Attempts to save lake ecosystem take shape

Despite being faced with falling water level in summer, Inle lake has attracted local and foreign tourists.  Photo: Htay Aung (Mirror)
Despite being faced with falling water level in summer, Inle lake has attracted local and foreign tourists. Photo: Htay Aung (Mirror)

HIGH temperatures brought about by the El Niño have not impacted Inle Lake as much as expected this summer, though the lake is still facing dropping water levels characteristic of the summer season.
“The current water level is low compared to the days in our childhood, but the water level has not decreased as much as in previous years, I think, due to our dredging of silt and sentiment this year,” said Ma Htway Nyo, who lives near the lake.
The drop in the water level this year affected several villages on the outskirts of the lake, making the lake inaccessible to them.
To reduce the falling water level in Inle Lake this summer, the Irrigation Department has controlled the flow of water from the Lake into the Bilu Creek using two geo-tubes.
The department has also been dredging silt and sediment from the rivers that flow into the lake while carrying out conservation measures for the lake.
The Irrigation Department has refuted rumours that the lake is facing the threat of silting up.
“The main waterways such as the route between Phaung Taw Oo and Nyaung Shwe, and the Alotawpauk Pagoda route are all-weather ways,” an official of the department said.
“Inle Lake looks like a deep frying pan.
There is always water in its centre,” he added.
Meanwhile, ministries have teamed up with UN agencies and foreign countries to step up efforts for the conservation of Inle Lake, while adopting a five-year plan with short-term and long-term components.
Measures are being taken to dredge silt to make waterways in the lake deeper, to conserve the lake’s watershed areas and birds, to reduce noise from the exhausts of boats and to limit the use of fertilisers on islands in the lake.
Following separate meetings between the Union Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and ambassadors from the Netherlands and Norway and the Country Programme Manager of UN Habitat recently, the ministry announced that it has received technical assistance from UN agencies and the foreign countries in the drafting of plans for the sustainability of the Inle Lake.
Myanmar opened a new chapter in its commitment to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation by launching the country’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Inle Lake on 4 December.
Inle Lake was designated as Myanmar’s first Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme at the 27th Session of the MAB International Coordinating Council meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in June 2015.
UNESCO has worked closely with Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MoECAF) to provide technical assistance for the nomination process of Inle Lake in collaboration with the UNDP and with generous funding from the government of Norway under the framework of the Inle Lake Conservation and Rehabilitation Project.
“There are three main factors causing the degradation of Inle Lake: deforestation around the lake, increasing silt and sentiment in the lake and degradation of the water quality of the lake,” said U Ohn Maung, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism, who was previously well-known for his efforts to conserve the lake. “Strict enforcement of regulations on cutting trees in a 20-mile radius of Inle Lake should be made while revitalising afforestation in those areas. Meanwhile, efforts should be made to prevent the flow of silt and sentiment from the four major rivers into the lake,” he added.—Ko Thet with GNLM

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