Thai, Myanmar experts discuss wetlands conservation program
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