Protecting Indawgyi Lake in Myanmar
Indawgyi Lake is Southeast Asia’s third largest lake and the largest lake in Myanmar, with outstanding environmental and cultural value. The region supports the livelihoods of some 50,000 people and is highly biodiverse, home to a large number of mammal, waterbird, fish and reptile species.
FFI has been working with local community groups as well as relevant government departments in the Indawgyi Lake basin to protect critically important wetlands and surrounding watershed forests. A first step was the international recognition of Indawgyi as a globally important wetland site under the Ramsar convention. FFI also facilitated the process that led to Indawgyi being declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2017.
The main threats to Indawgyi Lake are unsustainable fisheries, deforestation due to unsustainable firewood collection and illegal timber extraction, habitat loss due to land encroachment in northern grassland, pollution caused by gold mining and the lack of waste management and sanitation, as well as the recent introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the paddy fields surrounding the lake.
We aim to conserve Indawgyi biodiversity and related wetland and watershed forests. We promote collaborative management and ecosystem services approaches to achieve effective biodiversity conservation, improved livelihoods, sustainable natural resource use and improved sanitation. Natural resources and livelihoods are secured for the local population in Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve, based on clear access rights to forests and fisheries and sustainable land and forest management.
FFI is supporting sustainable community livelihoods through the establishment of community forestry and agroforestry, provision of fuel-efficient stoves and the introduction of organic farming practices. Since 2012, more than 25 community forestry groups have been established and at least 50% of all households use firewood-saving stoves. FFI also supports a small grants programme for local fishing communities to initiate alternative livelihoods and community-based ecotourism. Additionally, we are providing technical advice to the lake management authorities on how to work alongside these grassroots organisations and tackle the many mounting threats to Indawgyi’s natural resources.
Indawgyi declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Indawgyi designated as important wetland Ramsar site (Site number: 2256)
Ngwe Lwin, Acting Country Director, Asia-Pacific
FFI has a long history of working with communities in biodiversity-rich landscapes to enable them to act as effective custodians of their precious, yet threatened, natural resources. We recognise that the livelihoods of rural communities are complex and dynamic; they are not just a means of making a living but a way of life.