Being a signatory country to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Myanmar is implementing actions aimed at the conservation of its natural heritage and biodiversity in accordance with the provisions of the Convention. Myanmar also recognizes its obligations, in accordance with Article 26 of the Convention and with national conservation policy, to submit regular National Reports on implementation of the Convention, and the effectiveness of national biodiversity conservation efforts. Accordingly, Myanmar submitted its First National Report in 1994, Third National report in 2005, and Fourth National Report in 2009. This document represents the Fifth National Report of Myanmar to the Convention in relation to the Decision X/10 adopted at the tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD, held on 18-29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
This report is composed of three main parts, providing the latest information on the country’s implementation on biodiversity conservation since the Fourth National Report in 2009. Part I provides the latest information on the Status, Trends and Threats to the different types of Biodiversity in Myanmar. Part II presents the current degreeof implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), and the achievements of mainstreaming biodiversity into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies, plans and programmes. Finally, Part III examines the linkages and contribution of Myanmar’s NBSAP implementation towards the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 2015 Targets of the Millennium Development Goals.
The numerous different landscapes and seascapes in Myanmar are home to a wide range of habitats and wildlife. However, a nationwide comprehensive survey on wild flora and fauna has not yet been possible. To date, most of the scientific work on biodiversity is project or site based, though these have nonetheless discovered several new species since the last National Report. As of December 2013, the total number of known species by taxonomic group, is; 11,824 plants, 252 mammals, 1,056 birds, 293 reptiles, 139 amphibian and 775 fish. This is an increase over the Fourth national Report of 24 plant species, one mammal species, 21 reptile species and 57 amphibian species, of which 22 reptiles and 6 amphibian species are believed endemic to Myanmar. However, comprehensive, country wide surveys are still needed to determine the total number of species in the country.
Myanmar is working to conserve its biodiversity through its protected area network, stakeholder engagement, and enforcement of laws and regulations. However, many challenges remain. While there is no comprehensive national assessment of the changes in biodiversity over the reporting period, the available data show that the trends since 2009 are downwards for most biological diversity. Natural forests have been declining in both quantity and quality for decades, with an especially significant loss of mangrove forests. The main factors are increasing resource utilization due to human population growth, and high timber demand from China, India and Thailand following their domestic logging bans since the late 1980s.
Traditional farming practices and indigenous knowledge have contributed to conservation of plant genetic diversity in Myanmar for many centuries. However, the use of local crop landraces such as horticultural and cereal crops has been largely replaced with modern hybrid or otherwise ‘improved’ varieties. Moreover, most of the natural habitats of crop wild relatives have now been destroyed by infrastructure development. Although no nationwide comprehensive census has been possible due to a lack of resources, bird surveys regularly conducted in wetland protected areas reveal that from 2009 to 2013 the number of migratory birds at Inlay Lake and non-migratory birds at Moeyungyi Wetland Sanctuary increased. One indicator of trends in fish biodiversity in Myanmar is a 40 year decline in marine fisheries productivity. From 1980 to recent years the Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) decreased from 200 kilograms per hour in to approximately 75-80 kilograms per hour. This indicates that the marine fauna and flora are being affected by habitat degradation – particularly degradation of mangrove forests, coral reefs and sea grasses – mainly due to human activities and climate change.
The major threats to biodiversity in Myanmar are improper land use, illegal hunting and trade, the introduction of invasive species, infrastructure development and climate change. Underlying factors include poverty, economic growth and increasing consumption, increased demand on natural resources from neighbouring countries, limited environmental safeguards, lack of comprehensive land-use policies and planning, undervaluation of ecosystems, ecosystem services and biodiversity (particularly in development planning) and limited grassroots support for conservation. Participation of local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of Myanmar’s natural resources is essential in order to effectively protect the country’s biodiversity.
Several bodies are implementing action plans outlined in the NBSAP (Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, 2011), though NBSAP is still not being implemented at a national scale. Myanmar’s NBSAP outlines nine strategic directions together with five-year action plans for different sectors. Most of the activities being implemented by respective ministries appear to be in line with the objectives of the NBSAP. Although biodiversity conservation activities are being mainstreamed into relevant sectors including forestry, agriculture, mining, trade, health, education and science and technology, better integration of NBSAP’s actions into respective departmental plans is still needed. Moreover, Myanmar also needs to formulate measurable indicators for progress on NBSAP implementation.
Myanmar’s NBSAP does not refer to the 2020Aichi Biodiversity Targets, adopted in 2010. However, many sectoral actions are well aligned with these, as noted in this report, and Myanmar is planning to soon update the NBSAP to better address the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Some of the country’s biodiversity conservation activities also align with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Target 7 which relates to environmental sustainability, including the integration of sustainable development principles into country policies and programmes and reducing the loss of biological diversity. The implementation of Target 7 is measured by three different indicators: proportion of land area covered by forests, proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected, and the proportion of species threatened with extinction.
Although remarkable loss of forest cover was observed during the period from 1990 to 2010, the area of reserved forests and protected public forests has increased from 22.8% of total country’s area in 2005 to 25% in 2013. Moreover, 38 protected areas, covering 5.6% of country’s total area, have now been established and another seven areas (1.2% of total area) have been proposed, pending stakeholder consultation and ground surveying. No data is available regarding the proportion of locally threatened species in Myanmar, however, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 356 species of wild flora and fauna in Myanmar are considered to be globally threatened. It is trusted that this fifth national report provides a comprehensive review of implementation activities to protect and conserve Myanmar’s biodiversity. The report will be useful for producing improved biodiversity conservation plans as it highlights the gaps for full implementation of Myanmar’s NBSAP and for linking the NBSAP with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.