Conservation of Magwe forests, Ayeyarwady River a collective duty, says ex-official
CIVIL society organisations, relevant government departments and the general public must work together to sustainably manage the Ayeyarwady River and conserve forests in Magwe Region, according to U Than Tun, a retired assistant director of the Forestry Department.
U Than Tun, who is also a freelance consultant on environmental conservation, urged the broad-based cooperation at a talk held on September 17 in the town of Magwe.
Responsible management of the forests of Magwe Region, a watershed for both the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers, is seen as crucial to the environmental health of the region and downstream areas.
The weekend’s discussion included shared experiences of sustainable natural resources management, with topics ranging from climate change and its effects to the health of the Ayeyarwady River and environmental impacts on local populations.
“Forests will cover the watershed areas in the next five or 10 years by conserving natural forests and growing more trees – working together among people and ministerial departments including civil society organisations in each township – mainly using people power,” U Than Tun said.
According to surveys on deforestation, some 500,000 acres of forest cover were lost annually from 1975 to 1990, rising to an average of 900,000 acres a year during the 20 years from 1990 to 2010.
“In the past, if 500,000 acres of forest were cut down, trees were grown for 100,000 acres with spending from the government budget. It was [making up for] 20 percent of deforestation. But at the present, although the deforestation rate is 900,000 acres, trees can be grown for 8000 acres only,” U Than Tun said.
Dr Aung Moe Nyo, chief minister for Magwe Region, said in a speech at the weekend discussion that while climate change is a global threat, Myanmar is a country particularly vulnerable to its impacts.
That assertion was backed up by a 2015 report by the think-tank Germanwatch, which ranked Myanmar the second-most vulnerable nation in the world for climate change-linked extreme weather events from 1995 to 2014.
Magwe Region was one of the areas hardest-hit by flooding in July and it also took a pounding in the 2015 inundation that impacted much of the country.
According to the 2014 census, Magwe Region’s population stood at 3,786,538.
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun