- By Ye Lin Aung & Kyaw Khaung Thantzin (WCS)
Myanmar is situated in continental Southeast Asia, between latitudes 9º 58′ to 28 longitudes 92º 10′ to 101º 10′ E. The country covers an area of 676,577km2, extending 2,090km from north to south and 805km from east to west. With an abundance of untapped natural resources, Myanmar is well-known around the world as a golden land for her a wide diversity of ecosystems and biodiversity.
Forest genetic resources play a major role in socio-economic development, and forest product exports are an important source of foreign exchange in the country. Myanmar is the world’s largest supplier of natural teak (Tectona grandis). Myanmar’s forests also support large volumes of plant and animal species.
With a growing population, Myanmar is currently facing a depletion of natural resources because the country has been heavily dependent on natural resources for commercial gain. But the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has been working tirelessly on the tasks of conservation of different biological species, including flora and fauna.
The Department of Natural Environment Conservation is working on cooperation in upgrading the capacities for drawing up policies and strategies and in implementing the purification of the environment in the field, with the cooperation of international organisations. According to data of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, it was learnt that 5.79 per cent is natural reserve area, including 40 Protected Areas in Myanmar.
Among the protected areas in Myanmar are the Khakaborazi National Park, the Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve, Mount Victoria National Park, the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Reserve, the Moe Yun Gyi Wetland Sanctuary, the Inlay Lake Wetland Sanctuary, and the Mein-ma-hla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary respectively.
Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park
The Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park is an ASEAN Heritage Site located in Monywa Township in Sagaing Region. This park is one of the many sanctuaries in Myanmar. The forest hosts many mammals such as elephants, tigers, leopards, guars, banteng, sambar, barking deer, jungle goats, mountain goats, bears, wild boars and jungle cats. It is estimated that there are 60 species of native birds, including prominent great golden hornbills and 200 species of butterflies. This park is a wonderful place for birdwatchers, nature lovers, and also those who want to make religious pilgrimages. The Alaungdaw Kathapa Shrine, located in the centre of the park, is one of the most famous pagodas in the region, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the pagoda in the summer annually. Local travellers and tourists visit there by riding elephants along the route of forests, and the elephant camps in the park have contributed to the growth of the area’s eco-tourism industry.
Natmataung National Park or Mount Victoria
The Natmataung National Park or Mount Victoria is located in Chin State, and it is one of the popular bird-watching sites in Myanmar. It is a home to a variety of rare and beautiful flora and fauna as well as ethnic tribes. Moreover it is a favourite place for ornithologists due to the wide variety of species such as white-browed Nuthatch and larger birds of prey.
Myanmar is rich in different kinds of biological species. Accordingly, the conservation of these natural resources is being made across the country. Forty natural conservation zones have so far been established in Myanmar.
Starting from the financial year 2016- 2017, forest management plans for 68 districts were drawn up and implemented with the cooperation of the Department of Forestry, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Myanmar Wildlife Conservation Society. Under the plan, 14 kinds of forestry, including forest conservation and forest plantation, will be implemented. Production of timber has been suspended and after reassessing the situations of natural forests, the plan for reforestation of Myanma forests will be implemented within 10 years from the year 2017-2018 to 2026-2027. The major aim of drawing up the policy is for all the nationals residing in the country to possess a strengthened ecological system for progress, health and pleasure, so that all beings, including human beings, can survive.
Concerning the forestry sector, arrangements are underway for the reforestation to resettle forests and for the plantation of forests. Conservation works have been carried out by granting budgets for conservation of the remaining natural forests across the country. As the conservation of forests is of great importance, a five-year-plan has been implemented starting from financial year 2017-2018. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Conservation alone cannot implement the tasks of forest and environmental conservation and climate change. Only if all sector-related ministries, private organisations, social societies, people and professionals will cooperate will it be successful.
Regarding sustainable development, the Ministry has carried out conservation of the natural environment, and there are three major panels which play an important role for the social, economic and natural environment sectors. With the increasing population and urbanisation, the country has been expanded and economic enterprises are being extended. Thus it is of vital importance to conserve the environments due to the deteriorate our natural habitats.
Strategic policies on national-level climate change have been made to implement the sustainable development of the Nation and reduce the impact of severe climate. Moreover, with a view to effectively implement the conservation of the environment from top to bottom, supervision committees and working organisations have been formed in regions, states, districts and townships. In implementing sustainable development in the long run, all sectors are closely connected among the ministries, private entrepreneurs, CSOs, experts and professionals. Only if those entities would operate transparently and with unity, will the whole task be successful.
Win Ko Ko Aung