Category Archives: Environment

New and Improved Conservatory Methods Adopted for Coral Structures Abounding Myeik Archipelago

Coral Structures Abounding Myeik Archipelago

The need for long-term sustenance of the coral reefs and continuous and active fish breeding grounds has attracted employment of conservatory and management tools: Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA), encircling the coral waters of the Myeik Archipelago of Myanmar.

In the pursuit to protect the coral reefs, its sensitive natural habitats, rich marine biodiversity and the mangrove nestled coastline in the interest of local community’s livelihood, the 800 islands comprising the Myeik Archipelago have been identified as the first fish conservation zone.

Mr. U Khin Maung Maw, Director General of the Fisheries Department, stated that the coral reefs abounding the Myeik Archipelago will be the first locally managed marine conservation area in the country.

The local community’s dwellings around the archipelago depend on the fishery as their main economic activity. However, with the emplacement of LMMA, and with the subsequent goal of the sustainable fishery, a zoning system has been adopted wherein only the fishes that have attained maturity shall be caught and coral areas will be rendered a no-fishing zone.

This has been put to practice due to the depletion of marine resources owing to exhaustive and illegal methods of fishing, excessive use of dynamite, and other devastating and destructive means, which have also injured the health and productivity of the marine ecosystem.

U Zaw Lunn, Marine Biologist at Fauna and Flora International (FFI) said, “The coral reefs are a natural habitat of marine creatures and the destruction of the coral area will result in the destruction of the natural habitat and breeding ground for marine life.”

Thereby, it is imperative that strict vigilance and attention is devoted to the health of the coral structures, for it enables the fishes to keep spawning which, in effect, forms a protective layer for itself too.

Myanmar Caught in the Trap of Climate Change

Swati Prabhu
Doctoral Candidate, Centre for European Studies,
School of International Studies, JNU

Myanmar Climate Change

With talks about climate change and sustainable development doing the round these days, the entire global fraternity is bearing the brunt of it and Myanmar is not left alone. With nearly 75% of the country’s population depending on agriculture, threats of water shortages, drought, heat waves etc, could easily take a toll on the livelihoods of people. The country’s anatomy is peculiarly shaped in the form of a kite with a long tail that runs south along the Malay Peninsula. It is also the northernmost country in the Southeast Asian region with China situated towards the north and northeast and India to the northwest. However, the country is not untouched by the damaging effects of the changing climate and fears of the worsening environment. According to the recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released earlier this year, climate change could prove to be disastrous for Asia, especially for Myanmar. President Trump’s appalling decision to withdraw support from the Paris Agreement, it may appear to have caused massive repercussions on the Asian dream of curbing emissions. However, with China taking a positive stance to press ahead with emissions reduction, countries like Myanmar hope to get some positive encouragement and assistance.

Myanmar Climate Change - PagodaThe report produced by the ADB and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) makes for grim reading, should the predictions eventuate. Under a “business as usual” scenario, a 6 degree Celsius temperature rise is projected over the Asian landmass by the end of the century, with an increase as high as 8 degrees C forecasted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and northwest China. “These increases in temperature would lead to drastic changes in the region’s weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors, land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security, trade, urban development, migration, and health. Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some countries in the region and crush any hope of achieving sustainable and inclusive development,” the report said. In addition to this, according to the 2016 Climate Risk Index, Myanmar is the second-most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change. According to the latest projections, Myanmar faces more extreme weather events as temperatures rise: more cyclones, more storms, more floods and more droughts. Before 2000, cyclones made landfall along Myanmar’s coast once every three years. Since the turn of the century, cyclones have made landfall every year.

In spite of this, the picture is not that bleak. The plethora of economic opportunities offered to the Asian countries, specifically Myanmar, is headed by a ‘firming recovery’ in the form of major industrial economies and the government’s continued reforms. As per the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance (MCCA), a joint initiative of the UN-Habitat and UNEP, Myanmar is one the fewest countries in the LDCs who take climate change seriously, especially when it comes to adaptation. Climate change is a reality which needs to be addressed urgently and Myanmar is doing relatively well in this regard. To take the issue in an optimistic manner, the country’s economy is expected to accelerate at around 7.7% in 2017 and to 8.0% in 2018, while the current account deficit will widen the imports, growing faster than the exports. The recent government effort in strengthening the legal and regulatory framework has also helped in enhancing the conducive environment for private businesses and investments, which will, in turn, drive further economic growth. Consolidating the country’s legal and regulatory framework is crucial to develop a vibrant private sector and tap Myanmar’s huge growth potential, the report says.

The link between economic opportunity and climate change is something that has to be given immediate attention by the Asian countries, especially Myanmar. The job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by subsiding the global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius is undoubtedly a herculean task but it would result in various opportunities for the international community. According to various reports released by leading media agencies, Asia has already become a leader in clean energy investment, with the lead was taken by China investing humongously in renewable energy. This raises the question of funding for climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. Myanmar is already receiving external assistance from a couple of entities, such as Global Environment Facility, the EU, and bilateral development partners. It is also said that the country will have access to future funding through the Green Climate Fund, which distributes the annual $100 billion contributions made by advanced economies, agreed at COP21 in Paris last year.

The country also offers a plethora of opportunities for investors, stakeholders and private sector involvement. Vast natural gas deposits, innumerable suitable locations for hydropower generation, and unexplored potential for solar and wind power generation are some of the key areas which would definitely attract investment in the coming years. In this regard, Myanmar’s power sector puts forward a plethora of opportunities to both foreign and local investors. According to the government reports, the installation of considerable additional capacity to the current 4,422 MW as well as the rapid construction of transmission lines are national priorities. In order to reach the objective of full national electrification until 2030, the power sector of Myanmar needs to evolve and develop in an efficient manner. The participation of both public and private sector is essential in this regard. It could also be stated that the country needs to build an effective mitigation strategy which involves not only the state but also contributions from the non-state actors, in order to procure finance and maintain coordination, at the time of financial drip.

However, the recent shift in geopolitical trends with the prominence gained by emerging economies, like China, India and Brazil certainly provides a positive push to Myanmar for constructing their economy in a sustainable way.

India’s newest IRIS Species found in Manipur

Manipur IRIS

The popular flower of Manipur, fondly known as Kombirei by the locals of Manipur has been accorded with the ‘new species’ status-Iris Laevigata Fisch. Until now it had been mistakenly named as Iris Bakeri wall. Presently, it is declining from its native habitat.Manipur IRIS Species

The recent course of its name recognition and attention stemmed from its pictures being sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London where it was categorized as the critically endangered species.

Species like Iris Wattii, Iris Singuinea and Iris Kumaon also inhabit the state of Manipur. However, kombirei germinates from the wetlands of Lamphelpat and Yaralpat outskirting the town of Imphal.

This mauve-blue flower has a flowering period of about 15 days in April every year and annually, it also forms an integral part of the rich tradition of Manipur’s New Year celebration as well.

Myanmar Decides to Import Timber to Save its Forests

wood

Myanmar has been a timber producing and exporting country for decades but now this nation has decided to start importing timber in order to protect its diminishing forests. Mr. Kyaw Aw, the Long a timber-producing and exporting country, Myanmar will start importing wood to protect its forests while allowing local timber companies to continue operating, the government has decided. U Kyaw Zaw, Director of the Office of the Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has stated that a plan permitting the import of raw timber from other countries has been approved. Myanmar stopped exporting timber to other countries earlier in the financial year 2014-15 though logging operations within the country were continued.

For the current financial year, logging has been temporarily banned and domestic demand for timber will be met through existing teak and hardwood stocks. The local timber traders are in favor of importing logs as the existing stock is not going to be sufficient to meet their needs. Additionally, some of the timber bought from other countries is cheaper than the domestically produced logs. Myanmar Government has considered their demands and is willing to import timber from overseas. This ban on logging is only temporary though and is expected to resume in the 2017-18 financial year.

6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Myanmar

6.9 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE ROCKS MYANMAR

An earthquake rocked Myanmar late at night on 12 April, 2016. It was a strong earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale but as it took place at an intermediate depth of around 140 km not much damage was done. The epicentre was in north-west Mandalay 396 km north of Naypyidaw. The tremors spread throughout the region and were felt as a far as eastern parts of Bangladesh and India. Prince William and his Wife Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are currently visiting Indian state of Assam. The tremors were felt at their place of stay in Kaziranga National Park as well but they are both safe and completely unharmed. Many people in eastern Indian states as a well as Bangladesh fled outside their homes fearing their safety and some were even injured as a result of the damage caused.  Some injuries and damage to property has been caused but no deaths have been reported so far.

Can You Tell Women When to Have Babies? Myanmar Says Yes

Myanmar's Rohingya Population Struggle On After Mass Exodus

If mother of two Sandar Myat Min chooses to have another child, Myanmar’s government could decide when she can become pregnant.

A law enacted last month by the quasi-civilian government allows officials in the Buddhist-majority nation to order women to wait three years between births. Rights groups say the changes, which are backed by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups, target Muslim women.

“People have their rights regardless of their religion,” said 33-year-old Sandar Myat Min, a Muslim whose youngest daughter is four months old. “If the population were too high like China, I accept that we should control it. But here it’s not like that.”

The law is the first in a series of so-called race and religion protection bills that risk driving a bigger wedge between the faiths, threatening a repeat of sectarian attacks that have flared across Myanmar since the end of junta rule in 2011.

Coming ahead of November’s general election, the changes add to uncertainty for investors, from General Electric Co. to Coca-Cola Co., who are expected to bring $8 billion into the country this fiscal year, up from $1.4 billion when sanctions were eased in 2012.

“The optimism otherwise apparent in the last few years risks being displaced by a feeling that, deep down, not that much has changed in Myanmar,” said Sean Turnell, an associate professor of economics at Macquarie University in Sydney who has advised the U.S. Congress on the country. “These laws add to perceptions of political and social instability. Never good news for investors of course.”

MYANMAR SIGNS ENVIRONMENTAL PACT WITH SOUTH KOREA

The Government of South Korea and Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation recently signed an environmental protection agreement in Yangon.With an exponential increase in pollution, deforestation and increasing resource extraction due to a phase of rapid economic development in Myanmar, the two sides signed the agreement to carry out environmental policies, prevent the degradation of bio-diversity and climate change and reduce the impact on the environment and local ecosystems. The agreement also helps share information on how to control and supervise air pollution, manage water quality control and underground water supplies and conduct environmental research.

BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT: NEW FRAMEWORK FOR INDIA- MYANMAR-CHINA

Representatives from the governments of India, China and Myanmar, in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), met in Nay Pyi Taw, to develop a framework for regional cooperation for promoting conservation and sustainable development in the Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape (BSL).The landscape includes parts of Namdapha National Park and Tiger Reserve in India, parts of northern forest complex and six townships of Kachin state and Sagaing region in Myanmar, and Gaoligongshan region in Yunnan, China.

The landscape unit lies at the junction of three global biodiversity hotspots and is one of the areas with the richest biodiversity in the world, between two important river systems, the Brahmaputra and the Salween.

MYANMAR AND NORWAY TO COOPERATE ON ENVIRONMENT CONSERVATION

REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE - MANGROVES IN MYANMAR
REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE – MANGROVES IN MYANMAR

With Myanmar being faced with problems of mangrove forests disappearing at an alarming rate, the Government of Myanmar is in the process of cooperating with Norway to initiate a mangrove forest conservation plan.

Myanmar’s Minister of Environmental Conservation and Forestry U Win Tun and visiting head of Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee for Energy and the Environment Ola Elvestuen, recently had a meeting wherein the two sides discussed cooperation with international non- governmental organizations in rehabilitation programs, mangrove forest conservation activities between the Ministry and the Worldview International Foundation. A Memorandum of Understanding in this regard is expected to be signed.

In May this year, Myanmar and Norway sought cooperation in environmental conservation sector as part of their bilateral cooperation, initiating a letter of intent on the move in its latest development.

The Myanmar Government and Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment initiated a letter of intent on cooperation in undertakings also covering water resources preservation in Sittoung and Bago river basins, development of world-famous tourist site of Inlay Lake in Shan state and betterment of social economy of ethnic minorities residing around the lake. Besides these, implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), promoting cooperation with NGOs in environmental conservation tasks, development and poverty alleviation schemes were also covered by the two countries’ intention.