The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) of Myanmar hosts the 5th ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP5) Conference on 24–27 October 2016 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The conference is organized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) with support from the KfW Small Grants Programme for Biodiversity Conservation and from the GIZ projects “Institutional Strengthening of Biodiversity in ASEAN” and “Biodiversity-Based Products as an Economic Source for the Improvement of Livelihoods and Biodiversity Protection in ASEAN.”

ASEAN Heritage Parks constitute a network of 38 protected areas that encompass ecosystems and species that best represent ASEAN. As Secretariat of the AHP Programme, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity facilitates knowledge sharing and skills building for AHPs, including the conduct of a regional conference every three years.

“The 5th AHP Conference is another milestone in the ASEAN Member States’ efforts to conserve the region’s biodiversity and in promoting its sustainable use. Myanmar is more than delighted to be the host of this momentous event,” said Myanmar’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, H.E. U Ohn Win.

“H.E. Le Luong Minh, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, congratulates the ACB, Myanmar, and all participants, especially the AHP Managers, committee members, and key stakeholders of AHPs, for your efforts and achievements in responding collectively to reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity in ASEAN region. This is indeed an important issue for ASEAN and is an example of how ASEAN can support the global agenda and be a proactive member of the international community,” said Mr. Nguyen Ky Anh, Officer-in-Charge, Director of Sustainable Development Directorate, and Assistant Director of Culture and Information Division, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department of the ASEAN Secretariat.

According to ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva, “AHP5 is an opportunity to assess the progress of ASEAN’s efforts in effectively managing AHPs and addressing biodiversity issues for sustainable development. The conference will review the uptake of recommendations made during the previous conference, highlight the 2016 – 2020 Regional Action Plan for AHPs, and recommend priority actions for enhanced management of AHPs.” The regional event aims to bring together the main actors in the AHP Programme, including the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) Members, AHP Committee Members, AHP Managers, key stakeholders of AHPs, and partners in AHP management.

The conference will feature plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and a field visit to Inlay Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, one of seven AHPs in Myanmar. Clarissa C. Arida, ACB Director for Programme Development and Implementation, stated that “The conference will focus on issues crucial to effective AHP management. These include governance and collaborative management; using the Key Biodiversity Area standard to identify important sites for biodiversity; and governance of transboundary protected areas.”

She identified the breakout sessions as: Biodiversity Information Management, and Communication, Education and Public Awareness; Collaborative Management, Partnerships, Livelihood Development, Gender; Ecosystem Restoration and Invasive Alien Species; Governance and Management Planning; Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, Health and Well Being, and Traditional Knowledge; and Transboundary Protected Areas and Wildlife Law Enforcement.

The AHP Regional Action Plan 2016–2020 provides the guiding framework for implementing priority biodiversity conservation measures in AHPs and will be an essential reference point for planning and discussion during the conference. With seven goals, the AHP RAP 2016-2020 ensures that management of AHPs contributes to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, in particular to the achievement of Aichi Target 11, and complements national conservation efforts.

AHP5 will culminate in a visit to Inlay Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, one of Myanmar’s flagship destinations. Key attractions include floating gardens; a rotating five-day market; the Indein Pagoda Complex and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda; local villages of Nga Hpe Kyaung Monastery; Ywama, Nampan and the Red Mountain Winery. It is an important stopover for migratory birds and provides habitats for resident birds, native aquatic plants, and freshwater fish. Globally threatened birds found in the sanctuary include the Oriental Darter, Ferruginous Pochard, Black Headed Ibis and Black bellied tern. ###