Experience over the last 20 years shows that protected areas are accepted by virtually all Asia-Pacific governments as a means to achieve conservation objectives. There are strong driving forces, discussed in this paper, that will act to keep protected areas as part of government policy. For example, at least 29 countries in the region have signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8 of which recognise in-situ conservation as the primary approach to biodiversity conservation. The Convention calls upon contracting state parties to establish a system of protected areas, as well as striking a balance between conservation within and beyond protected areas (Glowka, et al., 1994). At a national level, many countries in the region have developed conservation strategies or national environmental management strategies (Wendt, 1993). Whilst such documents cover environmental conservation at a wider perspective than protected areas alone, they lend weight to the argument that the commitment to in-situ conservation is strengthening.
The approach taken here is to make a number of informed assumptions based on previous experience and in the light of the best judgement of how policy and action might develop. There is no attempt to justify these arguments on the grounds of 'science', as forecasting the future has yet to be so refined, but they do reflect what has happened in the recent past. There is an expectation that as governments have established protected areas in the past, and to a considerable extent in the previous two decades, there are reasonable grounds for assuming that they will continue to do so in the future.
Annex 5 provides a brief summary of the major conservation priorities in the Indomalayan Realm, and this provides a measure of the country-specific challenges. It is evident from this brief summary that some countries have only very limited opportunities to improve the state of biodiversity conservation, for example Bangladesh. Conversely, other countries have a wide range of options in terms of remaining natural habitat, but also a much greater task simply due to the very high level of biological diversity, for example Indonesia. Indonesia will therefore have to devote both absolutely and proportionately much greater resources to achieve an adequate conservation 'result' than Bangladesh.
It is considered that the possibility of governments de-gazetting extensive proportions of protected areas networks is unlikely. Although individual sites may be reduced in size or even degazetted, the possibility of wholesale cancellation of protected areas networks is not considered in this paper.
Scenario 1 envisages a continuation of current policies and levels of actions. This suggests that there will be little change in the attitude of governments, the public or media to environmental issues, or any significant change in the current balance between conservation and development. At the same time, advances that have been made in recent years, as mentioned elsewhere, including legal enactments, adherence to international legal instruments, national biodiversity planning and so on would remain.
Given no further strengthening of environmental policy and action, it is likely that protected areas networks will continue to grow in size, but that the quality of the systems will remain poor and continue to deteriorate, as is happening in many cases today. Management, already weak or even non-existent in many reserves, will continue to be a major failing. Insufficient consideration of forest and biodiversity conservation in other sectors will lead to a proliferation of "paper" parks. Protected areas will continue to be located on the basis of expediency (minimum land use competition) and not scientific study. There is likely to be a failure to recognise the full value of protected areas in supporting rural development, leading to increased and expensive conflict and a failure to secure the potential benefits for rural development, such as clean water. It is also likely that the economic value of protected areas will continue to be underplayed in national accounts, with a consequently low priority in the eyes of government.
Under this scenario it is likely that there will be a failure to link protected areas via habitat corridors, leading to ecological failure of all but the largest sites. Continued uncontrolled hunting or poaching will remove key species such as carnivores or ungulates, also leading to unpredictable ecological change and possibly collapse. Although these effects may take many years, decades or even centuries to be fully expressed, those forests that remain will in time become biologically less rich than they are at present.
Given the very strong forces of population growth and economic development, continuation of current policies and the level of conservation action, will result in a situation not dissimilar to that envisaged in Scenario 3, although the decline would be less precipitate.
Adherence to the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international or regional instruments, and the establishment of the Global Environment Facility as an international source of funds are both factors driving in the direction of this scenario. Pressures are also developing from national priorities, such as the need to achieve equitable and sustainable development, growing environmental awareness and public pressure, to suggest that environmental issues will be more prominent in the future.
Optimistically, governments will act on the increasingly clear message that protected areas underpin development processes, and as populations grow the demand for secure water supplies, flood control, soil protection and other 'off-site' benefits, will act as a positive driving force. The Ministerial statements quoted in Section 5 indicate that there is a wish to promote biodiversity conservation, within protected areas, forestry operations and land use management in general.
Economic growth, and perhaps more importantly economic transition from primary to the secondary and tertiary sectors, could have two positive effects on conservation. First, the pressure to exploit natural resources directly will be eased, and second, increasing wealth will provide wider options for governments to allocate resources to conservation. Brunei Darussalam is an example of a country whose revenue from other sources have been so high that there has been little or no need to exploit natural forests on a large scale. Intensive agriculture may reduce the impetus to clear forest, although there are likely to be attendant increases in the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, increased energy consumption and increased rural unemployment all of which directly or indirectly could have significant consequences for forest conservation.
In order that increased economic activity is a positive driving force governments will need to seriously address policies, legal instruments and enforcement to protect the environment from pollution and uncontrolled development. Pessimistically, there is a risk that demand for agricultural and urban land driven by development pressures, may prove to be irresistible and that the current policy statements may not be translated into actions. Coupled with declining opportunities to secure natural habitat fragments, governments may retreat from the protected areas concept.
There is evidence throughout much of the region of a growing public awareness of environmental issues, driven by the activities of NGOs and a receptive media, which will focus the attention of democratically elected governments and the private sector on good practice and other conservation measures such as expanding protected areas networks.
The nature of protected areas is likely to migrate during the course of the next 15 years away from the strict protection model and this will act as a very positive force for growth. Accommodating rural development needs will resolve many of the conflicts and difficulties currently facing the strictly protected areas in the Asia-Pacific Region and make for cost-effective conservation and development solutions.
Scenario 2 therefore assumes a growing commitment to protected areas from government. It is unlikely that the total number and extent of protected areas will be significantly greater than that achieved under the conditions considered in Scenario 1. At least 11 major countries in the region have yet to reach the IUCN target of 10% (see Table 2), and if they were to do so then an additional 750,000 sq.km of protected areas would have to be established. Whether all governments would be willing to establish such extensive areas remains to be seen. The use of less strictly protected multiple use areas, conservation designation of areas in the forestry sector and others and an appreciation of the substantive benefits coming from protected areas may make such growth achievable. A greater awareness of the importance of scientific method in designing protected area networks will make systems more effective at conserving a wider range of biodiversity, without necessarily having to gazette disproportionately large new areas.
This rate of growth is considered unlikely if it requires virtually all remaining natural forest cover, and extensive proportions of other habitat types, to be placed under strict protection. However, where extensive areas are placed under less restrictive landscape management regimes in which biodiversity conservation and sustainable use are combined then this scenario becomes plausible.
The single biggest change that can be envisaged in this optimistic scenario is that management will be greatly strengthened and shown to be effective. Whether the emphasis is placed on strict protection by government, or community management will depend on local circumstances. At present however, many existing protected areas, especially in the biologically rich developing countries in the Asia-Pacific Region are in danger of being rendered worthless through conflict and ineffective management.
The policy implication of this scenario is therefore that governments should consider the greater application of scientific system design methodologies, a wide range of protected area types, and not only the relatively rigid strict protection model, and place a much higher emphasis on effective management through community involvement.
Although there is little evidence at present to suggest that there will be a precipitate deterioration, the pressures of population growth and the requirement for increasing areas of land for development may overwhelm the case for conservation. Deterioration is more likely to be a result of powerful social and economic forces, such as population growth, poverty, land hunger, social inequality and , unregulated development rather than specific and explicit changes in government policy and action.
Inequitable land distribution will continue to drive people to colonise forested areas and to encroach upon protected areas. Consequently, governments will need to find ever greater resources to resist these very powerful social dynamics, and it likely that under such circumstances the drive to establish more protected areas than currently exist will drop away. It is likely therefore that governments will focus what limited resources are available on a few, isolated and supposedly 'prestige' areas, to the neglect of the wider network. Whilst this approach will win a degree of popular appeal, it will fail to a very great degree to conserve biodiversity or to reap the wider benefits of a well founded protected areas network. Protected areas agencies, already a weak part of government administrations will fail to win concessions from more powerful departments: conservation will be a low government priority.
The management of existing protected areas will become weaker than it is at present, due to chronic under-funding and under-staffing, and many parks will be destroyed. Areas of forest will remain but they will be depleted of much of their biodiversity value.
Other forces driving in this direction could be severe economic recession, possibly leading to social disturbance, and a curtailment of government funding. In the most extreme forecast war could erupt, for example over territorial disputes or resource conflicts leaving conservation as a virtually non-existent priority, diversion of financial and human resources, and the collapse of tourism and other revenue streams. This is effectively what happened during the recent history of Cambodia, and for many years, protected areas that had been established under the French colonial regime ceased to have any practical meaning. Ethnic disturbance in north-east Sri Lanka and in north-east India have also lead to protected areas being abandoned by management agencies.
There may also be a radical departure from the direction indicated by the Ministerial statements quoted in Section 5, although this is not considered likely due to unfavourable international reaction. However, under deteriorating conditions the gap between policy statements and implementation could grow wider.
Scenario 3 therefore is one in which the rate at which new protected areas are established tails off. Newly protected areas, as in the case of Scenario 1, are likely to be planned on the basis of minimum competing land use, and without recourse to scientific study. The quality of protected areas will also be very poor, a reflection of inadequate investment, incorporation into wider land use policies and pressure from other sectors.
One effect of a deteriorating government commitment to conservation might be an enhanced role for NGO activity. This could take the form of protecting reserves through outright purchase, especially in the wealthier parts of the region, or through helping develop community based solutions.
Increasing the area under protection, or improving the management of new or existing protected areas, will have significant implications for resourcing.
Protected areas budgets and staffing will have to be increased if the existing network is to be properly supported, whilst the burden of an enlarged system will be even greater, especially for the least developed nations. James, et al. (1996) found that, globally, protected areas are financed at the rate of US$776 per square kilometre (see Section 4). This suggests that something in the order of US$1.9 billion5 (approximately 0.1% of the Gross Domestic Product of the region) is spent by governments on protected areas. (A weighted average for the Asia-Pacific region indicates a lower figure of about US$290 per square kilometre. However, as data are not available for China this figure is very tentative.)
Governments will be reluctant to see major increases, when faced with many other economic priorities. One imperative therefore in the period to 2010 is to encourage governments to see the relatively modest investment in protected areas being in part an insurance policy for the protection of a very much greater revenue stream. Thomas, et al. (1996) point out, as only one of a number of examples, that the Australian economy benefits by US$2 billion in expenditure in eight national parks, at a cost to government of only $Aus60 million (approximately US$47 million). The economic values associated with these protected areas include water feeding hydro-electric schemes, tourism, commercial fishing, research, defence training and others. Although the primary purpose of protected areas is to conserve biodiversity there are frequently substantive economic benefits, even when in their natural state. Thomas, et al. (1996) argue that assessing the economic benefits of protected areas can lead to a re-integration of the economy and the environment. This will strengthen the case for conservation and encourage governments to provide sufficient resources for the establishment and management of protected areas.
James, et al. (1996) found that, globally, protected areas are staffed at a rate of 24.5 personnel for every 1,000 square kilometres protected. Applied crudely across the entire Asia-Pacific Region, this suggests that 60,000 personnel are employed by government. Again, if the growth in protected areas networks suggested in the three scenarios is achieved, and is to be sustained, there will be a high demand for additional staff. Further, given that lack of training or inappropriate training for staff is a significant factor in the poor management of protected areas in many countries, there will be a strong imperative for governments, or inter-governmental agencies to invest in training. The number of staff that would be required, given existing staffing levels, will be in excess of 100,000 staff. This has clear implications for government policy and commitment to establishing or further supporting existing training institutions, or adapting the curricula of existing institutions, such as forestry schools, to include training appropriate for protected areas staff. The cross-sectoral training adopted in Bhutan is a working demonstration of this approach, providing field staff with a common grounding in agriculture, forestry and wildlife theory and practice.
There are strong driving forces to move away from the conventional style of strictly protected areas, and more towards to community-based solutions. These may take the form either of multiple-use protected areas, or sustainable land use outside protected areas that also accommodates biodiversity conservation. The degree to which these forces can be successfully harnessed to drive a paradigm change will be a major determinant in the success or failure of forest conservation and protected areas in the future.
IUCN has identified a specific type of protected area that will be of increasing importance in the years towards 2010 as the need to reconcile resource exploitation and biodiversity conservation increases. Protected areas containing predominantly natural systems, managed to ensure the long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs (IUCN, 1994a) are classified as Category VI sites.
On the basis of current information, there are 445 Category VI sites in the Asia Pacific region, covering 0.54% of land area and accounting for 6.2% of all the land protected in the region. The contribution of these protected areas is therefore modest at present. However, there are indications that the rate at which managed resource protected areas are established could increase. All the recently created National Biodiversity Conservation Areas (NBCA) in Lao PDR (Berkmuller, et al., 1995) are considered to be Category VI, although the intention is to establish more strictly protected core zones in due course. Participatory management, to the extent of negotiating boundaries and participating in the field management are some of the key aspects of protected areas development in Lao PDR. This may serve as a precursor for further community oriented solutions (see Fuavao, 1993; Kothari, 1996) although there will be a continuing need for strictly protected areas where no exploitation can be tolerated.
The concept of 'bioregions' has been developed as a step towards wider landscape-level management to satisfy both development and conservation priorities (WRI/IUCN/UNEP, 1992). Human needs are reconciled with biodiversity conservation, and protected areas integrated into natural and semi-natural surroundings in a bioregion. A variety of protected areas ranging from strict protection, national or state parks, areas of controlled extraction and areas of permanent forest estate for timber production are key elements in a bioregion. The concept moves away from the strictly protectionist model to a more community-oriented solution, and will, in an optimistic outlook, play a growing part in securing conservation and development objectives to 2010 and beyond.
As an example, the use of buffer zones and corridors is being actively promoted in Europe as a means of securing the conservation value of core protected areas. The Natura 2000 policy is designed to promote the creation of a coherent network of protected areas across Europe, and the development of wider, landscape level management is seen as an important tool in achieving this target (Felton, 1996). Such developments have been approved at Ministerial level under the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (CoE/UNEP/ECNC, 1996). The Strategic Action Plan 1996-2000 specifically identifies the establishment of an international network of protected areas, coupled with the integration of biodiversity conservation into other sectors. This integration process holds considerable promise for other parts of the world, including Asia-Pacific. A resolution passed at the October 1996 IUCN World Conservation Congress draws attention to the global significance of ecological networks, connected by areas of natural and semi-natural habitat, in which protected areas, corridors, rehabilitation zones and sustainable land use can be reconciled.
5 One billion is taken to mean one thousand million or 109