By ELLALYN B. DE VERA
August 28, 2009
Philippine-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Biodiversity (ACB) urged the ASEAN member-nations to address biodiversity loss in the region, noting that the benefits of intact biodiversity to the ASEAN region is estimated to be worth over US$200 billion annually.
The ACB cited that biodiversity brings enormous benefits to mankind from direct harvesting of plants and animals for food, medicine, fuel, construction materials, and other uses to aesthetic, cultural, recreational and research values.
Likewise, it said, benefits to ecosystems include climate and water regulation; creation and protection of soils, reducing floods and soil erosion, shoreline protection, and providing natural controls of agricultural pests, all of which promote creative evolution.
"These services are estimated to be worth over US$200 billion annually. This amount can save 56 million victims of tuberculosis over a 10-year period; and can feed 862 million people annually for six years,” the European Union-funded ACB said.
“Millions of people depend on sustainably harvested fish, timber and fruits for nutrition and their livelihoods,” it added.
It also noted that about 80 percent of the income of the rural poor is derived from the local biodiversity.
“Wood remains the most common fuel throughout the region. In fact, much of the leap and development of the countries of ASEAN during the period of 1970 to 1990 is founded on the sale of commercial timber,” ACB said.
ACB executive director Rodrigo Fuentes said the 10 ASEAN member-states are working together to protect the biodiversity, particularly in meeting the 2010 Biodiversity Target.
In April 2002, ASEAN countries namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, where among the 191 parties worldwide that committed to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levelas a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.
This target was subsequently endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly and was incorporated as a new target under the Millennium Development Goals.