Thai, Myan­mar ex­perts dis­cuss wet­lands con­ser­va­tion pro­gram

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYI KYI SWAY kyiky­isway@mm­

IN a co­op­er­a­tive ven­ture with con­ser­va­tion­ists, the govern­ment has sent of­fi­cials to con­fer with Thai ex­perts on the main­te­nance of one of Myan­mar’s lead­ing wet­lands sites. The goal is to have it listed as a zone of in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal im­por­tance, stim­u­lat­ing tourism and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, and help­ing pre­serve the lo­cal bird and an­i­mal species such as the threat­ened spoon-billed sand­piper.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions concerned want to des­ig­nate the wet­lands of the Mot­tama Gulf as a site un­der the in­ter­na­tional Ram­sar Con­ven­tion, which pro­motes the con­ser­va­tion and “wise use” of wet­lands and their re­sources.

The first sec­tion of the wet­lands bid­ding for con­ser­va­tion sta­tus is lo­cated in Bilin and Kyaikto town­ships in Mon State.

Daw Zin Myo Thu, the na­tional co­or­di­na­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture, said it was work­ing with the govern­ment and with other en­vi­ron­men­tal and con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions to have the site des­ig­nated by the Ram­sar Con­ven­tion. Fund­ing of 4 mil­lion Swiss francs (US$4.1 mil­lion) is pro­vided by SDC, the Swiss agency for de­vel­op­ment and co­op­er­a­tion.

The community-led coastal man­age­ment project they have set up is cur­rently in its first stage, which ex­tends from Septem­ber 2015 to April 2018. Other groups in­volved in the ef­fort in­clude the Net­work Ac­tiv­i­ties Group, the Bio­di­ver­sity and Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (BANCA) and the Swiss in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion agency Hel­ve­tas. Bago Forestry Depart­ment

Last month, nine of­fi­cials from Bago Re­gion and Mon State vis­ited Thai­land for a week to study meth­ods for the man­age­ment of coastal sys­tems. In an Au­gust 29 state­ment, the IUCN said the Mot­tama Gulf was im­por­tant in terms of the pro­tec­tion of rare species, and for the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The of­fi­cials also con­ferred with their Thai coun­ter­parts on the ben­e­fits that would ac­crue from des­ig­nat­ing the gulf as a Ram­sar con­ser­va­tion site and to ex­am­ine the laws Thai­land had passed to en­sure pro­tec­tion of its wet­lands sites, Daw Zin Myo Thu said in a state­ment.

She said the les­son learned from the tour was that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment en­tailed more than just set­ting up in­dus­trial zones.

“There are job op­por­tu­ni­ties to be cre­ated not only in wet­lands, but also in the con­ser­va­tion of streams, rivers and other sites in Bago,” said U Zaw Win Myint, di­rec­tor of the Bago Forestry Depart­ment. Con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties could also be ex­tended to Kawa and Thanat­pin town­ships in Bago, and the Moeyungyi Wet­land Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary.

The IUCN state­ment also called for greater in­volve­ment on the part of lo­cal ac­tivists, say­ing, “Cre­at­ing a net­work of CSOs can ac­cel­er­ate bet­ter nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment.”

U Zaw Win Myint said, “In Thai­land, community-based or­gan­i­sa­tions are strong. They’re get­ting in­volved in for­est man­age­ment.”

He said a fol­low-up meet­ing later this month would dis­cuss a more de­tailed ap­proach to the des­ig­na­tion of the gulf wet­lands as a Ram­sar site.

‘In Thai­land, [CSOs] are strong. They’re get­ting in­volved in for­est man­age­ment.’

U Zaw Win Myint

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