Biodiversity conservation in Indochina faces many major challenges:
The environmental context
1. Continuing rapid conversion and fragmentation of primary landscapes, especially lowland evergreen forests, riverine habitats, grasslands and wetlands to agricultural and aquacultural habitats. Read Saving Asia’s Threatened Birds.
2. Rapid rates of decline amongst large-bodied species, especially storks, ibises, bustards and vultures. See IUCN list of threatened species.
3. The region supports high levels of endemism in birds and biodiversity. Read about Endemic Bird Areas.
4. Continuing decline across much of the region the quality of remaining forest.
5. High human population growth rates.
6. High rural human population densities in many parts of the region.
The regional socio-political context
1. High rates of economic growth and consumption of natural resources.
2. High levels of rural poverty, with benefits of globalisation enjoyed by urban elites only.
3. Civil society remains under-developed throughout the region.
4. The pace of democratic reform is slow.
5. The pace of government institutional reform is slow.
6. Levels of government corruption are high.
7. The mass media are under close government control throughout much of the region.
The operational context
1. Donors are regularly shifting focal areas, and the scale of funding.
2. Donor interest in supporting biodiversity conservation is waning.
3. Donor funding schemes are often complex, slow and bureaucratic.
4. INGOs are competing for diminishing donor resources.
5. Government’s vary in their attitude and level of support for NGOs.
6. Government’s commit insufficient resources to biodiversity conservation, as a result protected areas management is poor, and insufficient areas are designated as protected areas.
7. Indigenous skill-base for biodiversity management is low.
8. All countries in the region have signed and ratified the Convention on Biodiversity and Ramsar convention on wetlands.
9. Levels of public and government awareness and interest in biodiversity conservation remain low.
How BirdLife International in Indochina assists conservation:
Our country programme offices in Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Yangon, coordinate and manage a portfolio of conservation projects, supported by international donors, which promote the goals of BirdLife International, and the global themes of Species, Sites, Habitats and People.
Throughout the region we monitor the trends of globally threatened species. These are species assigned an IUCN category of threat. In Cambodia we are currently monitoring changing population trends of two Critically Endangered species, the White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis and Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris. We are also supporting research on the Endangered Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea. In Myanmar we are conducting status surveys for the Critically Endangered Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi and the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. In Vietnam we are monitoring the status of the Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor and the Vulnerable Sarus Crane Grus antigone.
To date most of the work of BirdLife International in Indochina has been focused on the conservation of sites. A site is a unit of habitat which can managed at the local level. Throughout our region, by a process of conservation evaluation involving years of field research, we have identified a network of Important Bird Areas (IBAs), which form part of a wider global network of sites. IBAs are identified as critical areas for the conservation of birds and biodiversity. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam we have published directories of IBAs in English and local languages. The directories enable governments, donors and conservation practitioners to improve land-use planning, targeted conservation, and development assistance. BirdLife International in Indochina advocates the conservation of these sites, within the framework of national protected areas systems, and by promoting Site Support Groups (community based groups of stakeholders).
Are units of landscape defined in terms of their biodiversity attributes which require management at central or provincial government level, which may necessitate sectoral approaches to achieve conservation. They provide the broader context within which sites are located. Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) are landscapes as defined by BirdLife International of less than 50,000 km2 which support aggregations of endemic bird species. Search EBAs.
Research conducted by BirdLife International in Indochina has focused on IBAs and has resulted in the identification of the Kon Tum Plateau as a new EBA, based on the discovery and description of three bird species new to science. In Cambodia BirdLife is a member of the Dry Forests Coalition which promotes an integrated and coordinated approach to the conservation of the northern dry forests. In Vietnam BirdLife is a member of the Forest Sector Support Programme and Partnership which brings together government, donors and international non-government organisations (NGOs) to coordinate the development of the forestry sector.
BirdLife International in Indochina believes that people lie at the heart of the solutions to conserve biodiversity. We have dedicated and professional staff who work in partnership with government, donors, international and local NGOs, and community-based groups, to promote, advocate and achieve conservation. We have established Site-support Groups at five IBAs in Vietnam and three IBAs in Cambodia. Later this year we hope to establish our first IBA Site-support Group in Myanmar. In order to empower government, donors and those within the conservation community, we publish a range of technical reports to help promote an interest in birds and their conservation. We have published local language bird field guides in Burmese, Lao and Vietnamese.
Since its inception BirdLife International in Indochina has worked in collaboration with our host governments, the international donor community, and international NGOs who share our vision. At the invitation of the Government of Vietnam in 1996, we established a representative office in Hanoi. In Vietnam our government project partners have included the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, including the Forest Protection Department and the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute, and the Secretariat of the Forest Sector Support Programme and Partnership. We have also worked closely with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, and numerous provincial people’s committees.
In early 2004, following the signing of memoranda of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Cambodia, we established a country programme office in Phnom Penh.
In Myanmar we share a project office with a local NGO the Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA).
Previously our donors have included the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Danida, the European Commission, Global Environment Fund, Keidandren, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank.
We have collaborated closely with the American Museum of Natural History, Conservation International, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Education for Nature Vietnam, Fauna and Flora International Indochina Programme, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, The Natural History Museum (British Museum), Tropical Forest Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia and Lao Programmes, Vietnam - Russia Tropical Centre and the WWF Indochina Programme.
Our current donors and collaborators are:
- Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association
- Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
- Danida (through the Royal Danish Embassy Cambodia)
- Darwin Initiative
- Forestry Administration (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Cambodia)
- Forest Protection Department (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam)
- Global Conservation Fund
- MacArthur Foundation
- Smithsonian Institution
- Wildlife Conservation Society