Indonesia to host ASEAN conference for protected areas

As the global community is set to finalise the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the ASEAN asserts the need for ambitious yet realistic targets for people and nature.

Out of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the ASEAN region has the most significant contribution to the achievement of Target 11 on protected areas, where it established the protection for 13 per cent of terrestrial and two per cent of coastal and marine areas. The ASEAN hosts a wide assortment of ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs)––best protected places in the region recognised for their tremendous biological and ecological diversity and significant conservation value.

In its continuing effort to strengthen and expand its network of protected areas, the region will gather AHP representatives, protected area managers and experts, government officials, and representatives from international organisations, private sector, local communities, youth, and other societal sectors and segments for the Seventh AHP Conference (AHP 7).

The Conference organised by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is set to occur on 31 October to 3 November 2022 in Bogor, Indonesia.

‘Wonderful Indonesia’

Indonesia hosts a myriad of ecosystems that support a vast richness of flora and fauna earning its spot as the third most biodiverse country in the world. Seven out of 51 AHPs can also be found in Indonesia, namely, Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, Gunung Leuser National Park, Kepulauan Seribu National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park, Lorentz National Park, Wakatobi National Park, and Way Kambas National Park.

Out of all the known species in the world, Indonesia is home to 13 per cent of mammals, 18 per cent of reptiles, 11 per cent of butterfly species, and 8 per cent of seed plant species.

The Government of Indonesia, through the MoEF, has been ensuring the conservation of biodiversity while improving the livelihoods of communities within and around these AHPs with the help of the ACB and the German Government. This joint initiative is called the ACB Small Grants Programme where communities benefit from conservation and livelihood projects funded through small and micro grants.  The pilot sites in Indonesia include Gunung Leuser and Way Kambas National Parks.

Towards a more resilient ASEAN

COVID-19 has gravely affected the livelihoods of communities within and around AHPs. The movement and travel restrictions brought by the pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of most of the parks, suspending conservation and livelihood activities in these protected areas.

Hence, this year’s theme of the AHP 7 is Healing Nature and People: The Role of AHPs in Ecosystem Protection and Pandemic Recoveryto tackle not just how the pandemic affected the region’s protected areas, but also how the conservation of these sites can prevent the recurrence of pandemics in the future.

“This conference was designed in line with the ASEAN’s exit strategy from COVID-19 or the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which recognises the importance of biodiversity conservation and mainstreaming as a nature-based solution, in increasing the region’s pandemic resilience,” said Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, executive director of the ACB.

Aside from the link between biodiversity and human health, the AHP 7 will likewise feature good practices in sustainable financing, ecotourism, business and biodiversity, the role of youth, women, and local communities in protected area management, and evaluating effectiveness of protected area management.

“We are grateful for the support of Indonesia’s MoEF-Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation of Species and Genetics (KKH) in staging this year’s ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference. The conference will be a venue to exchange lessons learnt and experiences in protected area management in light of the threats posed by the pandemic,” said Dr. Lim.

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