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BIMP-EAGA Makes Progress in Halting Ecosystems Loss

Date Published
October 26, 2023

BIMP-EAGA is a biologically important subregion in Southeast Asia, being home to a diverse number of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that support endemic and endangered flora and fauna. Photo credit: iStock/iStock/USO

The four member countries of BIMP-EAGA have seen some progress in halting ecosystems loss in the last 10 years, contributing to global efforts to make the planet more sustainable,

BIMP-EAGA is a biologically important subregion in Southeast Asia, being home to diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that support endemic and endangered flora and fauna.

Under Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries need to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; sustainably manage forests; combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation; and stop biodiversity loss.

Conserving forest, terrestrial, freshwater, and mountain ecosystems

Between 2010 and 2020, key SDG indicators from a newly released report from the Asian Development Bank showed BIMP-EAGA countries have shown progress in ensuring the conservation of different ecosystems. Under the SDGs, countries need to ensure the conservation of ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

During the period under review, Brunei Darussalam was able to maintain 72.1% forest cover in relation to its total land area. Malaysia’s forest area cover increased to 58.2% in 2020 from 57.7% in 2010 and the Philippines to 24.1% from 22.9%. However, Indonesia saw a slight decline to 49.1% in 2020 from 53.1% in 2010.

The countries also showed progress in protecting areas that would ensure terrestrial biodiversity. Brunei maintained the percentage of sites covered at 41.7% between 2010 and 2022. The coverage in Indonesia grew to 25.9% from 19.7%; in Malaysia, to 37% from 31.6%; and in the Philippines, to 42.8% from 25.4%.

Protection of sites for freshwater biodiversity also improved. Brunei maintained coverage at 50.0% between 2010 and 2022. Indonesia expanded coverage to 39.0% from 36.6%, Malaysia to 32.5% from 31.7%, and the Philippines to 56.1% from 35.4%

There was also progress in how the countries have conserved mountain ecosystems. Brunei was able to maintain a 69.5% coverage between 2010 and 2022. The other three countries, meanwhile posted, increases: Indonesia to 27.5% from 21.8%, Malaysia to 48.3% from 39.8%, and the Philippines to 43.3% from 22.3%.

BIMP-EAGA's protected areas

Over the years, each BIMP-EAGA country has declared ecologically important marine and terrestrial ecosystems as protected areas—conserved or clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means. Many of the protected areas are also covered under regional or global protected area networks.   

BIMP-EAGA now has three United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global Geoparks, which are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development. These are the Maros Pangkep UNESCO Global Geopark and the Raja Ampat UNESCO Global Geopark in Indonesia and the Kinabalu UNESCO Global Geopark in Malaysia. The three are the first global geoparks named in BIMP-EAGA.

BIMP-EAGA is also home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Lorentz National Park in Papua, Indonesia; Mt. Kinabalu Park in Sabah, Malaysia; Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia; Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and Tubbataha Reefs National Park in Palawan, Philippines; and Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Mindanao. UNESCO says these sites should be protected because they are “of outstanding value to humanity.”

BIMP-EAGA also has 13 ASEAN Heritage Parks. These are the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park in Tutong, Brunei Darussalam; the Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park and the Wakatobi National Park in Sulawesi; the Lorentz National Park in Papua province; the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak; the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah; the Mt. Apo Natural Park, the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mt. Kitanglad Range NaturaI Park, the Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, the Mts. Timpoong–Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument, and the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Mindanao; and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan. The ASEAN Heritage Parks program seeks to protect the complete spectrum of representative ecosystems in the region.

Halting biodiversity loss

Among the four countries, Brunei has been the most successful in protecting and preventing the extinction of threatened species based on the Red List Index, which tracks overall extinction risk for species. A score of 0 in the index signifies all species are categorized as “extinct.” A score of 1 indicates all species are categorized as "least concern,” signifying no species are expected to become extinct in the near future.

Brunei's score on the index slipped to 0.85 in 2022 from 0.86 in 2010. Still, the score signifies the country is making a high contribution to the survival of species worldwide. Meanwhile, Indonesia fell to 0.75 from 0.80, Malaysia to 0.70 from 0.75, and the Philippines to 0.67 from 0.71.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has warned the planet is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, estimating that between 10,000 and 100,000 species become extinct each year.

Under BIMP-EAGA’s Vision 2025, the subregion considers terrestrial and marine biodiversity among its core strengths. All countries are committed to ensuring that all sectors do their share in protecting and conserving the subregion’s natural resources and biodiversity.