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Ecosystem Profile: Indochina
The purpose of this section is to assist in identifying funding gaps and opportunities for conservation investment in Indochina. This is achieved through an analysis of current investment by source, country, thematic area, and conservation corridor. In addition to an evaluation of the amount of investment and number of projects, consideration is given to which conservation approaches are achieving results, and where the greatest opportunities to engage civil society in conservation may lie. This section helps to define the niche for CEPF investment by identifying major gaps in conservation investment.
An attempt was made to collate data on all conservation projects taking place during 2003 and pipeline projects expected to begin before the end of 2004. In addition, data on select, recently completed projects were also collated to illustrate thematic patterns in conservation investment in the region. Although efforts were made to collate comprehensive data on conservation investments, gaps and ambiguities in the data and about specific funding periods, amounts and donor-implementer relationships remain. Moreover, although a significant proportion of current investment in conservation is made by national governments in the region, precise details of these government investments were difficult to obtain. Consequently, the analysis that follows includes more information about investment by international donors.
National governments in the region have developed, or are in the process of developing, national strategies and action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as part of their international obligations under the CBD. However, with the exception of Hong Kong and Thailand, actual levels of government funding for implementation of biodiversity conservation activities are generally quite low, as biodiversity conservation is usually a low budgetary priority for national governments, and is frequently viewed as the responsibility of international donors. Consequently, a significant proportion of government funding for biodiversity conservation is in the form of co-financing (often in-kind) for donor-funded projects. National protected area networks are major recipients of government funding, although the bulk of their funding is typically for infrastructure and staff costs, with very modest sums available, in most cases, for operational costs. In addition, all national governments in the region are investing in biodiversity-related research, principally through government academic institutions. In general, however, this research is focused on human uses of biodiversity rather than its conservation, and is rarely published in peer-reviewed journals.
The majority of international funding for biodiversity conservation in Indochina comes from or via bilateral and multilateral donor agencies. Bilateral donors making significant investments in conservation in the region include Danish International Development Assistance (Danida), the Japanese government, The Netherlands government and the U.S. government. Multilateral donors include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union (EU), UNDP, and the World Bank. In addition, there are a significant number of GEF-funded projects in the region, implemented through either UNDP or the World Bank.
The indicative allocations for biodiversity projects in the recently authorized phase 4 of the Global Environment Facility for the five countries in the Indochina Hotspot are: China, $44.3 million; Laos, $5.2 million; Thailand, $9.2 million; and Vietnam, $10.2 million. Cambodia does not have a specific allocation, but is one of 93 smaller countries with a group allocation of $146.8 million. Each member of this group is eligible to access up to $3.5 million in GEF-4, but the average grant will be closer to $1.5 million for each of those countries. No amount is guaranteed to countries receiving GEF funding, but the actual figures are likely to be close to the indicative allocations awarded to the governments of each country. It is unclear how or to what extent civil society will play a role in implementing GEF-financed projects under GEF-4. Given the relatively weak capacity of civil society in the region it appears unlikely that NGO, particularly local civil society organizations, will benefit from GEF-4 resources to a significant degree or substantially participate in projects financed by GEF. Therefore, the role of CEPF grants in building civil society participation in natural resource management decisions and biodiversity conservation in the priority corridors, and more broadly across the region, is unlikely to be duplicated by GEF funds.
While some of the international conservation organizations active in the region have core funding, for example the Wildlife Conservation Society, WildAid and WWF, all need to raise additional funds for at least some, and in some cases all, of their programs. Conservation investment by international conservation organizations is frequently in the form of co-financing for donor-funded projects, or to cover office, administration and management costs. A number of international conservation organizations' national offices based outside of the region, for example WWF-US, fund conservation projects in the region, often through local partners or program offices. Relatively few international foundations are actively supporting biodiversity conservation in the region, although their contributions are often significant. International foundations providing significant funding for conservation in the region include the Barbara Delano Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The MacArthur Foundation announced awards of sixteen grants totaling nearly $4.5 million for the region in June 2006.
Investment by national NGOs in conservation is extremely low, reflecting the current under-development of local civil society in most countries in the region. Many organizations are newly established and lack extensive memberships and well-developed bases of financial support. Even in Thailand, where there are now 80 to 120 government-registered "green" NGOs, a lack of financial resources to invest in their own development, let alone specific projects, is a key limitation to their effectiveness. This scenario is mirrored in most local NGOs elsewhere in the region, which typically implement small projects with support from donor agencies.
Although occasional private donations are made to biodiversity conservation, on the whole the contribution of the private sector to conservation investment in Indochina is very limited. To a certain extent, this is a reflection of the level of economic development in the region. Even in Thailand, which has experienced high rates of economic growth over the past decade, there has, as yet, been little investment by the private sector in conservation. One exception is Hong Kong, where private donations are important to a number of local conservation initiatives, including the privately funded KFBG. Examples of private sector-supported conservation initiatives in the region include marine conservation programs in Vietnam funded by BP, which is currently involved in gas exploitation off the southern coast of the country. In addition, BP supports several small projects in the region each year, through the BP Conservation Program. There are also projects supported by Save The Tiger Fund, a collaboration between NFWF and ExxonMobil Foundation and, more recently, a joint initiative of CEPF, NFWF, and ExxonMobil to support a Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking (CATT).
The majority of current conservation investment in Cambodia is from or via bilateral and multilateral donors. The GEF is one of the largest sources of investment in the country, investing more than $10 million across seven biodiversity conservation projects, with UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank as implementing agencies. Under the GEF Resource Allocation Framework (RAF), Cambodia has not been given a country allocation; rather it is included among the 93 countries that can request project financing from the $146.8 million group allocation over the next four years. Other donors making multiple investments in biodiversity conservation include Danida, the Department for International Development of the UK government, the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the World Bank. ADB has a major input into the Tonle Sap Conservation Project, co-financed by GEF through UNDP. Investment by the government of Cambodia is mainly limited to co-financing large projects, funding the national protected area system and management of forest and wildlife outside of protected areas
International conservation organizations active in Cambodia include BirdLife International, CI, FFI, ICF, IUCN, TRAFFIC, WildAid, WCS, and WWF. Funding for their numerous projects derives from a variety of sources, particularly multilateral and bilateral donor agencies such as USFWS and Danida; international foundations such as the MacArthur Foundation, which is investing more than $1.6 million across five projects; and international conservation organizations' national offices based outside of the region, for example WWF-US.
The Cardamom and Elephant mountains are the focus of three major conservation initiatives, linking and strengthening the management of protected areas and conducting patrolling and enforcement, with several million U.S. dollars of funding from the Barbara Dellano Foundation, the Global Conservation Fund at CI, UNDP/GEF, the United Nations Foundation, and other sources. The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) recently made a three-year commitment to finance conservation efforts in the Cardamoms Forest in Western Cambodia. In addition, it committed $2.5 million toward a trust fund for the Caradmoms Forest.
Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is the focus of the ADB/UNDP/GEF-funded Tonle Sap Conservation Project, with a budget of $19 million (including a $4 million contribution from the government of Cambodia). The aim of the project is to support economic development, community-based natural resources management and conservation of globally significant biodiversity through protection and/or sustainable use.
Virachey National Park is the focus of a $5 million World Bank/GEF-funded project that aims to build capacity among national park staff and strengthen conservation management. Elsewhere in Cambodia, the extensive dry forest landscapes of the northern and eastern plains are the focus of significant ongoing and planned investment by UNDP/GEF, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and WWF-Netherlands.
In addition to the aforementioned projects, there are numerous smaller investments throughout the country funded by multilateral and bilateral donors and foundations. These investments are usually for species-focused and site-based actions, including developing models of local, stakeholder-based conservation.
Numerous multilateral and bilateral agencies, foundations and international conservation organizations are investing in biodiversity conservation in China, including CI, ITTO, TRAFFIC, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank, WWF, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the UK and the United States. In addition, the GEF is funding a number of biodiversity conservation projects, through either UNDP or the World Bank. China has an indicative allocation of $44.3 million under the RAF, second only to Brazil in terms of eligibility for GEF4 resources for biodiversity.The EU has pledged more than $30 million through a joint EU-China Biodiversity Program over the next five years. Not all of the aforementioned donors are currently active in southern China. Others are active at the central level, and it is difficult to identify their proportional investment into southern China.
A number of major new, ongoing, and recently completed biodiversity conservation projects with nationwide implementation have included activities in the part of southern China within Indochina. These include the World Bank-implemented "China Nature Reserves Management Project," which supported management initiatives between 1995 and 2002 at nine nature reserves across the country, including Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province. Overall, this project received $17.9 million in funding from the GEF through the World Bank and $5.7 million in co-financing from the government of China. Another World Bank-implemented initiative with activities in southern China is the Protected Area Management Component of the World Bank/EU-funded "Sustainable Forestry Development Project." This component, which has $16 million in GEF funding, will protect and manage globally significant biodiversity at Jianfengling Nature Reserve in Hainan Province and 12 other forest nature reserves and invest in provincial-level capacity building in seven provinces, including Hainan and Yunnan. The GEF Council recently approved the World Bank-implemented Guangxi Integrated Forestry Development and Biodiversity Conservation project, which will receive $5.6 million from the GEF and nearly $200 million on co-financing from the government of China. It will address closely inter-linked threats to Guangxi’s natural forests, watersheds, and biodiversity through an integrated approach to managing all these natural resources at the landscape level. While the project will focus on the development and implementation of management plans for five globally significant, high priority nature reserves that are outside of the CEPF priority corridor, tremendous opportunities for operational syergies and cross border linkages exist. Specifically through sharing data from biodiversity surveys and research to increase knowledge particularly of karst biodiversity to better integrate biodiversity conservation into the broader landscape and sharing lessons learned on the development and implementation of simple participatory monitoring and evaluation systems.
A number of important projects in the part of southern China within Indochina include those funded by the German and Dutch governments. GTZ of Germany has projects to rehabilitate and protect tropical forests in Yunnan and Hainan provinces. In Yunnan, this has entailed working closely with ethnic minority communities, while, on Hainan Island, the emphasis has been on building the capacity of the Forestry Department. The Sino-Dutch "Forest Conservation and Community Development Project," began in 1998, with the objective of conserving the subtropical and tropical forest and biodiversity resources in Yunnan. The project has worked at some sites in the part of southern China within Indochina, including Caiyanghe Nature Reserve. In addition to the above projects, the Ford Foundation has funded the Kunming Institute of Botany, CAS and Xishuangbanna Tropical Arboretum to investigate traditional cultivation practices of ethnic minorities in Xishuangbanna that are related to forest and biodiversity conservation.
A unique organization in the region is the Hong Kong-based KFBG, dedicated to environmental education, conservation and sustainability in Hong Kong. KFBG has a healthy operating budget (about $6 million in 2001), of which a limited portion goes into its Mainland China Program. KFBG has launched various collaborative projects in Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan provinces of southern China, including establishment of a communication network via its magazine Living Forests and updating of information on distribution and status of many species through surveys of nature reserves and monitoring of wildlife markets. It also supports forest rehabilitation projects and field-based postgraduate research.
Hong Kong is exceptional within the region for its well-funded government departments responsible for biodiversity conservation (particularly the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), and the Environmental Protection Department). Government and local corporate funding sources are generally sufficient to meet the needs of conservation in the Special Administrative Region, and the government institutions (especially AFCD) have long received technical support from NGOs, notably WWF-Hong Kong and KFBG. WWF-Hong Kong has also had a wider role since the 1990s in providing training for protected area staff from East Asia (particularly China) at Mai Po Nature Reserve, which it manages for the government, raising much of its own funding from community events such as the annual "Big Bird Race." WWF-Hong Kong also works with fish farmers and development companies to minimise conflicts with nature conservation in the Deep Bay area, and has recently extended this conservation work to important wetlands across the Pearl River estuary in Macau.
CCICED's Biodiversity Working Group has provided extensive and wide-ranging advice to central government related to the implementation of the CBD and other related issues, as well as launching a range of projects such as publication of illustrated guidelines for incorporating biodiversity conservation in economic development, a China Species Information System, a study on invasive species, field guides to birds and mammals, red listing workshops for China's threatened fauna and flora and guidelines for the restoration of China's degraded environment using natural vegetation (MacKinnon et al. 2001). In addition, CCICED's Task Force on Forestry has tried to improve implementation of the Natural Forest Protection Program, as well as the Sloping Land Conversion Program (see below). CCICED also has active Task Forces on Protected Areas, Prevention of Non-Point Agriculture Pollution, Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental and Natural Resources Pricing and Taxation, Integrated River Basin Management, and the World Trade Organization and the Environment
Initiated in 1998 to protect state-owned natural forests in 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the Natural Forests Protection Program of the government of China is active in the region. Initiatives supported under this program include "closure" of mountains for reforestation, strengthening forest management and protection, and afforestation by broadcasting seeds and planting seedlings.
Started in 1999 to tackle the problem of soil erosion in key areas, the government of China's Return Slope Farmland to Forests Program was extended in 2001 to cover 20 provinces. Under this program, farmers are to be compensated for giving up farmland for conversion to forest, with grain and cash from the central government. Subsidies are also provided for the nursing and planting of tree seedlings.
Initiated in 2001 to protect wildlife species of conservation concern and the habitats they depend on, the Wildlife Protection and Nature Reserve Establishment Program has a focus on protecting wetlands, typical natural ecosystems and ecologically fragile zones. Thirteen groups of animal species and two groups of plant species have been selected as specific foci of the program.
All three of the above government programs present potential sources of support for biodiversity conservation in the region, particularly the establishment and maintenance of habitat corridors between key biodiversity areas and enhancing the integrity and connectivity of conservation corridors. Civil society is often well placed to leverage such support, due to its access to information on the location of important sites for conservation. This may represent an important opportunity for CEPF support to civil society in the region.
During the 1990s, Lao P.D.R. experienced a boom in conservation investment, with a number of major initiatives, including the Lao-Swedish Forestry Program, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), and the World Bank "Forest Management and Conservation Project," which included a GEF-funded wildlife and protected areas conservation component. Large investments were made at certain national protected areas, typically following the integrated conservation and development project (ICDP) approach. In addition, there were significant investments in biodiversity surveys and conservation investment, resulting in baseline data being gathered for almost all national protected areas in the country. Furthermore, there were significant investments in conservation planning, particularly for the national protected area system. Lao P.D.R. has an indicative allocation of $5.2 million under the RAF.
In recent years, however, there has been a substantial decrease in conservation investment in Lao P.D.R. by international donors. This reduction in international conservation investment has taken place at a time when the government institutions responsible for biodiversity conservation, most notably MAFF, have undergone major restructuring, with many staff previously responsible for conservation now allocated to other duties. As a result, government capacity to effectively manage the national protected area network and protect wildlife populations has been affected. Relative to other countries in the region, few international conservation organizations are active in Lao P.D.R.; and only IUCN, WCS and WWF maintain a permanent presence there.
While current levels of conservation investment in Lao P.D.R. are lower than previously, there remain a number of significant investments. Several projects are focused on building national capacity in protected area management, such as the “Nam Ha National Protected Area Strengthening Project” currently being implemented by WCS. Other projects are focused on promoting sustainable management of natural resources, for example The Netherlands government-funded “Sustainable Utilization of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) Project, Phase II,” being implemented by IUCN. There are also a number of species-focused initiatives, usually with small budgets, such as the “Eld's Deer Conservation Project” being implemented by the Smithsonian Institution and WCS. Another significant investment is the “Integrated Ecosystem and Wildlife Management Project in Bolikhamxay Province,” funded by GEF through the World Bank.
Overall levels of conservation investment have been comparable with those of Cambodia, Lao P.D.R. and Vietnam historically. This may change however as Thailand ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2003, and is now eligible for GEF funding for the first time. Under the RAF, Thailand has an indicative allocation of $9.2 million under GEF4. UNEP supported implementation of the CBD, through such initiatives as the "Thailand Biodiversity Country Study" and the "Biodiversity Data Management Project." Danish Cooperation on Environment and Development (DANCED) has also funded a number of projects in support of the implementation of the CBD.
Several multilateral and bilateral agencies have made major investments in biodiversity conservation in Thailand over the last decade. The EU has a programmatic focus on environmental protection and stimulating the rural economy. Conservation investments by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have concentrated on rehabilitation of natural habitats, such as the restoration of forests of cultural importance in Maha Sarakam province, and the conservation of particular elements of biodiversity, such as the "ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Centre Project." Investments by UNDP are concentrated on sustainable natural resource use, for instance the "National Strategy for Sustainable Development Project" (Bugna and Rambaldi 2001). In addition to multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, a number of international NGOs fund conservation projects in Thailand, either fully or with co-financing from other donors. These NGOs include WWF-Thailand, its partner organizations around the world, and CARE Thailand.
Despite the relatively advanced development of the Thai economy compared with several other countries in Indochina, inadequate budgets are a major limitation to government institutions responsible for biodiversity conservation. Only a small proportion of the national budget allocated for natural resources management is used for biodiversity conservation. For instance, in 1995, management of the national protected area system accounted for just 1.2 percent of the former Royal Forest Department's total budget of $2.86 billion (Kaosa-ard 1995). In large part, the low levels of government conservation investment reflect the low priority given to biological conservation compared with economic development.
One area in which Thailand receives greater conservation investment from the national government than most other countries in the region is biodiversity-related research. Since 1996, the Thailand Research Fund, in cooperation with the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, has implemented the Biodiversity Research and Training (BRT) Program. The program funds projects to strengthen the capacity of researchers, university students, teachers, NGOs, and others in biodiversity-related work, and supports them to raise public awareness of the values of biodiversity and the need to cooperate in its conservation. It supports around 30 biodiversity research projects annually, with a total budget of around $1 million. Research projects funded by the program have included plant taxonomic studies, studies on the relationships among biodiversity, social activities and traditional knowledge, and studies on the economics of natural resource use by local communities.
In excess of $115 million has been invested into biodiversity conservation in Vietnam since 1995. Donors active in their support of biodiversity conservation in the country include Danida, the EU, the MacArthur Foundation, The Netherlands government, UNDP, the World Bank, and various branches of WWF. A large proportion of the conservation investment in the country has come from the GEF, through either UNDP or the World Bank. Vietnam has an indicative allocation of $10.2 million under the GEF RAF. Most conservation investment has been in the form of grants, for projects implemented by government institutions. However, a significant proportion of the conservation investment has been in the form of grants to international conservation organizations and, to a much lesser degree, national NGOs.
The majority of conservation investment in Vietnam has been in site-based initiatives, typically following the ICDP approach. The largest investment at a single site is the EU-funded "Social Forestry and Nature Conservation in Nghe An Province Project," centered on Pu Mat National Park, which has a total budget of $19 million. Other major site-based initiatives are the UNDP/GEF-funded "Creating Protected Areas for Resource Conservation using Landscape Ecology Project" at Yok Don and Ba Be National Parks and Na Hang Nature Reserve, which has a total budget of $8.5 million, The Netherlands government-funded "Cat Tien National Park Conservation Project," which has a total budget of $6.3 million and the World Bank-funded "Forest Protection and Rural Development Project" at Cat Tien and Mom Ray national parks, which is co-financed by The Netherlands government and has a total budget of $32.3 million. KfW Development Bank recently undertook a feasibility study to support Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
Other significant investments have been made by international donors in a range of small and medium-sized projects implemented by international and national NGOs, academic institutions and government institutions. For example, the MacArthur Foundation recently invested $1.64 million across seven projects in the Annamite Mountains, broadly focusing on biodiversity resources management within and outside protected areas, and capacity building to assist conservation planning.
The Government of Vietnam makes significant investments in the national protected area system, although these investments are heavily skewed to a small number of sites. Consequently, while a small group of national parks enjoyed funding levels per square kilometer comparable with protected areas in developed countries, the vast majority of protected areas continue to face severe financial constraints (IUCN 2002b). Even at protected areas with high overall levels of funding, much of that funding is skewed toward infrastructure development and ample evidence exists to demonstrate that on-the-ground conservation management activities are under-resourced, equipment is scarce, management capacity and effectiveness are very low and there are limited expenditures on operations and maintenance.
The most significant current development in conservation financing in Vietnam is the development of the $75 million "Forest Sector Development Project (FSDP)," with support from the World Bank. One component of this project, funded by a GEF grant, is the establishment of the Vietnam Conservation Fund (VCF). The VCF provides small-grant support to protected areas of international biodiversity importance on a competitive basis. It is envisioned that, in the first 5 years of operation, the VCF will disburse around $7 million in grants to more than 30 protected areas, with around $5 million of technical assistance through co-financing by The Netherlands government and other donors. The objective of the VCF is to provide funding for operational costs, which are not adequately covered by existing government investments.
There are relatively few regional conservation initiatives in Indochina, although there are several new and promising regional projects now underway. One important initiative is the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), a collaboration between the EU and ASEAN. The aim of ARCBC is to build a foundation of shared expertise, information and experience to support biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region. Activities of ARCBC have included preparation of local-language training manuals and development of a biodiversity conservation database for the region. The first phase of ARCBC is from 1999 to 2004, with Euro 8.5 million in funding from the EU and substantial co-financing from ASEAN governments.
Another major regional conservation initiative is the Mekong River Basin Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Program, Phase I. This program is implemented by IUCN and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., Thailand and Vietnam, with $32 million in funding from various donors, including GEF (through UNDP), the four national governments, The Netherlands government, UNDP, MRC and IUCN. The objectives of the program are to establish multi-sectoral planning at national and regional levels, strengthen macroeconomic and policy frameworks for wetlands biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, build human and technical capacity for wetland management, and improve community-based natural resources management within wetlands.
One significant transboundary initiative, albeit at a very preliminary stage, is the "Tenasserim Transboundary Conservation Project." The governments of Thailand and Myanmar are exploring possibilities to link Kaeng Krachan National Park with the Western Forest Complex, via a habitat corridor in southern Myanmar.
ADB is administering the Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program (CEP) and its Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative has identified nine priority biodiversity conservative landscapes and plans to collaborate with Birdlife, CI, WWF, and WCS, among others in implementing projects at pilot sites within these corridors. The CEP has a budget of more than $36 million financed in large part through grants from the Netherlands and Sweden.
Conservation investment in Indochina by both national governments and international donors has been heavily focused on site-based conservation. In particular, there has been significant investment in protected areas in most countries in the region. Some individual protected areas have received large amounts of investment, such as the $19 million EU-funded project at Pu Mat National Park in Vietnam and the $5 million World Bank/GEF-funded "Biodiversity and Protected Area Management Pilot Project" at Virachey National Park in Cambodia. In general, government and donor commitment to protected areas remains strong in the region, as evidenced by the number of major planned initiatives, such as the VCF component of the FSDP in Vietnam that aims to provide regular small-grant support for operational management at priority protected areas.
An assumption that dependence on natural resources among rural communities is a major factor contributing to biodiversity loss at sites, coupled with donor and government agendas to promote poverty alleviation, has led to a heavy focus on ICDP approaches throughout the region, for example the Danida-funded "U Minh Thuong Nature Reserve Conservation and Community Development Project" in Vietnam. While this assumption may be correct at some sites, the relationship between rural poverty and biodiversity loss is typically more complicated, as it is often the richer households who have the manpower, time and capital to exploit natural resources, and the access to markets to sell them. In addition, ICDP approaches can fail to address threats to biodiversity operating at a higher level, for example infrastructure development and human resettlement. A review of ICDPs in Vietnam, conducted in 2001, concluded that although these projects have been widely promoted by international conservation organizations and donors, their performance has generally been poor because the approach has been inappropriate for addressing the major causes of biodiversity loss and have had little lasting impact (Sage and Nguyen Cu 2001).
The approaches to site-based conservation that appear to be meeting with the greatest success in Indochina are those where the emphasis has been placed on strengthening the capacity of protected area staff to enforce management regulations and generating understanding among local people of the values and benefits of protected area, rather than promoting rural development for local communities. For example, a review of lessons learned in protected area management in Thailand by Srikosamatara and Brockelman (2002) concluded that, although there is no single recipe for solving the diverse problems facing protected areas in the country, most solutions fall into two general categories: convincing people that protected areas are needed and valuable; and enforcing laws to prevent overexploitation of the resources within them. However, notwithstanding a few notable exceptions, there has been little willingness by governments and donors to invest in capacity building for effective enforcement of protected area management regulations.
As well as investments at individual protected areas, there have also been significant investments in protected areas planning. In Lao P.D.R., the Lao-Swedish Forestry Program has conducted a review and evaluation of the national protected area system (Robichaud et al. 2001). In Vietnam, a major EU-funded project implemented by BirdLife International provided technical support for the expansion of the national protected area system, while the Danida-funded "Strengthening Protected Area Management Project," implemented by WWF and the FPD of MARD, focused on reviewing the legislative and management framework. Finally, CIDA financed a policy study on sustainable management of nature reserves in China. While gaps exist in the protected area systems of all countries in the region, particularly with regard to wetland and marine ecosystems, the existing systems provide an appropriate framework for conservation action for most ecosystems. Therefore, except in the case of certain ecosystems, the main emphasis of future conservation investment should be on strengthening the management of existing protected area networks, not making further revisions to them.
As mentioned previously, wetland ecosystems are generally poorly represented within national protected area systems. In part, this reflects unclear institutional responsibilities for wetland management in some countries, and, in part, it reflects the inappropriateness of formal protected area approaches to the conservation of ecosystems that are subject to high levels of human use and dependence. Consequently, a significant proportion of investment in wetland conservation has focused outside of formal protected areas. Major investments in the region to date include a National Inventory of Natural Wetlands in Thailand, supported by DANCED; the "Inventory and Management of Cambodian Wetlands Project," implemented by the Royal Government of Cambodia, with support from MRC and Danida; the National Wetlands Conservation Program in Vietnam, supported by The Netherlands government; the Coastal Wetlands Development and Protection Project in Vietnam, supported by the World Bank; and the "Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use in China Project," funded by the GEF, through UNDP, with co-financing from the governments of China and Australia.
The traditional view that wetlands are "wasted land" is being rapidly changed in the light of the growing number of studies demonstrating the huge value of wetland products and services to the rural poor and to national economies (e.g. Emerton 1999). However, despite this changing view, threats to and loss of wetland ecosystems continue to increase, and the conservation of biodiversity within wetland ecosystems remains a major funding gap.
The main focus of conservation investment on wetlands to date has been non-flowing freshwater freshwater wetlands. Biodiversity conservation in riverine systems and coastal wetlands is greatly under-funded, although these ecosystems do receive significant funding for other objectives, some of which are inconsistent with biodiversity conservation, such as initiatives to afforest intertidal mudflats with mangrove (Erftermeijer and Lewis 1999, Yu and Swennen 2001). One initiative addressing riverine biodiversity conservation issues is the Living Mekong Initiative of WWF, which is mainly focused at the policy level, for example in relation to dam developments.
In addition to wetlands, marine ecosystems are the other major gap in protected area systems in the region, although they are relatively well represented within marine national parks in Thailand. Marine ecosystems have received significant amounts of conservation investment in Thailand and Vietnam, although much less so in Cambodia and southern China (Lao P.D.R. having no coastline). Major investments in marine biodiversity conservation include: the "Model Marine National Park Management Project" in Thailand, funded by DANCED; the "Support to the Marine Protected Area Network in Vietnam Project" funded by Danida; the "Sustainable Use of Coastal and Marine Resources in the Con Dao Islands Region Project" in Vietnam, funded by the GEF through UNDP; and the "Hon Mun Marine Protected Area Pilot Project" in Vietnam, funded by the GEF through the World Bank, and Danida. Conservation investment in marine biodiversity conservation remains a major funding gap in Cambodia and southern China, although, as marine ecosystems are not included in Indochina, they will not be eligible for support from CEPF.
In addition to formal protected area approaches to conservation, there have been small amounts of investment in local, stakeholder-based approaches to site-based conservation. This investment has led to the establishment of a number of pilot local, stakeholder-based conservation groups in the region. These groups have proven to be a very cost-effective means of engaging local stakeholders in conservation of key sites, particularly in contexts where there are limitations to the effectiveness and potential sustainability of formal protected area approaches. Examples of projects supporting local, stakeholder-based approaches include: the Danida-funded "Community Participation for Conservation in Cambodia Project"; a MacArthur-funded project to conserve biodiversity outside of protected areas in Vietnam and Cambodia by strengthening local level conservation management; and several projects at key sites for primate conservation in northern Vietnam supported by USFWS, the Margot Marsh Foundation and other donors.
As with any approach to conservation, local, stakeholder-based approaches are not appropriate in every situation. For example, community-based conservation has not been effective at most Thai protected areas because protected area management regulations strictly prohibit exploitation of natural resources, there are often no significant sources of forest products outside of protected areas, and many hunters are outsiders or recent in-migrants who lack roots in the area (Srikosamatara and Brockelman 2002). Similarly, experience from Vietnam suggests that local, stakeholder-based approaches are most effective in situations where sustainable exploitation of certain forest products is permitted or tolerated, sufficient resources are available to meet local people's subsistence needs, and the principle source of threats to key elements of biodiversity are local people not outsiders.
Local, stakeholder-based approaches have high potential to establish low-cost, sustainable structures for conservation at certain key biodiversity areas in the region, particularly those where formal protected area approaches may be unfeasible or inappropriate, such as many freshwater and coastal wetlands. However, significant additional conservation investment is required if existing pilot initiatives are to be consolidated, lessons learned are to be documented, best practice guidelines are to be developed, and successful initiatives are to be replicated elsewhere.
A current trend in conservation in Indochina is a shift toward landscape-scale approaches: initiatives working at levels higher than that of individual sites and building broad constituencies of support for landscape-scale conservation plans. Such approaches have three main advantages over site-based approaches. First, they are more appropriate for addressing the conservation needs of landscape species, which often cannot be conserved at isolated sites indefinitely. Second, by integrating biodiversity considerations into the policies and programs of other sectors, including infrastructure, forestry and energy, they can mitigate threats that cannot be addressed at the site level. Third, such approaches can leverage additional resources for biodiversity conservation from sources other than traditional donors. For example, the Return Slope Farmland to Forests and Natural Forests Protection Programs in China present great opportunities to leverage resources for habitat restoration, linking key biodiversity areas and strengthening the integrity of conservation corridors.
A number of conservation corridors in the region are the focus of ongoing landscape-scale conservation initiatives, including: the Northern Plains Dry Forests, which is the focus of the forthcoming "Establishing Conservation Areas through Landscape Management in the Northern Plains of Cambodia Project," funded by the GEF through UNDP; and the Central Annamites, which is the focus of the WWF-coordinated Central Annamites Initiative, a suite of coordinated investments with funding from various sources. However, many of the other conservation corridors in Indochina would benefit significantly from additional investments in landscape-scale conservation, including all three priority corridors. This represents a major funding opportunity for CEPF.
Very little conservation investment in Indochina has been in species-focused conservation. Many stakeholders reported this is the area for which it is hardest to raise funds. The lack of funding for species-focused conservation activities has been compounded by a strong emphasis of available funding sources on high-profile species, particularly large mammals. For example, WWF, the Thai Elephants Conservation Centre, the Forest Industry Organization and the Bureau of the Royal Household supported the "Asian Elephant Re-introduction and Conservation Project" in Thailand, while the French GEF plans to support site-based action for banteng and gaur at four protected areas in Vietnam. Even for high profile, large mammals, however, existing sources of funding are insufficient to meet their conservation needs.
Available funding for species-focused conservation action is mainly limited to small grants from sources such as the BP Conservation Program, the Cat Action Treasury (CAT), the Oriental Bird Club, the Rufford Small Grant Scheme, the Save the Tiger Fund and USFWS. For example, the Oriental Bird Club has recently supported a study on the status and ecology of rufous-necked hornbill at Che Tao IBA in Vietnam; CAT recently supported a study on the ecology and conservation of the felid community at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand; and USFWS is supporting a project to conserve black crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor) in Lao P.D.R. through field studies and raising public awareness.
The one country with significant funding opportunities for species-focused research is Thailand, where the BRT Program has been established, with funding from the Thailand Research Fund and the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, to support applied biodiversity research. However, as in the rest of the region, funding opportunities to support species-focused conservation actions other than research are very limited.
In addition to investment in species-focused conservation action for individual species, there has also been some investment in national and regional initiatives to combat illegal and unsustainable trade in wildlife and wildlife products, which represents one of the major underlying threats to globally threatened species in the region. In Lao P.D.R., USAID has supported a project to provide technical assistance to combat the illegal wildlife trade. In Thailand, DANCED is funding a WWF wildlife trade campaign. In Vietnam, Danida is funding a project to strengthen the implementation of CITES. In Cambodia, WildAid has entered into an agreement with the Wildlife Protection Office to create the Wilderness Protection Mobile Unit, a special law enforcement team dedicated to fighting illegal wildlife trade throughout the country. Furthermore, efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade have been supported by the preparation of local-language field guides of key trade species in Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., Thailand and Vietnam, with support from the World Bank.
In addition to investment in tackling the unsustainable trade in wildlife in the region, there has been a limited amount of investment in changing consumer attitudes toward wildlife and wildlife products. For instance, the Asian Conservation Awareness Program of WildAid uses social marketing and mass media advertisements featuring top Asian celebrities to promote reduction in consumption of threatened species among urban populations. The program reaches millions of people per week at a cost of less than $100,000 per year. Such public awareness campaigns represent a cost-effective opportunity for civil society to tackle the issue of wildlife trade through addressing the root cause: demand. Due to low motivation and political will, corruption and other obstacles, achieving similar reductions in wildlife trade through strengthened enforcement of prohibitions on transport and sale of wildlife would, arguably, require significantly greater resources. Consequently, activities to reduce demand represent a key opportunity for CEPF to address the issue of wildlife trade in the region.
A significant amount of conservation investment in the region has focused on developing models for sustainable use of natural resources, particularly at a local level by rural communities. Examples include two consecutive, projects funded by the Dutch government that focused on sustainable utilisation of non-timber forest product projects in Lao P.D.R. and Vietnam, and several pilot sustainable use initiatives in Thailand supported by the Royal Project Foundation. This emphasis on sustainable use of natural resources reflects the poverty alleviation agendas of national governments and donor agencies, and the assumption that poverty reduction in rural communities will bring biodiversity conservation benefits. Most projects, however, have focused on species that are not globally threatened. While there is a need to develop models for sustainable use of certain globally threatened species threatened by overexploitation, there are arguably sufficient appropriate funding sources to support such activities. Consequently, while studies and models of sustainable use may be an urgent conservation action for some globally threatened species, they are not the highest priority for CEPF funding.
Environmental education and awareness-raising activities are receiving significant amounts of conservation investment, both as stand-alone projects and as components of larger projects. In particular, many site-based conservation projects include an education and awareness component. Many initiatives are focused on specific areas or at particular sites, such as the EU-funded "Capacity Building to Support Training and Education on Coastal Biodiversity in Ranong Province Project" in Thailand. Other initiatives are focused on particular themes or target groups, such as the USAID-funded "Environmental Education and Community Participation Curriculum for Forest Rangers Project" in Vietnam. Finally, some initiatives are nationwide in scope, such as the Danida and UNDP-funded "Environmental Education in the Schools of Vietnam Project." While many civil society organizations active in the region reported that funding opportunities for education and awareness raising are relatively good, there are a number of niches where additional funding from CEPF could make a significant difference, such as raising awareness among decisionmakers to build their support for conservation initiatives.
There are a number of clear trends regarding the geographic distribution of conservation investment in Indochina. Most notably, there is relatively little investment in biodiversity conservation in coastal, riverine, lowland evergreen forest, and northern Vietnam forest ecosystems. This may partly reflect reluctance on the part of governments and donors to invest in conservation in ecosystems that are under heavy pressure from human populations, and where there is a perceived large opportunity cost of biodiversity conservation in terms of foregone economic opportunities, such as timber extraction, land conversion, and aquaculture development. Moreover, at least in the case of the former two ecosystems, it may possibly reflect a lack of appreciation of their biodiversity values.
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