Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WWF focuses on Tanintharyi – Aye Sapay Phyu

World Wildlife Fund plans to focus its efforts on green growth development, reforestation and biodiversity conservation in southern Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region, a spokesperson from the organisation said in Yangon on November 1.

 Michelle Owen, the program manager of WWF-Myanmar, said the organisation was “very happy” to discuss its work in the areas of green growth and green development with other groups.

“Our plan in the coming months and years is to give examples of what green development means. We are hoping to be able to explain and give information about what a green economy actually means in sectors such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture,” Ms Owen said.

She said the primary focus of WWF is biodiversity.

“Tanintharyi is very important on two fronts. It’s got high biodiversity for Myanmar and good forests running the length of the region. It’s got the best potential for tigers in Southeast Asia. It also forms a major connection with two major forest blocks in Thailand, so it is important both nationally and internationally,” she said.

However, Ms Owen said the region is facing pressure from potential development.

“We are trying to conserve the area’s natural value, and we’re looking at how these developments in the region might follow green principles to demonstrate a better way for the development of the country,” she said.

“A lot of our work is focused regionally. When you start to change how an area is used, the impact does not occur just in one place. Our focus is the entire region and landscape, much more so than, say, a single village or township.”

Miss Owen said WWF-Myanmar will contribute to reforestation in the region, which is important for the viability of tigers and their prey in both Thailand and Myanmar.

Stuart Chapman, a representative from WWF-Greater Mekong, said Myanmar’s rivers and forests are less degraded than some of its neighbours, so the country has the opportunity to become a role model in the implementing a green economy.

But the government will need to make the right decision based on a proper environmental assessments to ensure that development occurs in a manner that maintains the country’s valuable biodiversity.

Mr Chapman added that investment based on the desire for quick profits can have dire consequences for the environment.

WWF established its Myanmar branch in September 2013.