In early October, environment stakeholders from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) met to discuss the impacts of climate change on protected areas and look at best-practice responses to safeguard biodiversity and local livelihoods.
Key messages of the preparatory conference:
- The maintenance of protected areas in the GMS is an essential part of the development strategy for Mekong countries, as well – managed protected areas will continue to provide the backbone for building resilience and sustainability. Investments in protected areas therefore need to be seen as investments in maintaining economically productive natural capital.
- Effective management of protected areas in the face of growing climate change and other development pressures will increasingly require landscape – level approaches and trans – boundary collaboration. Management of this regional estate should build connectivity along longitudinal and altitudinal gradients, as well as between terrestrial, freshwater and coastal habitats. This will require greater collaboration between and clarity of roles and function of administrative agencies involved in protected areas management and climate change in the GMS.
- Climate change in the GMS will have a significant impact on wild species and ecosystem services, which are a foundation of subsistence and livelihoods in poor communities. An assessment of the status and trends in Mekong biodiversity is therefore an urgent priority, supported by a monitoring program to track climate – induced changes in a representative set of key species and habitats across the region.
As a next step, participants will implement country action plans to test and monitor approaches identified during the event. In less than 2 weeks, a follow-up regional workshop will be held as a side event during the World Parks Congress in Sydney .
– For pdfs of presentations from the Workshop: http://www.gms-eoc.org/events/mekong-protected-areas-and-climate-change-implications-for-livelihoods-and-development