Transboundary protected areas (TBPA) are places of land or seas or both that straddle or border between states, sub-national units such as provinces and regions, autonomous areas and/or areas beyond the limit of national sovereignty or jurisdiction, whose constituent parts are especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed cooperatively through legal or other effective means (IUCN 2007).
As of 2002, there were more than 170 complexes of two or more adjoining protected areas divided by international boundaries, involving a total of 669 protected areas representing 113 countries. The World Conservation Congress, at its Third Session in Bangkok, Thailand on 17 – 25 November 2004, urged the Governments of Southeast Asia to: 1) recognize the importance of transboundary forests and marine areas for the conservation of natural ecosystems; and 2) formulate transboundary conservation strategies in collaboration with the international community for all important shared ecosystems, especially where existing TBPAs provide an institutional and management framework for cooperative action. The most significant milestone in 2004 was the inclusion of the specific provisions on transboundary conservation in the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA).
In 2007, the UNEP-WCMC Global List of TBPAs identified 227 TBPAs. Twenty-two (22) TBPAs are within Southeast Asia.
Following are some of the initiatives in the ASEAN on the establishment and management of TBPAs:
1. Transboundary Management in the Heart of Borneo
Borneo represents the only place remaining in Southeast Asia where forests, biodiversity and its ecosystems services can still be conserved on a very large scale. The HoB Initiative started as a project of ITTO, covering the Betung Kerihun National Park (West Kalimantan), the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary-Batang Ai National Park and the Pulong Tau National Park (Sarawak), and the Kayan Mentarang National Park (KMNP) in East Kalimantan.
2. Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area
The Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA) is the first transboundary protected area in the world, and its area of coverage spans Malaysia and the Philippines. It is the major nesting ground of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and is the only remaining nesting rookery of green sea turtles in the ASEAN region. It is also the eleventh major nesting area of marine turtles in the world.
3. Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion
The Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) is one biogeographic unit in the center of marine biodiversity covering three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It has productive coastal and marine ecosystems, with sea turtles being its flagship species. Five out of the seven sea turtles species are found in the SSME.
4. Greater Mekong Subregion
The Greater Mekong Subregion is a transboundary region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. In 2006, the Asian Development Bank supported improved environmental management in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) through its Core Environment Program (CEP). The GMS is composed of the nations of Cambodia, The Lao PDR, Myanmar, People’s Republic of China (its southern region), Thailand and Viet Nam. The Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (BCI) is a flagship component of the Core Environment Program in the Greater Mekong Subregion. It is an innovative approach combining poverty reduction with biodiversity conservation. The BCI is a regional technical assistance program for promoting the establishment of sound environmental management systems and institutions.
5. The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security
The Coral Triangle, renowned for harboring the richest marine biodiversity in the world, is an area in the Indo-Pacific defined by the coasts and marine territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The heads of state of these countries officially launched the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) to address threats to the marine, coastal and small island ecosystems within the Coral Triangle region through accelerated and collaborative action, taking into consideration multi-stakeholder participation in all six countries.
6. Transboundary Law Enforcement: ASEAN-WEN
The ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) is currently the world’s largest wildlife enforcement network addressing the issues of wildlife crime in the ASEAN region. Law enforcement in transboundary PAs is being bolstered by the ASEAN-WEN. The network is tasked to facilitate marine patrols, aerial surveys, fire suppression, community outreach, and access to existing military border coordination mechanisms. It specially conducts courses and on-the-job training on law enforcement.
7. Mangroves for the Future
The Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a unique partner-led initiative to promote investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. It provides a collaborative platform among the many different agencies, sectors and countries addressing challenges to coastal ecosystem and livelihood issues in working towards a common goal.
Programme Development and Implementation Unit