The First Asia Parks Congress: Innovative Approach to Promoting Nature Conservation and Improving Livelihood in Protected Areas and their Buffer Zones

 "The 1st Asia Parks Congress was the first conference that brought together protected area practitioners in Asia. Scheduled exactly one year ahead of the 6th IUCN World Parks Congress, the Asia Parks Congress served as a valuable lead-in to the world meet by proposing ways forward based on the lessons learned in Asia." - Official Website of the 1st Asia Parks Congress. 

The APFED Showcase Programme hosted a Side-Event in Sendai, Japan at the 1st Asia Parks Congress, 13-17th  November 2013.  The side-event highlighted empirical lessons regarding the promotion of nature conservation and livelihood improvement in protected areas and their buffer zones. 

To this objective, APFED Showcase demonstrated case studies on the topic of protected areas and livelihoods.  Some case studies based on pilot projects were presented that were supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, Asia Pacific Regional Office; Namely, these case studies address actions in the Gobi Desert Protected Saxual forest areas, the Cebu protected forest areas and the Palawan-Coron Marine Protected Areas.   In many geographical areas such as these, it is common for intruders and squatters to reside in the public spaces and utilize the protected natural resources found in and around the national parks and protected places.  Often, this has led to human-wildlife conflicts and conflicts between national parks and the communities that surround them.  The provision of alternative livelihood measures and supporting of enabling policies has proved to be a major key in solving these conflicts.

The case studies presented by APFED Showcase Programme aimed to offer valuable insight into the building of effective partnerships and incentives for conserving natural resources and improving the livelihoods of people living near protected areas in developing Asia nations.

Organizer:  Yokohama National University and United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Title of the event: Innovative Approaches to Promoting Nature Conservation and Improving Livelihood in the Protected Areas and Their Buffer Zones

Date and time: Friday 15 November 2013 11:15 – 12:15


Moderator: Ms. Carly Timm, Consultant, United Nations Environment Programme-Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP-ROAP)

Welcome Remarks: Mr. Manesh Lacoul, Programme Coordinator, UNEP-ROAP

Guest Remarks: Mr. Kiichi Mimura, Director of the Tokyo Office and Principal Researcher, Institute for Global Environment Strategies (IGES)


Mr. Masanori Kobayashi, Associate Professor, Yokohama National University Graduate School of Environment and Information Sciences (YNU-GSEIS).

Dr. Maria Rosario Piquero Ballescas, Professor, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, Toyo University and former Coordinator, RCE-Cebu

Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas, CEO & President, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. Author & Adviser, The Coron Initiative


Event Summary:

Nature conservation needs to be promoted in tandem with the efforts to foster sustainable livelihood for local people. Three cases were presented in conjunction with dryland protected areas in Gobi desert, Mongolia, protected forests in Cebu, Philippines and protected marine ecosystems in Coron, Palawan, Philippines. They are all supported under the programme called the Asia – Pacific Forum for Environment and Development Showcase Programme spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme – Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (UNEP-ROAP). Innovative thinking and social mobilization are required to advance conservation efforts to the higher level of performance in terms of nature conservation and livelihood improvement. It is a continuous and dynamic process that starts with stakeholder dialogues and awareness raising to collective actions and benefit sharing. Consistent enabling policies need to be forged while the fundamental success factor relies with the genuine and relentless collective efforts by local communities. External technical and financial inputs matters, but their impacts and continuity will be assured through the effective participation of local communities. In Gobi, patrolling by local communities to curb illegal logging and extraction in the protected saxaul forests has proven to be effective. To promote reforestation and regeneration of saxaul forests, seedling nursery construction and fenced fallow seem to be promising and further participation of local communities in planning and implementation is deemed as a key for achieving a greater success. In Cebu, communal cohesion has been strengthened through collective activities for capitalizing upon non-timber forest products while mechanisms need to be up-scaled to promote investment in improving production and eco-tourism infrastructure. In Coron, the fishery sector has already undergone the extensive process to designate the marine ecosystem as protected areas, but such collective actions need to be expanded to cover services and tourisms sector in order to adopt and implement a sustainable tourism charter for the local municipality in the midst of rapidly mounting visitors that exponentially increase resource demands and waste, and raise grave concern over the possible air pollution and environmental degradation. Continuous monitoring and process advancement are required to promote effective management of protected areas and improve livelihood for local people in protected areas, buffer zones and their peripheral areas. It is hoped that success models can be drawn from these cases for the benefit of stimulating innovative approaches to protected area management and local livelihood improvement in Asia and the world.

Summary of Case Study 1:  “Rehabilitating Desert Zone Ecosystems and Promoting Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods in Gobi Protected Areas, Buffer Zones and Peripheral Communities in Mongolia.”  Presented by Mr. Masanori Kobayashi, Associate Professor of Yokohama National University Graduate Programme in Environmental and Information Sciences.

 The objectives of this pilot project were two-fold 1) to raise awareness, promote conservation and support collective actions for sustainable management of dryland ecosystems and 2) To promote alternative income-generating activities.

Success factors: Policy mix – motivated civil society, technical assistance, catalytic funding and application/incorporation of local knowledge.

Focus on capacity development outcomes -> behavioral change -> environmental performance improvement.  Capacity development which followed this process included awareness raising, training an education and leadership development within the communities.

It is the aim that capacity development will lead to new policy and institutional frameworks for sustainable grassland management in Mongolia.  There are growing aspirations for increasing livestock and a substantive interest in farming.  Currently, technical constraints for efficiently managing water use are a challenge. 

Summary of Case Study 2:  “Protecting People and Forests: Camp 7 Cebu, Philippines Initiatives”.  Presentation by Ms. Maria Rosario Paquero-Ballescas, Professor and Faculty at Tokyo University, Former Coordinator at the Regional Centre for Expertise, Cebu (RCE).

The focal activities under this pilot consisted of 3 projects:

1) Integrated Water Resource Management, which focused specifically on creating rain catchment systems in community homes in Cebu.

2) Regional Resource, Poverty and Poverty Response Mapping, which resulted in the provision of research outputs to guide policy and practice.  The outputs including inventories of available resources in the region, utilization and management of resources, poverty responses and management and an identification of governance styles, development and best practices in the area.

3) Expanding knowledge networks, this focused on increasing information, communication, education and the provision of training

“Promoting Education for Sustainable Development through Conservation and Sustainable Use of Forest Resources and Empowerment of the Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development in Cebu”

Challenges: Poverty, Land Tenure, Conflicts among groups and with DENR, illegal logging, poaching, unsafe water, less water supply in summer, no toilets

The project initiated collaboration with stakeholders in (i) assessing local natural resource endowment and poverty, (ii) raising awareness of natural resource conservation and sustainable development, (iii) providing training on income generation through sustainable use of non-timber forest products, (iv) pursuing options for improving the environment and livelihoods, and (v) exploring multi-stakeholder partnerships.

 Summary of Case Study 3:  “Conservation of Marine Protected Areas for Sustainable Tourism – The Coron Initiative”. Presentation by Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc.

This case study introduced a blueprint for eco-tourism that includes an overview of the various criteria currently used by tourism sustainability programs started by World Tourism Organization. The initiative offers a replicable model through a Sustainable Tourism guide for the Philippines’ 7,107 islands.  

In addition to creating a sustainable tourism guide, the project consisted of training workshops on best green practices in the industry including creating zero-carbon resorts, green purchasing, dining and sustainable design and construction.  It also sought to play a role in environmental legislation, submitting proposals for new regulations.

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the project has additional focus and will deliver a capacity building workshop on Disaster Preparedness, Management and Recovery.  In 2014, the Coron Initiative will help to lead the establishment of a Green Fins Coron Chapter, and perform further review and monitoring of tourism establishments with best green practices, Zero Carbon Resorts. 

Overall, success of the project has led to increased socio-cultural responsibility by the tourism industry and the preservation of natural areas and landscapes in the Coron and Calamines islands.

Please find the 1st Asia Parks Congress Flyer HERE

Please find the Asia Protected Area Charter HERE

APC Chair's Summary.pdf83.74 KB
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