First regional workshop
7 May 2002
Summary of workshop discussion
Topic One: What are the key regional issues for protected areas and
Migration of people. There is a rapidly increasing
population within the region. People are moving from areas of dense populations
and diminishing natural resources to those of relative natural resource
wealth leading to increased impacts on protected areas. The effects of
migration policies need to be assessed and managed.
In all countries there is poor inter-agency and inter-organisational
collaboration on development policies and assessment. Protected
areas are impacted by road developments, hydro-power development, resettlement
schemes, logging and agriculture. There is a need for better communication
and effective EIA for projects impacting on protected areas.
The role of PAs in management of water was identified as a key
regional issue. An important consideration was the impacts of
upstream users on downstream communities. For example the possible impacts
on dams on migratory fish and the possible negative impacts of reduced
river flows. Other key issues relating to water included pollution of
rivers impacting on downstream users and the need for sharing of the costs
for pollution control. With water it is clear that good resource management
upstream through systems of protected areas will benefit downstream users.
Should the cost of this management be shared when clearly the benefits
are? For example the protection of nursery areas upstream clearly benefits
downstream fishing communities. Collaboration is needed.
The growth of tourism to the region and the importance of PAs was
identified as a key issue by the working groups. It was felt that
there was a poor understanding of carrying capacity and the impacts of
tourism on the environment, especially within PAs. Benefit sharing associated
with tourism development is another key regional issue. Large tourism
developments have provided little real benefits to local communities.
There are very few if any good examples of benefit sharing from tourism
developments in the region
Border areas contain a significant proportion of the regions protected
areas. These areas offer both a challenge and a major opportunity
to manage the natural system collaboratively. Theses areas also highlight
a growing awareness for the need for international co-operation on the
development of shared resources such as river systems and forests. There
is a need for political will to achieve effective cross border management.
The is also significant opportunities to begin cooperation on shared management
concerns such as fire management, invasive species and wildlife trade.
Illegal activities including wildlife trade and logging where identified
as continuing critical issues for protected areas. Illegal activity
was regarded as a major contributor to the 'empty forest' syndrome where
wildlife in forest areas has been overexploited. Laws often impact on
poor local communities but the "big men" or major players were
above controls. Greater co-operation across borders is needed for enforcement
There is a growing recognition of the importance of the local level
in protected area management. There is a history of conflict between
protected area agencies and those who rely on protected areas for livelihood.
There is a need for governments and communities to cooperate in achieving
sustainable resource management in and around protected areas, including
enforcement of agreed controls.
Topic Two: What are the strategies for dealing with these issues on
a regional scale?
More extensive use and commitment to existing regional agreements
and forums is needed. Many agreements have been ratified but not
followed. Existing agreements and legislation need to be reviewed for
their potential as a framework for cooperation on PA management (eg. Agreement
on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River
Basin, MRC, 1995 and the ASEAN Agreement on Conservation). Existing working
groups and forums should be used to discuss regional issues relating to
PA's eg. PAs and tourism through PATA.
A key strategy to deal with many of the regional issues is improved
PA education, training and information exchange. The establishment
of networks for exchange of information and experience, in particular
is a practical and important first step. A range of options were discussed
to improve this exchange of information; for example,
- Joint field study programs;
- Intensive short training exercises linked with discussions about regional
- Sharing of information on PA impacts during development project design
- A network for regional protected areas research.
The need to work at a local level in all countries on benefit sharing
and co-management approaches. Managers need to understand local
community attitudes to PA resources and how they are used. Resources important
to local welfare need to be clearly identified. The establishment of procedures
to share benefits of PAs with local communities is an important strategy.
Putting effective co-management in place with clearly outlined responsibilities
and monitoring was also seen as a key to effective management
<< BACK TO FIRST REGIONAL
Review of protected areas and their role in socio-economic development
in the four countries of the lower Mekong River region
page updated: 29/05/02