Although Myanmar is not part of MWD, the door to collaboration is open. By Inlay lake in June, MWD Team sat together with Myanmar environmental conservation organization and government agencies to learn more about natural resources management in Myanmar, as well as to share information and work experiences with Myanmar counterpart.
Myanmar's national economy replies on a combination of agricultural, livestock and fishery, and forest sectors. Around 70 per cent of the country's population lives in rural areas and relies heavily on natural resources for their livelihood. Therefore, the country underlines the importance of sustainable use and management of natural resources, as well as sustainable development.
Myanmar's biogeography consists of different types of ecosystem. Those are, for instance, wetland, grassland, marine and coast, mountain, mangrove, coral reef and rainforest. In 1980s, IUCN listed Myanmar's mangroves the 5th largest in area in the world.
The second largest fresh water lake in Myanmar is Inlay Lake. It is located in Southern Shan State. It is home to not only significant flora and fauna, but also different ethnic groups namely Intha, Shan, Pa Oo and Da Nu. The Lake is well-known as an eco-tourism site in Myanmar. In 1985, the Inlay Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was established with an extent of 247.48 sq miles. Later in 2003, it was designated as an ASEAN Heritage Park.
However, Inlay Lake is under pressure similar to many other wetlands around the world. Main threats found in the area include population growth, deforestation and forest degradation, unsustainable agriculture practices and urbanization. Therefore, the government has designed a 5-year action plan (2010-2015) to restore and conserve the Lake. The plan embraces 5 major activities including watershed management, soil erosion and sedimentation prevention, capacity building and technical collaboration, biodiversity conservation and community livelihood improvement. Different government agencies have specific roles and responsibility for the implementation of this plan.
At the meeting, Mr. Maung Maung Pyone, Secretary of Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) also shared about BANCA's mandates on the conservation of the Gulf of Martaban and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper which is one of the rarest and most unusual sparrow-sized birds in the world (IUCN Red Lists in 1980). BANCA works to protect the habitat and this bird are socio-economic survey, environmental education program, livelihood replacement support program, public awareness raising campaign and International seminars.
It is no doubt that Myanmar is rich with natural resources in all aspects. However, knowledge, capacity and resources to work and conserve this heritage are limited. Myanmar counterparts therefore suggested concrete collaboration in which IUCN's MWD can contribute to country natural resources conservation, such as provision of technical knowledge support, information exchange, capacity building, conservation strategy design, joint research and ground work activities.
"Myanmar is an extremely important country from the perspective of water resources and wetlands, and we hope that in the near future we will be able to extend the MWD approach to help support the people, NGOs and Government of Myanmar in addressing water and wetland-related issues in a transparent, inclusive and sustainable manner", said Robert Mather, Head of Southeast Asia Group, IUCN, and MWD Project Manager.
By Dararat Weerapong