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Biodiversity Conservation

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The countries of the East Asia and Pacific region enjoy a rich endowment of biological diversity and depend heavily on this endowment for many basic needs, including food and medicines. Sadly and worryingly, the pressures of poverty, population growth and a range of other factors are seriously threatening and, in some cases, rapidly depleting it.
The World Bank is the region’s largest external provider of help on this major local, national and global problem. Our assistance is summarized in a recent publication “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Langur – World Bank support to biodiversity conservation in East Asia and Pacific.”

Between 1999 and 2004 the World Bank provided over $300 million in grants and loans to our East Asia and Pacific client countries for biodiversity conservation activities. These funds support a wide range of activities, including better management of protected areas and conserving biodiversity in agricultural and marine environments. Other activities included the Forest and Faiths Initiative. Many countries in the region have benefited from this support, including Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Samoa, Vietnam and China. The highlights of our portfolio include:

  • Establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs): With GEF and IUCN support, the World Bank has helped Samoa and Vietnam establish their first MPAs, in partnership with the neighboring communities. Although a relatively new initiative, MPAs have already proven to be a very successful way to conserve and promote sustainable use of marine resources and to protect valuable coral reefs.
  • Strengthening national protected area systems: Again with GEF support, we have helped and are helping China strengthen the management of 25 of its national nature reserves – the pinnacles of its protected area system – and to disseminate world-class protected area management methods to other important national nature reserves. Several of the reserves we have helped house significant populations of the rare and seriously threatened Giant Panda. This assistance is closely linked to our large China forestry management program.
  • Building public support for biodiversity conservation: Conservation efforts will not be sustainable unless the concept and the activities get solid local public support. In Indonesia both the COREMAP (Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project) and Indonesia Forest and Media Project ran very successful campaigns with high public recognition to impress upon the public the scale of loss and damage and the role each could play in conservation.  Lessons from these and other smaller efforts that often accompany conservation projects, together with lessons from the efforts of various conservation NGOs, are being applied to projects, which are developing in China, Lao PDR and Thailand.

Further information on World Bank initiatives in this area, and on relevant international agreements is available here.

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Supporting Local Language Field Guides.

biodiversity picsThe World Bank’s highly successful Field Guides Program has now contributed to the production of over 30 local language field guides across the EAP region. The field guides, supported through Bank projects and Dutch trust funds, are key tools in promoting environmental awareness and capacity building in developing countries where a lack of accessible information in local languages has hampered biodiversity training, protected areas ranger capacity, opportunities for local communities to benefit from their rich biological heritage, and adequate environmental assessments of development projects. The program has supported local language guides for a variety of plants and animals, including the birds of China and Lao PDR, various parts of Indonesia and Vietnam; the trees of Thailand; the bamboos of Indonesia; and the tortoises and turtles of Southeast Asia.

Many of the individual projects have been implemented through, and co-funded by, local and international NGOs working with national scientific agencies. The program has been showcased at various platforms both at the Bank and outside, and is currently trying to respond to a demand that is overwhelming.

The field guides program has proven especially valuable in encouraging and empowering young professionals to take up careers in conservation. Field guides can inspire young scientists and young members of local communities, so that they can better promote and benefit from natural resources and biodiversity, as well as from alternative livelihoods based on sound biodiversity management. Already some of the Bank-funded guides are being utilized at the local level by village ecotourism guides, including youth and women’s groups, as well as teachers and young environmental professionals to increase their own knowledge and strengthen the services and information they can provide to others.

Local language field guides strengthen overall capacity for environmental management and impact assessment. Moreover, by providing easy access to information in local languages, the guides provide tools to environmental activists to better participate in monitoring and strengthening the impacts of government-led development programs. Since many of the Bank’s own operations focus on resource management at the village or watershed level, these guides can provide effective tools for communities to monitor the environmental impact of current and future resource management decisions.

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Related Reports
Illegal Wildlife Trade in Mongolia
Vietnam Environment Monitor 2005
Going, Going, Gone: Illegal Trade in Wildlife
Biodiversity Review in EAP
Thailand Environment Monitor 2004
Biodiversity and Forests (1mb pdf)
Local Language Field Guides (138kb pdf)