Vol. 3, No. 1 l January 2010

The ASEAN BIODIVERSITY UPDATES is published by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) to keep stakeholders posted on news about biodiversity concerns, and efforts of ACB, the ASEAN and its Member States in the areas of biodiversity conservation and advocacy.

About ACB l Contact Us

2010 is International Year of Biodiversity

Message from ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Executive Director

What is biodiversity? Why is it important? Why do we have to take care of it? What do we stand to lose when we destroy biodiversity?

Unfortunately, not too many people know the answers to these questions. We are surrounded by biodiversity yet we often fail to recognize its value. The food that nourishes us comes from plant and animal resources. The drugs that we take when we are sick are derived from medicinal plants. Millions of people have jobs as farmers, fishermen, foresters, and tourist guides because of biodiversity. Pharmaceutical, food, agriculture, and cosmetic companies thrive because of nature’s wealth.

Only a small fraction of Southeast Asia’s over 500 million people know what biodiversity means. There is a dearth of information materials on biodiversity, resulting in low public awareness of the values of biodiversity and conservation. Resources for conservation are limited, often translating into lack of information, education, and communication materials.

Raising awareness is the objective of the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) 2010 with the theme “Biodiversity is life.  Biodiversity is our life.”  The United Nations declared this celebration to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the consequences of its loss. The Year also promotes the engagement of the public and other actors for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). According to the CBD Secretariat (SCBD), the Year also celebrates the successes in realizing the target of achieving a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), as a major partner of the SCBD, fully supports this celebration. We will work in tandem with SCBD and our partners in the European Union and the ASEAN Member States in educating the public about the urgent need to conserve biodiversity through various activities.

A major public awareness activity of ACB is the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity, a regional program that will recognize the outstanding contributions of the youth, media, and business sectors to the biodiversity conservation. To be implemented in partnership with the ASEAN Foundation, the European Union, ASEAN Member States, and UNESCO, the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity seeks to address the need to generate a greater public and leadership awareness of the problems facing the region’s rich but highly threatened biodiversity.

ACB will also engage the region’s communicators including government information officers and media by supporting Communication, Education, and Public Awareness (CEPA) programs.  We will help provide a platform for government and media to have regular information exchanges on biodiversity conservation.

We encourage YOU to participate in this global celebration. The International Year of Biodiversity is a celebration of life. Let us all celebrate life together.


Executive Director

IYB 2010 now on Facebook

Global News Network features IYB 2010

ACB participates in Coral Triangle business summit

New biodiversity conservation targets needed

CBD Executive Secretary reports gains on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Thailand declares 2010 Year of Biodiversity

Biofuel crops require tight screening

SEA on high alert: pests and diseases threaten cassava

International conference on forestry education and research

Call for nominations for the UNDP Equator Prize now open

Biodiversity Southeast Asia

ASEAN Biodiversity Vol. 8, No. 2 May-August 2009

IYB 2010 now on Facebook

The International Year of Biodiversity 2010 is now reaching more people all over the world through Facebook – a popular social networking site. The SCBD has announced that, to date, it has over 13,000 fans and growing. Its goal is to achieve one million fans by the end of 2010.

SCBD is inviting everyone to become fans of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/iyb2010.   

“It will be one more way to reach as many people as possible. With your help, we will be one step closer to this goal and ultimately to raising the profile of the importance of biodiversity for human-well being,” SCBD Executive Secretary Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf said in a statement.  Back to top

Global News Network features IYB 2010

A nationwide cable television program in the Philippines featured the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) 2010 on January 29, Friday, 8:00 p.m. The television program “Think Global, Act Local” of the Global News Network (GNN), which is aired weekly over Destiny Cable Channel 21 in Metro Manila and on multiple channel assignments nationwide, is hosted by veteran commentator Harry Tambuatco and senior journalist Gil Santos. GNN is also broadcast Asia-wide on FREE-TV.

Mr. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of ACB, provided an overview on IYB 2010. Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, discussed the activities to be conducted in the Philippines. Atty. Darwin Mariano, Public Affairs Director for Philippines and Asia of CEMEX Asia Pte. Ltd., talked about how business contributes to biodiversity conservation. 

“This 2010, GNN will feature various biodiversity topics every last Friday of the month. This will give us the opportunity to reach out to more viewers and share with them the importance of biodiversity, as well as the consequences of its loss,” Rolando Inciong, Head of ACB’s Communication and Public Affairs Unit, said.

Copies of the TV program will be uploaded to ACB’s website www.aseanbiodiversity.org.  Back to top

ACB participates in Coral Triangle business summit

The ACB was among the many international organizations and business groups that participated in the Coral Triangle Business Summit in Manila on 19 – 20 January 2009. The Centre was represented by two of its specialists: Dr. Filiberto Pollisco Jr, program development, and Reynaldo Molina, resource mobilization. ACB’s participation in the summit reflects its high priority in conserving the Coral Triangle’s biodiversity.


Leaders from the communications, seafood, travel, finance and oil and gas industries came together with Asia Pacific policy makers to discuss the role of the private sector in protecting the Coral Triangle, the world’s most important and diverse marine region.


Hosted by the Government of the Philippines in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Coral Triangle Business Summit established new partnerships between the private sector, policy makers and organizations interested in sustainable business opportunities.


Known as the “Nursery of the Seas”, the Coral Triangle region covers all or part of the seas of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. The region is seriously threatened by environmental degradation, poverty, over-exploitation, and the global economic recession. This dire situation is compounded by severe climate change - making a compelling case for sustainable investment and business in the Coral Triangle.


A major effort to conserve and sustainably manage the Coral Triangle region’s natural resources and biodiversity is the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF). This multilateral partnership program aims to secure the health of the region’s natural resources and the millions of livelihoods that depend on it. 


The Summit was part of the overall strategy of the CTI-CFF to bring together industry leaders, governments, investors, funders, innovators and change-makers to stimulate green investment in public private partnerships that secure the sustainability and profitability of key sectors dependent on healthy marine resources. The Summit outlined the business and networking opportunities, as well as the financial and investment support mechanism available to businesses willing to commit to sustainability and green growth. ACB-WWF  Back to top 

New biodiversity conservation targets needed 

Several country-parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity have started discussions on new targets to be set during the United Nations biodiversity summit in October this year. In 2002, governments then set a target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but there is a general sentiment that the pledge will not be met.


The UN has warned during the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity that the ongoing loss of species around the world is indeed affecting human well-being because of expanding human cities, farming and infrastructure.


Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), urged governments and their leaders to renew their commitment to curbing biodiversity loss even though the 2010 goal will be missed.


At a scientific meeting in January, CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf acknowledged that the 2010 target had been "a mistake", partly because many governments did not have the capacity to turn them into reality. He added that the public and politicians still lack awareness and knowledge about the natural world.


According to UN documents prepared following consultations with governments, these targets could include: stopping the rate of biodiversity loss by 2020; ending subsidies that harm biodiversity; ending destructive fishing practices; controlling the unintentional transfer of species from place to place; and placing at least 15 percent of land and sea area under protection. It was also proposed that the targets should include resources needed to ensure that developing countries can meet new targets. BBC  Back to top 

CBD Executive Secretary reports gains
on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The Biosafety Clearing-House is fully operational and is facilitating the exchange of information on living modified organisms. An action plan for building capacities for the effective implementation of the Protocol has been developed and a mechanism to promote compliance with the Protocol and provide advice or assistance to Parties is in place.

These are some of the major achievements reported by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in his message during the 10th anniversary of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. According to Dr. Djoghlaf, the anniversary of the Protocol coincides with the International Year of Biological Diversity that seeks to sensitize and re-engage people all over the world to conserve and sustainably use the diversity of life on Earth.

Dr Djoghlaf further reported that “important steps have also been taken towards establishing international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress for damage resulting from transboundary movements of living modified organisms”. By the first week of February, he said “the second meeting of the Friends of the Co-Chairs concerning liability and redress in the context of the Protocol will be held in Kuala Lumpur to work towards finalizing the draft rules and procedures, including a legally binding instrument in the form of a supplementary protocol, for consideration and adoption by the Parties at their fifth meeting, to be held in Nagoya, Japan, in October this year”. – SCBD  Back to top

Thailand declares 2010 Year of Biodiversity

The Government of Thailand has announced that 2010 will be Thailand's Year of Biodiversity, in line with a resolution of the UN General Assembly, which declares 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.

The Thai Cabinet, at its meeting on 22 December 2009, approved the announcement proposed by the National Committee on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity and recommended by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. It also endorsed the Action Plan for IYB and instructed all relevant government offices to allocate funds for its organizations to operate in accordance with the action plan. The objective is to urge all groups of people and professions to be aware of biodiversity and cooperate in conserving and using biodiversity in a sustainable way.

Rich in biodiversity, Thailand is the home of 12,000 vascular plant species, 302 species of mammals, and 982 species of birds. There are more than 2,100 marine and 720 freshwater fish species in the country, accounting for 10 percent of the estimated total fish species worldwide. Even so, Thailand is facing a decline in biodiversity, which is caused mainly by over-exploitation. During the Year of Biodiversity, Thailand will step up education campaigns to encourage the general public to become more aware of conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. – Thai Press Reports  Back to top

Biofuel crops require tight screening

'Invasive' biofuel crops will impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems unless tightly controlled, says a panel of European experts. They warn that some biofuel crops are able to escape as pests, and thus impact on native biodiversity. As rural communities plan to grow more biofuel crops, the likelihood of new and harmful ‘invasions’ will increase apace.

In late 2009, the ‘Standing Committee of the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats’ (known as the Bern Convention) adopted a recommendation on potentially invasive alien plants being used as biofuel crops (Recommendation 141, 2009).

The recommendations, which are legally binding on member states, include the following: avoid the use of recognized invasive biofuel; carry out risk assessments for new species and genotypes; monitor the spread of biofuel crops into natural habitats and their effects on native species; and 4) mitigate the spread and impact on native biodiversity wherever biofuel crops escape cultivation.

The experts thus stress the importance of pre-cultivation screening for each proposed genotype and region. Biological buffer zones between crop fields and natural vegetation are also keys to limiting invasions. The more invasive the crops, the bigger the buffer zone should be.  Back to top

SEA on high alert: pests and diseases threaten cassava

Deadly pests and diseases are crippling cassava production in many parts of Southeast Asia. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) revealed such outbreaks after the center investigated reports of damaged and stunted cassava plants with low root yields in Thailand’s eastern and northeastern regions. Cassava is a staple crop in the region, and grown by around five million smallholders, mainly to supply the starch processing and animal feed industries. Thailand’s industry alone is worth US$1.5 billion, and the country accounts for three-quarters of the world’s cassava exports.

Scientists have discovered a large number of mealy bugs - well-known cassava pests in Latin America and Africa, but rarely a problem for cassava producers in Southeast Asia. Tropical whitefly and red mites have also infested Thai fields while Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB) and Brown Leaf Spot disease were also widespread. None of these pest and disease problems had previously caused significant losses in Thailand, but the severity of the current outbreak has been attributed, in part, to higher than usual rainfall in the region, linked to climate change.

In neighboring Viet Nam, where farmers reported similar symptoms, the CIAT team found not only the same pests, but diseases that for so many decades have never occurred in cassava plants. CIAT is also investigating reports that fields in Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines have also been affected.

CIAT scientists and their partners in Southeast Asia have issued urgent preliminary management guidelines to tackle the deadly pest and disease outbreaks. Here are some of their recommendations: select pest and disease-free plants and collection the stems as planting material; store the selected stem  in a cool, dry place, and, if necessary, dip in a systemic insecticide such as Thiamethoxam; avoid application of foliar pesticides – they can affect beneficial biological control agents; restrict the movement of cassava planting stakes, especially from infected areas and restrict the movement of related species such as jatropha; train extension staff and farmers in the identification of the various pests and diseases and develop a network of trained professionals in the region and a GIS-based system to monitor pests and diseases; initiate research into the identification and control of all observed pests and diseases, and their vectors; an initiate a breeding program to develop resistance to pests and diseases. For more information and details, check out the CIAT website: www.ciat.cgiar.org  Back to top

International conference on forestry education and research

Forestry educators and researchers will meet on 23 - 25 November 2010 in the Philippines for the International Conference on Forestry Education and Research in the Asia-Pacific Region. The theme of the conference is Forestry Education and Research: Responding to Changing Needs.

The conference aims to assess the state of forestry education and research in the Asia Pacific region; identify major issues and challenges confronting the education and research sectors; and initiate the process of charting the future direction of forestry education and research.

Rapid changes in the society in recent times brought about by fast-paced technological advances in information and communication and coupled with globalization have heavily influenced the forestry sectors at the local, national, regional and global levels in varying degrees and importance. With the global economic slow-down, the challenges and issues affecting the forestry sector have become more complex and diverse.

In 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that many developing countries have little or no credible scientific capacity, which has stunted long-term development. Furthermore, access to available information and technologies among and within countries is sometimes limited or non-existent, particularly for those in the marginalized sectors like the poor tree farmers. Education and research will play a vital role in enhancing the capacity of forestry professionals in maintaining the integrity and function of the forest ecosystems for the benefit of those who depend on these life-sustaining systems.

For further details, contact: THE SECRETARIAT, Forestry Development Center, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, PHILIPPINES, Telephone: +64 49 536-3097 | 536-2341, E-mail: fored2010@uplb.edu.ph Back to top

Call for nominations for the UNDP Equator Prize now open

The UNDP Equator Initiative is inviting nominations for the Equator Prize 2010 for outstanding local, indigenous and community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Now in its fifth award cycle, the Equator Prize has special significance during IYB 2010. 

Equator Prize winners are selected on the principal criteria of impact, partnerships, sustainability, innovation and transferability, leadership and community empowerment, as well as gender equality and social inclusion. Winners will receive international recognition for their work and an opportunity to shape international policy and practice in the field.   

The Equator Prize 2010 will be awarded to 25 local and indigenous communities from across the tropics; 20 will receive US$5,000 and a further five will be selected as “special recognition” winners and receive a total of US$20,000. “Special recognition” will be awarded in each region of prize eligibility (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean), one for indigenous peoples and applied traditional knowledge, and one for ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. 

The call for nominations officially opened on 11 January 2010. Nominations will be accepted until 28 February 2010. For details, visit www.equatorinitiative.org Back to top



Mekong tiger population at “crisis point”

BANGKOK (AFP) – Governments must act decisively to prevent the extinction of tigers in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region, where numbers have plunged more than 70 percent in 12 years, the WWF said.

The wild tiger population across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam has dropped from an estimated 1,200 in 1998 – the last Year of the Tiger – to around 350 today, according to the conservation group. The report said the regional decline was reflected in the global wild tiger population, which is at an all-time low of 3,200, down from an estimated 20,000 in the 1980s and 100,000 a century ago.

"Today, wild tiger populations are at a crisis point," the WWF said, ahead of the start of the Year of the Tiger on 14 February 14, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It cited growing demand for tiger body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine as a major factor endangering the region's Indochinese tiger population.

Infrastructure developments were also blamed by the report for fragmenting tigers' habitats, such as forests being cut up by roads and converted into commercial crop plantations. Although Indochinese tigers were once found in abundance across the Greater Mekong region, the WWF says there are now no more than 30 tigers per country in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Manila Bulletin

13 countries meet in bid to save wild tigers

January 27 Efforts to save the wild tiger are at a critical point and it will take greater political will and cooperation from Asian countries to prevent their extinction. This was the main message at the first Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation that discussed tiger conservation and measures to boost their population. Tiger numbers have plummeted because of human encroachment, the loss of more than nine-tenths of their habitat, and poaching to supply the vibrant trade in tiger parts. From an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, the number today is less than 3,600. 

The meeting was organized by Thailand and the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), a coalition formed in 2008 by the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institute and nearly 40 conservation groups. GTI aims to double tiger numbers by 2022. 


New bird discovered in Borneo

January 24 - Richard Webster recently discovered a bird species entirely new to science in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, Malaysia. The discovery was published in the latest issue of the Oriental Bird Club’s magazine, BirdingASIA.  Known only as the 'spectacled flowerpecker’, the species has not yet received a scientific name. It is hoped that the discovery will lead to the conservation of the new species and large tracts of its habitat, which is under threat from clearance for oil palm agriculture. Borneo has lost nearly half of its forests over the last fifty years due to logging and clearance for oil palm plantations. mongabay.com


Ecosystem Biodiversity

Java continues to lose rainforest

January 24 - From 2003-2006, Java lost approximately 2,500 hectares a year (10,000 hectares of forest in total) according to Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry. Despite the rate of loss being far lower in Java than other Indonesian islands, Java is particularly threatened because there is so little forest left. If the past rate of deforestation continues, then by end of 2010 only 10,000 hectares of rainforest will remain on the island, leaving a number of unique and endangered species in deep trouble. Java is home to a number of endangered endemic species, including the Javan rhino with a populated estimated at 40 to 60 individuals; Javan hawk-eagle, Javan gibbon, Javan langur, Javan slow loris, and the surili, a species of monkey. The island has already lost one of its flagship species to deforestation and poaching: the Javan tiger likely vanished entirely in the 1980s. Poaching is rampant and Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Much of the deforestation is due to oil palm plantations, as well as paper and other wood products.


Climate Change

Stop converting peatlands

January 18 - A study commissioned by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) of Indonesia has recommended a moratorium on peatland conversion if Indonesia wants to meet its pledged emission cuts to tackle climate change. The study also proposes a land-swap scheme to relocate existing licenses in the peatlands, but not in other degraded forests.  Indonesia has around 21 million hectares of peatlands, mostly in Sumatra with 7.2 million hectares, Kalimantan with 5.8 million hectare, and Papua with 8 million hectares. Most of the peatland in Papua is untouched. The rehabilitation of peatlands and preventing fires could cut about 430 million tons of CO2 emissions. The Indonesian Government has pledged to abate the country’s emissions by 26 percent by 2020, of which 14 percent will be cut from forest and peatlands. The Bappenas study also recommended the need for effective institutions to overcome overlapping mandates on the management of peat and lowland areas in the country.  It also proposed the need to develop peatland carbon policies to attract financial incentives under the current Carbon Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme. – The Jakarta Post

Indonesia to plant and restore vast area of forest to reach emissions target

January 7 - Indonesia will rehabilitate degraded forests and plant millions of hectares of new forests to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent from projected levels by 2020. The Forestry Ministry stated that 500,000 hectares of new forest would be planted each year from now until 2020, at a cost of 2.5 trillion rupiah ($269 million) per year. Indonesia would also rehabilitate 300,000 hectares of degraded forest every year using funds from international donors. Indonesia's emissions are projected to be 2.6 to 2.8 billion tons in 2020, up from 2.3 billion in 2005. Most emissions are produced through deforestation and degradation of peatlands. Indonesia hopes to win compensation under the UN program for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation. By some estimates Indonesia could earn billions of dollars a year under a carbon trading scheme that counts carbon credits generated from forest conservation activities. mongabay.com

About ACB

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is an intergovernmental regional centre of excellence that facilitates cooperation and coordination among the members of ASEAN, and with relevant governments and organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.  Protecting Southeast Asia’s rich but highly threatened web of life is its main goal.


Biodiversity is protected, conserved, managed and sustainably used, and its benefits are fairly and equitably shared for the social, economic and environmental well-being of ASEAN Member States.


ACB champions biodiversity conservation in the region and enhances its global standing as a center of excellence for biodiversity conservation.


1.  Programme development and policy coordination

2. Human and institutional capacity development

3. Biodiversity information management

4. Public and leadership awareness of biodiversity values

5. Sustainable financing mechanism.

Back to top

Contact Us

Public Affairs Unit

ACB Headquarterss
3/F ERDB Building
Forestry Campus
College, Laguna 4031

Tels: +6349-5362865


General Inquiry:

Back to top