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The ASEAN BIODIVERSITY UPDATES is published monthly by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) to keep stakeholders informed of news about biodiversity concerns and efforts that are relevant to the ASEAN region, including about the work of ACB. 

Vol. 5, No. 5  I  May  2012

www.aseanbiodiversity.org

NEWS

International Day for Biological Diversity 2012

From mangrove swamps to the darkest depths of the ocean, the marine and coastal ecosystems support an overwhelming array of plants and animals which are crucial to the survival of humanity. This rich tapestry of life was highlighted on May 22 as the world celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Read More

Media and multi-sector group support
marine biodiversity conservation

Some 100 representatives of the business community, media, people’s organizations, local government units and international organizations trekked to Ang Pulo Mangroves in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines on May 15 for a media forum and mangrove planting activity. The multi-sector event dubbed “Conserve Marine Biodiversity, Conserve Life” was part of the celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) 2012 and the Philippines’ National Oceans Month.

Read More

IDB 2012: business sector leads tree planting

On May 26, around 200 officers and employees of Belle Corporation, Highlands Prime, Tagaytay Highlands, ACB and GIZ, as well as media representatives, planted 1,800 fruit bearing trees at the Bird Sanctuary in Tagaytay Highlands, Philippines. The multi-sector event dubbed “One Tree at a Time” was part of the celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity and the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020).

Read More

Managing biodiversity data from local government

Local governments around the world have a new tool to help share and use vast amounts of biodiversity knowledge collected in the course of their work. A best practice guide published by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability details the simple steps needed to preserve data and make them accessible via the Internet.

Read More

ESCAP launches low carbon, regional green growth blueprint

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has unveiled a blueprint to help developing countries in the region sustain economic growth needed to reduce poverty amidst worsening resource constraints and climate impacts.

Read More

Volunteers paint Biodiversity Wall of Nature

Some 700 volunteers – including representatives of environmental organizations, universities, police, army, and neighboring barangays – trooped to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines on May 25 to paint the perimeter wall with various forms of marine life. The mural painting was part of the celebration of National Oceans Month.

Read More

World Migratory Bird Day 2012

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated each year on the second weekend of May, and provides an opportunity for birding enthusiasts and environmentalists to celebrate, protect and raise awareness for migratory birds and their habitats. Migratory birds can cross the entire globe during their journeys, ignoring national borders and connecting the world with their migration routes. 

Read More

World Bank releases study on illegal logging

A World Bank study, entitled “Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging,” reviews law enforcement tactics to prevent corruption and prosecute criminal organizations dealing in “dirty money” from illegal logging. The study said illegal logging is controlled by organized crime, accounts in some countries for up to 90 percent of all logging, and involves “dirty money” that is untaxed and used to pay off corrupt government officials.

Read More

ACB trains Thailand on biodiversity information management

Twenty government and NGO staff involved in biodiversity information management in Thailand underwent a two-day training on Data Organization and Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM) Enhancement and Maintenance. Conducted by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and held at the Kasetsart University in Bangkok on May 10-11, the training was part of Thailand’s efforts to meet its obligations to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the area of information management.

Read More

FAO publishes Yearbook of Forest Products for 2006-2010

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published the 64th issue of its Yearbook of Forest Products. The publication contains annual data on the production and trade in forest products from 2006-2010. The yearbook compiles statistical data, based on country information, on basic forest products.

Read More

 


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FEATURE

MYANMAR

Popa Mountain Park

Popa Mountain Park is considered the oasis of the Central Myanmar Dry Zone. It is situated in Kyauk Pa Daung Township, Mandalay Division and was established in 1985 by the Ministry of Forestry to protect local wildlife and its geomorphologic features. Covering 128 sq km,
Popa Mountain Park contains evergreen, moist upper deciduous, and pine forest.

Read More

BIODIVERSITY NEWS
SOUTHEAST ASIA

Myanmar ripe for environmental plunder. Myanmar is regarded as one of Asia's last bastions of biodiversity, which is why environmentalists view the country's steps toward opening its doors with some fear. As foreign investors begin pouring in, activists say endemic corruption, virtually nonexistent environmental laws and a long-repressed civil society make the country "ripe for environmental plunder".

Read More


International Day for Biological Diversity 2012

From mangrove swamps to the darkest depths of the ocean, the marine and coastal ecosystems support an overwhelming array of plants and animals which are crucial to the survival of humanity. This rich tapestry of life was highlighted on May 22 as the world celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity. The United Nations proclaimed May 22 of each year as the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. For 2012, the theme is Marine and Coastal Biodiversity.

“The survival of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity is essential to the nutritional, spiritual, societal and religious well-being of many coastal communities. But even for the many millions of people who may not think that they have any strong reliance on the ocean, marine ecosystems and wildlife provide all kinds of benefits,” said Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The territory occupied by the 10 ASEAN Member States houses a third of the world’s coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass areas. The region is home to 30 percent of coral reefs, 35 percent of mangroves, and at least 33 percent of all seagrass environs on earth, according to the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook published by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in 2010. Nine out of ten ASEAN Member States are endowed with extensive coastlines, providing an aggregate total of some 173,000 kilometers of shore.

Marine and coastal ecosystems support the highest biodiversity of coastal and marine fauna and flora in the planet. An estimated 600 Southeast Asians depend directly on these resources for food and income, which also forms the economic base for the fishing and tourism industries of the region,” said Mr. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, executive director of ACB.

“Unfortunately,” Fuentes added, “the challenges facing these riches are unprecedented. Marine biodiversity is under serious threat.” Although Southeast Asia hosts the largest coral reef areas in the world, it also has the highest rate of loss, which today stands at 40 percent. Uncontrolled human population growth has been one of the major factors of pressure build-up in coastal areas in the last 40 years. There is urgency in taking action that will better protect these ecosystems,” Fuentes underscored.

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Media and multi-sector group support marine biodiversity conservation

Some 100 representatives of the business community, media, people’s organizations, local government units and international organizations trekked to Ang Pulo Mangroves in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines on May 15 for a media forum and mangrove planting activity. The multi-sector event dubbed “Conserve Marine Biodiversity, Conserve Life” was part of the celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) 2012 and the Philippines’ National Oceans Month. 

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Nissan Motor Philippines, Inc. (NMPI), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, the Batangas Government Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Provincial Government of Batangas, the Municipal Government of Calagatan, and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation led the planting of 200 mangrove propagules at Ang Pulo.

“NMPI believes that as a corporate citizen, it plays an important role to communicate and cooperate actively with the communities. NMPI has formed various partnerships with international organizations, citizens groups and government agencies to effectively promote real-world reductions in environmental impact,” NMPI President and CEO Allen Chen said. “Through this event, we hope were able to go the extra mile in preserving biodiversity to complement our environment philosophy of achieving a symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature.”

Journalists from Brunei, Philippines and Thailand participated in the media forum at the mangrove site to highlight the importance of conserving marine habitats and species. Experts from the participating organizations briefed media representatives on the status of mangroves and marine biodiversity in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. The impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, as well as actions of people’s organizations to conserve mangroves, was also discussed.

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IDB 2012: business sector leads tree planting

On May 26, around 200 officers and employees of Belle Corporation, Highlands Prime, Tagaytay Highlands, ACB and GIZ, as well as media representatives, planted 1,800 fruit bearing trees at the Bird Sanctuary in Tagaytay Highlands, Philippines.

The multi-sector event dubbed “One Tree at a Time” was part of the celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity and the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020), a global celebration that seeks to promote the involvement of a variety of national and intergovernmental actors and other stakeholders in the goal of mainstreaming biodiversity into broader development planning and economic activities.

The annual “One Tree at a Time” of Tagaytay Highlands started in 2010 when ACB partnered with the leisure destination for its first tree planting activity. Because of this joint project, Tagaytay Highlands was recognized by ACB as a “Friend of Biodiversity”. Since then, Tagaytay Highlands has maintained its position as an agent of change on how it sees business through environmental conservation.

“The third One Tree at a Time coincided with Tagaytay Highlands’ 18th anniversary celebration. Planting 1,800 trees is part of our thanksgiving to Mother Nature. Without trees, there will be no air to breathe and without air, there will be no life to live. The trees we planted will also provide Tagaytay Highlands’ various species of birds and insects a new home. More importantly, we will pass on an important legacy to the future generation,” Mr. Willy Ocier, founder of Tagaytay Highlands, said.

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Managing biodiversity data from local government

Local governments around the world have a new tool to help share and use vast amounts of biodiversity knowledge collected in the course of their work. A best practice guide published by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability details the simple steps needed to preserve data and make them accessible via the Internet.

The guide notes that local governments are becoming increasingly important as managers and users of biodiversity assets, with their responsibilities for environmental management and planning, regulation of land use, and supporting implementation of policies and strategies relating to biodiversity.

The guide, supported by the CBD, describes how biodiversity data publishing can be incorporated into planning, policy development and decision-making processes in local government. Among the advantages to local governments of publishing data using the tools outlined in the guide are:

It enables free and open access to biodiversity data, essential for biodiversity-inclusive planning at local level;

It facilitates expansion and improvement of local, national and global biodiversity databases leading to more sustainable decision-making; and

It helps practitioners doing specialist work for local government to gain recognition by enabling them to be cited in future uses of data they collect.

In addition to the full guide giving comprehensive background and details of GBIF tools and services, a concise version is available for local government practitioners. For further information, please contact: Vishwas Chavan, GBIF Secretariat, vchavan@gbif.org

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ESCAP launches low carbon, regional green growth blueprint

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has unveiled a blueprint to help developing countries in the region sustain economic growth needed to reduce poverty amidst worsening resource constraints and climate impacts.

Launched ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, the ESCAP Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific: Turning Resource Constraints and the Climate Crisis into Economic Growth Opportunities outlines a menu of policy options and practical strategies to convert the crisis of shrinking natural resources and climate change into a driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Proposing a five-track path of change with 63 policy options and 51 examples, the Roadmap calls for a fundamental transformation of the current economic system by reforming the “invisible” as well as “visible” structures of the economy. The former comprise, among others, market price, lifestyles, regulations and governance, while the latter encompass the physical infrastructure of transport, buildings, urban design, energy, water and waste systems.

According to the Roadmap, it is possible to sustain higher economic growth by shifting the tax base from traditional taxes to levies on resource consumption and pollution without increasing the aggregate tax burden. Thus, a tax of $10 per ton of CO2 emission in developing Asia-Pacific countries, if accompanied with reductions in other taxes, such as corporate tax, would help reduce global CO2 emissions by 8 per cent by 2020 while boosting economic growth by up to 2.8 per cent.

The ESCAP said Asia-Pacific developing countries must shift towards a resource- and energy-efficient growth pattern because of growing resource constraints and climate impacts. Countries in the region use three times the resources as the rest of the world to produce a unit of gross domestic product. The shift towards low-carbon green growth has to be jump-started by the government and requires political will. It also requires international collaboration and the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) offers an exceptional opportunity to forge the necessary global partnerships. ESCAP News

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Volunteers paint Biodiversity Wall of Nature

Some 700 volunteers – including representatives of environmental organizations, universities, police, army, and neighboring barangays – trooped to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines on May 25 to paint the perimeter wall with various forms of marine life. The mural painting was part of the celebration of National Oceans Month. Led by environmental activist and artist AG Sano, the event was organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau in collaboration with Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Dolphins Love Freedom, and Save Philippine Seas.

The design highlights marine biodiversity in the Philippines and came alive with paintings of mangroves, dolphins, whale sharks, and turtles. Another side of the wall features other facets of Philippine wildlife, including the majestic Philippine eagle, owls, and other fauna. The painted wall has been dubbed as the Biodiversity Wall of Nature.

Many passing motorists slowed down to watch the volunteers who happily participated in the activity. The Biodiversity Wall of Nature aims to increase awareness for the need to protect the world’s oceans by engaging people from all walks of life, and by highlighting the country’s beautiful marine biodiversity.

SBSTTA 16 adopts recommendations on marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change

The 16th session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 16) to the CBD held in May 2012 adopted 15 recommendations, including two packages of recommendations on marine and coastal biodiversity, and biodiversity and climate change.

The recommendations on marine and coastal biodiversity cover ecologically and biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs); sustainable fisheries and adverse impacts of human activities on the marine environment; and marine spatial planning and voluntary guidelines for the consideration of biodiversity in environmental assessments in marine areas.

The recommendation on EBSAs includes criteria for the description and prioritization of EBSAs, including lists and maps of suggested EBSAs developed in a series of regional workshops. While delegates generally felt that the progress on EBSA criteria and the guidelines for assessments together constituted an important milestone in the protection of marine biodiversity, they could not agree to recommend that the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) should endorse the use of the criteria or the guidelines in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

A second package of recommendations was adopted on biodiversity and climate change, namely on biodiversity safeguards, indicators and mechanisms to monitor impacts of REDD+; integration of biodiversity considerations into activities related to climate change; and impacts of geo-engineering on biodiversity and gaps in regulatory mechanisms. The recommendations will be forwarded to CBD COP11 to be held from 8-19 October 2012, in Hyderabad, India. SBSTTA 16 Website/IISD RS Meeting Coverage

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World Migratory Bird Day 2012

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated each year on the second weekend of May, and provides an opportunity for birding enthusiasts and environmentalists to celebrate, protect and raise awareness for migratory birds and their habitats. Migratory birds can cross the entire globe during their journeys, ignoring national borders and connecting the world with their migration routes. 

The theme for WMBD 2012 is “Migratory Birds and People - Together through Time” to stress the indispensable relationship between birds and people. There is a clear cultural, social, historic, economic and spiritual connection between birds and people, implying an intricate relationship that connects on many different levels. Migratory birds figure prominently in traditions, art, literature, and legends of various cultures. Many communities rely economically on migratory birds, for instance through a growing ecotourism and birdwatching industry. Bird migration is a crucial indicator of biodiversity, ecosystem health, changing seasons and climate change. Migratory birds also provide essential ecological benefits and services, such as pollination, to the ecosystems we rely on to survive.

Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of ACB, said irresponsible human activities are major threats to the survival of migratory birds. “Habitat destruction, unsustainable hunting, fisheries by-catch and pollution threaten migratory birds. Tall buildings, power lines and wind turbines also serve as barriers to bird migration and endanger the journeys of migratory birds.” 

WMBD is organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) – two international wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  For more information on migratory birds, log on to www.cms.int.

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World Bank releases study on illegal logging

A World Bank study, entitled “Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging,” reviews law enforcement tactics to prevent corruption and prosecute criminal organizations dealing in “dirty money” from illegal logging. The study said illegal logging is controlled by organized crime, accounts in some countries for up to 90 percent of all logging, and involves “dirty money” that is untaxed and used to pay off corrupt government officials.

The World Bank study, which discusses policy and operational strategies to combat corruption, aims to inform policy makers and forestry and law enforcement actors how they can use the criminal justice system in fighting illegal logging. The study underscores that illegal logging has "enormous environmental and societal costs," as it leads to biodiversity loss, increases carbon emissions, causes landslides, and undermines the resource-based livelihoods of rural peoples. WB News

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ACB trains Thailand on biodiversity information management

Twenty government and NGO staff involved in biodiversity information management in Thailand underwent a two-day training on Data Organization and Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM) Enhancement and Maintenance. Conducted by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and held at the Kasetsart University in Bangkok on May 10-11, the training was part of Thailand’s efforts to meet its obligations to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the area of information management.

Target 19 of the new Biodiversity Strategic Plan under the CBD provides for Parties to take necessary actions such that by 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred,  and applied. To achieve this target, there is a need to consolidate and make information, particularly species and protected areas, interoperable and available to support national, sub-regional and regional planning and decision making for sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity resources.

Dr. Sheila Vergara, Director of ACB’s Biodiversity Information Management Unit, said the Bangkok training was part of a series of workshops focusing on increasing capacities of ASEAN Member States to manage biodiversity information, as well as set up and maintain their national CHMs, an information exchange platform espoused by the CBD to facilitate technical cooperation and information sharing at the national and regional levels.

The training enhanced capacities of Thailand to digitize species and protected areas (PA) information; organize species and PA information into summaries useful for species and ecosystems management; and map species and habitats based on available information. It also strengthened Thailand’s capacity to manage its Clearing-House Mechanism focusing on the following aspects: agreement on a new structure for the Thailand CHM website; agreement on data translation schedule; and roles, responsibilities for the implementation of website enhancements.

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FAO publishes Yearbook of Forest Products for 2006-2010

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

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FEATURES

MYANMAR

Popa Mountain Park

Popa Mountain Park is considered the oasis of the Central Myanmar Dry Zone. It is situated in Kyauk Pa Daung Township, Mandalay Division and was established in 1985 by the Ministry of Forestry to protect local wildlife and its geomorphologic features. Covering 128 sq km, Popa Mountain Park contains evergreen, moist upper deciduous, and pine forest.

The abundant wildlife in the park includes wild boar, barking deer, feline species, monkeys and other small mammals. About 150 dusky leaf monkeys are known to reside in the park. Popa Mountain Park is also home to 177 recorded bird species including the hooded treepie, red-billed blue and black-billed magpies, Jerdon's minivet, blue-winged pitta, wadge-tailed green pigeon, white-browed shortwing, white-throated babbler, and Burmese bushlark.

Popa Mountain Park is a popular destination for birdwatching and trekking. Aside from viewing the wildlife, visitors can trek around Mt. Popa, an extinct volcano with an altitude of 1,518 meters, or ride a horse in the natural forest around the park. The park can be visited at any time of the year, and is easy accessible by car via a one hour drive from Bagan.

Reference:

Birding in Myanmar (http://birding.sstmyanmar.com/popa-mountain-park)

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BIODIVERSITY NEWS SOUTHEAST ASIA

n BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

50 schools take part in 'Green Wave'. Youth from 50 schools planted trees at the Berakas Forest Reserve in support of the "Green Wave" in celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity. Trees donated by the Forestry Department were planted simultaneously at 10:00 a.m. by the youths in 51 locations all over Brunei, accompanied by officers from the Forestry Department, students from University of Brunei Darussalam and Petrokon Utama Sdn Bhd.  School representatives noted that the Green Wave is a good opportunity for students to learn about the importance of biodiversity conservation. The Green Wave is an annual activity promoted by the Convention on Biological Diversity where children and youth in participating schools around the world plant a tree on May 22, the International Day for Biodiversity, at 10:00 a.m. local time, creating a "green wave" across time zones.

The Brunei Times

n CAMBODIA

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

n indonesia

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

n LAO PDR

Bamboo preservation enriches lives and the environment. Over 900 people in eight villages in Sangthong District are taking part in a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported scheme turning bamboo, a cheap and plentiful wood, into high-value products that help low-income villagers to turn a profit. Villagers work through the Sangthong Bamboo Traders Association, which makes household products such as outdoor furniture, lamps, bamboo baskets, bags, dining sets, hammocks, and sofas. The stylish products sell locally in Vientiane and are even exported overseas. Sangthong is one of Lao PDR’s poorest districts in a country where the GDP per capita is about US$1,200. The project has brought over US$175,000 into the district and is facilitating a significant rise in income for farmers. The association trains members in making high-end bamboo products. It also provides advice on the best techniques for cutting bamboo, a process that must be timed properly to ensure regular regrowth and a sustainable crop. The project receives support from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme and is implemented by UNDP in partnership with Oxfam Novib, the Netherlands Development Organisation, and the local non-profit Gender and Development Group.

UNDP

n malaysia

Malaysia plans to increase number of marine parks. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry plans to increase the number of marine parks in Malaysia to 50 by 2020 from the current 42. The Marine Parks Department is currently working with several state governments to finalize the islands to be gazetted as marine protected areas. Proposed marine parks include three in Kedah state, several island in Perak, and one island in Sabah. The move is part of measures towards achieving the ‘Aichi Biodiversity Target’ of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted in 2010 whereby every CBD member needs to have at least 10 percent of marine protected areas by 2020. Currently, Malaysian marine parks are home to about 1,100 fish species, 550 coral species and 200 species of other marine life. Borneo Post Online

n MYANMAR

Myanmar ripe for environmental plunder. Myanmar is regarded as one of Asia's last bastions of biodiversity, which is why environmentalists view the country's steps toward opening its doors with some fear. As foreign investors begin pouring in, activists say endemic corruption, virtually nonexistent environmental laws and a long-repressed civil society make the country "ripe for environmental plunder". The 'development invasion' will speed up environmental destruction and is also likely to lead to more human rights abuses. Environmentally, Myanmar is certainly no longer pristine, but it has been spared some of the wholesale ravages seen in the economically booming, more open societies across Asia. Environmentalists say Myanmar's government has an abysmal record of protecting its resources, which are often exploited by enterprises linked to generals and their cronies. Fortunately, there are some grounds for optimism. Myanmar has a conservation tradition, including sound forestry practices that are lacking in many surrounding countries, and it appears eager to seek outside assistance. A number of international environmental organizations are already planning to set up operations, some in partnership with the growing number of local groups. The Wildlife Conservation Society is currently the only major organization with a permanent presence in the country. 3News

n PHILIPPINES

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

Manila Bulletin Online

n singapore

Nature reserves made more accessible to public. New features in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve aim to make the park more accessible to the public. These include observation towers as well as a cycling loop that will allow residents to cycle from the heartlands to the nature reserves by 2018. The loop will be built around the perimeters of the forests to safeguard the biodiversity cores of the reserve. The intention is to bring nature closer to people and people closer to nature. These developments are also part of Singapore's transformation into a City in a Garden. Channel News Asia

n THAILAND

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

n viet nam

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

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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.

Vision

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.

Mission

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

Components

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.

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Contact Us

Communication and Public Affairs

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

Tels: +6349-5362865
           +6349-5361044

Website:
www.aseanbiodiversity.org

General Inquiry:
contact.us@aseanbiodiversity.org

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