointly conducted by WWF Cambodia, the Fisheries Administration (FiA) and the Forestry Administration (FA) of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in 2006 and 2007 has resulted in the discovery of 24 species, including the Cantor’s Giant softshell turtle. The study area is home to a nearpristine region of tall riverine forests, waterways and island archipelagos, and is described by scientists as including one of the last suitable freshwater habitats for the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. This region used to be one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge and was off-limits to local and foreign agencies until as late as 1998. WWF Cambodia has sought to get the “Central Section” designated as a special management site, ensuring that the region’s plant and animal life are afforded adequate protection and integrated into the government’s national biodiversity strategy. – WWF

Flying eye maps rain forest’s health January 22 – Greg Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, is developing an imaging device to assess the plant diversity within a rainforest without setting foot there. It will also be used to measure deforestation and the damage done by logging. Asner uses a laser scanner linked to a spectrometer on board an

Amorphophallus species

More than 600 elephants found in Malaysian park January 15 – Using new survey techniques, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Malaysia estimated that there are 631 Asian elephants living in Taman Negara National Park in the center of peninsular Malaysia. Rather than visually counting the elephants, researchers counted dung piles. This has become an internationally recognized technique and has been endorsed by UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Asian elephants are endangered due to habitat loss and poaching; between 30,000 and 50,000 may remain in 13 Asian countries, according to the WCS. The Taman Negara protected rainforest jungle, known simply as the “Green Heart” by Malaysians, spans about 4,343 square kilometers (1,676 square miles). – The Times of India

Ecosystem markets take off January 13 - Ecosystem markets, exchanges of nature’s various services, are adding new dimensions to conservation. In addition to using regulation to restrict development, more countries are turning to the invisible hand of the market to protect biodiversity, clean waterways, and fight climate change. Market-based approaches assign an economic value to ecosystem services such as erosion control, flood buffers, and clean air. Supporters praise the approach for its promotion of conservation funding at a time when financial resources are scarce. But critics suggest the market is a last resort that indicates governments may be neglecting their duty to protect ecosystems as habitats come under increasing levels of stress. The most widely

known ecosystem commodity is carbon. The global carbon market - exchanges of mandatory or voluntary greenhouse gas reductions - rose 84 percent in value last year, according to the research group, New Carbon Finance. Programs for biodiversity banks, wetland, and water markets are also being developed. As a sign of the growing interest in ecosystem markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is creating the first office dedicated solely to these emerging conservation strategies. The new Office of Ecosystem Markets and Services is tasked with creating uniform guidelines for the numerous markets, with an initial focus on carbon sequestration standards for agriculture and forestry. – Environmental News Network

State of the World 2009: Into A Warming World January 10 – Worldwatch Institute has just published State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World, which is based on the findings of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and provides a comprehensive overview of the policy imperatives facing humanity in the face of current environmental challenges. This edition of State of the World brings out the difference between inaction based on a business-as-usual approach and action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It also emphasized the importance of new technologies and different approaches in terms of human behavior and choices. An important element of future solutions is a different form of global governance-one that would create a high level of seriousness in the implementation of global agreements. – Environment News Network ASEAN BIODIVERSITY






nvasive alien species are organisms that cause damage or disturbance to biodiversity, human livelihoods and development. When working with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), it is best to use the two relevant CBD definitions from Article 8 (h). The first refers to alien species that cause damage to biodiversity. The second refers to invasive alien species (IAS) that cause damage to biodiversity. A species can become invasive only when it is introduced to a new ecosystem or habitat that is different from its native situation. Species can become invasive if they stay in one place despite changes in environmental conditions in the area.

* The article is condensed from the presentation by Geoffrey Howard at the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The workshop was organized by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). Geoffrey Howard is the IUCN Global Coordinator of IAS, and Technical Director of Species and Ecosystems of the Global Invasive Species Programme, IUCN, Nairobi, Kenya 12


Water hyacinth in tropical Central America

Introduction is part of the development of the invasive characteristics or invasiveness of a species. Biological invasions are caused by species that become invasive after introduction. But not all species that are introduced become invasive even if they have caused invasions in other places. An example would be the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), the “world’s worst water weed.” When the water hyacinth grows in its native habitat, together with native competing plants, it is not invasive.

ment, habitat or country and survives in the wild without human help (such as horticulture, aquaculture, aquarium support or domestication). This is usually the case with many “low-level weeds” and accidentally introduced invertebrates.

duce without assistance and the young survive and begin to spread. Wild canna (Canna indica), for example, was naturalized as a weed and began spreading in Eastern Africa. Naturalization can thus be equated with plants that have “escaped from human care.”

Invasions by alien species The following steps show the progress toward the invasion of species: 1. Introduction – Species introduction may be intentional or unintentional Introductions are mostly due to human activity and can or may result in the establishment of species in new habitats. “Intentional introduction” occurs when species are introduced as sources of food, medicine, ornamental plants, among others, and are used in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and other industries. “Unintentional introduction” happens when species move with other imports or travel when they attach themselves to various modes of transportation such as ships, and garbage that float in the sea. 2. Establishment – Species survive but do not spread Establishment happens when a plant or animal enters a new environ-

Ornamental canna established South American Senna spectabilis in Africa begin to regenerate independently after decades or centuries of establishment.

Wild canna established

3. Spread 3a. Naturalization – Species become part of the flora and fauna of its new habitat. Naturalization begins when the established animal or plant starts to repro-



SPECIAL REPORTS 3b. Invasion – Species expand and impact on other species and ecosystems as well as people and development. When established and naturalized species spread and “get out of hand”, and begin to compete with native (and other established) species, this can be defined as “invasion”. Species invasions impact ecosystems, cause environmental damage and also affect human welfare and development.

The probability for the development of invasive species is 10% (for establishment) x 10% (for naturalization) x 10% (for invasion) = 0.1%. This means that only 1 in 1,000 introduced species ever become invasive, or usually less, some say 1 in 1,000,000. Once species have been introduced, established and naturalized, there is often a “lag time” before further spread and invasion occurs. For some species (e.g. trees), this may be more than 100 years; in others (e.g. water hyacinth), may be a few weeks. As the invading species consolidates, affected plant or animal habitats may decline or become degraded.

Invasive taxa (types)

Australian possums invaded New Zealand

Invasive species can be animals, plants or micro-organisms (including those causing disease in plants, animals and people). They can be terrestrial, aquatic or marine as well as pathogens, parasites or predators. They can be minute, small, large, and widespread or locally abundant as well. Microorganisms may include plant and animal viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and fungal pathogens of both animals and plants. Invertebrates may encompass mollusks (both terrestrial and aquatic), insect pests, crustaceans, and other arthropods.

Vertebrate invasive species include fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. The Nile tilapia, for example, was intentionally introduced to many water systems in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with devastating effects on the native fish.


The common carp from China is now invasive in water bodies on four continents including Africa.

Common carp

Lantana camara is a classic invasive alien species; after 160 years, the species is still spreading across Africa and invading new lands such as Australia, Asia and North America. Lantana replaces native vegetation and pasture, is poisonous to livestock and harbors tsetse flies (Glossina sp.) and rats.

Latin American green apple snail invaded Asia

The alien house sparrow has invaded Tanzania 90 years ago and spread throughout.

House sparrow


Australian long-horned tree borer now invades eucalypts in many African countries



SPECIAL REPORTS (Oreochromis niloticus), for example, which originally comes from the Nile in Zambia, has become a problem in Asia and the Americas.


Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) from Central America is an invasive alien species introduced for agrofrestry, and grows well in dry (pastoral) areas. It causes wounds with its spines, replaces native dryland vegetation and destroys pastures for livestock and wildlife.

“Invasiveness” of alien species What makes a good invader? Good invaders are generally characterized by the following: • Rapid growth rate, • Great dispersal characteristics, • Large reproductive capacity, • Broad environmental tolerance, and • Effective competitor with local species All invasive plants can be called “weeds”, but not all weeds are invasive. Invading species affect ecosystems by altering or replacing natural systems through competition, exclusion, predation, parasitism, and pathogenesis. They also alter or cause changes in micro-climate, nutrient availability, and ecosystem cycles (energy, water, minerals, organics). All this, in turn, affects ecosystem function, health, goods and services, and impacts humankind by damaging livelihoods, well-being, health, and development. An example of the impacts of the spread and invasion of species can be seen in the Kafue Floodplain. The Kafue River, a major tributary of the Zambezi, is about 1,000 kilometers long,

and is found entirely in Zambia. It is a source of potable water for about 40 per cent of the Zambian population and the major source of water for the capital city, Lusaka. The Kafue Floodplain was home to many wild animals and plants and supported cattle grazing, fishing, conservation and tourism activities. In 1974, the plant Mimosa pigra could be found occasionally on the edges of the Kafue River. A heavy flood in 1981 then brought a few plants of Mimosa pigra to the floodplain. After a slow start in the late 1980s, Mimosa pigra began to spread and, by 2000, it was covering a few hundred hectares. By 2007, Mimosa pigra was growing up to four meters high and was largely excluding almost every other plant and most animals in the area. Out of 12,000 hectares in the floodplain, 3,000 hectares are now completely covered by Mimosa pigra. Today, there is no livestock, no fisheries, and no tourism on this part of the Kafue Floodplain. Mimosa pigra has severely affected the livelihoods and production of people living in the area. In freshwater ecosystems, aquatic invasive plants pollute drinking water, reduce fisheries, exclude other biodiversity, block waterways and water pipes, reduce oxygen, and reduce the entry of sunlight. When freshwater fish are introduced for aquaculture, they may escape into wild water systems, destroy vegetation and fish faunas and hybridize with local species. While they may bring some benefits, they also cause great damage to indigenous species. The Nile tilapia


An example of invasion impacts of species on terrestrial ecosystems is the Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), which is smothering the bald cypress in Florida, in the United States of America.

Climbing fern

The Indian House crow (Corvus splendens) has invaded most coastal cities in Eastern Africa and the Middle East. It kills domestic and wild birds, spreads human diseases, raids food, and destroys radio aerials, among others.



D. Luguet, France

Seaweed (Caulerpa taxifolia) invading a new site in the Mediterranean

In marine systems, alien invasives alter the production and life cycles of fish, crabs, oysters, prawns, barnacles, mussels, comb jellies, seaweeds, plankton through competition, exclusion, predation, and pollution of marine waters. Alien species can also invade production ecosystems, native or cultured, that are used for food and commodity production. These species can cause major production and economic impacts

in forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and aquaculture. Parasitism, pathogenesis, predation, competition, exclusion and destruction of productive systems are all recorded in these industries, and are most common in farming, horticulture

Kafue Gorge dam

Water hyacinth Tall trees of Senna spectabilis from South America are replacing native forest in Uganda


and livestock production. Invasion impacts include effects on human development. Aside from M.


pigra, water hyacinths have affected the Kafue Gorge Dam and hydropower station in Zambia. The water hyacinth and similar species that establish themselves in dams increase water loss, block water flows, jam hydropower generators, prevent water traffic, encourage growth in the population of snakes and crocodiles, suppress fisheries and aquaculture, and harbor vectors of human diseases. Some invasives are themselves human pathogens (e.g. ebola, SARS, and H5N1).

Management of invasions Avoiding or lessening the impacts of invasion could be done through any of the following courses of action: 1. Prevent their introduction, 2. Eradicate a new invasion soonest, 3. Contain a small, expanding invasion, or 4. Manage the impacts and the presence of an established invasion. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the first step is the best and cheapest. As all these actions have relevant costs to the environment, economy, and society, the prevention of invasions should be the primary consideration in dealing with invasive alien species. The last step should be the “last resort” as it entails extensive and longterm management of invasions.






national framework aimed at addressing biological invasions, with an agreed set of policies and supported by the government and people, should be developed, whether as a dedicated national activity or as part of a regional programme of biosecurity. Invasive alien species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity and ecosystem services – and are increasingly spreading worldwide. Biological diversity is being decreased and “sameness” is spreading.

* The article is condensed from the presentation by Geoffrey Howard entitled “Development of National Frameworks for Invasive Alien Species” at the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management. The workshop was organized by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Geoffrey Howard is the IUCN Global Coordinator of IAS, and Technical Director of Species and Ecosystems of the Global Invasive Species Programme, IUCN, Nairobi, Kenya. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


SPECIAL REPORTS Convention on Biological Diversity); or a separate (new) biosecurity agency with high status. Regions might utilize the Plant Protection Convention and its regional agencies (e.g. European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization or EPPO), or a separate regional organization for IAS (e.g. Pacific Invasive Initiative or PII), or a regional economic organization (e.g. Southern African Development Community or SADC).

Strategies in developing policy 1. National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan or NISSAP. Some countries have developed a NISSAP, which is related to the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). A NISSAP would outline the agreed approach to issues such as: • Prevention, eradication and control; • The Ecosystem Approach (from the CBD) for action against IAS; • The Precautionary Approach (if there is insufficient information, then one can refuse entry to likely IAS); • Policies and institutions and responsibilities

Invasives threaten terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems with increasing or continuing impacts. They are also becoming an even greater threat due to increasing climate change. Invasions begin with the introduction of species alien to a country or ecosystem. An introduced alien species then establishes itself, spreads and begins to cause damage to biodiversity, infrastructure and livelihoods. How then can we prevent the introduction or spread of invasive alien species (IAS), or control their spread or eradicate these, and repair the damage done by these IAS? All of these need the elements of an IAS Framework that includes policies and institutions; strategies for prevention and management; capacity to recognize 18

and prevent introductions and manage invasions; infrastructure to support the strategy; and awareness to involve all stakeholders.

Policy and institutions Countries and regions need to decide how they want to address IAS, as well as assign a level of importance to this issue. Existing policies that include biological invasions (if any) need to be coordinated and enhanced for action. Responsible government ministries or agencies need to be assigned based on the proposed and agreed level of importance. Some countries place IAS issues under agriculture or forestry; environment and/or biodiversity (related to the


2. Regional approach. Invasive species do not stop at national boundaries. A regional approach (as well as a national strategy) is important so that nations can cooperate and help each other. Nations can assist each other with expertise, information, experiences in management, and release alerts concerning new invasions that might spread to neighboring countries.

Recognizing invasive alien species Many species are introduced - intentionally or unintentionally - to an ecosystem, a country or a region each year. From these species, a small proportion may become established and a small proportion may spread and become invasive. From the onset, there is a need to identify new species and then assess their possible impacts on the environment.

SPECIAL REPORTS The capacity to recognize species and to access information on their likelihood for invasiveness is important. One can rely on and make evaluations based on existing information such as personal experiences, literature, and internet websites (e.g,, Global Compendium of Weeds). Some countries develop a list of species that may never be intentionally introduced and a list of some that are allowed. Species must be recognized when these are found at various stages of invasion such as introduction, establishment and spread, and invasion, in all types of ecosystems. A strategy or framework for IAS should include capacity to address each of these stages. Strategies for preventing introductions include: • Checking for introductions – intentional and unintentional, • Listing unwanted species and allowable species, • Conducting inspection at entry points, • Developing means to prevent (and destroy if necessary) introduction of IAS,

• Establishing permits and conditions, • Monitoring and general surveillance, and • Developing regional cooperation programs and sharing of information. Rapid responses to establishment and spread Again, knowing what might be a problem if IAS is established is crucial. Mechanisms for surveillance (existing and new) are needed and the proper agencies should have the physical and legal capacity to respond to IAS issues. They should be reinforced with: • Equipment and resources, • Policies and laws, • Systems in place for in-countrycooperation, and • Regional communication and alerts. Rapid response and eradication or containment Prevention is the best protection against biological invasion. If preven-

tion fails and a known invasive species is detected, rapid response is required. This will require knowledge and cooperation at local government and civil society levels as well as among frontliners such as landowners, farmers, and customs officials. A very recent example follows the “African Barriers Project” in Uganda. 1. Recognition and awareness During annual meetings of the Project teams, all saw the serious invasion of Parthenium hysterophorus in Ethiopia. Thus the three countries which do not have this plant became sensitized to the threat of its introduction and establishment. This plant is a rapidly spreading weed with impacts on agriculture, livestock and human health 2. Preparation for recognition of the threat - The Project used the “Climex” process to map the potential distribution of P. hysterophorus if it spreads. Additional information was gathered from the experiences of other countries and relevant websites.



SPECIAL REPORTS 3. Initiated vigilance in Uganda and other countries - General mapping was developed based on existing information. Roadside mapping was used because many IAS are transported through road and rail networks. The Project established an agreed system in all four countries using Project vehicles and staff and Global Positions Systems (GPS) – for mapping with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - of any detected possible (or known) invasive species of plants. 4. First detections in Uganda - Two separate small infestations were detected on 16 November 2008

Raising awareness at the local level

during roadside mapping. 5. Rapid response - More suspect areas were examined and three more small infestations were all detected and eradicated. At the same time, local people were alerted and the media were informed, resulting in four more reports in early December 2008

Managing invasions

Farm wasteland

Once invading species have established and spread, their infestation has to be managed or controlled. This requires access to experience and information and capacity to be built (including additional funds). In a project for framework development, this is best done through pilot site projects to manage known invasions and to attempt to restore affected ecosystems. Mechanical, chemical, and biological control and procedures for approval of actions should be established.

Roadside wasteland



The necessary infrastructure should be set in place in managing invasions. All activities necessary to prevent and control biological invasions require interaction between separate government and other organizations. Arrangements for coordination and cooperation need to be established. Some countries develop an IAS agency or a dedicated group to address IAS concerns. Sometimes invasive species operations are part of biosecurity. All these arrangements need to be established and funded for quick and effective action. Stakeholders should be made aware of the impact and prevention of invasive species through an awareness strategy that is essential to an invasive species framework. This applies to leadership and policy-making levels, government personnel, private sector and civil society, as well as “the general public” and children. Regional cooperation programs must also be developed since all invasive species are regional issues. This is particularly true on continents with many countries, such as Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, where species can easily travel and cross borders. Thus there is a need for regional cooperation and exchange – especially about new invasions.


Cambodia’s Report on Invasive Alien Species



ambodia has a total land area of 181,035 square kilometers and is dominated by low land along the Mekong River and Tonlé Sap Lake, and three mountain regions in the Southwest, North and Northeast. In the 1960s, the forest of the country covered 73 percent of the total land area. However, ensuing demographic growth and economic development had led to a decline in forest cover from 73 percent to 61 percent in 2002. The main forest habitats in Cambodia are: • Evergreen forest • Semi-evergreen forest • Deciduous forest • Hill evergreen forest • Sub-montane and montane forest • Pine forest with grasslands • Bamboo forest

• Mangrove forest • Melaleuca forest • Flooded forest around Tonle Sap Lake. These forests are homes to the following species: • 212 species of mammals • 500 species of birds • 240 species of reptiles • 62 species of amphibians • 500 species of freshwater fish and 357 species of marine fish • More than 2,300 species of vascular plants with new species being discovered every year • Species that have yet to be discovered. Biogeographically, there are three distinct areas with distinct fauna and flora in Cambodia: Cardamom Moun-

* The article is from the presentation by Neang Thy at the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Viet Nam in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Neang Thy is the head of the Botanical Garden Office, General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia.




Table 2. List of introduced animal species

Tonle Sap Lake

tains in the southwest; Annamite Mountains in the northeast; and the Northern plains. Lowland areas along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake are mainly covered by grass and rice fields and have the most number of invasive species. Based on this division of geography, the World Conservation Society conducted in 2006 the first interview and literature-based survey on invasive species around Tonle Sap Lake to find out which species are there and their possible impacts on agriculture, as the conditions are suitable for them to reproduce rapidly. Invasive species refers to alien species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm to the country and human health. The results of the invasive species survey showed the existence of the following introduced species:

• • • • • • • •

14 plant species 3 reptile species 1 amphibian species 1 mollusk species 1 crustacean species 1 insect species 2 mammal species 30 fish species

Other exotic species of plants occur in forested areas and appear only in the clearing mosaic. These are: • Imperata cylindrica, which originated from Southeast Asia • Chromolaena odorata from tropical America, and • Arundo donax from India.

Table1. List of introduced plant species


Common name

Scientific name

Reported Status


1. Water lettuce

Pistia stratiotes


Africa or South America

2. Purging nut

Jatropha curcas


Caribbean region

3. Giant sensitive plant

Mimosa invisa


South America

4. Catclaw mimosa

Mimosa pigra


Tropical America

5. Sensitive plant / ‘touch-me-not’

Mimosa pudica


Tropical America

6. Candlebush

Cassia alata


South America

7. Watersnowflake

Nymphoides indica


Africa, Asia, Australia

8. Seedbox

Ludwigia hyssopifolia



9. Peruvian primrose

Ludwigia peruviana


Tropical America

10. Para grass

Urochloa mutica



11. Hippo grass

Echinochloa stagnina



12. Cutgrass

Leersia hexandra



13. Water hyacinth

Eichhornia crassipes


Amazon Basin

14. Silk cotton tree

Ceiba petandra




Table 2. List of introduced animal species

Table 2. List of introduced animal species Common name

Scientific name

Reported Status


1. Hybrid crocodile

Crocodylus rhombifer

Siem Reap

Cuba, Australia, Cambodia

2. Chinese softshell turtle

Pelodiscus sinensis

Not reported

China, Taiwan, Korea, North Viet Nam

3. Red eared slider turtle

Trachemys scripta elegans

Not reported


Rana catesbiana

Not reported


Pomacea spp.

Not reported

South America

Procambarus clarkii

Not reported

Mexico and America

Apis mellifera

Not reported

Tropical Africa, Eurasia

Rattus rattus



Rattus norvegicus



1. Japanese eel

Anguilia japonica

Not reported

Japan, South Hainan and northern Philippines

2. Arapaima

Arapaima gigas

Not reported

South America

3. Pacu

Colossoma macropomum

Not reported

South America

4. Red bellied pacu

Piaractus brachypomus

Not reported

South America

5. Blue tilapia

Oreochromis aureus

Not reported

Africa and Middle East

6. Mozambique tilapia

Oreochromis mossambicus

Not reported

Southern Africa

7. Nile tilapia

Oreochromis niloticus


Africa and Middle East

8. Red breast tilapia

Tilapia rendalli

Not reported


9. African catfish

Clarias gariepinus


Africa and Middle East

10. Chinese false gudgeon

Abottina rivularis

Not reported

Northeast Asia, Japan

11. Goldfish

Carassius auratus

Not reported

Central and Eastern Continental Asia

12. Mrigal

Cirrhinus cirrhosus

Not reported

Indian Subcontinent

13. Grass carp

Ctenopharyngodon idella

Not reported

Northeastern continental Asia

14. Common carp

Cyprinus carpio



15. Catla

Gilbelion catla

Not reported

Indian Subcontinent

16. Barbel steed

Hemibarbus labeo

Not reported

Central and East Continental Asia


Amphibians North American bullfrog Mollusks Apple snail Crustaceans Louisiana crayfish Insects European honeybee Mammals Domestic rats


Continued next page




Table 2. Listname of introduced animal species Scientifi Reported Status Origin AllCommon the species listed are at low risk at c name The article is from the presentation the moment, except for Mimosa pigra. Fish by Neang Thy at the “ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Man- East Continental Asia Mimosa pigrasteed is believed to have ap17. Spotted Hemibarbus maculatus Not reported agement” held on 17-18 December peared in Cambodia in the late 1970s 18. Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Reported 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The work- East Continental Asia or early 1980s. Its rapid proliferation shop was organized by the Ministry of in Cambodia started around the early 19. Bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis Not reported China Natural Resources and Environment 1990s and currently, M. pigra has been in cooperation Indian Subcontinent reported occur in at least 13 Labeo prov- rohita(MONRE), Viet Nam 20. to Rohu Not reported with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiverinces that are located along the Mekong sity (ACB). 21. Stone Pseudorasborapaparva Not reported Eastern Asia River and Tonlemoroko Sap Lake. It is an aggressive plant and regarded as one of the Oriental weatherfish Misgurnus anguillicaudatus Not reported Myanmar, Northeast Asia to Central China worst 22. environmental weeds in seasonally flooded areas. 23. Brown bullhead Ictalurus nebulosus Not reported North America The of M. mas- punctatus 24.impacts Channel catfi sh pigra are Ictalurus sive, as it can completely alter vegeta25. Suckermouth catfish of Mimosa Hypostomus plecostomus tion structure. Large stands support fewer animals, less herbaceous 26. Mosquito fish Gambusia affinis vegetation and fewer native tree seedlings. 27. ThisGuppy then affects water birdsPoecilia that reticulata rely on grassland areas, as well as reduces 28. Sailfin molly Poecilia fish production especially non-scaly fish velifera species. They are also major barriers 29. Green swordtail Xiphophorus helleri to agriculture development. Methods employed to control the M. 30. Southern platyfi sh spread of Xiphophorus maculatus pigra include manual methods, chemical control, burning and prevention of introduction in other areas.

Not reported

North America

Not reported

South America


North and Central America

Not reported

South America

Not reported

Central America

Not reported

North and Central America

Not reported

North and Central America

Mimosa pigra



All the species listed are at low risk at the moment, except for Mimosa pigra. Mimosa pigra is believed to have appeared in Cambodia in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Its rapid proliferation in Cambodia started around the early 1990s. Currently, Mimosa pigra has been reported to occur in at least 13 provinces that are located along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. It is an aggressive plant and regarded as one of the worst environmental weeds in seasonally flooded areas. The impacts of Mimosa pigra are massive, as the species can completely alter vegetation structure. Large stands of Mimosa support fewer animals, less herbaceous vegetation and fewer native tree seedlings. This then affects water birds that rely on grassland areas, as well as reduces fish production especially non-scaly fish species. They are also major barriers to agriculture development. Methods employed to control the spread of Mimosa pigra include manual techniques, chemical control, burning and prevention of introduction in other areas.


National Regulations on Invasive Species Management in the Philippines *


he biodiversity of the Philippines is truly impressive both in global terms, and in overall diversity, and, more so, as regards endemism. In absolute numbers, its endemic species in groups like plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies are comparable to and often exceed the much larger megadiversity countries. The Philippines harbors some 8,000 species of flowering plants distributed in about 1,600 genera and 191 families. There are more than 6,490 species of non-flowering plants (i.e. algae, fungi, mosses, ferns), which when combined with vascular plants, would total about 14,490 plant species. Of this number, between 30 to 40 percent are said to be endemic to the country and found nowhere else. Man’s activities however, have badly damaged the primary forests of the Philippines that conservationists rank the country as one of the 10 hotspots of the world. Because of this, the public and private sectors have joined hands in seeking remedies to this environmental crisis. Several species of trees and agricultural plants were introduced in the Philippines during the prehistoric (MalayPolynesian settlers), Spanish and American regimes. The foremost intention was to provide for cover crops and multiple-purpose species to meet the various needs of the country. Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), for example, was introduced in 1935 to augment bast fiber-producing tree crops in Makiling, within the University of the Philippines School of Forestry campus, at Los Banos, Laguna. Like the coronitas (Lantana camara) from Hawaii, the paper mulberry escaped to become a serious pest as both invade young secondary forests thickets. Lantana camara was introduced as an ornamental in orchards and farms. The large leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) was first planted in 1907 and the small leaf mahogany (Swietenia mahogani) in 1911, both intentionally introduced for cultivation. These three species are now all over the Philippine archipelago.

Paper mulberry

Lantana camara

The mahogany became invasive because of several attributes of the species. Each fruit of mahogany in a capsule contains an average of 62 winged seeds. Assuming 50 capsules per tree can be dispersed per fruiting season, that’s 3000 seeds, blown at a distance of 20 to 40 meters. Being

* Paper presented by Elpidio F. Rimando during the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The Workshop was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Elpidio F. Rimando is the Chief of the Forest Protection Section, Forest Ecosystem Research Division, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines.




recalcitrant, the seeds germinate in less than a month. Dipterocarps fruit and seed irregularly in intervals of four to five years and therefore stand no chance in competing with mahogany. Mahogany seeds contain food reserves and germinate hypogeal. This means that even if the initial light is relatively poor, the young mahogany plant develops even without initial photosynthesis. True photosynthetic leaves come later and are adopted even in sun-flecked shade to partial shade. Hardened mahogany seedlings are even relatively drought resistant. It is a common observation in mature mahogany plantations in the country that the understory vegetation is dominated by mahogany wildlings. The coronitas is another plant/weed that may occur as a compact shrub or a scrambler since it grows more than 5 meters high and is often used as a hedge plant because it forms impenetrable barriers. However, that same quality makes it such a menace when it invades agricultural land and forestry plantations. The leaves and fruit can poison cattle and sheep that eat them.

Other agricultural plants introduced in the country are now becoming pests or weeds in forest areas. The mile-aminute (Mikania micrantha) from the South and Central America was introduced as a cover crop or garden ornamental. The plant is now considered an invasive species and is a problem weed throughout the warm, humid region of Southeast Asia including the Philippines. The vine was able to spread rapidly because it reproduces fast. A single plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds per year. The small, black seeds with bristles at one end are dispersed by wind and adhere to clothing or animal fur. Vegetatively, the plant can regenerate from small fragments, with each nodal stem being able to produce roots on contact with the soil. The weed climbs up other plants to reach the sunlit tree canopy, smothering the host plants in the process, depriving them of light needed for photosynthesis and competing with hosts for nutrients and water. The hagonoy (Chromolaena odorata) is another invasive weed shrub present almost everywhere in the Philippines. It thrives on disturbed lands and forms dense thickets that smother indigenous vegetation, thus reducing biodiversity. Its growth decreases the productivity of any main crop or trees that grow with it.

Regulations and policy on invasive alien species

Mikania micrantha

Chromolaena odorata


International policy/regulations Mainstreaming sustainable management of biodiversity cum invasive alien species is based upon international agreements, which are as follows: 1. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Flora and Fauna - CITES has been proven to be effective in contributing to the conservation of a wide range of plants and animals through a rigorous system in issuing permits and certificates. CITES has the ability to control commercial trade when it is proven to be detrimental to the population of the species. 2. Convention on Biological Diversity – The Convention mandates Parties/countries to take appropriate measures to conserve biological diversity, ensure the sustainable use of resources and promote fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. 3. RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands - RAMSAR mandates the development of guidelines and promotes protocols and actions to prevent, control, and eradicate invasive alien species in wetland systems. National policy and regulations 1. Executive Order No. 430. (15 October 1990) - This Order constitutes the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, a multi-disciplinary, interagency technical advisory body tasked to undertake the study and evaluation of existing laws, policies,








and guidelines on biotechnology with respect to the introduction, use and transfer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and potentially harmful exotic species (PHES) and the recommended measures for their effective utilization and prevention of possible pernicious effects on the environment. Department of Agriculture –Administrative Order No. 8 Series of 2002 - This Order prescribes regulations for the importation and release into the environment of plant and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology. It also institutionalizes existing operational arrangements between the Bureau of Plant Industry and the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines by providing regulations to govern the release of such products for propagation or for direct use as food, feed, or for processing. Department of Agriculture-Memorandum Circular No. 7 and 8 Series of 2003 - These Circulars were promulgated pursuant to Section 3 of AO 8 to establish Guidelines for the Conduct of Risk Assessment for Applications using an Approved Transformation Event and the Phytosanitary Inspection of Regulated Articles for Foods, Feeds and Processing. Plant Quarantine Law - This Law restricts the importation and/or introduction of plants, plant products, soil, and packing material of plant origin that are capable of harboring species, and are sources or medium of infection/infestation of plant pests. The Revised Forestry Code - The Revised Forestry Code mandates the Forest Management BureauDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to be responsible for the protection, development, management, regeneration, and reforestation of forest lands; implementation or multiple use and sustained yield management in forest lands; protection, development, and preservation of national parks, marine parks, game refuges, and wildlife; implementation of measures and programs to prevent kaingin and managed occupancy of forest and grazing lands; and the enforcement of forestry, reforestation, parks, game and wildlife laws, rules and regulations, among others. The Forestry Code provides incentives to qualified persons engaged in industrial tree plantation, tree farming, and/or agroforest farming. The law is relevant in that genetically modified (GM) trees that are introduced and used for higher timber yields or greater carbon sequestration abilities, may pose risks to natural stands. National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act – NIPAS encompasses outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones, and related eco-

systems, whether terrestrial, wetland, or marine, all of which shall be designated as protected areas. It provides for categories of protected areas: (a) strict nature reserve, (b) natural park, (c) natural monument, (d) wildlife sanctuary, (e) protected landscapes and seascapes, (f ) resource reserve, (g) natural biotic areas and (h) other categories established by law, conventions, or international agreements to which the Philippine government is a signatory. Activities within protected areas are highly regulated, especially in strict nature reserves and natural parks, thus the release of GMOs and GM trees and products in such areas are most likely prohibited. 7. Executive Order No. 247 - This Order prescribes guidelines and establishes a regulatory framework (the Inter-Agency Committee on Biological and Genetic Resources) for the prospecting of biological and genetic resources, their by-products and derivatives that are used for scientific and commercial purposes. The Committee is tasked, among others, to ensure that no biological and genetic materials are taken from the Philippines and exported, except under a valid research agreement; and to study and recommend appropriate laws on the utilization of biological and genetic resources including new laws on intellectual property rights. 8. Wildlife Resources Protection Act - This Act provides that no exotic species shall be introduced into the country, unless a clearance from the DENR Secretary or his authorized representative is first obtained. In no case shall exotic species be introduced into protected areas covered by NIPAS and to critical habitats under Section 25 of the Wildlife Act. 9. Seed Industry Development Act - This Act prohibits the importation, in commercial quantities, of species of seeds that are being produced locally, except seeds that are difficult to grow under ordinary conditions or when allowed by the Seed Industry Council. The Act also prohibits the exploitation of rare species, varieties, lines and strains of plants from the country, except for scientific or international exchange purposes that shall be determined by the Council.

Research project on invasive alien species The DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) has an ongoing research project on the Development of Pest Surveillance System for Forest Invasive Species in the Philippines, which started in November 2008. The project objectives are to: 1. Determine appropriate pest/disease targets and survey plantation areas to maximize the chance for early detection of forest invasive species; and ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



Sample of Outline-Framework for Invasive Alien Species Section 1. Constitutional Policies 1.1 Right to People’s Health 1.2 Right to a Healthy Environment 1.3 Priority to Science and Technology 1.4 Role of Stakeholders 1.5 Rural Development 1.6 Right of Indigenous Peoples/Cultural Minorities and Communities 1.7 Right to Information 1.8 Local Autonomy 1.9 Right to Participation 1.10 Consumer Protection Section 2. Principles 2.1 Policy on Modern Biotechnology 2.2 Policy on Sustainable Development 2.3 Scientific Approach 2.4 Balance Approach 2.5 Socio-economic, Cultural and Ethical Considerations. 2.6. Using Precaution 2.7 Transparency and Public Participation 2.8 Consensus Building 2.9 Availability of Remedies 2.10 International Obligations and Cooperation 2.11 Public Interest and Welfare

2. Formulate guidelines on forest-pest/forest invasive species surveillance, reporting and monitoring system.

Regional cooperation in the management of invasive alien species Regional cooperation is very important to prevent the introduction of IAS into the country. A list of potential IAS based on risk assessment undertaken at the regional level must be developed and be available to the networkmember countries. Experts on IAS are required to conduct such assessments. With the available list of high-risk invasive species, the mechanism to prevent and control the movement of IAS must be formed. The CITES permitting mechanism system could be applied and strengthened to suit networkmember countries.

Conclusion The prevention, control and management of invasive 28

Section 3. Scope, Objectives and Definitions 3.1 Scope 3.2 Objectives 3.3 Definitions Section 4. Administrative Mechanism Section 5. Decision–Making Processes 5.1 Standard of Precaution 5.2 Risk assessment 5.2.1 Principles of Risk Assessment 5.2.2 Risk Assessment Guidelines 5.3 Role of Environmental Impact Assessment 5.4 Socio-economic, Ethical, Cultural and Other Considerations 5.5 Monitoring and Enforcement Section 6. Access to Information Section 7. Public Participation Section 8. Capacity Building and Financial Resources Section 9. Remedies Section 10. Review Section 11. Legislation

alien species particularly on forestry species is still in its early stage because of very limited qualified staff, low budget/finances, inadequate research information and database, lax implementation of legislation, regulation and administrative orders and the low level of people’s awareness on the negative impacts of IAS. The Philippines must seriously tackle the crucial problems and issues related to IAS before these IAS create havoc and make major economic, social, and environmental impacts in the Philippines. References Baguinon, N.T; M.O. Quimado; and G.J. Francisco, 2003. Country Report on Forest Invasive Species in the Philippines. Paper presented at the AsiaPacific Forest Species Conference held on 17-23 August 2003 at Yunan, China DENR-PAWB. Developing the National Biosafety Framework for the Philippines. 2004. Department of Environment and Natural Resources– Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. p.146. San Valentin, H. 2001. Insect pests of forest plantations: Present and future possible problems. Paper presented during the Seminar workshop on biodiversity and management of alien invasive species in the Philippines. RCBC/DENR/EU Quezon City, Philippines, 22-23 May 2003.



Managing Invasive Alien Species and Protecting Indigenous Species in Thailand



tudies show that there are more than 3,500 alien species in Thailand. Most of these species provide benefits and few are considered invasive. On record there are around 274 invasive species in the country. Studies and surveys on exotic species in all ecosystem types in Thailand began in 1995. In 2006, a Working Group on Invasive Alien Species was set up to address concerns on invasive alien species (IAS). Measures to manage IAS are currently incorporated into Strategy III (Reduce threats to biological diversity) of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2012. The Working Group currently undertakes the following: • Study current rules and all related regulations – including the Plant Protection Act BE.2507, the Animal Epidemics Act BE.2499, and regulations by the Biosafety Committee of the Fisheries Department, • Evaluate national mechanisms to address invasive alien species, and • Develop measures to control invasive alien species and protect indigenous species A draft national measure on the protection of indigenous species and the control and eradication of alien species has already been developed. It defines and provides standards for the identification of invasive alien species, and provides a list of species that require protection as well as those that should be controlled and eradicated due to their adverse impacts on the local environment. The draft measure is currently awaiting approval from the Cabinet. After its approval, all levels of related government agencies should define or set up an appropriate work plan or activities to implement that measure. The draft measure also provides information on the following:

Rosy Wolf Snail

1. Management of alien species, 2. Observation and monitoring of alien species, 3. Supporting studies and researches on alien species, and 4. Strategies for information dissemination, education and raising of public awareness on alien species. Invasive alien species in Thailand have been categorized as follows: • Invasive alien species (82), • Nearly invasive species (52), • Invasive alien species in neighboring countries but have yet to invade Thailand (49), and • Invasive alien species that are banned entry into Thailand (91). Data and steps to manage the spread of invasive alien species in Thailand came from scientific databases, consultations with national experts, researchers and ecologists from related agencies, as well as other relevant institutions in the private sector.

* The article is from the presentation by Ms. Somawan Sukprasert at the “ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management” held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Viet Nam in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). Ms. Somawan Sukprasert is a staff of the Biological Diversity Division of the Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning, Thailand ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



Invasive Alien Species in Viet Nam: Their Impacts and Management *


nvasive alien species (IAS) became an emerging issue in Viet Nam in the mid-1990s and has become a threat not only to biodiversity but also to sustainable development and human health. Initial statistics reveal that there are 92 exotic plant species belonging to 31 families and 41 aquatic animal species currently found in the country and many of these have caused serious impacts on biodiversity and agriculture. Some dangerous IAS in Viet Nam include: • Mimosa (Mimosa pigra) • Golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) • Snails (Achatina fulica) • Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) • Lantana (Lantana camara) • Nutria (Myocastor coypus) • White butterfish (Piaractus mesopotamicus) • White-legged prawn (Litopaenaeus varanamei) • Ty ba fish (Hypostomis punctatus) • Red-eared turtle (Trachemys scripta) • Coconut-leaf eating insect (Brontispa longissima) • Pine caterpillar (Dendrolimus punctatus walker) There is a noticeable quantity of imported alien plants in Viet Nam. An inventory found about 94 species of 31 families. These account for about 0.77 percent of the total current natural species of plants in Viet Nam (12,000 species). In the list of invasive alien plants in the world, five have been found in Viet Nam: Imperata cylindrica, Mimosa pigra, Acacia holosericea, Eucalyptus urophylla, and Eichhornia crassipes. Out of the identified alien plants, the species seen as showing threats by competition to environment and biodiversity include the following: Mimosa pigra, Eucalyptus urophylla, Eichhornia crassipes, Lantana camara, Amaranthus spinosus, Ageratum conyzoiotes, Cyperus rotandus, Chromolaena odorata, Imperata cylindrica, and Pistia stratioles.

White butterfish

Red-eared turtle

In aquatic and marine mammals, there are 41 species of alien water animals in Viet Nam (Le Thiet Binh, 2005) that have been categorized as follows: • White List: 9 species (22 percent of the total alien water animals in Viet Nam) • Gray List: 18 species (44 percent of the total alien

* The article is from presentations on the Management of Invasive Alien Species in Viet Nam by Ms. Hoang Thanh Nhan, Ms. Tran Kim Tinh and Mr. Pham Quang Thu, and Forest invasive Species in Vietnam by Pham Quang Thu. The presentations were made at the ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management organized by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and held on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. 30



water animals in Viet Nam) • Black List: 14 species (34 percent of the total alien water animals in Viet Nam) Some of the species used to be found in Viet Nam but presently have been eliminated like the Cuba frog, Nutria (Myocastor coypus).

Impacts of invasive alien species The Viet Nam government annually invests millions of dollars to control the spread of IAS such as the golden apple snail and the coconut-leaf eating coleopteran due to economic impacts (such as damage to crops), environmental impacts (including pollution, epidemic diseases, and others) and impacts on biodiversity (reduction of genetic resources; degradation and loss of native species). Some examples of IAS impacts include the following: • The Spike Rush (Eleocharis spp) in Cham Trim National Park, which is the important habitat for the sarus crane (Grus antigone), has been gradually infested by Mimosa pigra, leading to the decline of the crane from 600-800 individuals in the mid-1990s to less than 100 individuals in 2003. • Due to the damage caused by the coconut-leaf eating coleopteran, the Vietnamese coconut industry lost an estimate of 3.5 million USD. • The government has to annually invest billions of Vietnamese dollars to control the spread of the golden apple snail. In the report of the Department of Plant Protection dated 26 December 2006, agricultural land area infested with golden apple snails in the whole country totalled to 242,663 hectares, of which 5,316 hectares showed a high density of infestation. In southern provinces, the infested area is recorded at 217,328 hectares (approximately equal to the infested area in 2005), of which 2,647 hectares showed a high density of infestation.

Management status of invasive alien species With the negative impacts of IAS on the country’s biodiversity, sustainable development and human health, the government of Viet Nam has carried out several initiatives including preventing the introduction of alien species, and controlling and eradicating invasive alien species. These issues have been mentioned in different policies and legal documents. Some researches and inventories on IAS have also been carried out. Two major ministries involved in IAS management are the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Some of the important policies on IAS management include the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2010–2020. The Plan indicates the need to strictly control and manage invasive alien species by making an inventory of IAS and

developing and implementing a strategy on the prevention and control of these species. Steps to monitor, evaluate and prevent IAS should be set in place, and relevant agencies must check and verify the breeds, species and genetic sources of imported organisms. IAS policy is also embedded in the Strategy of Environmental Protection in Viet Nam (2010 – 2020). The legal framework on IAS management is also included in the Biodiversity Law (2008) and Environment Law (2005). Some aspects of invasive alien species have also been partly mentioned in other laws such as the Law on Fisheries, Law on Forest Protection and Development, Ordinance on Plant Protection, Ordinance on Animal Protection, Ordinance on Plant Varieties, and Ordinance on Animal Breeds. Challenges to the management of IAS in Viet Nam include: • Lack of an orientation policy framework for IAS management at different levels, • Planning of prevention and control issues is not comprehensive and synchronized, • Legislation system has many drawbacks and inconsistencies, and legal documents are scattered among different agencies, • Management systems are incomplete with overlapping and unclear functions and responsibilities and weak coordination, and • Management capacity in IAS is limited, and not yet ready to meet the demand of socio-economic development.

Proposed scheme on IAS prevention and control The principles of the proposed scheme focus on the prevention, control and elimination of IAS balanced with the protection, conservation and sustainable development of biodiversity, environmental protection, human health, and sustainable development of the country. It should also mobilize local, national, and international resources for the prevention and control of IAS. The overall objective of the scheme is the prevention and control of IAS to protect biodiversity, promote conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, protect human health and well-being; ensure food security and social safety in order to contribute to economic and social development according to the country’s sustainable development program. Major tasks in the scheme include the following: • Prevention of the introduction and establishment of IAS. • Early detection, rapid assessment and rapid response to IAS introduction and establishment in Viet Nam. • Control, mitigation and elimination of IAS existing in Viet Nam.




• Restoration of high-value ecosystems degraded by impacts of IAS. • Improvement of the management capacity on IAS. Some of the identified measures that would help resolve IAS issues in Viet Nam are the following: • Improve the organizational structure system and management capacity on the control of IAS; • Apply scientific and technological solutions in addressing IAS issues; • Enhance the awareness active participation of the public in preventing, controlling and eliminating IAS; • Increase and diversify investment sources for IAS prevention and control; and • Promote international cooperation on IAS prevention and control.

Eupatorium adenophorum found north west of Viet Nam.

Implementation of the proposed IAS scheme will depend on the mobilization of relevant agencies including the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment; Agriculture and Rural Development; Health; Education and Training; Information and Communication; Science and Technology; and Finance. The participation of the police, provincial/municipal people’s authorities and other organizations, including non-government organizations and CBOs are crucial to the success of the IAS program.

Forest invasive species in Viet Nam The forest invasive species in Viet Nam include the following:

Mimosa diplotricha occupies forest lands

Table 1. Weeds and plants Species


Pennisetum polystachyon


Threat level National Forest plantations

Chromolaena odorata

South and Central America

National Forest plantations

Eupatorium adenophorum

Central America

National Forest plantations

Mimosa pigra

Mexico, South and central America

National Forest plantations

Mimosa diplotricha


National Forest plantations

Imperata cylindrica

Philippines, India

National Forest plantations

Lantana camara

Tropical America

National Forest plantations

Mikania micrantha

South and Central America

National Forest plantations



Table 2. Fungi Species


Threat level

Cylindrocladium quinqueseptatum


National; Host: Eucalyptus spp.

Cryptosporiopsis eucalypti


National; Host: Eucalyptus spp.

Cryphonectria cubensis


National; Host: Eucalyptus spp.

Kirramyces destructans

East Timor, Australia

National; Host: Eucalyptus spp.

Cercospora pini-densiflorae


National; Host: Pinus spp.

Spaeropsis sapinae

South Africa, USA

National; Host: Pinus spp.

Cronartium orientale


National; Host: Pinus kesiya

Hemileia vastatrix

National; Host: Coffea spp.

Bursaphelenchus sp.

Regional; Host: Pinus kesiya

Oidium heveae

Brazil, Cuba

National; Host: Hevea brasiliensis

The pathogen Cylindrocladium quinqueseptatum was found for the first time in Viet Nam in 1995. It caused great damage to eucalyptus in high rainfall areas especially in central and southeastern Viet Nam. Cryptosporiopsis eucalypti is another pathogen that was first discovered in Viet Nam in 1995. Since then it has been causing great damage to eucalyptus trees in the whole country. Cryphonectria cubensis/Chrysoporthe cubensis is another fungus associated with Eucalyptus spp. Kirramyces destructans is a disease that was found in the country for the first time in 2002. The fungus spread very fast and can be found all over Viet Nam.

Cylindrocladium quinqueseptatum

Kirramyces destructans

Pinus kesiya infected by Bursaphelenchus sp.




Table 3. Insects Species


Threat level

Dendrolimus punctatus


National; Host: Pinus spp.

Dasychira axutha


Regional; Host: Pinus massoniana

Diprion pini


National; Host: Pinus massoniana

Sarothrocera lowi


Regional; Host: Eucalyptus urophylla

Aristobia testudo

Regional; Hosts: E. camaldulensis

Trirachys bilobulartus

Regional; Host: Rhizophora apiculata

Celosterna pollinosa sunphurea


Regional; Host: Anisoptera apiculata

Leptocybe invasa


National; Host: Eucalyptus spp.

Quadrastichus erythrinae


National; Host: Erythrina variegata

Xylosandrus crassiusculus

Sub-tropical Asia

National; Host: Acacia mangium

Samples of pests that have invaded Viet Nam include: • Dasychira axutha – Outbreak of this pest was discovered for the first time in Viet Nam in 2005 and damaged thousands of hectares of forest. Its distribution is only in the North (near the Chinese-Vietnamese border). Its host tree is Pinus massoniana.


• Dendrolimus punctatus – This pest was found for the first time in Viet Nam in the 1970s. Outbreaks have occurred every two or three years, and each time with tens of thousands of hectares damaged. The host tree is Pinus spp. • Diprion pini – Outbreaks have occurred every two or three years. The host tree is Pinus massoniana. • Aristobia testudo – This stem borer has attacked E.

Dasychira axutha

Diprion pini

Dendrolimus punctatus

Aristobia testudo



Sarothocera lowi

Celosterna pollinosa sunphurea

• •

camaldulensis and E. tereticornis, and was found for the first time in 2002 in the Mekong delta only. Sarothocera lowi - The long-horned beetle damages Eucalyptus urophylla and was first recorded in 2008. Celosterna pollinosa sunphurea – First recorded in 2005, the long-horned beetle damages Anisoptera costata. Trirachys bilobulartus – The long-horned beetle damages Rhizophora apiculata and was first recorded in 2008. Quadrastichus erythrinae – The wasp is associated with Erythrina variegate and was first discovered in Viet Nam in 2006. Xylosandrus crassiusculus – The ambrosia beetle is associated with acacia hybrid and Acacia mangium and was first discovered in Viet Nam 2008.

There are several key challenges in addressing forest invasive species (FIS) in Viet Nam, which include the lack of professional staff on FIS. Funds are also scarce, and these are necessary to systematically survey forest pests in the whole country. Biological studies of forest pests are rare, resulting in difficulty in forecasting and pest management. There is a need to raise awareness of the dangers of IAS among stakeholders and frontliners, such as protected area managers and staff, customs officials, and police, so that they can immediately identify IAS at entry points. The general public must also be more aware of the dangers of species introduction since some people release pets into the wild or these pets escape from their homes,

Xylosandrus crassiusculus

and then become invasive in new habitats. Forest pest research collaboration in regional and international level is also limited and this adds to challenges in dealing with IAS across borders. The following action plans have been developed to address mounting concerns over IAS: 1. Build capacity of professional staff through training, workshops and participation in forest pest surveillance projects. 2. Strengthen collaboration between research institutions and management agencies to build institutional framework from the central level to the provincial level in the surveillance and monitoring of FIS 3. Identify research priorities for FIS; first of all, serious and potential FIS should be listed and their impacts also identified. 4. Provide obtained information on FIS to management agencies to issue appropriate policies and to reform quarantine orders. 5. Promote regional and international cooperation for exchange of information, collaborative research and professional trainings 6. Apply advanced methodology in investigating and monitoring FIS Ms. Hoang Thanh Nhan, Ms. Tran Kim Tinh and Mr. Pham Quang Thu are from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam Environment Administration. Pham Quang Thu is from the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam.





JANITOR FISH Potential benefits from the dreaded fish


an there ever be any benefit derived from organisms categorized as invasive alien species (IAS)? Their very name suggests that they can cause great damage to the environment and people’s livelihood and health, to the point that their very entry into a new ecosystem is cause for alarm. In areas where these species have established themselves, can society derive benefits from IAS as part of a program for their eventual eradication? This is a question that has been applied to the janitor fish in the Philippines.



SPECIAL REPORTS There are two species of janitor fish, also known as sucker mouth or sailfin catfish, in the Philippines: Pterygoplichthys pardalis found in the Marikina River and Lake Paitan in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija; and the Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus found in Laguna de Bay. Considered a major nuisance in these areas, this South American aquarium catfish was introduced in the country possibly by hobbyists. They have since escaped into local freshwaters and seriously threatened the livelihood of local fishermen. In its natural habitat, the janitor fish feeds on tadpoles and insects. Locally, they are voracious algae eaters, and thus displace native species when they compete for algae and detritus (organic matter) on the bottom. When it breeds, the janitor fish builds nests in mud banks and thus contribute to water turbidity. This also causes the erosion of riverbanks. Its bone structure can damage aquaculture structures and gill nets used by fishermen. The uncontrolled proliferation of this invasive species poses a

threat to the livelihood of thousands of small-scale fishing families, and also to the biodiversity of lakes and rivers.

Potential uses of janitor fish Several studies have been initiated to control their rising population in

Laguna de Bay and the Marikina River. In Laguna de Bay, growing concern for the fate of the aquaculture and fishing industry led to the development of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) project to determine economic benefits from the janitor fish. Funded by the World Bank, the project aims to control the species’ invasiveness while providing additional income to the local fisherfolk. The premise is to use the janitor fish as an ingredient of feeds for pig and poultry. Specifically, the project aimed to address the invasiveness of the janitor fish by reducing its impacts on the local ecosystem; establish the viability of processing the fish into fish meal and using it as basic raw material for fish and livestock or animal feed and

p r o mote i t s utilization as such among the fish farmers, hog raisers or feed millers in the region; and help create the conditions where marginalized fishermen and backyard scale hog raisers can continue to undertake livelihood activities in a sustainable manner. The project paid fisherfolk PhP10 per kilogram of the janitor fish, which is converted into fishmeal for pig feed by a cooperative in Siniloan, Laguna. Scientists then studied the viability of using janitor fish meal as feeds for hogs and

broilers by conducting chemical analyses on the developed fish meal and their impacts on livestock. The project yielded the following results: 1. Nutrient-wise, laboratory analyses showed that the processed janitor fish meal can be an alternative source of protein. 2. Field experiments evaluating the effects of feeding janitor fish meal to chickens and pigs showed that its inclusion in the diet of both the animals improved their growth.

3. The use of janitor fish meal is very much comparable with the use of commercial feeds since livestock producers may earn roughly the same income from both types of feeds. 4. The most beneficial use for the janitor fish is as fish meal, but it can also be used as organic fertilizer, bio-fuel, leather, fish silage. Silage is fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to cud-chewing animals like cattle and sheep, or used as a bio-fuel feedstock. In Marikina, the city government also has an ongoing campaign to rid the river of the janitor fish. Some experiments have involved using the skin of the janitor fish as leather for wallets, watch straps, billfolds, and key chains. Skin from the fish’s belly can be cooked and tanned to make various leather products or embellishments. Its potential use as leather is great though a more efficient production process has to be developed. Oil has also been extracted from janitor fish, which raises the possibility of its use as bio-fuel. Perhaps the easiest way to eradicate janitor fish would be to eat them, particularly in the Philippines where fish ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



figures prominently in the local diet. The janitor fish in Laguna de Bay has been declared safe for human consumption by the LLDA and do not contain toxic levels of heavy metals. Though edible, local residents however do not want to eat janitor fish because their current habitats are heavily polluted. In South America, where the janitor fish originates, locals usually gut the janitor fish and grill them whole or use the fish to make soup.

Managing the janitor fish population Based on the results, the LLDA project has recommended that janitor fish collection activities be sustained; a modest budget by concerned agencies 38

be allocated; and activities to reduce the janitor fish population be funded. Since janitor fish can be used a substrate for fish meal, concerned agencies may consider promoting its utilization and encourage feed manufacturers to use janitor fish meal as an alternative protein source and ingredient for animal feeds. Also, since janitor fish breeds and grows quickly, scientists suggest that the best way to reduce its population is by catching the adults through grill nets or traps at their nesting sites. Other livelihood opportunities may be explored and refined in the years to come. However, it is necessary that further studies on the janitor fish be conducted to effectively address their impacts on livelihood and biodiversity,


and prevent their introduction in other areas. A comprehensive bio-ecological research should be conducted so that a realistic plan to eradicate the janitor fish or control its proliferation in the Philippines may be formulated and implemented. References Alve, Kristine L. 2007. More Ways to Skin the ‘Pest.’ Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 May 2007. Cariño III, Jose K. 2009. Benefiting from the Dreaded Janitor Fish. Paper presented during the Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS), SEARCA, Los Banos, Laguna, held on 13 January 2009. Laguna Lake Development Authority. Guerrero III, Rafael D. Fresh Look on the “Janitor Fish”. S&T Post. PCAMRD (http://www. Fresh%20look%20on%20the_janitor%20fish_ pg33a.htm)



MIMOSA PIGRA What is Mimosa pigra? he shrub Mimosa pigra is invasive, especially in parts of Southeast Asia and Australia. It reproduces through buoyant seed pods that can be spread long distances in flood waters. Mimosa pigra has the potential to spread and convert natural grassland floodplain ecosystems and pastures into unproductive scrubland, which are only able to sustain lower levels of biodiversity. Mimosa pigra favors a wet-dry tropical climate and grows in open, moist sites such as floodplains, coastal plains and river banks, agricultural areas, natural forests, planted forests, range/grasslands, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, and water courses.




SPECIAL REPORTS When mature, Mimosa pigra is an erect, much branched prickly shrub reaching a height of three to six meters. Stems are greenish at first but become woody, growing up to three meters long, and have randomly scattered, slightly curved prickles. Leaves are bright green, 20 to 25 centimeters long, and consist of about 15 pairs of opposite primary segments with narrow leaflets that fold together when touched or injured, and at night. The flowers are pink or mauve, small, regular and grouped into globular heads that are one centimeter to two centimeters in diameter. The heads are borne on stalks that are two centimeters to three centimeters long. The fruit is a thick hairy, 20-25 seeded, flattened pod borne in groups in the leaf axils. The fruit turns brown when mature, breaking into one-seeded segments. Mimosa pigra is more likely to colonize and eventually cause problems in disturbed areas. This is because Mimosa pigra seeds have the ability to establish rapidly on bare soils, which lack competitive pressures imposed by other seedlings. The species does not appear to prefer any soil type, but is found most commonly in soils ranging from black cracking clays to sandy clays to coarse siliceous river sand. Mimosa pigra is native to tropical America where it can be found from Mexico through Central America to northern Argentina. It is a serious intro-


duced weed in Africa, Asia, some Pacific islands, and Australia.

General impacts Mimosa pigra has the potential to harm a wide range of ecosystems and damage various industries. If large infestations occur on farmland, Mimosa pigra may reduce the area of grazing land. If livestock on certain farms are reliant on natural water sources for drinking, their access to water may be blocked, thus affecting meat production and livelihoods of farmers. Mimosa pigra may reduce water flow and increase siltation since it favors the edges of water courses. This may threaten the sustainability of reservoirs, canals and any associated livelihoods. The shrub may also interfere with the cultivation of other economically-important plants. For example, it can cause a decrease in the production of palm oil since Mimosa pigra may compete with young palm trees in immature oil palm plantations. Use(s)


In Thailand, Mimosa pigra blocks irrigation systems that supply rice fields, reducing crop yield and harming farming livelihoods. This also encouraged increases in the numbers of rats and crabs that damage crops. In Viet Nam, it is typically found along the edges of both natural and manmade water bodies and along roadsides. It has also invaded unique ecosystems in protected areas, threatening the biodiversity of seasonally flooded grasslands. Mimosa pigra may also cause problems in other industries such as power generation since it may grow along power poles on roadsides. It may endanger drivers since the plant can block road signs and thus increase the potential for traffic accidents.

Mimosa pigra management in the Lower Mekong Basin In the lower Mekong Basin, Mimosa pigra invades wetlands, freshwaCambodia

Feeds for goats X

Mushroom cultivation (ear wood)


Vietnam X


Dye for fishnets (mixed with buffalo blood)





ter systems and public lands. It spreads primarily through water flows and the transportation of sand and soil for construction. The spread of the shrub has severe impacts on human livelihood since it affects rice fields, thus increasing the cost of rice production and possibly lead to the loss of farm lands. Mimosa pigra also disturbs fishing activities and affects water-based transportation. Mimosa pigra does have some benefits, and has been used by people in the Mekong Basin as feed for goats, firewood, for mushroom cultivation, and dye (when mixed with buffalo blood)

for fishnets. The University Network for Wetland Research and Training in the Mekong Region provides capacity building activities to deal with the spread of Mimosa pigra. The network was established in May 2003 with 14 universities from six countries in Southeast Asia, namely: 1. Royal University of Agriculture (Cambodia) 2. Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambodia) 3. National University of Laos (Lao PDR) 4. Champasak University (Lao PDR)

5. Mahidol University (Thailand) 6. Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) 7. Mahasarakham University (Thailand) 8. Konkern University (Thailand) 9. An Giang University (Viet Nam) 10. Can Tho University (Viet Nam) 11. Nong Lam University (Viet Nam) 12. Vietnam National University (Viet Nam) 13. University Saint Malaysia (Malaysia) 14. Yezin Agricultural University (Myanmar) Each university in the network focuses on a particular area in the Lower Mekong Basin to conduct studies on the management of Mimosa pigra. Training activities have focused on field survey and mapping; determining density and biomass; develoing a soil seed bank; studying impacts on biodiversity and human livelihood, as well as controlling methods. References Duong Van Ni and Tran Triet. 2008. “Mimosa pigra Management in the Lower Mekong Basin: A Regional Cooperation” presented at the “ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management” on 17-18 December 2008 in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam and ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Global Invasive Species Database. Ecology of Mimosa pigra ( asp?si=41&fr=1&sts=sss&lang=EN)

Mimosa pigra used as feeds for goats and for mushroom culture. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY




Gunung Leuser National Park


he Indonesia island of Sumatra contains some of the country’s last great forest wilderness. The core of this is contained within the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, which spans the Barisan Range of mountains and includes three major national parks: Bukit Barisan Selatan, Kerinci-Seblat and Gunung Leuser.



PROFILES Established in 1980, Gunung Leuser National Park is located in the north of Sumatra. It covers 950,000 hectares (7,927 square kilometers) and is one of Indonesia’s largest national parks. The Park encompasses what used to be a number of much smaller nature reserves: Nature Reserve Gunung Leuser, Nature Reserve Kappi, Nature Reserve Kluet, Sikundur Langkat Wildlife Reserve, Ketambe Research Station, Singkil Barat and Dolok Sembilin. Most parts of the National Park lie in the region of Aceh Tenggara (Southeast Aceh). Other parts are situated in the region of east Aceh, south Aceh, and Langkat (a part of North Sumatra). The Park comprises more than 100 kilometers of the Bukit Barisan Mountains. As a result, the Park consists of steep, almost inaccessible mountainous terrain, with altitudes that range from 0 meters in Kluet (South Aceh), to 3,381 meters on top of Gunung Leuser (Southeast Aceh), after which the Park is named. The Alas River cuts the Park into an eastern and western half. The Gunung Lesuer National Park is particularly significant for conservation since it is the last place where orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and leopards live together.

Habitats The National Park protects a wide range of ecosystems, such as beach forest, swamp areas, lowland rainforest, alpine and mountain forest.

Wildlife Among the 10,000 plant species recorded in the West Indo Malayan Region, approximately

8,000 can be found in the Gunung Leuser ecosystem. Among these are giant trees, palms, flowers, orchids, mangrove trees, and fruit trees such as mango, rambutan, banana, durian, wild figs, and citrus. Spectacular species include rafflesia, which has the largest flower in the world, and amorphophallus, which has the tallest. There are also graceful bamboos that grow up to 18 meters.

Mammals There are around 200 species of mammals in the Park, including the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros, elephant, clouded leopard, marbled cat, Temminck’s golden cat, red giant flying squirrel, Sumatran serow, sambar deer and sun bear. It is believed to contain around 300 elephants, 110 tigers and 40 rhinoceros but the chances of seeing one of these is slim. An estimated 5,000 orangutan can be found in the Park. Other primates like the white-breasted Thomas leaf monkey, siamang, gibbon and several species of macaques are common all over the area.

Birds Among the trees and flowers live more than 300 species of birds, including 21 endemics such as the Sumatran ground cuckoo and Sumatran cochoa. Birds are particularly common along the Alas River, and different species include hornbills (such as the Asian pied hornbill and rhinoceros hornbill), pheasants (e.g. argus pheasant), parrots (like the blue-crowned hanging parrot), eagles (such as the white-bellied sea eagle), kingfishers, and bee-eaters. There are more varieties but the dense vegetation makes it difficult to watch them.




White-breasted Thomas leaf monkey


Reptiles and amphibians Both groups are highly represented, with estimates of up to 194 reptiles and amphibians in the Park. Among the most famous are several species of pythons, the king cobra, black cobra, krait, tree snakes, as well as many species of frogs, turtles, and lizards. These include the swamp crocodile, estuarine crocodile, flying frog, flying snake, common flying lizard, hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle, and water monitor.

Threats Sumatra has a large and growing human population and hundreds of villages often surround or even lie within remaining forests and national parks. This presents a challenge to park managers as they balance the need to protect natural habitats and wildlife while respecting the rights and livelihoods of local people. Currently, the greatest threat to the wildlife and wildlands of Gunung Leuser National Park is forest clearance, typically through small-scale 44



agricultural encroachments, often for coffee growing. Illegal logging is extremely rampant on the island, within and outside protected areas. An estimated 4,000 hectares of forest across Sumatra is damaged or removed each day. As the forest is removed, flooding occurs and becomes widespread. Illegal unsustainable hunting is another major threat, as tiger and rhinoceros poaching activities continue. These activities have severe implications on the survival of various species. In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has rated Indonesia as a country whose endangered species are under threat of extinction.

Conservation programmes A number of organizations have conservation projects or activities in the Park as well as its associated ecosystems. The Leuser International Foundation, for example, strives to support the protection and conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem, even beyond the confines of the National Park. The LIF promotes sustainable development

PROFILES solutions that provide benefits to local communities and maintain the region’s natural biodiversity and original landscapes. In areas where environmental degradation has occurred, LIF aims to curtail destructive activities, and through land rehabilitation, restore the life-supporting ecological functions of the region. The Foundation was established in 1994 and its senior members are respected leaders from Aceh and North Sumatra. The LIF has a 30-year mandate through Presidential Decree (Kepres 33/1998) to implement the management of the Leuser Ecosystem and ensure that environmental services are maintained for the benefit of the populations that live around it. The major objectives of the organization include the following: 1. Secure the legal acknowledgement of the Leuser Ecosystem. Recognizing that the wealth of biodiversity goes beyond the Gunung Leuser National Park, the LIF has worked with Park staff and other agencies in gaining recognition for an area that is now three times the size of the Park. Known as the Leuser Ecosystem, the site is now fully backed by several legal instruments including two ministerial decrees, one presidential decree and a draft Government Regulation. 2. Support the process of zonation of the Leuser Ecosystem. A zoning system that includes a core conservation area and buffer zones will be drawn up through a bottom-up process with the full involvement of government and non-government organizations at the local level. 3. Win broad based support for the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem. Winning the support of local communities is a complicated process but is essential to the successful conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem. 4. Slow down the rate of destruction and reverse the damage to the Leuser Ecosystem. Extraordinary gains have already been made in preventing the worst abuses inside the Leuser Ecosystem, resulting in the reduction of illegal logging, and prevention of many inappropriate infrastructure plans, such as irrigation schemes and road networks that would have caused habitat fragmentation. 5. Prevent the extinction of key species of flora and fauna. LIF projects also help sustain endangered species in the Park, particularly the Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants and orangutans, which require

large areas of lowland rainforest to survive. Regular patrols and other activities by LIS have helped keep habitats intact and saved these and many other species from extinction. One project of LIF is the Aceh Forest and Environment Project (AFEP) that was developed in 2004 to maintain the life-supporting ecological support systems of the Leuser Ecosystem for millions of Achenese. AFEP aims to ensure that environmental concerns are integrated into Aceh’s planning and reconstruction processes. AFEP activities are funded by a grant from the Multi Donor Fund (MDF) totaling US$ 9.81 million. The project will run for a period of 4.5 years, ending in December 2010. The primary objectives of AFEP are to:

Sumatran rhinoceros

1. mitigate the negative environmental impacts of reconstruction activities on Aceh’s forests; 2. improve the livelihoods of millions of Acehnese by ensuring that forest ecosystem services are maintained, and support Aceh’s future social and economic development; 3. build the capacities of Government forest management institutions; and 4. develop the basis for a conservation economy through sustainable financing solutions. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Indonesia has a major project centered on the UNESCO Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, which includes the Gunung Lesuer ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


PROFILES National Park. WCS Indonesia has worked for many years in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, with activities ranging from small-scale research to a broad landscape-scale programme, addressing conservation needs through collaborative management and improved development planning, and supported by research, capacity building, law enforcement, education and awareness. As the project develops, the lessons learned are being taken to Kerinci-Seblat and Gunung Leuser National Parks with the vision of achieving a common management strategy for the entire heritage site, backed by a network of information and resource sharing. Within its boundaries, the Park also supports research stations and reserves such as the Orangutan Rehabilitation at Bohorok-Bukit Lawang that rehabilitates captive orangutans and rein-


troduces them back into the wild. The Ketambe research station, on the other hand, is restricted to scientists working on conserving species diversity in the Park.

Other interests Many mountain climbers and trekkers flock to the Park due to its mountain ranges that offer some great trekking opportunities, namely: Gunung Leuser (3,404 meters), Gunung Kemiri (3,414 meters) Gunung Simpali (3,270 meters) and Gunung Perkinson (2,828 meters). Trekking into Gunung Leuser can be arranged at two locations - Bukit Lawang and Kutacane/Ketembe. Tourists can also go rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. Camping is encouraged for serious mountain climbers, hikers, families and student 46


groups. Caving enthusiasts will have a great time exploring caves and other geological structures within the Park. The extensive wildlife also offers beautiful sights for photographers and bird watchers. Visitors can also go to Tengkahan, which has elephants and guided jungle treks. Fewer buses go to Tengkahan than Bukit Lawang, so conditions are rougher and rides are longer. Travelers will have to take a two hour-ride by motorbike to Tengkahan from Bukit Lawang since there is no direct bus service between the two areas.

Visiting Gunung Leuser National Park The best time to visit Gunung Leuser National Park is from June to October. Before entering the Park, visitors need to get permits at the Park management offices at both Bukit Lawang and Kutacane. The airport nearest the Park is found in Medan while Kutacane is the nearest town. The Park is most easily accessible from Medan, where travelers can take a bus to either Kutacane or Bohorok-Bukit Lawang. The 233-kilometer ride from Medan to Kutacane goes through Brastagi and Kabanjahe and takes five to six hours. There are also regular and faster mini-bus services between Medan and Kutacane. Mini-buses can be found at the Pinang Baris bus terminal in Medan. From Kutacane, mini-buses serve the Lawe Gurah Tourist Park, about 43 kilometers from Kutacane, and from there one can enter the Gunung Leuser National Park. Visitors can also access Gunung Leuser National Park by taking a bus to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Bohorok-Bukit Lawang. These buses leave the Pinang Baris bus terminal in Medan several times a day and will take passengers to Bukit Lawang in a few hours. Others can also choose to take a bus to Binjai (22 kilometers from Medan), and from there take a bus to Bukit Lawang. From the south, tourists can reach Bohorok-Bukit Lawang with a bus ride from Brastagi. References Indonesia Tourism. Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Indonesia ( ( Rainforest Lodges ( html) Sumatra Travel ( gunungleuser.htm) Sumatran Tiger Reserves and National Parks (http://www.lairweb. World Conservation Society ( globalconservation/Asia/Indonesia/trhs) World Wildlife Adventures ( com/indonesia/wildlife-park.asp?sanctuary=Gunung+Leuser+Nati onal+Park&state=Aceh+and+North+Sumatra+Provinces)




Wild elephant


The eastern side of the lake is a mountainous terrain that rises up to 1,175 meters. The hill to the west and north are more extensive and reaches up to 1,500 meters. Local inhabitants believe that a powerful spirit, known as the Dragon, protects the Lake.

and brahminy kite. A survey led by BirdLife International in 2004 also recorded eight globally threatened bird species, five globally near-threatened species, as well as two new bird species for Myanmar. A total of 64 species of fish have been recorded in the Lake basin. Three of these species are endemic to Myanmar, including the catfish (Akysis prashadi).

Habitats Moist upper mixed deciduous and semievergreen forests on the mountainous terrain dominate the Sanctuary. The Lake habitats include open water, herbaceous marsh, floating mats, limited emerged beds and extensive area of submerged macrophytes.

Wildlife As a major wetland, the water hyacinth, known locally as baeda, is fairly common. Fauna species that have been recorded to inhabit the forests surrounding the lake include the wild elephant, leopard, bear, serow, gaur, banteng, red goral, gibbon, macaque, sambar deer, barking deer, wild dog, golden jackal, wild boar, hog badger, and civet. Aside from waterbirds, around 326 forest bird species have also been observed. Considered a bird watcher’s paradise, the Sanctuary is home to hundreds of ruddy shelduck, bar-headed goose, greyleg goose, northern shoveler, tufted duck, common crane and brown-headed gull. Many rare species can also be found, including the red-crested pochard, grey-headed lapwing, sarus crane, lesser adjutant, black-necked stork, woolly-necked stork, white-rumped vulture, slender-billed vulture, blue-bearded bee-eater 48


Threats Although Indawgyi Lake is a Wildlife Sanctuary, human settlements are present and local activities may prove detrimental to the ecosystem. Agricultural areas can be found along most of the southern half of the wetland, and unregulated fishing occurs throughout the Lake. Further disturbance to the wetland results from the activities of rattan collectors and hunters. Gold mining is also polluting smaller tributaries.

Conservation programmes In 2004, a joint team comprising personnel from the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, BirdLife International in Indochina and organized by Wildbird Adventure Travels and Tours, undertook a survey of wetlands in the northern Kachin State as part of the Darwin Initiative-funded project entitled “Building Constituencies for Site-based Conservation in Myanmar”. The project aimed at identifying Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and focused on attempting to


Green peafowl

rediscover the pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryphyllacea), which was last sighted in Myanmar in 1910. The project team, joined by staff from the Wildlife and Conservation Division of the Forest Department, surveyed Indawgi Lake, which supports vast numbers of waterfowl. During the survey, the team had a possible and unconfirmed sighting of a pink-headed duck and recorded eight other globally threatened bird species including the green peafowl (Pavo muticus), white-winged duck (Cairina scutulata), masked finfoot (Heliopais personata), greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga), white rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuriostris), spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), and lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus). The expedition also recorded five (5) globally near-threatened species comprising ferruginous pochard (Aythya nyroca), great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), lesser fish eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis), grey-headed fish eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus), black-necked stork (Ephippiorynchus asiaticus), plus two new species for Myanmar, the Himalayan griffon vulture (Gyps himalayensis) and chestnut-crowned bush warbler (Cettia major). The survey is part of a bigger project within Myanmar to identify important bird areas, capacitate relevant government agencies and local conservation organizations to protect and manage wilderness areas, and create information materials to strengthen public awareness as well as mobilize support for conservation activities. The project also hopes to encourage ecotourism activities to gener-

ate funding support for conservation and provide alternative livelihoods to local communities.

Other interests Visits to the wildlife sanctuary present wonderful opportunities to relax and reconnect with nature. Travelers can view the wildlife and walk through the lush forest. They can also study butterflies and the different flora. Bird watching is very popular due to the extensive number of bird species around the Lake. Visitors may also participate or view traditional fishing practices, or pass through the historically famous Shwe Myint Zu Pagoda that is situated on the western side of the Lake.

Visiting the Wildlife Sanctuary The Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Moenyin Township, Kachin State, in the northern part of Myanmar. Hoepin is the closest town to Indawgyi Lake and is accessible by car from Myitgyina as well as by plane from Yangon or Mandalay. From there, one can take a car to travel the 23.8-kilometer distance to Hoepin. The best time to visit is from the middle of October to May. References Eames, Jonathan C. and U. Uga. 2005. Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species: Building constituencies for sitebased conservation in Myanmar, Annual Report 2004/2005. BirdLife International and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA). United Kingdom. Myanmar Travel Information 2008 (http://myanmartravel Trek Thailand ( indawgyi/)





Khakaborazi National Park


irst established as a forest reserve in 1996, Khakaborazi National Park was declared a National Park in 1998. It occupies an area of 1,472 square miles and is located in Putao distrist in Kachin State, in the northernmost part of Myanmar. It features Mount Khakaborazi, which at over 19,000 feet is the highest mountain in Myanmar. Formed with mountain ranges, waterfalls, rapid streams and ravines, it is the largest natural park in Myanmar. Khakaborazi is the natural habitat of numerous species of wildlife, including some rare birds and animals, and is a perfect haven for the nature lover and wildlife enthusiasts. It is also the home of the rare “black orchid”. 50



Suspension bridge

Habitats Dominant forests and vegetation types include evergreen forests, hill pine forests, and moist upper mixed deciduous forests. The region also contains the headwaters of the country’s most important river system, the Ayeyawady, which drains vast expanses of agricultural lands and helps sustain extensive rice production.

Wildlife Rare mammal species include takin, musk deer, blue sheep, black barking deer and phet gyi (Muntiaus putaoensis). One of the main attractions found in this region are the beautiful, colorful and rare species of butterflies. The beautiful yellow and black Papilionidae butterflies, the bright orange colored Pieridae and yellowish brown ones with black and white spots on their bodies, the Nymphalid butterflies, are all rare butterfly species, but commonly found in the Putao region. Although rare around the world, black orchids can be found in the Park. The black orchid (Paphiopedium wardii) is systematically grown in a garden at the Khakaborazi National Park Exhibition Centre. Other rare orchid species found in Kachin State such as Cymbidium, Pleione maculata and Dendrobium nobile can be examined in the garden.

Papilionidae butterfly

Threats The greatest threats to wildlife are hunting for trade, habitat destruction through shifting cultivation, a proposed mining concession, and

Dendrobium nobile ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


PROFILES over-extraction of forest products. Many village residents hunt wildlife and trade them for basic household items or cash. However, species are also heavily hunted for trade across the border. Over-harvesting of non-timber forest products occurs as well. Population growth and agricultural expansion have spurred extensive shifting cultivation that has resulted in degraded forest patches. A proposed mining concession poses a major threat to the viability of the ecosystem in the area, particularly since the proposed lease will last 20 years.

Conservation programmes The Khakaborazi National Park was established to conserve natural forests and wildlife in the northen part of Myanmar, following international standards and policies in environmental conservation. Some of its specific objectives are to promote ecotourism in the region, and conserve watersheds in the area where the Ayeyawady River originates. Conservation, development and research programs have been developed to protect habitats and species within the Park. These focus on actions against poaching and illegal trade of rare species; field studies to study new plant and animal species; research and field studies to

better promote and implement ecotourism in the park; and the conservation of traditional culture, customs and way of life of the indigenous people. The Park remains an excellent center for field study for students of botany, geology, zoology and geography. The extraordinarily rich flora and fauna in the Park however have barely been studied and still await proper research and identification.

Other interests There are plenty of opportunities for education and recreation in the National Park. The black orchid and the rare butterflies are among the extraordinary flora and fauna attractions. Many international experts have visited Khakaborazi to study the rare butterflies. Orchid enthusiasts and biologists can also see rare orchids planted in the botanical garden. Climbing Mount Khakaborazi and other mountain ranges is one of the challenging activities that visitors can do in the Park. They may also explore the Ayeyawady River and its headwaters. A visit to the Park will also provide insights into the traditional culture and customs of the Kachin hill tribes such as the Rawang, Lisu and Tibet – Myanmar. The Khakaborazi National Park Exhibition Centre is another good place to visit. The Centre showcases the programmes and activities of park management and other features of the Park, including objectives, conservation tasks, achievements, measures for improving and maintaining ecotourism, significant natural environs of Kachin State, and other biodiversity values of the region. These are highlighted through numerous photographs and relevant maps of the area.

Visiting Khakaborazi National Park Visitors can fly to Yangon and travel to Myitkyina by car (920 miles or 1,472 kilometers) or by train (723 miles or 1,157 kilometers). From Myitkyina, they still need to travel by land to Putao (218 miles or 349 kilometers), and then go on to Naungmung (35 miles or 56 kilometers). References Adventurous Expeditions in Myanmar (http://www.myanmar. net/myanmar-expeditions/khakaborazi-park.htm) Madhu Rao, Arlyne Johnson, and Nora Bynum. Assessing Threats in Conservation Planning and Management. Wildlife ConservationSociety. Gold Backed Travel and Tours (http://www.goldbacked-lynn. com/ecotourism_khakaborazi.html) Golden Rock Travel and Tours ( Pages/EcoTours.html) Myanmar Travel Information 2008 (http://myanmartravel

Icy creek



Trek Thailand ( khakaborazi/)


Biodiversity Loss: The Forgotten Crisis


hen the sub-prime mortgage crisis hit the United States, fear of a deep and prolonged recession quickly spread across continents. Another panic attack ensued when the Melamine scare shook milk-importing countries. World attention is focused on the humanitarian implications of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Buried under these infamous issues and other problems such as terrorism, high crimes, and corruption is a less popular crisis with far greater implications than anyone can imagine – biodiversity loss. “We are losing plants, animals and other species at unprecedented rates due to deforestation, large-scale mining, massive wildlife hunting and other irresponsible human activities. Biodiversity loss is a significant threat to our food security, health, livelihood, and the world’s overall capacity to provide for our needs and those of future generations,” ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes said. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment published in 2005 reported that humans have increased extinction levels dramatically over the past decades at 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate. In Southeast Asia alone, 1,312 out of 64,800 species are endangered. “No one will argue that it is in the area of food security, perhaps more than any other, that the value of biodiversity value is most clear. Nature provides the plant and animal resources for food production and agricultural productivity. When we destroy biodiversity, we destroy our source of food,” Director Fuentes explained. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that out of more than 10,000 different plant species used for food by humans over the millennia, barely 150 species remain under cultivation. Of these, only 12 species provide 80 percent of the world’s food needs and only four – rice, wheat, maize and potatoes – provide more than half of human’s energy requirements. “What

happened to the other 9,850 species? If they have not been lost already, they are now vulnerable,” Director Fuentes said. The ongoing food crisis, he said, is testament to decades of misguided energy policies, extensive use of unsustainable agricultural practices, and wanton destruction of nature and damage to ecological services. Health is another arena where the natural benefits of a healthy biodiversity are most obvious. “The natural world holds the key to many medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs. If the world continues to lose around 13 million hectares of its forest cover every year, it would be difficult to develop better kinds of medicine to cure both existing and emerging illnesses. We have to remember that about 80 percent of the world’s known biodiversity, many of which have medicinal value, could be found in forests,” Director Fuentes said. Apart from providing people with food and medicine, nature also offers a wide range of ecosystem services such as

contribution to climate stability, maintenance of ecosystems, soil formation and protection, and pollution breakdown and absorption. Biodiversity is also a source of livelihood to millions as the economy of many communities is driven by the use of species in industries such as biotechnology, forestry, agriculture and fisheries. Moreover, biodiversity provides social benefits including recreation and tourism, as well as cultural and aesthetic values. “Forgetting the biodiversity crisis is therefore akin to cutting our lifeline to the world’s natural treasures. We at ACB wish to remind everyone that extinction is forever. And with every species lost, the natural ecosystems we call home become biologically poorer,” Director Fuentes underscored. The consensus to save the region’s thinning biodiversity moved the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with funding support from the European Union (EU), to establish the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC) project. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY




From 1999 to 2004, the project facilitated collaboration among ASEAN Member States for biodiversity-related initiatives. In 2005, the ASEAN and the EU agreed to establish the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity to carry on the work of the completed ARCBC project.


“It is the first regional initiative to save the ASEAN’s rich but highly threatened biodiversity,” Director Fuentes said. All ASEAN Member States are signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the first global agreement to cover the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use

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of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. By signing the Convention, they committed to reducing biodiversity loss by 2010 --- the International Year of Biodiversity. The ACB performs its mandate through programme development and policy coordination, human and institutional capacity development, biodiversity information management, and public and leadership awareness of biodiversity values. The Centre strengthens its efforts through alliances with key stakeholders in the regional and global levels. “There is an urgent need to involve all sectors to save the region’s endangered biodiversity. The issue may not be as hot as politics or the global financial crisis, but massive biodiversity loss will have a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of millions if left unsolved. Our biodiversity faces a bright future if all sectors would work together to conserve it,” Director Fuentes said.


Revisiting ASEAN Biodiversity Hotspots


s threats to biodiversity continue to mount, areas of the world that exemplify tremendous biodiversity but face massive negative impacts from various forces find themselves on a poignant list – the biodiversity hotspots. How do we decide which areas are priorities for conservation? In 1988, British ecologist Norman Myers developed the concept of ‘biodiversity hotspots’ to address the dilemma of identifying areas most important for preserving species. Many areas of global significance face tremendous pressure from logging, agriculture, hunting, and climate change, among others. The hotspots strategy emphasizes risks of species extinction, since species loss is irreversible. The strategy also emphasizes species endemism. Since these species can only be found in specific areas, the loss of such areas would be considered “irreplaceable”. Myers developed the hotspots concept with Conservation International (CI), which adopted the strategy in 1989. CI designated hotspots as regions that must support at least 1,500 plant species found nowhere else in the world, and they must have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat. The organization employs a dual conservation strategy that always prioritizes endemic-rich and high risk areas, while preemptively protecting equally unique places that are not yet under extreme threat. The CI has identified 34 biodiversity hotspots all over the world. These regions hold especially high numbers of endemic species, yet their combined area of remaining habitat covers only 2.3 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Each hotspot faces extreme threats and has already lost at least 70 percent of its original natural vegetation. Over 50 percent of the world’s plant species and 42 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to these areas. Four of these hotspots are in Southeast Asia: Indo-Burma, the Philippines, Sundaland and Wallacea.

SE ASIAN hotspots are getting hotter Scientists have long lauded the wealth of biodiversity found in the Southeast

Asian region. Occupying a mere three percent of the world’s surface, the region is home to 20 percent of all known plant, animal and marine species. The region includes three mega-diverse countries Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines; several bio-geographical units - Malesia, Wallacea, Sundaland, Indo-Burma, and the Central Indo-Pacific; and numerous centers of concentration of restrictedrange bird, plant and insect species. It also has one-third or 284,000 square kilometers of all coral reefs. Many of the region’s species are also biologically diverse from the rest of the world due to the unique geological history of Southeast Asia. However, various drivers of biodiversity loss continue to undermine the region’s natural environment. Out of 64,800 species found in the region, 1,312 are endangered due to deforestation; wildlife hunting for food, pets, and medicine; climate change; pollution; population growth; and other causes. Destruction of habitats will result in long-term impacts on ecosystem services, as well as lead to the extinction of valuable species. Biodiversity hotspots in Southeast Asia include the following:

Indo-Burma The Indo-Burma hotspot encompasses 2,373,000 square kilometers of tropical Asia. It contains the Lower Mekong catchment, and begins in eastern Bangladesh and then extends across north-eastern India, to encompass nearly all of Myanmar, part of southern and western Yunnan Province in China, all of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Vietnam, the vast majority of Thailand, and a small part of Pen-

insular Malaysia. The hotspot also covers the coastal lowlands of southern China, and several offshore islands. Some of the features of biodiversity richness in Indo-Burma include: • Around 13,500 vascular plant species, of which about 7,000 (52 percent) are endemic; • Over 1,260 bird species, of which more than 60 are endemic; • 430 mammal species, of which more than 70 species and seven genera are endemic; • 520 reptile species, of which 12 genera and over 200 species are endemic; • Highest diversity of freshwater turtles in the world with 53 species, representing one-fifth of the world’s species; • More than 280 amphibian species, over 150 of which are endemic; and • More than 1,260 documented freshwater fish species, or about 10 percent of the world’s freshwater fishes. More than 560 of these species are endemic.

Philippines The Philippines holds the distinction as the only country in the ASEAN identified as a biodiversity hotspot. Geological movements, tropical weather and once extensive forest cover of the country have conspired to develop high species diversity in some groups of organisms and a very high level of endemism. There are five major and at least five minor centers of endemism, from Luzon (with at least 31 endemic mammal species) to tiny Camiguin Island (at least two endemic mammal species). The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with 16 new species of mammals discovered in the last 10 years. Some features of the Philippines’ rich biodiversity include: • 9,250 vascular plant species, of which at least one-third are endemic; • More than 150 species of palms, of which around two-thirds are endemic; ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


BOOKMARKS • More than 2,000 species of orchids in Borneo; • Approximately 770 bird species, nearly 150 are endemic. Borneo supports nearly 30 endemic species. • More than 380 mammal species, over 170 are endemic. Borneo has the most endemic mammal species of any island in the hotspot, with over 25 species. • Over 450 species of reptiles, of which roughly 250 are endemic, including 24 genera;

• 1,000 species of orchids, with 70 percent endemic; • Over 530 bird species; of these, about 185 are endemic (35 percent) and over 60 are threatened; • At least 165 mammal species, with over 100 endemic species (61 per cent), one of the highest levels of mammal endemism in any hotspot; • 235 species of reptiles, of which some 160 are endemic (68 per cent); • Nearly 90 amphibian species, of which almost 85 percent are endemic; • More than 280 inland fish, including nine endemic genera and more than 65 endemic species, many of which are confined to single lakes; and • 21,000 recorded insect species, of which 70 percent are endemic.

Sundaland The Sundaland hotspot covers the western half of the Indo-Malayan archipelago, and is dominated by Borneo and Sumatra. It is bordered by three hotspots: Indo-Burma, on the northwest; Wallacea, on the east, and the Philippines, on the northeast. Samples of Sundaland’s unique and threatened biodiversity include: • About 25,000 species of vascular plants, of which 15,000 (60 percent) are endemic; • About 3,000 species of trees in Borneo, including more than 265 species of dipterocarps, of which 155 are endemic; 56

• •

• • • More than 240 species of amphibians, of which nearly 200 are endemic; and • About 1,000 known species of fish, of which about 200 species have only been discovered in the last decade. Borneo has about 430 species, of which more than 160 are endemic.

Wallacea Wallacea encompasses the central islands of Indonesia, east of Java, Bali, and Borneo, and west of the province of New Guinea, and the whole of Timor Leste. The hotspot occupies a total land area of 338,494 square kilometers including the large island of Sulawesi, the Moluccas, and the Lesser Sundas. Some features of the rich biodiversity of Wallacea include: • An estimated 10,000 species of vascular plants, with roughly 1,500 endemic species (15 per cent) and at least 12 endemic genera. There are about 500 endemic species on Sulawesi, 120 on the Lesser Sudas and 300 on the Moluccas. • About 650 regularly occurring bird species, of which roughly


265 (40 percent) are endemic. There are also 29 endemic genera. Sulawesi has the largest number of fauna, with 356 species, including 96 endemics. More than 220 mammal species, with around 125 endemics. Sulawesi has at least seven species of endemic macaques and at least five species of endemic tarsiers. More than 220 species of reptiles, of which nearly 100 are endemic. Nearly 50 amphibian species; more than 30 of these are endemic. More than 300 freshwater fish species, of which about 75 are endemic. Sulawesi alone has nearly 70 known fish species, and about three-quarters of these are endemic.

These four hotspots cut across a wide area of the region, and stress the significance of the region’s rich biodiversity, as well as the rapid rate of biodiversity loss caused by wide-ranging threats. According to Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), these biodiversity hotspots underline the need for a regional approach to biodiversity conservation to protect a common resource base. “The ASEAN environment is a shared heritage, and all Member States must work together to ensure greater success in reducing biodiversity loss and thus maximizing its benefits for the people of the region,” said Fuentes. References Conservation International ( National Geographic News (


Myanmar and ACB Strengthen Partnership


he Ministry of Forestry of Myanmar headed by its Minister, Brigadier General Thein Aung and other key ministry officials met with officials of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) on 08 January 2009 to strengthen cooperation efforts in conserving biodiversity. The ACB contingent led by Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes also consulted Myanmar’s forestry officials on the ongoing processes leading to the ratification of ACB’s Establishment Agreement by at least six ASEAN Member States. As of the January meeting, Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam have signed the Establishment Agreement. Director Fuentes explained that the enforcement of the Establishment Agreement would lead to the full recognition of ACB’s legal personality, enabling it to enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to an international organization. The Agreement will only enter into force upon the deposit of the sixth Instrument of Ratification with the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Apart from discussing the Establishment Agreement, the Ministry of Forestry and the ACB conducted a “National Consultation Workshop for the Preparation of the 4th National Report” on 09 January 2009 to assist Myanmar in preparing its report. Policymakers in the environment sector, planning officers, and scientists participated in the workshop co-organized by Myanmar’s National Commission for Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Forestry. “The workshop was held to consult with national level stakeholders of Myanmar on the identification and refinement of workable sets of information and policy-relevant biodiversity indicators meaningful in the context of the 2010 target,” Director Fuentes said. It also sought to share information on biodiversity status, specifically those on mainstreaming biodiversity into the sectoral and inter-sectoral policies and indicators used in the 4th National Report.

ACB Executive Directro Rodrigo U. Fuentes pays a courtesy visit on U Than Tun, Director-General of the ASEAN Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar.

Biodiversity indicators are information tools that summarize data on complex environmental issues to indicate the overall status and trends of biodiversity. These indicators can be used to assess national performance and to signal key issues to be addressed through policy interventions and other actions. Countries all over the world, including Myanmar, are working to achieve their commitment in reducing the current rate of plant, animal and marine species loss by 2010. The countries are preparing for the ASEAN 2010 Biodiversity Assessment Report that would show whether or not their conservation efforts are succeeding. The ACB assists ASEAN Member States in generating information needed for the Report through national consultation workshops. The national workshop served as a venue for Myanmar to consolidate its available information and to draft its country report which is expected to be submitted in 2009 to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The report will then be used in crafting the 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook Report. The 2010 Biodiversity Target was set in 2002 by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Target, endorsed by leaders at the World

Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and at the United Nations Summit in 2005, has been included in the Millennium Development Goals. The ACB officials’ visit to Myanmar further strengthened collaboration between ACB and Myanmar. For the past three years, Myanmar has been a partner of ACB in regional collaborative efforts in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Southeast Asia through ACB programmes that reflect the needs of ASEAN Member States, the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP), and the decisions by the ASEAN Ministers on Environment. Myanmar has participated in ACB workshops on management effectiveness assessment, protected areas management, biodiversity indicators, preparation of national biodiversity strategic action plans, and mainstreaming biodiversity. The thrusts and programmes of ACB have been developed through a consultative process at various levels that involved representatives from the relevant institutions of ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, and the ACB Governing Board Members, wherein Myanmar is an active participant. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands Connect Us All


very second of February each year, environmentalists all over the world celebrate World Wetlands Day (WWD), which marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran (also known as the Ramsar Convention). This year’s slogan is “Upstream – Downstream: Wetlands Connect Us All”, which is designed around a theme of wetlands and river basin management or the role wetlands play in their surrounding environments. Wetlands encompass a broad range of ecosystems and is defined by the Ramsar Convention as “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, with depths not exceeding six meters at low tide”. The WWD 2009 provided an opportunity to build on the achievements of the 10th Conference of Parties or COP 10 and for people to look around their own wetland and its interconnections with the environment around it – how the wetland benefits the surroundings and how activities throughout the river basin may affect their wetland. This year’s theme “Upstream – Downstream” essentially captures the sense of interconnectedness people have with the river basin, and how communities can be impacted by activities of those upstream and how their activities affect those downstream. In 2008, the 158 contracting parties to the Convention on Wetlands met in Changwon, the Republic of Korea for the COP 10 with the theme “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People”. At the end of the Conference, the Changwon Declaration presented an overview of priority action steps that together show “how to” deliver some of the world’s most


critical environmental sustainability goals. The Declaration emphasizes the significance of wetland governance; actions people may take to ensure the effectiveness of wetlands in the fight against climate change; the interconnection between people’s livelihoods and

health on wetlands; the effects of land use change and biodiversity loss; planning and sustainable financing; as well as sharing knowledge and experience in wetland conservation management. The 10 Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity actively participated in the COP 10 as wetland management is a crucial issue in biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. One of the highlights of the Conference was the presentation of awards


to people who have played important roles in wetland conservation and management. The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award in the Education category was awarded to Dr. Sansanee Choowaew of Mahidol University, Thailand. Dr Choowaew was recognized for her 15-year experience and exceptional contribution to wetland management, education, capacity building, and training in Thailand and in Asia. She has published a large number of educational and public awareness materials and participated in extensive learning projects. In addition to her achievements as an academician and a teacher, Dr Choowaew has been largely involved with communities and their representatives, valuing traditional knowledge and culture related to wetlands. She has been associated with the Ramsar Centre Japan and has served on the steering committee of several Asian Wetland Symposium meetings. The Ramsar Convention continues to provide guidance on managing river basins because it is such a vital issue: good site management can be quickly negated by bad decisions on managing water at the basin level. While wetland managers need to engage at all levels with the water managers, the basin level is probably the most challenging. However, raising public awareness on the importance of river basins should be a primary concern. All people are users of river basins, and all human activities have an impact on the basin. Ensuring a better understanding of river basin functions, the impact of users, and the challenges of good management, is the key focus for Wetlands day 2009 and should be a major concern for conservation organizations. Other information on wetlands and the Ramsar Convention is available on

BOOKMARKS Biodiversity Inventory Symposium in Tokyo

ACB Discusses Biodiversity Sharing Service at International Forum


iodiversity scientists, experts and policymakers gathered at the International Symposium for East and Southeast Asia Biodiversity Inventory Initiative (ESABII), hosted by Japan on 21 January 2009 at the United Nations University U Thant International Conference Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Among the presenters was ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes who discussed ACB’s biodiversity information sharing initiative. “One of the key challenges faced by ASEAN Member States is the lack of tools to effectively share taxonomic information. Establishing these tools is crucial to information sharing which in turn enhances collaboration among Southeast Asian countries,” Director Fuentes said. The ACB developed the Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS) as a common platform for sharing and link-

ing national biodiversity information in the ASEAN region. BISS is anchored on the Vientiane Action Plan and program areas of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, which called for the establishment of a

functional regional database or network of national databases containing an inventory of the biological resources of Southeast Asia. ACB carried on the work initiated by its predecessor, the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, and introduced new features to enhance

the ASEAN-BISS. The ASEAN-BISS was initially developed to reduce the burden of country reporting to global biodiversity treaties by streamlining and facilitating the collation of various types of relevant information. Among its key features are live maps that can be loaded initially via Google Earth, protected areas and species lists with ASEAN and International Union for Conservation of Nature categories, interactive maps, and socio-economic data in maps. Both the ASEAN-BISS and Enhanced ASEAN-BISS apply Geographic Information System (GIS) concepts and methodologies. “The use of GIS technology enables the Enhanced ASEANBISS to perform more in-depth analyses ranging from the simple display of geographic data to complex, multistep analytical models. The application of GIS technology to biodiversity information makes information a powerful tool to support policy and decision making,” Director Fuentes said. Director Fuentes also participated in the policy dialogue “Conserving Biodiversity and Promoting Sustainable Development: Biodiversity Issues and Challenges in ASEAN” on 25 January at the United Nations University.

ASEAN Biodiversity magazine online For in-depth information and news on biodiversity across Southeast Asia, check out the ASEAN Biodiversity Newsmagazine, the quarterly international publication of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)! ASEAN Biodiversity features special reports on biodiversity-related themes in the ASEAN context, such as climate change, ecotourism, transboundary protected areas, and ASEAN Heritage Parks. Profiles on protected areas provide information on the status of habitats and wildlife, and interesting activities in the parks. A pull-out section on specific species can be interesting reference materials for researchers and students. The magazine also features ongoing programmes and activities of ACB that assist ASEAN Member States in addressing various biodiversity conservation issues. ACB welcomes contributions from volunteer writers and photographers who want to help popularize biodiversity. Interested parties may contact Dr. Monia T. Uriarte, Editor of ASEAN Biodiversity at, Rolando A. Inciong, Head of ACB’s Public Affairs at, or Ms. Sahlee Bugna-Barrer at, or call ACB at (+632) 928-3210 and (+632) 929-4147.




World Wetlands Day: ‘Upstream, Downstream’

Cambodia Promotes Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation


ambodia and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) together continue to strengthen their efforts on initiatives to promote wetlands and biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. In observance of World Wetlands Day on 02 February 2009, Cambodia and the ACB joined environmentalists across the globe in celebrating the significance of wetlands and the need for their conservation. To raise awareness on wetlands, Cambodia’s Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones, in cooperation with ACB, hosted a lecture dubbed “Upstream, Downstream” on 7 February 2009 at the Stung Treng Ramsar Site. Hundreds of primary school students from the Osvay Primary School, university students, and officers from Cam60

bodia’s Ministry of Environment and other government institutions attended the lecture. “The event was organized to educate students, communities, government agencies, civil societies and other institutions on the significance of wetlands and biodiversity conservation to the sustainable development of Cambodia’s natural resources,” said Dr. Suey Sunleang, Deputy Director of Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones of General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection of Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment. Cambodia is home to Stung Treng that was declared a Ramsar site in 1999. The site encompasses the entire Mekong River, its islands and channels, to the terrestrial boundary 150 meters


to the landward side of the riverbanks. Stung Treng is important for the migration of over 100 species of fish between Lake Tonle Sap and the upper reaches of the Mekong above Khone Falls. World Wetlands Day is organized annually to commemorate the signing of the Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat) on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. Wetlands are areas of water, marsh, fen or peatland with static or flowing brackish or salt water. Wetlands may be natural or artificial, permanent or temporary and include areas of marine water which are below six meters at low tide. A large portion of the people of ASEAN depends on wetland resources for their livelihoods, and yet only a small fraction of the population understands what wetlands are.

Working together to strengthen biodiversity conservation On 16-17 February 2008, ACB officials met with key environment and foreign affairs officials of Cambodia to further strengthen their cooperation in

BOOKMARKS conserving the country’s and the Southeast Asia’s biodiversity. A priority agenda for discussion, according to ACB Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes, was the ongoing process leading to the ratification of the Establishment Agreement (EA) of ACB. The EA embodies the commitment of ASEAN Member States (AMS) in establishing ACB as a regional centre that facilitates cooperation and coordination among AMS and with relevant organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of Southeast Asia’s rich but highly threatened biodiversity. The Centre also conducted a “National Consultation Workshop for the Preparation of the 4th National Report” on 16 February to assist Cambodia in preparing its report. Policymakers in the environment sector, planning officers, and scientists participated in the workshop co-organized by Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment led by Deputy Technical Director-General and ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) Chairman Vann

Monyneath. “The workshop offered an opportunity to consult with various stakeholders on developing workable sets of indicators that will assist scientists, policy makers and other relevant parties in assessing efforts in relation to the 2010 biodiversity target,” Director Fuentes said. Participants also shared available and current information on biodiversity status, and discussed ways to mainstream the information into policies and indicators used in the 4th National Report. These national consultation workshops aim at consolidating information on programs and activities that will evaluate the success of current conservation efforts. ACB actively supports such workshops in ASEAN Members States, so that they may develop their respective country reports and submitted these in 2009 to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The report will then be used in crafting the 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook Report.

ACB and Cambodia has always had a strong relationship. Since its establishment in 2005, ACB has been a partner of Cambodia and other AMS in regional collaborative efforts in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the region through ACB programmes that reflect the needs of Cambodia and other ASEAN Member States, the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP), and the decisions by the ASEAN Ministers on Environment. ACB has supported Cambodia through various workshops that helped enhance its capacity to conserve biodiversity and meet its commitments to various multilateral environmental agreements. From 2007-2008, ACB has trained 52 of Cambodia’s scientists, environment officers and staff, and protected area managers and workers on various thematic areas. Other benefits gained are in the areas of joint research programmes on biodiversity, support to the preparation of the 4th National Report (4NR), support for various activities on wetlands and Payment for Ecosystems Services.

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes (2nd from left) discusses with Dr. Mok Mareth (right), Senior Minister of the Ministry of Cambodia and Dr. Somaly Chan, Director, International Convention and Biodiversity of Cambodia’s General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, the ratification of the ACB Establishment Agreement and efforts aimed at further strengthening collaboration in conserving Cambodia’s biodiversity. The ACB mission included Programme Development and Implementation Director Clarissa C. Arida, Administration and Finance Head Wilfredo J. Obien, and Policy and Programme Specialist, Dr. Filiberto A. Pollisco. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



Shared Resources Mark World Water Day 2009


ater is life. All living things depend on water for survival. Communities all over the world rely on access to safe drinking water since it ensures human health and well-being, availability of food sources, and viable livelihoods. Decades of misuse and poor management, however, have degraded what was formerly a common commodity, thus threatening the lives of many of the world’s poorest populations. The United Nations underlined the need to protect the world’s water resources when it declared the 22nd March as World Water Day (WWD) in 1992. Since then, all countries have been invited to devote WWD each year to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through publications, documentaries and other information materials; roundtable discussions and seminars related to the conservation and development of water resources; as well as clean-up activities of lakes, rivers and their associated environments. In 2009, WWD emphasizes the significance of transboundary waters with the theme “Shared Waters – Shared Opportunities”. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population lives in river and lake basins shared by two or more countries. The world’s 263 transboundary basins in-


clude the territory of 145 countries and cover nearly half of the world’s surface. The world’s major transboundary rivers include the Nile (6,800 kilometers and shared by 10 countries), Amazon (6,400 kilometers and shared by seven countries), Congo (4,700 kilometers and shared by nine countries), Mekong and Danube (2,850 kilometers and shared by 20 countries). In Asia, five ASEAN Member States -- Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam -- share the 4,350-kilometer long Mekong River with the People’s Republic of China. Great reservoirs of freshwater also move below borders in underground aquifers. There are over 270 known transboundary aquifers. Localized water use, management and economic programmes across countries will inevitably result in differences in access, quality, sustainability and services in relation to safe and clean drinking water. Natural resource management that focuses on catchment and watershed areas, as well as a changing global climate also has severe impacts on the sustainability of water resources. Many countries are already


facing increasing scarcity of freshwater, and it is estimated that by 2025, some 1,800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be under stress conditions. The situation is so alarming that it is predicted that conflicts between states may soon rise as countries fight for access to water. This scenario should provide an opportunity for countries to cooperate, rather than clash over scarce resources. Nearly 300 international agreements are in place to protect water resources and ensure harmony between common users. Nurturing the circumstances for cooperation in transboundary water management can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries, and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth. All communities and countries ultimately share the responsibility for managing the world’s transboundary waters for current and future generations. World Water Day 2009 encourages everyone to actively incorporate water protection measures in their daily life to protect this valuable resource. Governments, in particular, should integrate water management measures that recognize the transboundary nature of water resources and watersheds, and work with other countries to ensure water sustainability. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) led global activities of the World Water Day 2009 with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. More information on WWD 2009 and other water resource management materials can be accessed through the WWD 2009 website ( worldwaterday/flashindex.html).


ACB joins ASEAN Environment Year Celebration; Promotes Ecotourism Best Practices


he law of supply and demand is never more evident than it is in nature tourism. The deterioration of natural landscapes, beaches, and marine areas have led to a booming ecotourism industry which features travel to pristine areas that remain habitats of beautiful and rare plants and animals. Its social component, where benefits of such travel should first go to local communities that live within or adjacent to such areas, is an added attraction to travelers who prefer ecotourism to traditional forms of travel. “For all its good intentions, ecotourism still creates major impacts, particularly since destinations are often fragile ecosystems, such as protected areas, and other sites of natural and cultural importance,” Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), said. Ecotourism creates livelihoods and generates incomes for local communities, thus providing an incentive for locals to preserve natural areas. Increased human traffic however, may also result in other economic and social pressures.

Models and challenges in ecotourism practices are thus current and major issues in biodiversity conservation, and were discussed in the “Regional Workshop on Identification of Ecotourism Best Practices among ASEAN Member States” organized by ACB in cooperation with Lao PDR’s Water Resources Environment Agency on 29 March in Champasak Province. The workshop coincided with the celebration of the ASEAN Environment Year 2009 on 30 to 31 March 2009 which featured ecotourism as its theme. The activity was a follow-on event of the ACB workshop on “Recreation, Tourism and Ecotourism” held in Gunung Ledang, Malaysia on 17-21 March 2008. The Malaysia workshop helped managers and staff of ASEAN Heritage Parks and other protected areas improve and enhance their abilities in ecotourism management. With this workshop held in support of ecotourism during the celebration of the ASEAN Environment Year, ACB was able to provide a venue for stakeholders to undertake the follow-

ing and discuss the implementation of recommendations in ecotourism in the region such as sharing ideas, challenges, and resolution of ecotourism issues; developing coordination and promotion of ecotourism activities; implementing ecotourism model tours; and training personnel in the ecotourism industry,” Director Fuentes said. Other recommendations include establishing a common system of certification and licensing of excellent ecotourism examples and guides; launching campaigns for education and promotion of ecotourism; advertising and broadcast of ASEAN ecotourism through various media such as websites, publications, broadcast, and other campaigns; and establishing a fund for resource conservation to make ASEAN ecotourism sustainable. Workshop participants included technical experts on ecotourism and representatives of environmental ministries across Southeast Asia. They identified ecotourism best practices in the region, as well as provided policy recommendations for ecotourism development and management. ACB also mounted an exhibit featuring the Centre’s ecotourism-related activities. For more information on the workshop and other ACB events, log on to ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



GIS Enhances ACB Data Sharing Service


nformation sharing and the harmonization of data across countries is an integral part of biodiversity conservation worldwide. The compilation of data on biodiversity resources such as species, habitats and ecosystems, protected area coverage, and others allows scientists, protected area managers, and policy-makers to track changes in the environment. Accurate data allows relevant personnel to make informed choices and prioritize actions that would ultimately improve natural resource management. Biodiversity information sharing in Southeast Asia is particularly significant, due to the rich shared natural heritage of the ASEAN Member States. The Vientiane Action Plan and the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) highlight the need for information sharing and the creation of “a functional regional database or network of national databases containing inventory of the biological resource of the ASEAN region”. Commitments made by ASEAN Member States to multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife and Flora (CITES), also require that country reports include data on information generation, analysis, and sharing in support of policy development and decision-making. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) assists ASEAN Member States in its data sharing and harmonization needs through its Biodiversity Information Management (BIM) Component. BIM has four core areas: (1) Sustaining data and information harmonization on biodiversity resource; (2) Supporting interactive web-based information on biodiversity resources in the ASEAN region; (3) Enhancing geo-spatial based Biodiversity Information Sharing Service; and (4) Bridging information with ASEAN Member States and regional and global partners. Through its BIM Component, the Centre aims to enhance 64

the capability of ASEAN and ASEAN Member States to conduct regional data analysis; formulate data sharing strategies and develop a uniform reporting scheme; use monitoring indicators; and facilitate reporting to national, regional and international needs and commitments.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Information Sharing Service The Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS) was initially a web-based data management system envisioned to serve as the common sharing platform for ASEAN Member States on biodiversity information. Developed by the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, ACB’s predecessor, BISS linked relevant biodiversity information of AMS to produce information at a depth and in a format that a wide range of audiences can understand. ASEAN protected areas information and species’ lists for different taxa were compiled through BISS, and currently includes lists, distribution, habitat details, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories of birds (2,401 species), mammals (945 species), amphibians (727 species), freshwater fish (2,008 species), reptiles (1,691 species), plants (37,361 species), and butterflies (8,992). The Centre has since introduced new features to the ASEAN-BISS, such as live maps which can be loaded via Google Earth. ACB will eventually use live Map Server to load these maps. The enhanced BISS also provides information on protected areas and species with ASEAN Member States and IUCN classification categories and enables users to interact with the available maps. ACB has also subsetted socio-economic data for the ASEAN region, and is preparing maps for these. By linking biodiversity data with socio-economic data, ACB can provide analytical maps for decision-making. The enhanced ASEAN-BISS serves as a common platform for sharing and linking national biodiversity in-


formation. It also provides a gateway for exchange of data, knowledge, and information among countries within and outside Southeast Asia. Moreover, ASEAN-BISS provides a regional picture when available data is consolidated.

Geographic Information System in enhanced BISS Each set of information or data fields in the protected area database, the species database, and additional socio-economic and environmental data can be rendered as individual layers in a Geographic Information System (GIS). The use of GIS technology enables the enhanced ASEAN-BISS to perform more in-depth analyses ranging from simple display of geographic data to complex, multi-step analytical models. The application of GIS technology to biodiversity information makes information a powerful tool to support policy and decision making. The ARCBC BISS database, which contains only protected areas and species information, was moved to an open-source platform (PhP/MySQL). The protected area database portion of the BISS was segregated and normalized to facilitate map creation. The initial protected area maps were likewise converted to keyhole markup language (KML) format so that the KML maps can be loaded and viewed in Google Earth. These KML maps are now available and downloadable via the ACB Website ( and the ASEAN Regional Clearing-House Mechanism Website ( Ecosystem and socio-economic data are being subsetted from global and regional sources for mapping purposes. An open source Map Server is also being set up to make the protected area maps more interactive. In addition, map attributes will be made available for download in MS Excel format. The current focus of ACB on enhancing the BISS is the re-coding of the Species Database, which originally contains only a checklist and metada-

BOOKMARKS Entry Points for Enhanced BISS Via the ACB Website

tabase that links to external information. The initial graphical user interface, the Search engine and the ASEAN-wide and Country Specific Checklist are now accessible online. Offline, the species checklists and links of seven (7) taxa will be updated and live links to a regional data center (e.g.Fishbase) will be tested. Species location and distribution information, where available, may also be used to map out the regional distribution of species.

ASEAN BISS and Taxonomy PA Database

Opening Page of ASEAN Heritage Parks

Map Attributes of a Protected Area

Opening Page to Species Database

Species Checklist

The ASEAN-BISS will be particularly relevant as ACB has identified the Global Taxonomic Initiative as a priority theme for 2009. The ASEAN-BISS is inextricably linked with taxonomy – the science of describing, naming and classifying organisms, as a building block for information sharing on flora and fauna – as both concerns the inventory of biodiversity resources. Focusing on taxonomy will assist ASEAN member States in cataloguing their biological resources that will help set directions in conservation management. To boost Southeast Asia’s taxonomic capacities, ACB has partnered with the French Embassy in the Philippines. The French Government will provide funding support for the “ASEAN Regional Workshop on Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI): Needs Assessment and Networking” to be organized by ACB in April 2009. The workshop will provide a venue for sharing experiences in the implementation of the Programme of Work (PoW) for the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) and identifying future programmes for capacity development in the ASEAN region. Through this partnership, ACB can mobilize and share expertise in the field of taxonomy and ensure that taxonomic capacities will be accessible to ASEAN Member States.

Planned activities of ACB for the ASEAN BISS and the GTI The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity will provide technical training to ASEAN Member States on the use of ASEAN-BISS data in a GIS environment; support the inventory of biodiversity resources through the ASEAN-BISS and GTI initiatives; and continue to facilitate cooperation among ASEAN Member States by highlighting the interrelationship between the ASEANBISS, the GTI, and the biodiversity inventory. Consistent with its mandate to improve information sharing and access, and enhance capacity building in the ASEAN region, ACB is shoring up its efforts in the areas of GIS and GTI. These efforts are envisioned to assist ASEAN Member States in meeting their commitments to multilateral environmental agreements. Reference Fuentes, Rodrigo U., Ma. Consuelo D. Garcia, Leslie Ann V. Jose, and Norman Emmanuel C. Ramirez. 2009. Biodiversity Geographic Information System of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Unpublished. ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Laguna, Philippines.




International Women’s Day 2009

Celebrating Women and Biodiversity


orldwide, most countries dedicate the month of March to celebrating women and their contributions to politics, business, economics, science, and culture. Every 8th of March is International Women’s Day (IWD) and commemorates the struggles of women all over the world to gain equal rights and recognition at home, in their community, in the workplace and in society. Women have been fighting for equal rights since the 1900s when women first started marching in the streets demanding shorter work hours, better pay and voting rights. The idea of an International Women’s Day was first broached in 1910, as a way for working women to press for their demands. In 1913, International Women’s Day was first celebrated on 08 March and has remained the global date for IWD ever since. The United Nations officially recognized the event in 1975, which it designated as “International Women’s Year.” Women’s organizations continue to celebrate IWD by holding large-scale events to honor women’s advancement while diligently reminding others that vigilance is necessary to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life. The world has seen female presidents, heads of 66

corporations, scientists, engineers, and lawyers, and they continue to advance in industries that used to be dominated by men. Despite women’s emancipation, changes in attitude towards gender roles, and greater opportunities, inequality still exists on many levels and in many areas such as business, politics, education, and health.

Women play critical roles in biodiversity conservation Women’s contributions are often overlooked, particularly when actions revolve around the home and community life. As such, traditional roles of women in relation to the environment and their critical role in biodiversity conservation are largely ignored. Studies on gender roles and biodiversity, however, show that rural women in developing countries play critical roles in maintaining agriculture and forest biodiversity. They may also hold the key to food and livelihood security through their roles in the selection of seeds, the management of small livestock and the conservation and sustainable use of plant and animal diversity. For many women, biodiversity is the cornerstone of their work, belief systems and basic survival. Women from indigenous and traditional communities, in particular, have direct links


with the environment that date back to millions of years. As direct users of natural resources, they have developed an intimate knowledge of the life cycles of plants and animals and their habitats, thus knowing when crops are ripe for harvesting, which leaves, fruits and roots are good to eat, and which plants will cure a particular ailment. In agricultural areas, women often take on the role of directly collecting and conserving edible plants since these are often used to supplement dietary needs. Their roles also encompass food processing and storage. Other roles also require them to gather firewood and other products for medicine, and house-building. They also take charge of many agricultural activities. After men have cleared the land, women sow, weed, hoe and bind the stalks. In backyards and on their own plots, they manage home gardens, and grow a wide variety of vegetables, and ingredients for relishes and jams. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes that research on 60 home gardens in Thailand, for example, revealed 230 different species, many of which had been rescued from a neighboring forest before it was cleared. Women farmers have been largely responsible for the improvement and

BOOKMARKS adaptation of many wild plant varieties. After using and observing many wild plants through the years, they have come to know which are best suited for cultivation and domestication. In terms of crops, their observation of plant cycles and productivity allow them to choose what seeds produce the most desirable plant characteristics. Seeds that produce crops with the best grains and are most resistant to pests and diseases are set aside by women for preservation and future use. Women also play a role in livestock production and breeding. Depending on local conditions, women may choose and breed cattle, for example, to produce desired traits such as preference for local feeds and resistance to disease. Keeping a diversity of livestock also directly benefits diversity in vegetation. Women’s roles in biodiversity conservation are also tied to the collection of medicinal plants. As traditional caregivers, women have had to amass a tremendous amount of knowledge on plant use and medicinal properties to ensure the well being of family and community members.

Homogenization affects biodiversity, traditional knowledge and women’s status Advances in science and technology, however, have led to modern agricultural practices that ignored traditional knowledge and undermined women’s roles in biodiversity conservation and agricultural diversity. Agricultural innovations have centralized plant breeding, standardized livestock production and have changed gender roles in farming communities. Since modern farming technologies no longer rely on traditional farming practices and knowledge, this has affected women’s roles, thus undermining their financial empowerment and status in the community. However, subsistence farming communities that cannot afford external inputs necessary in modern agriculture, such as seeds of current high yield crops, fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary products, and high quality feeds, still depend on planting material

produced, selected and saved by women in the community. They rely on maintaining a wide diversity of crops and wild plants, and animal breeds and strains that are adapted to the local environment. These provide protection against crop failure and animal disease, as well as a continuous and varied food supply.

Need for gender responsive policies Over time, changes in beliefs and attitudes have resulted in international agreements and government strategies that emphasize the recognition of women’s contributions and the significance of their participation in national development. Key important international policies and legal agreements also acknowledge the role of women in the management and use of biological resources. However, despite increased recognition at international levels, there is little effort on the ground to stress the role of women in biodiversity, agriculture, and the environment. While such information is taken for granted in communities where women play traditional roles in resource use and food production, this is largely unknown to the general public. As such, women’s key roles, responsibilities and management practices for the conservation and improvement of animal and plant genetic resources remain “invisible” to environmental technicians, planners and policy-makers. As a result, women’s needs and concerns are not given adequate attention and their involvement in formalized efforts to conserve biodiversity remains low because of poor representation at policy and decision-making levels.

Nature needs a woman’s touch There is no doubt that environmental management will benefit from women’s focus and attention. After all, significant environmental features have inherent feminine characteristics and nature is often described in culture as protective, caring and nurturing. They often take a female personality, hence the terms “Mother Earth” and “Mother Nature.”

Women’s intimate relationship with nature makes them a very important authority on resource management. Women often take the lead in environmental movements, particularly at the grassroots level. Many women understand the significance of their roles and take on the mantle of protecting the environment by leading movements to reverse ecological stress. Many women around the world have led organizations that have helped heal the environment, with programmes that focus on reforestation, species and habitat protection, organic and sustainable farming, waste segregation and management, pollution, environment-friendly products, and sustainable transportation, among others. Certainly, nature will benefit immensely if men and women share responsibility in resource management. Many programmes that promote gender equality and strengthen women’s participation are already in place, and these may spur greater action among stakeholders and thus reap more benefits for people and the environment. Success stories are already out there. Local and international recognition of women’s contributions to the environmental cause are on the rise. Such activities and achievements will hopefully provide the foundation for larger and more robust programmes. As women continue to struggle for equality, their contributions and achievements in the environment and other aspects of life can only reap positive rewards and secure an equitable and biologically diverse world for present and future generations. References FAO Focus: Women and Food Security (http:// International Women’s Day (http://www. MacDonald, Mia and Danielle Nierenberg. 2003. The Third World: Women as the key to a shift in priorities. The International Herald Tribune. February 11, 2003. ( articles/2003/02/11/t-edmia_ed3_.php) United Nations Environment Programme. 2004. “Women and Biodiversity: the core of existence” in Women and the Environment. UNEP and Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). ( Women/ChapterThree.pdf)




Biodiversity and Culture Highlighted in EU Cultural Counsellors Visit to ACB


hat is the connection between culture and biodiversity? Biodiversity and cultural diversity are intimately and inextricably linked, that they should be thought of as a unified whole. In fact, significant overlaps in distribution and factors affecting the geographic patterns of biodiversity and culture have been observed. This was the gist of the presentation by Rusyan Jill Coburn, research and policy specialist of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), for the cultural counselors of European Union (EU)

Member States’ embassies in the Philippines. Nine cultural counselors from six EU countries visited the ACB headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna in the Philippines on 30 March 2009 to know more about the Centre and its advocacy, as well as the interface between culture and biodiversity. Led by Thelma Gecolea, Public Affairs Officer of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, the group was composed of Monika Junker-Guldin, Austria; Anne

Bloemen, Belgium; Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva, Monika Kozdova, and Mary Katherine Igban, Czech Republic and representing the EU Presidency; Emilie Flambeaux, France; Inkeri Tankera, Finland; and Anamaria Vlad and Vlad Stefan Cristian, Romania. During the ACB meeting with the EU cultural counsellors, Ms. Coburn explained that the management of nature is the expression of our many human cultures. A detailed understanding of biodiversity is necessary to comprehend how the environment reshapes

Above: Rusyan Jill Coburn (center), ACB Research and Policy Specialist, discusses the interface between culture and biodiversity. Above, left: Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva of the Czech Republic views ACB’s exhibits on Southeast Asia’s rich but threatened biodiversity. Left: European Union cultural counselors with ACB officers and staff.



BOOKMARKS human culture through feedback. The Convention on Biological Diversity also encourages all countries to manage, sustainably use and share equitably the benefits of biodiversity. These goals can be achieved through a better understanding of how human cultural activity has shaped today’s biodiversity. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity has several initiatives that advance the culture of biodiversity conservation in the 10 ASEAN Member States. It supports the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Programme of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that seeks to conserve AHPs – protected areas of high conservation and cultural importance. The ASEAN region cradles 27 AHPs. The promotion of the concept of community conserved areas is another initiative that ACB is advocating. The management of community conserved areas involves spontaneous activities conducted by local communities, often for generations, based on local knowledge, beliefs and practices about the use of local ecosystems and biological resources. Through workshops, the Centre is also promoting ecotourism or environmentally responsible travel and visitation to natural areas, that has low visitor impact, promotes local culture and heritage, and provides socio-economic benefits for the local people. The ACB encouraged the EU cultural counselors to join hands with the Centre in promoting culture to address threats to biodiversity. ACB Director for Networking, Partnership, and Resource Mobilization Gregorius Wisnu Rosariastoko briefed the delegation about the Centre’s mandate and its other core activities. The EU cultural counselors were also treated to a screening of the video documentary “Saving ASEAN’s Natural Treasures,” which chronicles the efforts of ASEAN Member States to conserve the region’s extremely rich but highly threatened biodiversity. The delegation visited the nearby Makiling Botanic Garden. Forester Roberto Cereno, Head of the Botanic Gardens, Parks and Ecotourism Division of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, gave them a walking tour of the Garden.

ACB Co-sponsors 5th Hornbill Conference

World’s Experts on Hornbills Discuss Conservation and Research Techniques


ingapore’s National Parks Board (NParks) and Thailand’s Hornbill Research Foundation brought together the world’s experts on hornbills during the 5th Hornbill Conference held in Singapore from 22 to 25 March 2009. The event provided a venue to share information on the bird’s biology, as well as conservation and research techniques employed by various institutions, and was co-sponsored by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). Found through most of sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, hornbills are renowned for their unique nesting habits. Females are sealed inside the nest in a hollow tree, while the male and the rest of the family group bring food for the mother and chicks. Hornbills are among the largest forest birds which play the key role of dispersing seeds of trees such as nutmegs, figs, and laurels over long distances. Southeast Asia is home to 24 of the world’s 54 hornbill species. This year’s conference was held in Singapore in view of the remarkable achievements of the Singapore Hornbill Project involving the rehabilitation

of the local populations of the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris). Previous conferences were held in Bangkok, Phuket, and South Africa. Universities, zoos, research institutions, and non-governmental organizations from 20 countries were represented at the conference. Dr. Woraphat Arthayukti, CEO of NParks and the Deputy Director of the Hornbill Research Foundation, opened the conference, while renowned hornbill researchers Dr. Alan Kemp, Dr. Pilai Poonswad, and Dr. Margaret Kinnaird delivered keynote addresses. Forty-six papers and posters were presented on topics such as the status and distribution of hornbills, their behavior, threats they face, research techniques, and efforts to conserve the bird. Documentaries on hornbills were also screened, and field trips were made to Pulau Ubin and Jurong Bird Park to see hornbill research in action. The public seminar “The World of Hornbills” featuring experts Dr. Kemp, Dr. Vijak Chimchome, Mr. Marc Cremades, and Dr. Vilma D’Rozario was also held at the Botany Centre on 26 March. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY



ASEAN Member States to Streamline Reporting to Global Environmental Agreements


esolving global issues require international agreements, and this is particularly important in environmental conservation. Loss of species and habitats, biodiversity conservation, wildlife trade, pollution, and climate change are concerns requiring concerted global effort in addressing them. A number of international conventions and agreements have been developed to establish wide-ranging cooperation in protecting the environment, including the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD), Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar), Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the World Heritage Convention (WHC). These multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) require national reporting from all signatory countries (Parties) to create a global picture of environmental efforts as well as provide directions for the future. Reports often require data from different national agencies covering a wide range of biogeographical, social, economic, legal and political information. These have to be meticulously prepared by the focal

points or reporting agencies and crafted according to formats set by the secretariats of MEAs. In some cases, there are similar reporting agencies for different MEAs. Some also require similar information, such as habitat coverage, species inventory, composition of local communities, human activities that may affect the local environment, protected area status, number of rangers, and others. Since a number of issues may need to be presented in reports to various MEAs, there is a need to harmonize the gathering of and management of data. Streamlining reporting to MEAs will reduce reporting burdens on Parties, encourage more data sharing, and create synergy in environmental work among concerned national and international agencies. To facilitate national reporting to MEAs, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) conducted the ASEAN Workshop on Harmonization of Reporting to Biodiversity-Related Conventions on 15 – 17 April 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The workshop focused on the development of a framework to harmonize reporting on the implementation of efforts to conserve inland wa-

ters biodiversity for the CBD and the Ramsar Convention. The workshop aimed to promote national and regional efforts to harmonize or synergize reporting to biodiversity-related conventions; strengthen national capacities in harmonized reporting by providing training on the use of relevant tools and approaches; and discuss possible ways and means to harmonize reporting at the global level. The workshop emphasized information exchange and active learning. This allowed ASEAN Member States to analyze and strengthen national processes and capacities for synergizing reporting to biodiversity-related conventions, as well as provide recommendations for harmonization at the global level. ACB organized the workshop in partnership with the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) and with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre; the Secretariats of the CBD, CITES, CMS, Ramsar and the World Heritage Convention; and the Government of Australia. For more information, log on to

SURFING THE WEB OF LIFE The Global Invasive Species Programme ( index.asp) is an international partnership dedicated to addressing the global threat of invasive alien species (IAS). The mission of GISP is to conserve biodiversity and sustain livelihoods by minimizing the spread and impact of invasive species. The Programme provides support to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and has contributed extensively to the knowledge and awareness of invasive species through the development of publications, reports, brochures and training materials. The GISP site provides links to global legislation and programmes on IAS, new developments in science and technology, training courses on various aspects of IAS management (such as economic analysis, legal and institutional frameworks, management of marine and coastal IAS, strategies and tools to prevent IAS introduction; taxonomy of marine IAS; and regional capacity building workshops), guidelines, publications, reports, and brochures, among others.


The Global Invasive Species Database allows users to search for infor-


mation on invasive alien species (IAS) around the world (http://www. The database provides a description, general impacts, reproduction, life cycles, geographic range, management, and other relevant information on IAS. It also features the 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species. These were selected for the list according to two criteria: their serious impact on biological diversity and/or human activities, and their illustration of important issues surrounding biological invasion. Absence from the list, however, does not imply that a species poses a lesser threat.


Information on invasive alien species (IAS) in Asia can be found at the National Invasive Species Center of the United States Department of Agriculture ( shtml). It provides links to government, non-government and academic initiatives on IAS in Asia. The site also includes relevant publications on invasive flora and fauna, proceedings of workshops on IAS, as well as links to databases on IAS in the Asian region.



Invasive Alien Species and their Increasing Threat to Biodiversity U

nlike people, animal and plant species do not recognize borders. They move when their habitats change, hunt where there is food, and breed in areas that may be thousands of kilometers from home. When such activities are natural and happen over time, species naturally integrate themselves into the environment. However, when they are drastically introduced into new areas, these may have unforeseen impacts on new ecosystems and their native species. In the past, formidable mountains and wide expanses of ocean served as natural barriers to species movements. Developments in transportation and global trade, climate change and other factors, however, have facilitated the movements of various species across countries. Depending on their adaptability, species may thrive in their new habitat, or simply die out. Those that survive and reproduce may or may not negatively impact their new surroundings. New species that multiply to a degree and overwhelm the environment, and robs resident species of food and shelter, presents a danger that needs to be addressed by resource managers. The threat of species breeding in a new environment is so severe that invasive alien species are now considered the second biggest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.

What are invasive alien species? What makes species both alien and invasive? The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) states that alien species “refer to species, subspecies or lower taxon, introduced outside its natural past or present distribution; includes any part, gametes, seeds, eggs, or propagules of such species that might survive and subsequently reproduce”. Invasive alien species (IAS), on the other hand, are species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural past or present distribution threaten biological diversity. These species may

occur in all major taxonomic groups, including viruses, fungi, algae, mosses, ferns, higher plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and can affect all types of ecosystems. Common characteristics of IAS include: • Rapid reproduction and growth, • High dispersal ability, • Phenotypic plasticity or the ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions, and • Ability to survive on various food types and in a wide range of environmental conditions Generally, the survivability of species in new environments can predict the potential invasiveness of the species. New environments may or may not have the elements necessary to control IAS, such as predators or competitors. When these are absent and the new habitats are similar enough to their former range, then the species may survive. Their population may then grow to a point where they take over food sources, prey on local species, and, generally begin to affect local biodiversity. Oftentimes, only a small percentage of alien species become invasive, but those that do may have extensive and long-lasting impacts. Studies show that disturbed habitats make it easier for IAS to survive. Habitats that have deteriorated due to human activities or have been modified, such as agricultural areas, are particularly vulnerable. Climate change will also be a consideration in the management of IAS as temperature changes continue to modify habitats and ecosystems.

IAS use different pathways While plants and animals do not travel on their own, people generally provide some form of transportation. In the past, whole communities moved when local conditions made it necessary to search for new food and water sources as well as more verdant pastures. Families carted all their worldly

belongings and travelled with domesticated livestock and carefully chosen seeds to search for more habitable areas. Plants with medicinal benefits would likely have been brought during migration. While these may have provided the early foundations for the travel of IAS, their impacts would have been countered by the more immense biodiversity in early times, which would have naturally limited the possibility of invasion. These days, modern technology and transportation define the relocation of species. Globalization, increased trade, and greater travel for business and recreation have allowed plants and other wildlife to move from one country to another on airplanes, cargo ships, cruise ships, fishing boats, trucks and others. Species introduction may be both intentional and unintentional. People may export or import species for trade, and to support agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry, fisheries, food and others. Some have been used as biological control for certain pests, and ironically became pests themselves. International aid organizations have also brought plants and animals that have turned invasive as part of altruistic intentions to introduce new sources of food to impoverished nations. Other forms of interventions, such as military and relief operations, may have also facilitated the entry of IAS. Exotic pets, such as snakes, monkeys and ornamental fish may also have simply been released by their owners. Unintentional introduction may occur when species “hitchhike” on planes, ships, and even garbage floating in the open sea. Seeds may adhere to clothes and suitcases. Insects may infest wood packaging materials. Exotic animals kept in captivity as pets or for breeding purposes may escape and then turn invasive. These IAS may also carry pathogens that pose tremendous risks to other plants and animals, as well as people. ASEAN BIODIVERSITY


POLICY BRIEF Some invasive alien species in Southeast Asia

The cane toad (also commonly known as Giant Toad, Marine Toad) (Bufo marinus) was introduced as a biological control agent of insect pests in sugar cane and other crops. The toad spread rapidly because it has a wide environmental tolerance, eats almost anything, and has few natural enemies. It is now well established in Japan, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

The golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) is a freshwater snail from South America. It was introduced to Taiwan in 1980, and has since become an invasive pest throughout Southeast Asia. Widely known as golden kuhol in the Philippines, it was introduced in the country as a high-protein food for both animals and humans. The snail escaped into waterways and has since ravaged rice fields all over the country. The snail feeds on young rice seedlings, with large adults being able to consume up to 25 seedlings per day. The mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) is now well established in Southeast Asia where it was widely distributed for the biological control of mosquito larvae. This fish species can survive in waters with low oxygen levels, high salinities

and temperatures, and has a high breeding rate. The fish competes with indigenous fish species for zooplankton food, and also prey on their eggs and larvae. Studies show that mosquito fish exacerbates rather than alleviates the mosquito problem since the fish does not eat mosquito larvae but actually reduces the population of species that naturally control mosquito populations.

The water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) was introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental plant, and today occurs in over 50 countries in five continents. The plant thrives in still and slow-moving water bodies that have become nutrient-enriched through eutrophication. Dense mats of water hyacinth now blanket many of tropical Asia’s natural and man-made water bodies.

The Mimosa pigra (Thai–chi yop, mai yah raap yak, maiyarapton; Malay–kembang

gajah, semalu gajah; Bahasa Indonesia– putri malu; Viet Nam–trinh nu nhon, xao ho) in the Greater Mekong Sub Region has made fertile agricultural lands along the Mekong River unproductive, converting agricultural lands into shrublands that harbor lesser biodiversity. It has reduced fish production especially fish with no scales. and affected water birds relying on grasslands. In Viet Nam, the Mimosa pigra decreased the population of Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) from 800 individuals in the 1990s to less than 100 in 2003 through outcompeting the Spiked rush (Eleocharis sp), which is the habitat of the Crane

The coconut leaf-eating beetle (Brontispa longissima) damaged Viet Nam’s coconut industry causing 3.5 million USD in losses (Pham Quang Thu, 2008)

Janitor Fish (Pterygoplichthys pardalis and P. disjunctivus) in Laguna Lake of the Philippines has damaged fish cages and fishing nets such that they have affected the fish production and fish catch of fishermen. They also damage the riverbanks of important waterways.

Source: Mathew, 2004

Extensive and long-lasting impacts Scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact moment when species turn invasive, and this makes it difficult to track and 72

monitor alien species. Typically, resource managers generally become concerned when impacts are already evident. The control and eradication of IAS then requires long-term financial investments.


Environment When IAS enter new habitats, the lack of predators and the ability to compete with native species over the food supply can allow them to dominate the

POLICY BRIEF local ecosystem. Local species that may actually become a food source for the IAS, may also be driven to extinction. Their domination can change the community structure and species composition of the area, which may then have cascading effects on ecosystem functions. Habitats may be modified to a point where it may no longer be habitable for the native community. Chain reactions may occur and reproduction or the survival of associated species may be affected. Impacts are difficult to predict but are tremendously complex. Ultimately, the local biodiversity is affected when non-native species eliminate indigenous species that perform valuable functions in the ecosystem. The demise fo these native species may then affect associated flora and fauna. Vital ecosystem functions, such as pollination, soil regeneration, nutrient cycling, hydrologic functions, and others, may then deteriorate. Other environmental concerns such as climate change, pollution and habitat loss may also magnify the impacts of IAS. Island ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to IAS because they are naturally isolated from strong competitors and predators. Human health The IAS can directly affect human health as international travel facilitates the spread of infectious diseases. Ballast water from ships introduces diseases, bacteria and viruses to marine and freshwater ecosystems, and degrades commercially important fisheries. IAS such as exotic animals, migratory birds, insects and rodents may also carry pathogens that pose tremendous health risks. When species are introduced directly into agriculture or fisheries as possible sources of protein, they may actually affect food supply when they eliminate other sources of food. Human health may also be affected when various pesticides are applied to crops to control the spread of IAS. Economic costs The IAS have major economic costs since they destroy crops, reduce biodiversity, and affect the water supply as

they degrade freshwater systems and catchment areas. These species drive up pest control costs as pesticides and herbicides have to be used and other longterm management schemes have to be developed to control the spread of IAS. These impacts all have massive direct and indirect financial costs that may run into millions of dollars. Some estimated costs in IAS management (Pallewata et al, 2003) include the following: • Annual worldwide agricultural losses: between $55 and $248 billion • Loss of Philippine crops generated by the golden apple snail in the 1980s: $1 billion • Cost of the eradication of the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) introduced in North Carolina in 1993 and eradicated in 1997: $19 million

Deriving benefits from IAS Are there any benefits to be gained from the use of IAS? Despite their unsavory reputation and wide-ranging impacts, some species do provide benefits to the local economy. Other species, on the other hand, provide certain economic opportunities as they can be used as building material for various products as part of the eradication process. Some fish species, particularly those introduced in aquaculture as alternative sources of protein, provide major

contributions to food production. In the Philippines, the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) or Mozambique tilapia (O. mossambicus) from Africa is the second most important fish cultured in the Philippines next to milkfish. In 2002, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources reported that tilapia contributed 122,417 metric tons or 3.6 percent of the total fisheries production (3,368,519metric tons). Their production therefore continues to be a major contribution to aquaculture in the country. As part of the eradication process, scientists have been determining ways to develop by-products from IAS to provide income opportunities to local communities. Studies on the janitor fish have yielded possible benefits as animal feed for livestock, organic fertilizer, biofuel, leather, and fish silage (fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to cattle and sheep, or used as a biofuel feedstock) (Cariño III, 2009.) Other species have been used to produce leather products, such as the skin of the giant marine toad (Bufo marinus) while its flesh has been utilized as food for pigs (Alcala, 2002). Many countries have also transformed the water hyacinth into bags as well as organic fertilizer.

Measures to address IAS Prescribed management strategies / methods to address IAS include: • Prevention. This ideally entails

Some International Agreements on invasive alien species • • • • • • • • • • • •

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Agreement on the Application of Phytosanitary Measures Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention) Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments International Health Regulations International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Agreement (1924) ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: CBD



POLICY BRIEF preventing the entry of alien organisms into a different country. • Early detection. Effective inventories and monitoring programmes can locate IAS before they can spread. • Eradication: The destruction of an entire population of IAS is best accomplished with early detection. • Control. A long-term management plan that involves physical removal of pests and the use of chemical and biological agents should be established to control IAS. The goal of IAS management is to restore the ecosystem to its natural state and increase biodiversity, since natural populations and ecosystem functions may resist future invasions. This global issue requires rapid detection and international cooperation. Preventing the entry of possible invasive species is eventually less expensive and easier to manage than control and eradication. Many international agreements and codes of conduct have been established that allow for inspections of international shipments, customs checks as well as quarantine regulations. The most comprehensive international instrument on IAS is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which specifically calls on parties to “prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species (Article 8h)”. The CBD has developed a set of guidelines to assist countries with the implementation of Article 8h. In Asia, the ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1985) aims to conserve and manage natural resources in the ASEAN region, as well as preserve genetic diversity and protect endangered species. Article 3(3) of the agreement requires Parties to strive to regulate and, as appropriate, prohibit alien species introductions.

ACB support to ASEAN Member States IAS is an issue that is tied to major economic activities and is thus a problem that affects both developed and de74

veloping countries. While some countries have addressed specific IAS issues in national programmes, such as the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans and specific IAS frameworks, the nature of the problem requires greater cooperation particularly among regional partners. At the national level, capacities to deal with IAS should be developed by paying attention to training on the biology and control of IAS and biosecurity issues. The level of awareness and skills must be high, particularly along entry points such as customs and border checkpoints. The evolving problem of IAS in relation to other environmental issues, such as climate change, land use changes, and pollution, requires constant research and development of new control technologies. Protected area managers must also be trained to identify non-native species since IAS that have been transported through tourism becoming increasing threats to protected areas. An integrated national programme covering public awareness, skills training, research and information sharing must be developed to manage IAS concerns. At the regional and international level, organizations such as the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) have been working with regional networks to share tools, mechanisms, and best management practices. The GISP database ( also provides extensive information on IAS all over the world, an effort that can be replicated at the national and regional level to provide wider information on managing specific IAS. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) provides support in regional efforts to manage IAS by supporting training on IAS and developing information materials on the issue. On 17-18 December 2008, Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), in cooperation with the ACB, conducted the “ASEAN Workshop on Invasive Alien Species Management” in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The workshop sought to address capacity needs to address IAS, such as identification and control of IAS;


enhancement of national legislation and policies; data sharing; creation of business opportunities using IAS; communication, education and public awareness; and inclusion of invasive alien species concerns in regional trade agreements. The ACB also provides extensive information on IAS through various information materials and media, including the ASEAN Biodiversity newsmagazine and the ACB website. The Centre is also developing a book on invasive alien species in marine and terrestrial ecosystems to generate greater awareness on invasive alien species management in ASEAN. References Alcala, Angel C. 2006. Invasive Alien Vertebrate Species in the Philippines. Paper presented at Invasive Alien Species in the Philippines: Status, Challenges and Directions. Conference-Workshop on Invasive Alien Species in the Philippines and their Impacts on Biodiversity. Philippines. 26 – 28 July 2006. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ( Cariño III, Jose K. 2009. Benefiting from the Dreaded Janitor Fish. Paper presented during the Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) at the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), 13 January 2009. Convention on Biological Diversity ( De Pooter, Mai, Syama Pagad and Mohammed Irfan Ullah. 2007. Invasive Alien Species and Protected Areas, A Scoping Report Part I. Scoping the Scale and Nature of Invasive Alien Species Threats to Protected Areas, Impediments to IAS Management and Means to Address these Impediments. World Bank and Global Invasive Species Programme. Lowe, S., M. Browne, S. Boudjelas, and M. De Poorter, 2000. 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species: A selection from the Global Invasive Species Database. The Invasive Species Specialist Group, Species Survival Commission, IUCN - World Conservation Union ( Matthew, Sue. 2004. Tropical Asia Invaded: The Growing Danger of Invasive Alien Species. The Global Invasive Species Programme. Pallewatta, N., J.K. Reaser and A. Gutierrez (eds.). 2003. Prevention and Management of Invasive Alien Species: Proceedings of a Workshop on Forging Cooperation throughout South and Southeast Asia. Global Invasive Species Programme, Cape Town, South Africa. Pham Quang Thu, 2008. Management of Alien Species in Viet Nam. Paper presented at the Regional Workshop on Invasive Alien Species, Hanoi, Viet Nam. ScienceDaily (23 February 2009). Invasive Species: Part of the Price of Doing Business. (http://www. htm)





Conserve Biodiversity, Save Humanity!

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

3F ERDB Bldg., Forestry Campus College, Laguna 4031 Philippines Tel: +6349 536-2865, +6349 536-1044 Email: ACB is an intergovernmental institution of the ASEAN with initial funding from the EU.



Leatherback Turtle

Demorchelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761) Description: The leatherback is the world’s largest turtle, with the largest recorded individual weighing a massive 916 kilograms. The turtle lacks the typical bony plates on its carapace and instead has a flexible shell covered in a thin layer of leathery skin. This turtle has a dark color with white and pink spots. Leatherbacks are easily recognizable by the seven narrow ridges running the length of the carapace, and by their particularly large front flippers.

and yolkless. Individuals return to nest every few years, but within one season a female can lay four to 10 clutches of eggs. The sex of the hatchlings is influenced by incubation temperatures: hotter nests produce all females; cooler nests produce all males. Incubation period varies from 50 to 78 days depending on temperature and humidity. Survival rate is lower if incubation period is shorter.

The leatherback has a large head, and each side of the upper jaw bears a tooth-like projection, flanked on either side by a deep cusp. The limbs have no claws. The front flippers are longer than other sea turtles and may span 2.7 meters from tip to tip. The average weight may range from 300–600 kilograms.

Threats: Populations of leatherback turtles have plummeted in recent years, principally due to accidental capture in fisheries and the over-harvest of eggs. Other threats include habitat loss, boat strikes, and ingestion of discarded plastics, which leatherbacks mistake for jellyfish.

Distribution: The leatherback is the most widely distributed of all sea turtles. Adult leatherbacks are adapted to colder water than other sea turtles, a capability that is due to their protective thick and oily dermis, counter-current heat exchangers in the limbs, and other physiological adaptations. They can occur far from tropical and subtropical nesting grounds, where water temperatures are between 10° and 20°C, such as the Indo-Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean seas.

Conservation: International trade in leatherback turtles and products is banned under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the turtle is protected throughout most of its range. Many conservation projects have been set up on various nesting locations.

Food: Soft-bodied invertebrates such as jellyfish, tunicates, crustaceans and juvenile fishes. Reproduction: To nest, females emerge at night on nesting beaches to lay their eggs. Using their rear flippers, they excavate deep ‘boot shaped’ nests where they lay roughly 100 eggs. Around 20 percent of the eggs in each nest are small

Red List Status: Classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2007; listed on Appendix I of CITES and Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or the Bonn Convention). References ARKive ( Field Guide for Marine Turtle Identification and Management. Pawikan Conservation Project. Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau – Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Philippines SeaLifeBase (

Green Mussel

Perna Viridis (Linnaeus, 1758)1 Description: This species is a fairly large mussel, commonly 8 centimeters long and occasionally reaching a size of about 16.5 centimeters. Its shell is elongate, roughly triangular in outline with one end swollen and pointed (anterior) and the other, rounded and compressed (posterior). The outer surface is nearly smooth with concentric growth marks and faint radial lines. The outermost layer of the shell called periostracum, is attached, thick and smooth. The ligamental ridge is finely pitted and the hinge has interlocking teeth, a small one on the right valve and two on the left. The internal margins are smooth with the outside of the shell whitish under a bright periostracum that is dark brownish green (anterior) and olive-green to bright green (posterior). The interior is an iridescent pale bluish green, with a vivid green margin on periostracum.2 The wavy posterior end of the shell margin and the large kidney-shaped adductor muscle are diagnostic features of this species.3 Distribution: Known to be native to the Indo-Pacific, the species was introduced to Japan, Australia, Fiji, North and South America, French Polynesia, Venezuela and the Caribbean.2,4 Habitat and Ecology: This mussel can be found in estuarine and marine tidal and subtidal habitats, forming dense aggregations of up to 35,000 individuals per square meter on various structures, like vessels, buoys and other hard substrates.3 It can tolerate a wide range of salinities (0°80 ppt) and temperatures (7-37.5°C).5 Predators and Prey: Filter feeds on small plankton and other suspended fine organic materials.6 The mussel is a popular table seafood, preyed upon by Scylla serrata and other predators, such as other crustaceans, fishes, sea stars and octopus.3 Reproduction: External sexual fertilization. Spawning peaks coincide with the monsoon seasons except in the Philippines and Thailand where spawning is year-round. Both sexes release gametes in the water column, where developed larvae remain for two weeks before settling in benthic habitat as juveniles. Sexual maturity occurs at 15-30 millimeters shell length about 2-3 months age.7 Life Span: Growth rates are influenced by environmental factors such as temperature, food availability and water movement. Life span is typically 2-3 years. Mode of Introduction and Dispersion: The introduction of this species from the Indo-Pacific to Atlantic waters is attributed to fouling on boat hulls and ballast-water traffic. Local dispersion is brought about mainly by aquaculture activities and is intensified

by natural periodic aggregation.6 General Impacts: This species is highly invasive and can have economic, ecological and human health impacts. It can cause problems with water systems of industrial complexes by clogging pipes, increasing corrosion and therefore reducing efficiency. Fouling on marine vessels and mariculture equipment also results in raised costs and maintenance.8 The over abundance of this species leads to changes in community structure and trophic relationships as it outcompetes other local fouling organisms. It is also known to harbor high levels of toxins and heavy metals and has been linked to shellfish poisoning in humans.9

Photos by Paolo Manzoni FAO Seafood in Europe CD ROM

Common names: Asian brown mussel (FAO English); tahong (Filipino); green mussel (English, India); green lipped mussel (English, Malaysia).

Importance: This species is highly commercial and harvested in the Indo-Pacific as a human food resource due to its dense and fast growth. 3 It also serves as an indicator of biopollution of heavy metals, organochlorines and petroleum hydrocarbons.10 Prepared by Conejar-Espedido, J.2, Dar, C.M., Pacres, L.D., Paglinawan, L.E., Pan, M.S., Sorongon, P.M.E., Palomares, M.L.D. and WorldFish-Philippines 1 2




6 7




Prepared from species summary page of (SeaLifeBase Project) Poutiers, J.M. 1998. Bivalves (Acephala, Lamellibranchia: Pelecypoda), In: The Living Marine Resources of the western Central Pacific. Vol. 1 Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods. Carpenter, K.E., Niem, V.H. eds) FAO, Rome Italy. Vakily, J.M. 1989.The biology and culture of mussels of the genus Perna, ICLARM Studies and Reviews 17, International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines pp. 63. Ray, G.L. 2005. Invasive Animal Species in Marine and Estuarine Environments: Biology and Ecology. Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program. Segnini de Bravo, M.I., K.S. Chung and J.E. Perez. 1998. Salinity and temperature tolerances of the green and brown mussels, Perna viridis and Perna perna (Bivalvia, Mytilidae), Revista de Biologia Tropical, Supplement, 46(5):121-126. NIMPIS. 2002. Rajagopal, S., V.P. Venugopalan, K.V.K. Nair, G. van der Velde, H.A. Jenner and C. den Hartog. 1998. Reproduction, growth rate and culture potential of the green mussel, Perna viridis. Ingrao, D.A., P.M. Mikkelsen and D.W. Hicks. 2001. Another introduced marine mussel in the Gulf of Mexico: the Indo Pacific green mussel, Perna viridis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Tampa Bay, Florida. Journal of Shellfish Research 20: 13-19. Hicks, D.W., O.F. McMahon and D.A. Ingrao. 2001. Two invasive mussels in the genus Perna in the Gulf of Mexico, In: Virtual Proceedings for the State of the Bay Symposium V. January 31 –February 2, 2001. Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, Austin, Texas, USA pp 159-170. Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commision (

Spinner Dolphin

Stenella longirostris (Gray, 1821)1 Common Names: USA: Spinner dolphin; Philippines: Lumba lumba. Description: Spinner dolphins have various forms depending on their geographical locations. Commonly, these are small and slender animals with a relatively long slender beak. They have a tripartite coloration: a dark grey band bordered above by a thin light line runs from the eye to the flipper; the sides are light colored and clearly discernable by a smooth curve running from the abdominal margin to just over the eye; the area around the abdomen and the stomach is white, very light with a speckled margin and the genital and axillary areas come together along the lower abdomen. The flippers are dark or speckled, outlined with a band that contrasts with the gular region by variable spots. In adult males, the dorsal fin is sickle-shaped or triangular and has a bulging small to medium ventral keel.3,4 Importance: Spinner dolphins are the second most important dolphin species in tuna fisheries. They are used as shark bait and also for human consumption5 and are highly valued in ecotourism operations. Distribution: Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific: Stenella longirostris longirostris: around oceanic islands in the tropical Atlantic, Indian, Western and Central Pacific, east to about 145°W; Stenella longirostris orientalis: from off Baja California to Peru; Stenella longirostris centroamericana: from the Gulf of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico to Costa Rica.6 This species is present in all ASEAN countries except in landlocked Laos.7 Ecology: An oceanic and pelagic species found in tropical and subtropical areas.8 Spinners swim with other species, e.g., spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares).9 They rest all day and feed at night.10 They sometimes seek shallow sandy bottoms of protected coves in order to protect themselves from predators.6 Food and Predators: 4,5 They feed mainly on lantern fishes, barracudinas, big scales and other small fishes, e.g., grenadiers, snake mackerel,11,12 and enope and flying squids.13 They are preyed on by sharks, killer whales and possibly false killer whales, pygmy killer whales and pilot whales.7 Reproduction: Sexual maturity: 4-7 years (females, 165-170 cm); 7-10 years (males, 160-180 cm). Breeding system: promiscuous, with observable courtship display. Gestation period: averages 10 months. Litter size: one calf; born at 3-year intervals, nursed for at least a year and weaned between 1-3 years.2,14 L/W Relationship: The nearest available length-weight relationship is for the eastern tropical Pacific population with W(kilograms)= 2.78 - L(centimeters)4.5216 Red List Status: Data Deficient. Only a few studies have been done on the abundance from regions other than the eastern tropical Pacific. These populations are exposed to direct and indirect fisheries. In the Indian Ocean, kills have been reported by the hundreds and thousands, representing a large proportion of their global population. The IUCN cites an estimate of global population decline at 30 per cent. Though the eastern spinner population has recently become stable, there are no clear signs of recovery.7 Conservation and Management Measures: This species is included in the following: Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the eastern tropical Pacific and Southeast Asian populations of the spinner dolphin

are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS); and its value as a tourist attraction encourages different countries to form fisheries Administrative Orders to mandate the proper conduct of tourism industries during cetacean watching activities.18 Prepared by Sorongon, P.M.E.2, Conejar-Espedido, J., Dar, C.M., Pacres, L.D., Paglinawan, L.E., Pan, M.S., Palomares, M.L.D. and WorldFishPhilippines. Prepared from species summary page of SeaLifeBase Project, WorldFish Center Philippine Office, Khush Hall, IRRI, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines; Email: 3 Perrin, W.F. 1972. Color patterns of spinner porpoises (Stenella cf. S. longirostris) of the Eastern Pacific and Hawaii, with comments on delphinid pigmentation. Fishery Bulletin 70(3):983�1003. 4 Perrin, W.F. 1998. Stenella longirostris. Mammalian Species 599:1-7. 5 Dolar, M.L.L., S.J. Leatherwood, C.J. Wood, M.N.R. Alava, C.L. Hill and L.V. Aragones. 1994. Directed fisheries for cetaceans in the Philippines. Rep. Int. Whal. Commn. 44:439�449. 6 Rice, D.W. 1998. Marine Mammals of the World Systematics and Distribution. Special Publication number 4: The Society for Marine Mammalogy. 231p. 7 IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 11 March 2009. 8 Norris, K.S., B. Wursig, R.S. Wells and M. Wursig. 1994. The Hawaiian spinner dolphin. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. 9 American Cetacean Society. 2004. Spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris. American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet.�dolphin.pdf 10 Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood and M.A. Webber. 1993. FAO Species Identification Guide: Marine Mammals of the World. Rome, FAO. 320 p. + 587 figures. 11 Wang, S. (ed.) 1998. China red data book of endangered animals. Pisces. National Environmental Protection Agency. Endangered Species Scientific Commision. Science Press, Beijing, China. 247p. 12 Dolar, M.L.L., W.A. Walker, G.L. Kooyman and W.F. Perrin. 2003. Comparartive feeding ecology of spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) and fraser’s dolphins (Lagenodelphis hosei) in the Sulu Sea. Marine Mammal Science 19(1):1-19. 13 Silva, J.M. Jr., F.J.D. Silva, C Sazima and I. Sazima. 2007. Trophic relationships of the spinner dolphin at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, SW Atlantic. Scientia Marina 71(3):505�511. 14 Norris, K.S. 1991. Dolphin days: the life and times of the Spinner dolphin. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London. 15 Von Bertalanffy parameters computed using FiSAT and length�frequency data In Perrin, W.F. and J.R. Henderson. 1979. Growth and reproductive rates in two populations of spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris, with different histories of exploitation. Rep. Int. Whal. Comm. Special Issue 6:417-430. 16 Perrin, W.F., M.L.L. Dolar, C.M. Chan and S.J. Chivers. 2005. Length-weight relationships in the spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris). Marine Mammal Science 21(4):765778. 17 Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly. 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111. 18 Reeves, R.R. 2002. Conservation efforts. In: Perrin, W.F., Würsig, B. and Thewissen, J.G.M. Eds. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press, London. 1 2

Whale Shark

Rhincodon typus (Smith, 1828) Description: The whale shark is the largest fish and reaches sizes of 9-12 meters and may weigh up to 12,500 kilograms. It generally resembles whales, hence the name whale shark. The head is flattened and the wide mouth, positioned at the tip of the snout, stretches almost as wide as the body. The dorsal fin is particularly large and the tail has a half-moon shape. The body has a very distinct pattern, with dark greyish-blue color on the back and sides, as well as an array of pale yellow blotches. The whale shark’s undersurface is pale. Stout ridges travel the length of the body, ending at the tail shaft. There are five massive gill slits, within which are sieve-like structures of cartilage, on the side of the head. The mouth contains around 300 tiny teeth although the function of these is unknown. Whale sharks are fairly docile creatures and harmless. Distribution: Whale sharks are found throughout the world’s oceans in temperate and tropical waters, most commonly in a global band around the equator between 30° to 40° latitude. They inhabit shallow coastal areas as well as the open ocean. Biology: Whale sharks can be found singly, or in groups of over 100 individuals. They are often associated with groups of pelagic fishes, especially scombrids (which comprises mackerels and tunas). The species is highly migratory and moves between ocean basins and national jurisdictions, but generally returns to the same sites annually. Food: They feed on planktonic and nektonic prey, such as small fishes (sardines, anchovies, mackerel, juvenile tunas and albacore), small crustaceans and squid. When feeding, whale sharks are often seen in a vertical position with the head at or near the surface. The sharks turn their heads from side to side when actively feeding on zooplankton, with part of the head lifted out of the water. The sharks feed by opening and closing their mouths 7-28 times per minute, and these suction gulps are synchronized with the opening and closing of the gill slits.

Reproduction: Very little is known about the reproduction of the world’s largest fish, other than that they are ovoviviparous, and litter size is over 300 pups (Ovoviviparous refers to animals that produce eggs but retain them inside the female body until hatching occurs, so that “live” offsprings are born). Threats: Whale sharks have been fished throughout their range, and their flesh is highly valued in some Asian markets. A slow reproduction rate adds to their vulnerability. In some areas, they have become important tourist attractions, but the impact of shark-watching tours is still poorly understood. Conservation: In Southeast Asia, whale sharks are prime attractions in ecotourism destinations such as in Thailand and the Philippines. The Philippines has also banned the catching of whale sharks in its waters. International conservation and management of whale sharks is also encouraged by its listing on the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Red List Status: Classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List 2007; listed in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals in 1999; classified as a highly migratory species, in Annex I of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which called for ‘coordinated management and assessment to better understand cumulative impacts of fishing effort on the status of the shared populations’ of these sharks; included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since May 2003. References ARKive ( FishBase (

Invasive Alien Species  
Invasive Alien Species  

Asean Biodiversity Vol. 8 No. 1