Con­ser­va­tion of Magwe forests, Aye­yarwady River a col­lec­tive duty, says ex-of­fi­cial

The Myanmar Times - - News - NAY AUNG nayaung@mm­

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

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