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Compendium of good practices on protected areas and other effective area based conservation measures from the South Asia Region

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Compendium of good practices on protected areas and other effective area based conservation measures from the South Asia Region

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has grouped all its member states into 12 sub-regional implementation support networks to facilitate the coordination, communication, and implementation of the agreed national priority actions and other commitments for achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. The Secretariat has assigned the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the UNDP India to be the Regional Coordinators for the South Asia Regional Implementation Support Network under the Global Target 11 Partnership. Under this mandate, ICIMOD and UNDP India have documented good practices from nine countries that are part of the regional network, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

This compendium is a collection of twenty scalable good practices on PA management and OECMs from the South Asia Target 11 Network's member countries. These good practices were collected through literature review, and contributions from governments, UNDP, and ICIMOD. These case studies reiterate that PAs and OECMs can be critical tools in halting the unprecedented loss of biodiversity; they can also enhance human well-being and help deal with threats and disasters, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key lessons from these case studies showcase PAs as a stronghold for conserving flagships species like the Marco Polo sheep and the snow leopard in the Pamir and Wakhan areas of Afghanistan. Biological corridors, such as in Bhutan, which cover 8.6% of the country’s total land area, enhance ecological resilience and help species to deal with threats, including climate change. Multi-stakeholder engagements optimize and enhance the benefits of PAs as accomplished in the conservation and restoration efforts of the Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest coral reef systems in Sri Lanka. Likewise, local communities play an important role in biodiversity conservation. Partnerships in PA management with the private sector are key for generating economic and ecological benefits as reflected by the marine PA management in Maldives’ Baa Atoll region where an integrated approach to development planning, resource-use management, and biodiversity conservation has resulted in a robust coastal zone, economic prosperity, and overall social development. Pakistan’s recently launched Protected Area Initiative (2020), under the umbrella of the Green Pakistan Programme, proves that political commitment and an enabling policy environment are vital for positive conservation outcomes. The initiative has announced 15 national parks covering an area of over 7,300 sq. km., and a promise to create almost 5,000 direct nature jobs for the youth (under the government’s COVID-19 green stimulus). 

Some key issues highlighted in PA management include limited awareness and livelihood options, weak governance systems, human-wildlife conflict, illegal hunting, and the wildlife trade, population pressure, inadequate scientific research, lack of a common system of biodiversity assessment, and lack of sustained funding were found to be interrelated issues impacting the PA system, among others. 

The Compendium also showcases potential OECMs from India. For example, the Community Conserved Area (CCA) network from Nagaland aims to prevent fragmentation by forging a partnership among tribes to conserve biodiversity. The local communities have imposed a complete ban on unsustainable and destructive hunting, logging and fishing practices within the network of CCAs, while encouraging alternative livelihood opportunities, such as ecotourism.

It is hoped that the good practices highlighted in this compendium are replicated by countries within the South Asia sub-region and beyond for just conservation and development outcomes, thereby contributing not only towards the achievement of Aichi Target 11 but also towards a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.