Action plan provides guide for building MPA network in SE Asia

To sustain the high biodiversity and economic value of marine ecosystems in Southeast Asia, a team of government officials, academics, and NGOs has crafted a regional action plan (RAP) to guide establishment of a network of MPAs by 2012. Envisioning a representative and self-sufficient network designed to adapt to environmental change, the RAP provides a portfolio of proposals and implementation strategies, including innovative financing and communications mechanisms.

Rili Djohani, director of the Southeast Asia Center for Marine Protected Areas, chairs the working group that developed the RAP for the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. Djohani says the plan addresses existing constraints on MPA management in the region, where experts estimate more than two-thirds of MPAs suffer from ineffective management. “When the plan is integrated strategically, it will help decrease the number of ‘paper parks’,” she says. Among other strategies, the RAP endorses a business-oriented approach to MPA management, generating revenues from appropriate resource use for re-investment in site management.

As it stands, the plan is non-binding upon SE Asian governments, although working group members are lobbying for the endorsement of the secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “The key challenge now is to find the resources to support coordination and implementation of the plan among members and with other ongoing regional and national marine conservation programs,” says Djohani. To view the RAP and supporting documents online, visit A parallel project to develop a regional action plan for MPAs in the Caribbean region is underway (MPA News 4:10).

For more information: Rili Djohani, The Nature Conservancy, SE Asia Center for Marine Protected Areas, Jl. Pengembak 2, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 361 287272; E-mail:

African leaders call for establishment of community-based conservation areas

In July, African heads of state amended a 35-year-old regional conservation treaty to reflect developments in conservation science and policy, including the planning of protected areas. As now revised, the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources calls upon African nations to promote the establishment of community-based protected areas and address gaps in the conservation of biodiversity. It also incorporates the IUCN Protected Areas Management Category System in its totality – the first time an international or regional convention has done so.

Adopted by the Assembly of the African Union, the amended treaty covers a wide range of issues, including land and soil, water, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable use. The treaty as revised will enter into force once 15 African states have ratified it. The United Nations Environment Programme and IUCN assisted the African Union in revising the text.

For more information: Francoise Burhenne-Guilmin, Senior Counsel, IUCN Environmental Law Centre, Gland, Switzerland. Tel: + 49 228 2692 233; E-mail:; Web:

Global assessment of coastal and marine ecosystems is underway

A worldwide effort is underway to assess the global condition of coasts and marine ecosystems and their impacts on human well-being. To be completed in 2005, the assessments will provide baseline information on the geographic extent of these systems and how decisions on ecosystem use affect human health and economic development. Ideally, the assessments will help resource managers weigh tradeoffs among goods and services of various ecosystems, such as the costs and benefits of converting a marine nursery area to a shrimp aquaculture pond.

The initiative is part of a broader Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that is also examining terrestrial and freshwater systems. Involving scores of researchers from intergovernmental organizations, national governments, academia, and NGOs, the project will determine the condition of ecosystems worldwide, present a range of scenarios for how the quantity and quality of ecosystem goods and services may change in coming decades, and evaluate response options for decisionmakers. “Unlike other global summaries, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is looking at the world through the lens of human use and human well-being, as opposed to a more biological view of ecosystem condition,” said Tundi Agardy, coordinating lead author of the coastal ecosystems assessment and executive director of Sound Seas, a US-based NGO. For more information on the project, visit

International MPA Congress to be held in 2005

In late October 2005, a global conference on MPAs will be held near Melbourne, Australia, to be co-hosted by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Parks Victoria, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Examining best-practice approaches to MPA establishment and management, the First International Marine Protected Areas Congress, or IMPAC1, will aim to develop a blueprint for partnerships among practitioners and stakeholders to ensure sustainable implementation of MPAs. Exact dates for the three-day event have not yet been set. For more information on IMPAC1, send an e-mail to

Updated version of B2B CD-ROM now available

The Marine Conservation Biology Institute, a US-based NGO, has released an updated version of its “B2B” CD-ROM, providing baseline physical, biological, and social data relevant to conservation planning along the Pacific coast of North America – from Baja California (Mexico) to the Bering Sea. This edition of the software, version 1.1, provides information not featured on a version released in 2002 (MPA News 4:6), including updates of deep sea coral records and bathymetry data, as well as an expanded list of MPAs. The tool is intended to inspire analyses and cooperation among conservation planners using ESRI ArcView 3.x and ArcGIS 8.x products. To order the B2B 1.1 CD-ROM, available for US$25, contact Sara Maxwell, MCBI, 15805 NE 47th Court, Redmond WA 98052, USA. Tel: +1 425 883 8914; E-mail: