Protected area personnel in Myanmar trained on ecosystem valuation

The Popa Mountain Park, Kyaukpadaung, Myanmar — To further promote sustainable and science-based policy decision-making in environmental conservation in Myanmar, the Forest Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, in partnership with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), led in capacitating protected area personnel and conservation field staff all over the country in the valuation of the ecosystem services provided by Myanmar’s rich biodiversity. 

Forest guards, rangers, and officers from 19 protected areas of Myanmar, together with national-level conservation staff, participated in the training workshop, Capacity Building Training for AHP Staff in Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Assessment, from 6 to10 March at the Popa Mountain Park, Kyaukpadaung, Myanmar. The activity aimed to develop the capacity of protected area staff with the principles, strategic directions, methodology, and tools of ecosystem assessment based on the priority needs of the protected areas in Myanmar. 

Conservation staff of Myanmar’s protected areas play a significant role in sustainable natural resources management in Myanmar. It is therefore especially necessary for those to have comprehensive knowledge about ecosystem services, and enough capabilities in terms of calculating the value of these services to support better decision making.” Mr. Thant Zaw Oo, Director of Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division (NWCD) of Myanmar, said in his welcome remarks during the opening ceremony of the activity. 

Ecosystem services refer to the various benefits that the natural environment provides to people. They include food, water, recreation, and socio-cultural benefits that humans gain from ecosystems. However, some protected areas in Myanmar are facing the problem of overuse and overconsumption of natural resources, owing to the public’s mindset that these resources are free of charge. Assessing and valuing the services they provide, thus, are crucial in highlighting their non-marketed values. 

However, those who are able to do ecosystem services valuation are mostly natural resource economists and other experts, while the skills of field conservation personnel to do this kind of assessment are limited. The capacity-building activity will then build the individual and institutional capacities of protected areas to improve their response to current and emerging environmental threats and challenges.

Today’s capacity-building training will focus on teaching and discussing subjects related to valuing ecosystem services. It will not only help the implementation of conservation activities in Myanmar’s Re-establishing Natural Habitats Plan – which has been ongoing since 2019 — but will also be able to effectively improve the conservation skills of each participant/trainee who attended today. Participants will learn the core subjects that are relevant to conduct effective conservation work. I would conclude by saying that the trainees will definitely have an opportunity to learn and become excellent forest conservation staff with enhanced conservation skill sets and new perceptions,” NWCD Director Thant Zaw Oo further said. 

The activity is the first of the two-part series of the training workshop in ecosystem service valuation. The next activity will be held in April at the Forest Research Institute in Nay pyi taw, Myanmar. The event is organised through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN implemented by the ACB, with the support of the European Union.