Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Four globally significant hotspots characterize the region with extraordinarily high levels of terrestrial and marine biodiversity. However, Southeast Asia's unique biodiversity is at risk. Over the past 40 years, the extraordinary advances in human development and poverty alleviation experienced by the region has been linked to the exploitation of natural resources. From dams to mines to industrial tree plantations, economic forces have transformed natural landscapes and seascapes at an unprecedented scale and intensity. The economic and ecological transformation of the region is characterized by rampant deforestation, overfishing, and wildlife exploitation. In many ways Southeast Asia has been recapitulating the economic and environmental transformation of Europe, completing in decades a process that took centuries in Europe. Southeast Asia in the Anthropocene poses daunting challenges for biodiversity protection.
Singapore, a leader among the ASEAN nations epitomizes much of the ecological and economic transformation that is currently underway in many parts of Southeast Asia. Economically ranked among the wealthiest countries in the world, Singapore has lost more than 90% of its original forest cover and associated biodiversity to rapid economic transformation. Environmental security in Southeast Asia is strategically relevant to Singapore, a prosperous city-state with advanced scientific, technological capabilities and world-class universities.
A core mandate of the WCS Singapore office is the engagement of Singapore-based institutions through strategic partnerships to leverage support for WCS priorities in the Southeast Asia region.