Myanmar adds Ramsar site

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According to the government and Ramsar Secretariat statement, the designation of Indawgyi Lake as a Ramsar site underscores the Myanmar government’s commitment to conserve this special area, which supports the livelihood of some 30,000 people and is also home to a substantial population of water birds, fish and reptiles.

Forest Department general director,  U Nyi Nyi Kyaw, said the new Ramsar site will ensure the long-term conservation and wise use of Myanmar’s most important wetland.

Indawgyi Lake basin is Myanmar’s second Ramsar site. It is one of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Asia, located in Mohnyin Township in the Kachin state.

The country’s first Ramsar site was Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Bago Region, about two hours north of Yangon. It was listed in 2004.

The government is committed to designating additional Ramsar sites to create a national network of protected wetlands, the general director added.

Located in northern Myanmar, Indawgyi Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Myanmar. The site supports at least 20,000 migratory and resident water birds, including coot, purple swamphen, tufted and ferruginous ducks, lesser whistling ducks and black-headed gulls, to name just a few.

Five globally threatened turtle and tortoise species are also found here along with 93 fish species, seven of which are endemic to these wetlands and have only recently been discovered to science.

Around 30,000 people live near the  lake, most of whom earn a living from the lake through fishing, rice farming, livestock grazing, and extracting forest products from the surrounding watershed.

Indawgyi’s outstanding cultural and natural heritage is also attracting tourists. To ensure tourism is sustainable and benefits local people, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has launched a community-based ecotourism initiative offering new adventures such as kayaking, cycling and trekking – all of which provide jobs for young people.

There are 99 recorded wetland sites in Myanmar, according to a 2003 study conducted by the Wild Birds Society of Japan and the Department of Forestry.

The Ramsar Convention came into force in Myanmar in March 2005.

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