ITTO/CBD Collaborative Initiative convenes conference on biodiversity in Mekong subregion

5 April 2016

The iconic Javan rhino found in the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex, Cambodia.
Photo: istockphoto/outsiderzone

Community participation and secure tenure are prerequisites for the conservation of biodiversity in the Mekong subregion, and biodiversity conservation initiatives that lead to self-reliance can help alleviate poverty, according to about 100 stakeholders and conservation professionals attending a conference in March as part of the ITTO/Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity.
The Regional Conference on Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Forests of the Greater Mekong Subregion was an activity of an ITTO-funded project (Management of the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex to promote cooperation for trans-boundary biodiversity conservation between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (Phase III), PD 577/10 Rev.1 (F)) aimed at protecting the habitat of 16 critical endangered or endangered wildlife species. The conference, which was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, provided a forum for sharing national, regional and international initiatives on biodiversity conservation, analyzing current threats to forest biodiversity such as illegal logging and hunting of wildlife, and proposing policy frameworks to improve local livelihoods and strengthen conservation activities.
At the opening of the conference, CBD Scientific Advisor Dr Ian Thompson delivered a message from CBD Executive Secretary Braulio F. de Souza Dias underlining the need to leverage the critical ecosystem services that the Mekong subregion provides for human well-being, and the subregion’s role as a global biodiversity hotspot and a refuge for iconic wildlife species such as the Javan rhino. Dr Thompson said that the CBD recognized the important role that the ITTO/CBD Collaborative Initiative plays in biodiversity conservation though field projects, such as the one being implemented in the Emerald Triangle area.
Two keynote presentations on biodiversity conservation, and country reports on Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam, were delivered at the conference, together with lessons learned from ITTO transboundary biodiversity conservation projects in the Emerald Triangle Forest Complex and the Heart of Borneo. Important questions addressed were how to ensure that farmers and women can obtain substantial income from forest biodiversity conservation, and how to judge the sustainability of the Emerald transboundary biodiversity conservation partnership.
Key conclusions and message from the conference included the following:
  • Sound land-use policy and security of tenure of gazetted forests are crucial for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management (SFM) objectives. Conservation forests, protection forests and production forests need to be set aside to ensure biodiversity conservation at different scales in forest landscapes.
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity in the tropical forest sector can be facilitated in the context of national biodiversity strategies, action plans and targets aimed at achieving the forest-related Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in tropical forests should be supported with political commitment, policies and laws based on national strategies, and short-term, medium-term and long-term targets for setting and achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable use goals.
  • Strengthening SFM in conservation forests, protection forests and production forests is crucial for maintaining ecosystem functions at the landscape scale, especially given the important role played by biodiversity in ecosystem functioning.
  • Conservation can benefit communities, but efforts must be sustained and lead to self-reliance. Poverty can be alleviated by integrated forest biodiversity conservation activities. The participation of stakeholders and particularly local communities is necessary for ensuring the longevity of ongoing activities.  
  • Forest law enforcement and good governance in protected forests urgently needs to be strengthened.
  • Transboundary biodiversity conservation areas promote regional cooperation and stem from the recognition that conservation is a shared responsibility. Enabling the conservation of large contiguous forest areas is important for conserving tropical forests and their biodiversity.
  • Capacity building in tropical countries is necessary to fully achieve SFM and biodiversity conservation in the context of Sustainable Development Goal 15 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (“sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss”).
The conference, which was held on 23–25 March 2016, was organized jointly by ITTO, the Cambodian Forestry Administration and the Thai Royal Forest Department with the support of the CBD Secretariat, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, and other organizations.
Presentations from the conference 1/3

Presentations from the conference 2/3

Presentations from the conference 3/3