Myanmar, with a total area of 676,557 Km2, stretches form north to south and lies between latitudes 9° 32' N to 28° 32'N and longitudes 92° 10' E to 101° 11'E. Accordingly, the country is rich in biodiversity because of diverse ecosystems and of different elevations from sea level to high mountains with an elevation of near 6,000 meter. Biodiversity is vital resource for the sustainable development of human being in every corner of the world.
This report contains 4 main chapters. Chapter I deals with the overview of biodiversity status, trends and threats. Further, chapter I provides with biodiversity conservation in the areas of Mountain, Forest, Dry and Sub-humid Land, Agriculture, Inland Water and Coastal and Marine Biodiversity. It also explains how Myanmar has put the biodiversity conservation in national priorities.
Chapter II gives the account of the current status of national biodiversity strategies and action plans of Myanmar. In this chapter, development of NBSAP and existing MEA related strategies, and plans towards biodiversity conservation such as Myanmar Agenda
21, 30-year national Forest Master Plan, Dry Zone Greening Action Plan and National Biosafety Framework are touched upon with regard to their roles. Chapter III depicts the mainstreaming of biodiversity into agriculture, forestry, mine, trade, education, livestock, and fishery, Myanmar Agenda-21, and Myanmar commitments in Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Chapter IV summarizes the progress towards the goals and objectives of the strategic plan of the convention, future activities to meet the 2010 targets and challenges encountered in biodiversity conservation.
Conservation of the biological resources has been incorporated in the broader scope of nature and wildlife conservation which is regarded as one of the national priorities in the development of plans in Myanmar. For example, protection of soil, water, wildlife, biodiversity and the entire environment is identified as an important imperative not only in old days but until now. Myanmar ratified the Convention on Biodiversity on 9th November, 1994 and its first national report, but 3rd report to CBD, was made in 2005. This fourth national report is therefore the second report for Myanmar and it is prepared in accordance with the guidelines for the fourth national report. Biodiversity status by taxonomic groups is shown as species of vascular plants of gymnosperms and angiosperms at 11,800, mammals at 251, bird species at 1,056, reptiles 272, amphibian at 82, fresh water fish species at 310, marine water fish at 465, medicinal plants at 841,
bamboo at 96 and rattan at 37.
In this report, the trend of biodiversity compared with that of the previous one can be concluded that it is in a downward trend. Like other developing countries, Myanmar is facing with the loss of biodiversity primarily due to the socio-economic pressure. The general trend of wild animal population is thus appeared to be decreasing compared with their relative abundance over the past 2-3 decades. The downward trend is apparent with the population of large mammals such as tiger and elephant because of improper sex ratio and reduction of home range by human activities etc. There can also be decrease of wildlife population in areas where there is easy access to people.
Major threats identified in this report are hunting, habitat destruction (e.g forest depletion and degradation), forest fire and encroachment into the habitat areas. Market for wildlife and their parts and derivatives is growing in the neighboring countries and illegal wildlife trade is also direct threat to biodiversity. Some minor threats are introduction of Invasive Alien Species, of Genetically Modified Organisms and climate change. Key actions taken in support of the convention’s three objectives and to achieve the 2010 target and goals and objectives of the strategic Plan of the Convention are implemented in the various fields of biodiversity conservation. Some examples are as follows;
- About 30 % of the country area has been established as Permanent Forest Estates (PFE).
- National Biosafety Framework and National Sustainable Development Strategy are being drafted.
- Myanmar Agenda 21 has been formulated.
The establishment of protected areas within past 100 years is expressed below. There is upward trend of protected areas and conservation of biodiversity. To deal with effective national implementation for biodiversity conservation, due to several constraints, the proper implementation is appeared to be limited. Some areas where effective management and conservation of biodiversity are lacking are as follows;
- Urgent need for development of NBSAP and its implementation,
- Poor application of ecosystem approach,
- The need to develop a clear-cut national land-use policy and its implementation,
- Lack of mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into land-use practices,
- Gaps in scientific biodiversity conservation and management,
- Poor cross-sectoral coordination among stakeholders,
- Weakness in promotion of environmental awareness among the public and local authorities, concerned,
- Poor capacity building and institutional capabilities of biodiversity-related Institutions,
- Data based biodiversity conservation, management and assessment need to be upgraded, and
- The need to develop financial mechanism to ensure adequate financial supports for biodiversity conservation.
Regarding with major obstacles encountered in the effective implementation of CBD objectives, the issue is too complicated to clearly say whether it is concerned not only technical, but also social and physical dimensions. Some will identify as inadequate financial support or lack of advanced technologies or poor manpower planning or lack of capacity for production of competent persons, or lack of clear cut land use policy, etc.
The major challenges encountered pertaining to biodiversity conservation in Myanmar are as follows;
- Little or no provision of technical and financial assistance by outside agencies on the ground of Myanmar internal affairs,
- Budget and financial constraints in biodiversity conservation,
- Weakness in specialized units for biodiversity conservation plan and management at the national level,
- Poorness in the sense of ownership of local communities and stakeholders,
- Lack of promotion in effective and scientific management of terrestrial and marine protected areas to meet representative samples of ecosystems particularly to those of marine and coastal,In need of law enforcement to check the loss of biodiversity outside protected areas, and
- National Biodiversity Indicators have yet to be developed.
Finally, for effective implementation of the convention objectives in future, the following eight activities are identified and the activities will be conducted by biodiversity-related institutions and stakeholders.
- Resolve issues of biodiversity conservation by in cooperating with the schools and universities in the context of education and sustainable development.
- Build up institutional capacity for the existing biodiversity conservation programmes.
- Increase level of public awareness on environmental issues and motivate local communities to participate in nature conservation activities.
- Respect traditional knowledge in order to incorporate in the area of community based natural resource management.
- Increase mechanism for sustainable financial assistance for biodiversity conservation.
- Establishment of the network for biodiversity conservation among stakeholders.
- Transfer of technology on biodiversity, biotechnology and biosafety, and
- Exercise access to genetic resources and benefit sharing arising out of the utilization of the genetic resources.
The government of Union of Myanmar is striving the best to conserve Myanmar’s biodiversity by its own resources, but the issue is to be tackled not only by the nation alone but also with the cooperation of outside agencies and partners. In particular, the current demand on natural resources of neighboring countries is one of the major threats to the long existence of biodiversity in Myanmar. A regional network on biodiversity conservation consisting of neighboring countries is thus advisable for long term biodiversity conservation.