Myanmar's Ecology & Environment

Ecology & Environment

 

From the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to the coral-fringed Mergui Archipelago in the south, Myanmar's 2000-km length crosses three distinct ecological regions within the vast Indo-Malay bio geographic realm: the Indian sub region along the Bangladesh and India borders; the Indochinese sub region in the north bordering Laos and China; and the Syndic sub region bordering peninsular Thailand. Together these regions produce what is quite likely the richest biodiversity in South-East Asia.

Very little natural history research has been carried out in Myanmar due to the country's self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world since independence. Most of the studies available date to the British colonial era and are not reliable by today's standards. Tertiary education in the country, which has never approached an international level, has further declined in quality since the 1970s, hence native research is even more scant. So far Myanmar's new openness to tourism and foreign investment has not extended to the reception of trained wildlife researchers, but indications are this may soon change.

Environmental Policy

Myanmar claims to have three national parks and 17 wildlife sanctuaries (including two marine and three wetland environments) which together protect about 1% of the nation's total land surface. Compared to international averages, this is a very low coverage (Thailand, by comparison, has 12% coverage); the government reports plans to raise protection to 5% by the end of the century.

At the moment deforestation by the timber industry poses the greatest threat to wildlife habitats. The state-owned Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) accounts for most of the logging undertaken throughout the country. The most valued woods are teak and cherry-wood (padauk). Reportedly the company follows a sustainable 'selective tender' system devised by the British in 1856 to maintain forest cover. The latest government plan calls for the complete elimination of all log exports, figuring that the greatest potential revenue comes from processed wood products rather than raw timber. If this plan is carried out, cutting should slow even further. Unfortunately illegal logging in areas of the country controlled by insurgent armies - particularly in the Shan and Kayin states - is not controlled. These areas - rather than the MTE - are the greatest source of timber smuggled to neighbouring countries.

In areas where habitat loss isn't a problem, hunting threatens to wipe out the more rare animal species. Even in the nation's nominally protected lands, wildlife laws are seldom enforced due to corruption and a general lack of manpower. While many animals are hunted for food, tigers and rhinos are killed for the lucrative overseas Chinese pharmaceutical market. Among the Chinese, the ingestion of tiger penis and bone are thought to have curative effects. Taipei, where at least two-thirds of the pharmacies deal in tiger parts (in spite of the fact that such trade is contrary to Taiwanese law), is the world centre for Burmese tiger consumption.

Marine resources are threatened by a lack of long-range conservation goals. For the moment, Myanmar's lack of industrialisation means the release of pollutants into the seas is relatively low. But over fishing, especially in the delta regions, is a growing problem. The country must also deal with illegal encroachment on national fisheries by Thai and Malaysian fishing boats.

Here are some information.

Burmese cat
Cat lovers throughout the world knows what a "Burmese cat" is like. In Zoology books and papers have described this type of cat as "Burmese cat" ever since and they are not willing to change the name. Burmese cats are known to be the most friendly type of cat known to men and cat-lovers always want to have a Burmese cat.

Burmese pythons
If you have visited some pet stores, you can often find "Burmese pythons". They are also well known.

Burmese honeysuckle
Ornamental shrubs and climbers of the genus Lonicera

Burmese padauk (a) Burma padauk
very fine Burmese rosewood

Burmese lacquer tree
biological name "Gluta usitata"

Gurney's Pitta
An endangered species of this century.








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