Community Participation and Biodiversity

Coverage of Selected Side Events at the UN Biodiversity Conference

5-17 December 2016 | Cancún, Mexico

Events Covered on Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Rooted in the Ground: Community Participation and BiodiversityPresented by Society for Wildlife and Nature (SWAN) International


This event, moderated by Lee Yung-Jaan, SWAN International, discussed several cases of conservation management efforts in Belize, Indonesia and Taiwan, which have developed through community outreach and participation.

Boris Arevalo, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), Belize, presented on conservation efforts of the Scarlet Macaw in the Chiquibul Forest in his country. Noting the importance of biomonitoring and collecting data on illegal poaching and enforcement activities, he lauded the success of conservation efforts in increasing the number of fledglings and reducing poaching of the Scarlet Macaw in recent years. He underlined, inter alia, that reaching chicks on site, public outreach and assistance from volunteers have contributed to this success.

Arevalo also presented on increasing rates of deforestation of the Chiquibul Forest in Belize along the Guatemalan border, noting that a territorial dispute, food insecurity and a “worrying” trend towards cattle ranching among poor Guatemalan communities as being among the root causes of deforestation. He reported the efforts of FCD to curtail the growing deforestation, including providing support for: agroforestry systems; pig and poultry-raising projects for enhancing food security; providing alternative cook stoves; and the development of a watershed conservation alliance comprised of both Belizean and Guatemalan communities.

Carolina Hazin, BirdLife International (BLI), presented on a “forest of hope” in Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia. She described the deforestation in the Rainforest, noting that logging removes high-value timber, and the rest of the forest is then cleared for oil palm plantations. She noted that BLI is working in conservation, as well as in public policy and advocacy to address private sector exploration and restoration efforts through the Ecosystem Restoration Concession legislation. Noting that this legislation is just the beginning, she highlighted efforts to involve local communities, underscoring the importance of creating a balance between conservation needs and community needs, through community conservation agreements.

Stressing the need for partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society, and indigenous peoples and local communities, Chi-Chang Liu, National Taiwan University (NTU), discussed the small Wan-Shian indigenous community, with very strong traditional systems, highlighting that it had recently been under threat leaving its territory vulnerable to deforestation and degradation. He pointed to livelihood activities being promoted, with NTU also offering training opportunities to ensure that the Wan-Shian youth can be self-sufficient, noting also that these young people are hired as rangers to prevent illegal logging and poaching. He also drew attention to a payment for ecosystem services project in terraced rice paddy fields in the Gongliao area established by the Environmental Ethics Foundation on Taiwan, underlining that this artificial wetland is an example of enhancing livelihoods and promoting conservation through agroecology.

In the ensuing discussions, participants considered, inter alia: broader environmental factors, which may have resulted in reduced predation of the Scarlet Macaw in Belize; the need to address the systemic challenges presented by community land rights; whether community involvement in conservation efforts is a “product of consensus” or a “product of a non-governmental organization (NGO)”; and the role of government in driving deforestation in the name of “development.”

(L-R): Carolina Hazin, BLI; Boris Arevalo, FCD; Lee Yung-Jaan, SWAN International; and Chi-Chang Liu, NTU

Carolina Hazin, BLI, pointed to her organization's work in the conservation of Important Bird and Biodiversity Sites, highlighting the importance of learning with local communities as well as providing capacity support where it is necessary to achieve best results.


Chi-Chang Liu, NTU, stressed the importance of traditional knowledge, the identification of conservation priorities, the need to build lasting partnerships, and the importance of effectiveness monitoring to ensure community participation in biodiversity mainstreaming.


Lee Yung-Jaan, SWAN International, moderated the event.


Boris Arevalo, FCD, stressed that conservation is not an activity that can be accomplished by a single entity; “it is everyone's business.”

Participants during

the discussion

A view of the room during Chi-Chang Liu's address
Photos by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera
Hits / 1865   Update / 2016-12-16


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