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33
Identification of capacity-building needs in ASEAN for the management of invasive alien species


Soetikno S. Sastroutomo, Keng-Yeang Lum and Wai-Hong Loke

S.S. Sastroutomo, K.Y. Lum, ASEANET; W.H. Loke, CAB International South-East Asia Regional Centre, P.O. Box 210, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; e-mail: (1) s.soetikno@cabi.org

Abstract

ASEANET is the Southeast Asian regional network of BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, a technical cooperation network for sustainable development through capacity building in taxonomy and related sciences. Taxonomy, biological information and collections underpin not only quarantine and plant health but also invasive alien species management. ASEANET considers these interlinked, recognizing that invasive alien species are threats not only to biodiversity and the environment but also to sectors such as agriculture, forestry, livestock, aquaculture, wildlife and human health. In 2001 - 2002, ASEANET, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, conducted two surveys of countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Needs assessment in taxonomy and biosystematics for plant pathogenic organisms in countries of South East Asia and Needs assessment in taxonomy of arthropod pests of plants in countries of South East Asia: biosystematics, collection and information management. In 2002 - 2003, ASEANET, in collaboration with CAB International South-East Asia Regional Centre, similarly conducted a survey on plant health capabilities in Southeast Asia. Key findings of these three assessments of relevance to invasive alien species in agriculture are: many ASEAN countries have basic capacity problems in describing the health status of their agricultural and forestry industries, leading to serious constraints in the development of new export markets; most ASEAN countries lack human resources in taxonomy, from collection and curation of pest specimens (including invasives) to the identification of specific taxonomic groups; scientific reference collections of pests and pathogens are inadequate; local collections and taxonomic expertise are not networked for effective and efficient mobilization and utilization of valuable resources; and pest information databases are scattered and largely do not meet IPPC standards. To address these gaps, ASEANET has followed up with a number of capacity-building initiatives.

Introduction

ASEANET is the Southeast Asian regional network (a "locally organized and operated partnership", LOOP) of BioNET-INTERNATIONAL. It was established in 1998, after endorsement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) senior ministers for the environment. The ASEANET member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Currently the technical secretariat is located at CAB International South-East Asia Regional Centre, MARDI Complex, Serdang, Malaysia.

ASEANET’s mission is capacity building in taxonomy and related sciences to enable ASEAN to manage its great biodiversity riches for sustainable development, and to prepare member economies for compliance with the sanitary and phytosanitary rules under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

The work programmes of ASEANET are:

Agricultural and rural development is vital for sustainable growth and poverty reduction for developing countries such as in the ASEAN region. The development challenge facing these countries is to manage their plant health to maximize productivity, address food security concerns, conserve natural resources, and generate rural income by participating fully in international trade in agricultural products. The industrialized and more advanced of the developing countries of the region also need robust plant health infrastructure to manage plant pests, to preserve the integrity of quarantine borders and to support trade in agricultural commodities.

In order to address these challenges, ASEAN countries must have a detailed knowledge of their plant health status and be able to access information on the biology, distribution, host range and economic status of plant pests and pathogens. Biological collections contain much of this information and are of fundamental importance to regional countries as they seek to improve their quarantine security, protect agriculture and natural resources, and underpin market access negotiations in the global trading environment.

This paper summarizes the results of three surveys. Two were needs assessments conducted by ASEANET in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia in 2001 - 2002: one in taxonomy of arthropod pests of plants (Naumann and Mamat, 2002), the other in taxonomy and biosystematics for plant pathogenic organisms in Southeast Asia (Evans, Lum and Murdoch, 2002). In addition, in 2002 - 2003, a survey exercise was carried out in collaboration with CAB International South-East Asia Regional Centre on plant health capability in Southeast Asia (Sastroutomo, Loke and Lum, 2003).

Survey objectives

The objectives of the first two needs assessment surveys were:

The objective for the third survey, conducted through a questionnaire, was to compile information related to national plant protection organizations in each ASEAN country, i.e., on human resources, facilities (buildings and equipment), documented procedures and on priorities for technical assistance.

Results

Key findings from these three surveys include information on human resources of the NPPOs, the status of relevant biological collections and the priorities for technical assistance.

Human resources of NPPOs

Numbers of entry and exit points and inspectors involved in nine countries of ASEAN are presented in table 1.

Table 1: The number of entry/exit points and inspectors involved in nine ASEAN countries.

Country

Airports

Seaports

Land-border ports

No. of points

Personnel

No. of points

Personnel

No. of points

Personnel

Brunei Darussalam

1

6

2

5

3

13

Indonesia

42

180

85

305

4

15

Laos

3

?

0

0

16

15

Malaysia

12

91

22

97

14

99

Myanmar

2

25

3

1

6

16

Singapore

1

4

1

4

2

4

Philippines

22

>100

>80

>100

>80

>80

Thailand

7

21

8

23

20

27

Vietnam

3

9

8

?

40

110

ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Cambodia, also an ASEAN country, is not included in these results.

Table 2: Diagnostic capabilities in nine ASEAN countries.

Technical capability

Human resources total in 9 countries

Within NPPO

Outside NPPO

Fruitfly specialists

25-30

24

Diptera specialists

6

19

Lepidoptera specialists

5

30

Coleoptera specialists

8

25

Hemiptera specialists

3

19

Stored product specialists

70

36

Thysanoptera specialists

2

17

Arachnida specialists

2

17

Mollusc specialists

3

23

General entomologists

143

>106

Fungal pathology specialists

29

>55

Bacteriology specialists

12

43

Plant virology specialists

11

33

General pathology specialists

120

>80

Nematologists

14

>23

Weed scientists

23

>25

ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations; NPPO: national plant protection organization. Cambodia, also an ASEAN country, is not included in these results.

Table 2 shows the total number of specialists in different fields related to plant protection in the NPPO as well as those outside the NPPO in different countries of ASEAN.

Status of disease herbaria, pathogens and arthropods collections

In most countries of the ASEAN, biological collections including invasive alien species are lodged in several different agencies or institutions such as national ministries for agriculture and forestry, state or provincial ministries for agriculture and forestry, crop-specific research institutions, museums of natural history and universities. Valuable collections of specimens may also be held by scientists in research facilities working on pests and diseases of specific crops; or scientists may build collections of particular taxonomic groups. These collections and those in universities are at risk when institutional priorities change or staff retire or move on. Identifying these collections and securing them against loss will be important.

Institutional responsibilities for maintaining disease herbaria, collections of plant pathogens and arthropods (including invasive species) in a number of countries visited are ill-defined. This is reflected, in part at least, in the low level of resources allocated to maintaining these specimens and the poor state of some herbaria. The well-being of these valuable national resources is largely dependent on a small number of dedicated scientists in government agencies, research establishments and universities.

Table 3: Technical assistance priorities in ASEAN countries.

Plant health component

Total scores
(see note)

Phytosanitary legislation

26

Diagnostic capabilities



Human resources

43

Buildings

28

Equipment

33

Pest risk analysis



Human resources

45

Buildings

31

Equipment

36

Surveillance



Human resources

40

Buildings

27

Equipment

34

Exotic pest response



Human resources

41

Buildings

28

Equipment

34

Inspection system



Human resources

41

Buildings

28

Equipment

32

ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Note: Maximum total scores for nine countries is 45. Cambodia, also an ASEAN country, is not included in these results.

It appears that none of the collections of arthropod pests or plant disease herbaria including invasive species in ASEAN countries have dedicated funding and none have statutory protection. A few museums holding pests and plant disease specimens in broader collections have protection and a few receive dedicated funding. Some of the governments are beginning to give greater recognition to quarantine and sanitary and phytosanitary issues in the new global trading environment. However, this recognition has not been enough to attract the resources needed to build the essential capacity in taxonomy and collection management that most ASEAN countries will need in order to comply with the SPS Agreement. Some countries are looking to donor agencies for assistance to build capacity.

Technical assistance priorities

Technical assistance priorities in the different countries of ASEAN are listed in table 3.

From the information offered, it was noted that technical assistance related to human resources are given high priority, i.e., for pest risk analysis, diagnostic capabilities, exotic pest response and inspection system, in contrast to technical assistance for buildings or equipment.

Recommendations

The surveys identified a number of matters that need to be addressed to improve the disease herbaria, pathogen and arthropod collections in ASEAN countries in order to bring these to an adequate standard to support national plant health policy, including pest risk assessments to underpin market access negotiations. These matters are listed below:

References

Evans, G., Lum, K.Y. & Murdoch, L. 2002. Needs assessment in taxonomy and biosystematics for plant pathogenic organisms in countries of South East Asia. A report for AusAID (available from the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, Canberra, Australia). 67 pp.

Naumann, I.D. & Mamat, Jusoh Md. 2002. Needs assessment in taxonomy of arthropod pests of plants in countries of South East Asia: Biosystematics, collection and information management. A report for AusAID (available from the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, Canberra, Australia). 118 pp.

Sastroutomo, S.S., Loke, W.H. & Lum, K.Y. 2003. Strengthening plant health infra- and infostructure of ASEAN economies to enhance market access in agricultural trade under WTO/SPS rules. Internal report of a Partnership Facility project to CAB International. 12 pp.


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