Conservation and sustainable use of flora and fauna remain an important global concern until now. The expanding consumption patterns for food, shelter and other needs by the steadily growing world’s human population continues to contribute to reducing the number and genetic diversity of plants and animals. Despite the internationally agreed framework for the conservation and sustainable use of flora and fauna diversity and natural resources and the criteria for access and benefit sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Asia continues to be one of the world's largest consumers of wildlife, wildlife products and other natural resources.
Southeast Asia is known to have three of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries (i.e., Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) and seven of the world’s 35 recognized biodiversity hotspots based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category. The region is also recognized to have a high rate of species discovery throughout the past twenty years. But the region’s biodiversity is still under serious threat due to rapid habitat loss caused by rampant deforestation for agricultural purposes and massive infrastructure development. Unregulated collection and trafficking of native plants and animals for trade also contribute to this threat.
Where country-level regulatory mechanisms are not strongly implemented and overexploitation of indigenous flora and fauna are rewarded with large monetary gains, continuing research, education and information exchange could provide a reliable mechanism to forge ahead with discovering effective ways and best practices to conserve and use natural resources sustainably for the future.
Indigenous people and communities in various countries of the region have been known to support biodiversity conservation efforts through their own traditional wisdom and practices. Scientists as well as environmental advocates have also been finding ways to help address biodiversity and sustainable development issues. Research activities on genetic improvement have been on-going in many tropical countries to enable indigenous tropical flora and fauna species adapt to changing climatic and habitat conditions resulting from both natural and anthropological causes. These traditional wisdom and practices as well as scientific research results are significant inputs to developing, and implementing effective and continuous national comprehensive programs and policies in conserving, enhancing and sustainable use of the region’s flora and fauna and its ecosystem. However, close coordination mechanisms among national governments and stakeholders including indigenous people, academic institutions, and advocacy groups are highly wanting.
The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Tropical Biology (BIOTROP) is organizing its 3rd International Conference on Tropical Biology (ICTB) this year with the theme “Conservation, Enhancement, and Sustainable Use of Indigenous Tropical Flora and Fauna”. The conference is expected to be a venue for sharing knoweldge, perspectives, and experiences on the theme among the participants.
The conference generally aims to assess successes, opportunities, and gaps in current practices, research efforts and policies associated with the conservation, enhancement and sustainable use of flora and fauna in Southeast Asia.
Specifically, it hopes to generate consensus among participants to formulate practical and sustainable ways, based on current policies and research results, to strengthen participation and contribution of stakeholders in eliminating currents problems and, at the same time, enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of the region’s biodiversity and natural resources.
The conference is expected to bring about consensus among the participants on an agenda for future research and advocacy actions on the conservation, enhancement and sustainable use of indigenous flora and fauna in Southeast Asia to support the effective implementation of existing national policies. This will be contained in the conference report including the highlights of session paper presentations and discussions that SEAMEO BIOTROP will publish.
Papers presented during the Conference, which would pass SEAMEO BIOTROP’s external review process, would be published in its Scopus indexed international journal, BIOTROPIA.