Tackling threats to biodiversity

04 Apr 2011

Dili – Tackling the issues that threaten biodiversity is the focus of a two-day consultation currently being held in Dili.

The workshop has brought together stakeholders from local and international institutions and organizations, to work towards a national strategy on biodiversity.

“We have to take a comprehensive overview of biodiversity in Timor-Leste,” said the Secretary of State for Environment, Abilio de Deus de Jesus Lima, in his opening address.

“This means changing our mindset, finding creative solutions to the problems and taking ownership of the process,” he said.

Timor-Leste is geographically positioned in a biodiversity hotspot. This means that both within the sea and on the land of Timor-Leste there are varied ecosystems and a diverse range of inhabiting species, all of which are connected and interdependent.

These ecosystems are under pressure due to human activities.

In order to make sure that these resources remains intact and are not threatened by deforestation, pollution, or over-exploitation, the country needs to develop a national strategy for biodiversity conservation and make sure it is implemented on the ground.

UNDP is currently in the process of assisting the Timorese government to write a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).

“We need to assess the threats to both marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the country, and identify possible incentives for conserving them,” said UNDP’s Country Director, Mikiko Tanaka, in her welcome address to the participants.

“Since Timor-Leste is in the early stages of development and does not have large polluting industries yet, a lot of the focus will be on preventing biodiversity loss and ensuring that the country’s biological resources are sustainably managed,” she said.

The stakeholder consultation established six thematic working groups, covering the following areas: agriculture, grassland, protected areas, marine and coastal, forest and mountain, and inland water.

Over the course of the two days, participants in each group worked together to identify resources and threats. Priorities and recommendations from the stakeholders will be used as inputs in the NBSAP.

In addition, a National Biodiversity Working Group will be set up, consisting of representatives from the six thematic sectors.