Specific Theme and Strands for both Programs
The research theme for both Programs for implementation in 2016 and 2017 is Sustaining and Enhancing the Integrity and Productivity of Ecosystems in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asian countries have rich natural resources which constitute their natural capital assets for national economic and social development. However, overexploitation of these natural resources have been significantly affecting the capacity of their ecosystems to provide goods and services that are fundamental to supporting people’s livelihoods including other living organisms. In 2012, the Asian Development Bank Institute reported that Asia is “confronted by serious environmental problems that threaten to undermine future growth, food security, and regional stability.”
With the increasing trend in consumption and disposal of natural resources due to the rapidly growing and urbanized population, the region now faces the prospect of a dwindling supply of goods and services unless corresponding replenishment and growth to the environmental base are also occurring. Evidences from several studies also reveal that many ecosystems are experiencing degradation due to poor development planning, spread of invasive species, and the impacts of climate change.
Ecosystem degradation is one major factor that limits societies in achieving their sustainable development goals. Deliberate research on how to sustain and enhance goods and services derived from ecosystems could bring about informed decision-making among governments in the region, formulating sound policies and providing appropriate investments and institutional reforms for more sustainable and effective ecosystem management.
This call for proposals would like to focus the research theme on two ecosystems, namely: forests and mangroves.
Southeast Asia’s forest and mangrove areas have been declining rapidly. Population growth, expansion in infrastructure development, logging, and investments in industrial agriculture and other land uses (e.g., oil palm plantations, shrimp farms or rice cultivation) are primary drivers of forest and mangrove conversions. Occurrence of forest fires, whether natural or human-induced, also contributes to the loss of forests. Although some restoration and expansion efforts are taking place, these drivers continue to exist due to conflicting priorities, lack of adequate resources, and research-based information to improve policy-making, law enforcement, and governance of these ecosystems. With degradation of these ecosystems, there are growing concerns about loss of biodiversity and habitat, shortage of food, water, fiber and fuel, as well as increases in greenhouse gas emissions.
Research proposals could fall under any or a combination of the following theme strands:
1. Ecological restoration
Ecological restoration is becoming increasingly important worldwide as a way to reinstate the integrity of species and ecosystems while simultaneously enhancing human welfare. Research on this strand could include: understanding and minimizing the difference between natural and anthropogenic disturbances (e.g., forest fires, flooding, introduction of invasive plant and animal species, pollution, climate change, etc. ) which interfere with the functioning of an ecosystem at spatial and temporal scales; determining the resilience of an ecosystem; use of emerging concepts in new and successful restoration technologies and performance standards; assessment of current restoration practices; ways of initiating, assisting or accelerating ecological succession processes after a disturbance; investigating the role of soil physical and microbial processes (e.g., using mycorrhiza), genetics, societal participation and local traditional knowledge, etc.2. Ecological protection and conservation
This strand would generally refer to measures to protect and conserve elements of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem structure and functions from further degradation, enhance landscape and habitat connectivity, and build resilience to disturbance. Research on this strand could include: resilience analysis and management; adaptive resource management; ecosystem health assessment and monitoring; landscape connectivity analysis and restoration planning; mapping and inventory of residual native forests, biodiversity hotspots and other sensitive areas; environmental risk analysis and impact assessment, preserving genetic diversity and genetic improvement; analysis of and compliance with current environmental protection and conservation policies; prevention and control of invasive species, mine-site rehabilitation pollution, forest fires, etc.
3. Ecological sustainability and productivity enhancement
This strand focuses on the wise and efficient use of natural resources in the short-term so that these resources and ecological processes are available, maintained as well as can be increased in the long-term for society’s needs and better quality of life. Research under this strand could include: determining appropriate land-use and production options, the value of environmental services including water and catchment systems; payment for environmental services; agroforestry and novel crops using native species; sustainable use of species, renewable resource use/harvesting; policy development to support government and NGO programs in sustainability, etc.
Research project proposals can be designed on a phased manner from 2016 to 2017 but should be able to generate specific outputs on a yearly basis. For each year, the project must be implemented within a 9-month period.
Southeast Asian Forests and Forestry to 2020: Subregional Report of the Second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study 2011
http://www.unep.org/vitalforest/Report/VFG-15-The-forests-of-southeast-asia.pdf (Accessed 18 June 2015)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resilience_(ecology) (Accessed 19 June 2015)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecologically_sustainable_development (Accessed 20 June 2015)
http://www.green-innovations.asn.au/ecolsust.htm (Accessed 21 June 2015)