Myanmar’s Indigenous Eco Warriors
Nearly 75% of the 50 million people residing in Burma live in rural areas. This is not surprising at all given the fact that Burma is surrounded by a lot of forest and is in a tropical climate. Burmese residents take pride in the fact that they, with the help of their government, are able to nurture and maintain their forests – something that other countries in Asia and all over the world are unable to do. The elderly wish to inculcate in the younger population their knowledge in traditional forestry hoping that the future generations would be able to continue to reproduce their natural resources. Burma is the top exporter of the strongest but slowest tree species on earth which is called the tweak. This is a really great opportunity for everyone in Burma in the future if the industry expands.
At present, Myanmar is facing one of its greatest opportunities. It has recently opened itself up to international business and this has, in turn, let them expand their tourism industry. The present shows a huge potential for the whole country. With careful management, the whole landscape of Myanmar will be turned into a money making machine without having to sacrifice the unspoilt beauty of it. At present, the Protected Areas System has declared that there are 5 national parks and 23 sanctuaries available. This is predicted to increase in the near future. This, in itself, is proof that there is a lot to learn from the indigenous eco warriors of Myanmar. Their traditional forestry principles and practices are incomparable. The knowledge they can impart to tourists will give foreigners the ability to improve their forestry as well while Myanmar makes profit from the service sector. This makes it a win-win situation, a mutual benefit.
Here are the numbers: 300 mammal species, 7,000 plant species, 1,000 bird species, 1 country – Myanmar. To say that it is a miracle for a place to be able to support that kind of ecosystem is an understatement. In addition to that, there is the Ayeyarwaddy central river system which feeds four main rivers of 1500 kilometers. The river banks are home to many indigenous families. There are many wetland sanctuaries as well which is a main target is for travellers like the Inle Lake Wetlands. Mountaineers can enjoy the Khakarborazi National Park located in the far north. Other places are being given assessments at present to see how they can improve it for tourists and residents alike such as the National Park in Upper Myanmar, The Pyin-oo-lwin Botanical Gardens, the Popa Mountain Park and many more.
Obviously, the indigenous has done a very good job in keeping Myanmar’s natural resources in shape despite the many environmental problems the whole world is experiencing. And they are vastly benefiting from it as well. We can only hope we could continue and adapt this great tradition.