Asia Protected Areas Partnership builds Members’ capacities on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs)
Sixty-six representatives from the members of the Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) and other Protected Areas (PA) staff from the region learned ways of identifying, recognising, supporting and reporting other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) through the 6th APAP Technical Workshop, held virtually on 13 August 2020 with funding support from the Korea National Park Service.
“There is now a global upsurge of interest in OECMs. They have the potential to complement and support protected areas in many ways, and to make an important contribution to conservation,” said Dr. Scott Perkin, Head, Natural Resources Group, IUCN Asia in his opening remarks.
An ‘other effective area-based conservation measure’ was defined by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2018 as “a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values” (CBD Decision 14/8, 2018).
“While protected areas must have a primary conservation objective, this is not necessary for OECMs. OECMs may be managed for many different objectives but they must deliver effective conservation. They may be managed with conservation as a primary or secondary objective or long-term conservation may simply be the ancillary result of management activities,” said Harry Jonas, the Co-chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WPCA) OECM Specialist Group, explaining the aims of OECMs and the ways in which they differ from Protected Areas.
Melissa Payne, Science Impact Manager, South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), provided an update on the work being carried out to explore the OECM approach and to identify, recognise and report OECMs in Malaysia. Through SEARRP, Malaysia is running a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, to determine the policy and institutional pathways needed for Malaysia’s OECMs to contribute towards area-based, in-situ biodiversity conservation.
“Early results show that OECMs in Malaysia may enable inclusion of non-state actors in delivering conservation outcomes and strengthen conservation of biodiversity outside PAs. Also, OECMs have the potential to improve landscape connectivity and permeability as well as enable better alignment with the SDGs,” said Melissa Payne.
Participants agreed that using OECMs as a framework could lead to a greater number of areas outside protected areas being identified as important to broader conservation networks. It was also proposed that the framework could be a useful means to engage with indigenous peoples, local communities and the private sector, either to recognise their ongoing conservation contributions or to help enhance local or sectoral practices.
Heather Bingham, Programme Officer at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), mentored the participants on reporting OECMs to the World Database on OECMs.
She mentioned that OECMs are likely to be widespread but they cannot be factored into decision-making until they are identified and mapped. The database was developed at the request of the CBD Conference of the Parties. UNEP-WCMC manages the database to ensure the areas are recorded and counted when assessing progress towards Aichi Target 11 (and future Target 2), as well as SDGs 14 and 15.
Several next steps were identified, including the need to translate the IUCN guidelines into national languages, engage related agencies on OECMs, and raise awareness with a wider audience. Harry Jonas also emphasised the need for engagement by a wide range of stakeholders to begin to work towards identification of potential OECMs and begin legal recognition, support and reporting of OECMs.
“The Asia Protected Areas Partnership accords high priority to this issue and will continue to assist Members in their efforts to identify, recognise, and support OECMs, in collaboration with the IUCN WCPA OECM Specialist Group,” said Minsun Kim, Programme Officer, Protected Areas, IUCN Asia.
A video, as well as each speaker’s presentation, can be found at the following links:
• Harry Jonas, the Co-chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WPCA) OECM Specialist Group: Video, Presentation
• Melissa Payne, Science Impact Manager, South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP): Video, Presentation
• Heather Bingham, Programme Officer at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC): Video, Presentation