After a fully packed first day, the second day of the 6th IUCN Asia Regional Conservation Forum kicked off with a panel discussion on valuing and conserving nature. The discussion was the first of three panel discussions aimed at exploring multiple perspectives on each of the programme areas defined by IUCN for the next four years: Valuing and Conserving Nature, Effective and Equitable Governance of Nature’s Use, and Nature-Based Solutions to Societal Challenges.
The session was chaired by IUCN Vice President/Regional Councillor Malik Amin Aslam, who opened the session by giving an introduction and overview on the conservation efforts of Asia’s forests. One of the key takeaways from Malik’s presentation was how costing environment degradation can trigger the reevaluation of national policy, which in turn could lead to sustainable financing for forest conservation.
Next up was the first panelist of the session, Conservation Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Head for Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Indonesia Dr Dolly Priatna, who offered a private sector perspective on forest conservation by sharing examples from APP Indonesia. One of the conservation initiatives that Dr Priatna’s company implemented was the establishment of the Belantara Foundation. The foundation’s activities are focused on landscape level conservation in 10 landscapes across Sumatra and Kalimantan, and are categorized into four areas: forest restoration, forest and biodiversity protection; conflict mitigation between human and key species; research and assessments to increase and strengthen capacity for sustainable landscape management and community development and empowerment. In addition, Belantara coordinates with other funders within the landscapes across Sumatra and Kalimantan to implement forest conservation projects.
The second panelist Director of Natural World Heritage Office, Department of National Parks from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment,Thailand, Dr Prasert Sornsathapornkul, talked about the critical importance of protected areas and law enforcement for forest conservation. In his presentation, Dr Sornsathapornkul recommended that more effective enforcement approaches needs to be developed, and that information and knowledge on protected area management and law enforcement for forest conservation needs to be more widely and readily shared. He also emphasized that regional cooperation and networking on law enforcement needs to be strengthened.
The third and final panelists was Executive Director for The Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC), Thailand, Dr Tint Lwin Thaung, who shared with forum attendees why empowering local communities is the key to successful forest conservation. Mentioning that community managed forests presents lower and less variable deforestation rates than protected forests, Dr Thaung further emphasized the importance of securing tenure rights for tribal and indigenous communities. He also pointed out that there is a need for governments to develop policies that take into consideration the long term benefit for people and nature, rather than short term economic gain.
Following a question and answer session, Malik then closed the panel discussion by bringing up a point IUCN members made earlier about the need for more youths and communities to be involved in the conservation of natural resources, and the value in sharing best practices across all IUCN members.