Recognising and Reporting OECMs in Malaysia2021-06-25T09:21:36+00:00

Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) achieve the in-situ conservation of important and vulnerable ecosystems outside of Protected Areas.

An OECM is a “a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio-economic, and other locally relevant values”

Convention on Biological Diversity, Decision 14/8

About the Project

With support from GEF-SGP Malaysia, we are working with local partners to explore the potential of an OECM approach in achieving Malaysia’s commitments to Target 6 of the National Policy on Biological Diversity and internationally to Aichi Target 11.

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The overall aim of this two-year project is to strengthen area-based in-situ conservation of biodiversity in Malaysia by recognising and reporting other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) alongside Protected Areas.

Click here to download the project summary in Bahasa Malaysia.

Focal areas:

  • Engage stakeholders to introduce the OECM concept and explore the potential for an OECM approach in Malaysia.
    Stakeholder consultations were held to introduce the OECM concept and the IUCN-WCPA Technical Guidance on OECMs and engage stakeholders in identifying potential OECMs nationwide. Another two workshops are planned for the mid-term and near-final stages of the project to engage stakeholders in exploring Malaysian OECM case studies and encourage their input.
  • Investigate potential OECMs in Malaysia and develop a portfolio of Malaysian OECMs.
    A Call for Case Studies was held to invite stakeholders to submit case studies of potential marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial OECMs. Submitted case studies were reviewed by the project’s Independent Advisory Group and 16 candidate sites that broadly met the IUCN OECM criteria were shortlisted. These candidate sites will be taken forwards to the site-assessment stage which will start in mid 2020. The site-assessment process will initiate the development of a Malaysian OECM portfolio.
  • Develop mechanisms for recognising and reporting OECMs, with a Sabah case study.
    From mid-2020, we will conduct a strategic policy assessment of the challenges and opportunities for implementing an OECM approach in a Malaysian context. This will include a Sabah Case Study that will leverage existing readiness to discuss recommendations for the legal, policy and institutional reforms that would enable OECMs to contribute towards area- based in-situ conservation in Sabah in formal manner. We will also engage with national and subnational CDB focal points to investigate protocols for reporting OECMs against Target 6 of the NPBD and to the CBD.
  • Disseminate information on the Malaysian OECM process, including internationally.
    We will continuously update this page on project activities and findings as well as links to resources on OECMs. We will communicate with the IUCN-WCPA Task Force on OECMs to share updates and insights from the Malaysian experience, including feedback on the ‘OECM Assessment Methodology’. We will seek opportunities to share findings at national and international meetings, such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress, CBD COP-15 and 2 nd Asia Parks Congress.


Protected Areas have nature conservation as its primary management objective, whereas OECMs achieve in-situ conservation irrespective of its objectives.

© Achier Chung, Reef Guardian

Governance and management are closely linked. What are the similarities and differences in the governance and management of Protected Areas and OECMs?

Governance Types

The IUCN has categorised governance into four broad types. Both Protected Areas and OECMs fall under one of these governance types.

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  • GOVERNANCE BY GOVERNMENT – Federal or State ministry/agency in charge or governmentdelegated management to a non-government entity
  • SHARED GOVERNANCE – co-governance or through transboundary arrangement
  • PRIVATE GOVERNANCE – by individual owner/s, non-profit or for-profit organisational owner/s
  • GOVERNANCE BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND/OR LOCAL COMMUNITIES -Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories, (ICCAs)

Management Approaches

Protected Areas should have biodiversity conservation as their primary management objective. OECMs deliver biodiversity conservation outcomes regardless of their objectives

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  • PRIMARY CONSERVATION – The OECM has biodiversity conservation as its primary objective but the site is not recognised as a Protected Area.
  • SECONDARY CONSERVATIONIn-situ biodiversity conservation is a secondary management objective of the OECM. e.g. riparian buffers, ICCAs.
  • ANCILLARY CONSERVATIONIn-situ biodiversity conservation is not a management objective. However, the OECM achieves in-situ biodiversity conservation outcomes as a by-product of its management activities e.g. cultural sites.

We are field-testing the IUCN’s guidance and tools to investigate potential OECMs and explore how this approach could operate in Malaysia.

© Chien Lee

Site-based Assessment Phase

We will field-test the criteria and methodology developed by the IUCN to assess potential sites in Malaysia in this phase. At the Inception Workshop, we consulted with the project’s independent Advisory Group to review the potential case study sites submitted by stakeholders in response to the project’s Call for Case Studies. On their recommendations, we have selected a number of sites that broadly meet the OECM criteria for further exploration.

This phase will begin once consent has been obtained from the site authority. The site-based assessment will then be conducted in three stages:

Download the detailed OECM site-based assessment process in English and Bahasa Malaysia.

During this stage, we will contact site authorities to request access to materials and information.

We want to develop an understanding of the site through a review of documents and spatial information related to the sites’ biodiversity, cultural, spiritual and other values, management and governance systems. These documents include spatial data, site management plans, biodiversity survey reports and any other ecological or associated value documentations. In cases where written documentation is unavailable, we will arrange for direct interviews with the site authority.

We expect to complete this stage in approximately 2-3 months. This will also depend on the time taken to obtain access to information, amount of material to be reviewed and complexity of the case study.

We will conduct site visits with the site authority to deepen our understanding of the site, do general observations and document site conditions including habitat quality, access and signs of disturbance.

Interviews and informal discussions will be conducted with site authorities and representatives, where we will discuss any key observations during the site visit. The visit will not involve biological sampling although we do expect to record GPS points and take photographs or short video clips.

The site visits will take a maximum of two days excluding travelling time. This will very much depend on the availability of the site authority and the complexity of the case study.

We will compile and assess information gathered from Stage 1 and 2 and establish whether the site satisfies the OECM criteria as described by the IUCN.

This final stage will involve three steps:

  1. We will compile information gathered and develop a draft site profile. We will share the draft with the site authority who will validate that the profile is an accurate representation of the site.
  2. We will evaluate case studies against the OECM criteria, guided by the IUCN OECM Assessment Methodology and apply a “traffic light” rating to indicate the degree to which sites satisfies each of the criteria.
  3. Once evaluation is completed, we will determine the overall outcome of the suitability of sites in meeting the definition and elements of an OECM. A summary report describing the assessment outcome and justification will be generated.

Project Updates

The equitable governance and effective management of OECMs deliver outcomes for the sustained long-term in-situ conservation of biodiversity.

© Chien Lee

Additional Info

Have more questions?

Check out our FAQs or contact SEARRP’s Science Impact Coordinator Melissa Payne.

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