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Leuser National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia © Paul Keller

ASEAN Heritage Parks

Regionally important protected areas within the ASEAN member countries

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Parks have been defined as “ Protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving in total a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems of the ASEAN region ”.1 Under this definition, ASEAN member states have declared certain national parks and reserves as ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs) based on their uniqueness, diversity and outstanding values, in order for their importance as conservation areas to be appreciated regionally and internationally.2 The original declaration was signed in 1984 by Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, declaring a total of 11 AHPRs, and this was updated in 2003 after Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam joined.2 The principles of the ASEAN Heritage Parks are as follows: 1

  1. Maintenance of the essential ecological processes and life-support systems;
  2. Preservation of genetic diversity;
  3. Maintenance of species diversity of plants and animals within their natural habitat;
  4. Ensure sustainable utilization of resources; and
  5. Provision of opportunities for outdoor recreation, tourism, education and research to make people recognize the importance of natural resources.

Supported by

Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Declaration on Heritage Parks and Reserves


Year of creation



Regional network of 28 terrestrial and marine sites (2010) within ASEAN countries.2



The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) serves as the secretariat of the ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme and is responsible for reviewing nominations of sites. ASEAN Heritage Parks are recommended on the basis of the following:3

  • Ecological completeness – an intact ecological process and the capability to regenerate with minimal human intervention.
  • Representativeness – embodies the variety of ecosystems or species representing or typical of the particular region.
  • Naturalness – must be, for the most part, in a natural condition such as a second growth forest or a rescued coral reef formation, with the natural processes still going on.
  • High conservation importance – has global significance for the conservation of important or valuable species, ecosystems or genetic resources; creates or promotes awareness of the importance of nature, biodiversity and the ecological process; and evokes respect for nature when people see it, as well as a feeling of loss whenever the natural condition is lost.
  • Legally Gazetted Area – Must be identified, defined and allocated by law or any legally accepted instrument of the ASEAN Member States; must be used primarily as protected areas with well-defined boundaries.
    Additional criteria may include transboundary, uniqueness, high ethno-biological significance and importance for endangered or precious biodiversity.


Individual states are primarily responsible for their respective identified heritage sites and sites should be managed to maintain those features mentioned in the principles above. There is a list of measures within the management guidelines that includes prohibition of the introduction of exotic species, special protection or endangered species of flora and fauna and animals of higher trophic levels, regulation of exploitation and other energy-draining activities along migratory routes, strict regulation on the use of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides etc.4


Business relevance:

Legal and compliance: ASEAN Heritage Parks are legally recognized and protected areas. Business activities are not permitted in these sites as per the details of gazettement. The sites receive some international funding for enhancement of facilities and/or improvement of the site. Although often not explicitly referred to, their status as legally designated protected areas affords these sites further protection under a number of international safeguard standards of multilateral finance institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, as well as certification scheme standards (see information on IUCN protected area categories for further information about these standards).

Biodiversity: These areas are designated on the basis of high conservation importance among other criteria, and therefore are likely to contain highly vulnerable and/or irreplaceable species and habitats. As site-scale areas, these sites are of high relevance to business in terms of mitigating and avoiding risk from biodiversity loss and identifying opportunities associated with their conservation.

Socio-cultural: While there is no explicit mention of socio-cultural values within the criteria for designation, local communities and/or indigenous peoples are often involved as partners in the management of the sites. Therefore traditional practices, local resource use and involvement of local people in protection can be expected within these sites.



  • Protected Planet is a tool for visualizing, mapping and contributing to information on protected areas. This includes information on those classified as ASEAN Heritage Parks. Protected Planet brings together spatial data, descriptive information and images from the World Database on Protected Areas, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), WikipediaTM, PanaramioTM, FlickrTM, and Google MapsTM.
  • The Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for business provides a visualisation and GIS download tool for protected areas including ASEAN Heritage Parks.


  1. ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.
  2. ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks.
  3. Information about the 3rd ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference 2010 and download of document ‘Moving forward towards effectively managed AHPs’
  4. Asean senior officials, JICA & UNEP. ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves. ASEAN senior officials on the environment in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and United Nations Environment Programme
  5. Botengan, B.P. (eds.). 2001. Overview of ASEAN Heritage Parks. ASEAN Biodiversity: A burning issue Vol 1, No. 3. July-September.


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