Linking Tourism & Conservation in Myanmar – a Project Initiative for a Country in Transition

Linking Tourism & Conservation in Myanmar – a Project Initiative for a Country in Transition

Myanmar, a country in transition, is at a crossroads in regard to its decisions on future development. Tourism will certainly play a major role in these decisions, therefore linking tourism to protect its most valuable resource benefits both Myanmar’s development and its precious natural habitats. A major focus will be on coastal habitats, but Myanmar also offers pristine tropical forest reserves and attractive inland wetlands. Myanmar’s coastline of almost 3,000 km extending along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea offers very attractive wildlife destinations and opportunities for nature-based tourism. Many sandy beaches and hundreds of tiny islands provide ample opportunity for wildlife observations as well as snorkelling, fishing and swimming. In the coastal zone, besides mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds, sandy beaches there are many intertidal mudflats. These are home to a large number of globally threatened waterbird species, such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, and Lesser Adjutant Stork. Five different marine turtles, dugong and Irrawaddy Dolphins, but also water birds in internationally important numbers live on Myanmar’s rich and diverse coast. The Myanmar coastal zone is also important for fish stocks, which support an artisanal fishery, and other livelihoods for local people. Unsustainable hunting and harvesting practices by local people, alongside the conversion of pristine forests into palm oil and rubber plantations are seen as major threats but can be combated by introducing nature-based tourism.

Myanmar is a very diverse country and rich in inland and freshwater habitats. Like none of its neighbouring countries its rich forest areas still harbour wildlife, including tigers and many other wild cat species, Asian Tapir, pangolin and monkey species, such as the endemic Snub-nosed monkeys and Hoolock Gibbons as well as many endemic and rare bird species, snakes and butterflies. The Taninthariy and Lenya National Park in the south host the most diverse tropical forest fauna of all. It is proposed to link both national parks and reserves with a corridor by the Lenya Park extension, the most important place where the globally critically endangered Gurney’s Pitta has its last stronghold in the world. The huge complex of over 400,000 ha offers a refuge for wildlife and a huge opportunity of wildlife encounters.

A third major habitat complex are inland lakes and wetlands. Moeyongyi, the only Ramsar site in Myanmar offers good opportunities to see a rich selection of waterbirds not far from the capitol Yangon. Lake Indawgyi in Kachin State in the North is still largely pristine and serves as an important resort for Arctic and northern waterbirds, as well as globally threatened species and is currently developed as a Ramsar Site by Flora Fauna International (FFI) in close collaboration with the Forest Department of Myanmar. More information, also about specific sites: Myanmar nature tourism.

Our initiative to call on partners from tourism and conservation to work with communities and governmental authorities towards the establishment of new protected areas to the benefit of endangered species as well as tourism and local economies could lead to good LT&C examples. We could foresee political and financial support from the tourism business, convince decision makers to establish new reserves and sustain their proper management. As Myanmar is a country in transition, the success of this initiative could have positive and far-carrying results across the country and be an example for other countries in similar stages.

We are at the beginning of our initiative, having obtained first experiences in some coastal and freshwater reserves. This has provided a preliminary overview identifying where protected areas should be established using our perspectives and knowledge. We now seek partners from the tourism sector with financial support to further develop and enhance nature conservation in the country and increase ownership in a full-fledged project.

Some of the coastal projects can be seen as part of securing important staging and wintering sites of shorebirds using the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the related partnership organisation EAAFP, and as important sites of that kind are in particular threatened in Bangladesh, the Yellow Sea of China, Korea, Japan and Russia. We would hope that any success of an LT&C project in Myanmar would encourage similar positive activities for other flyway countries. Likewise the sustainable management of inland wetland and forest eco-systems by local communities can set a good example for communities in similar habitats in neighbouring countries.

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Tasmania – Tourism industry to fight back resource collection in protected areas

Tasmania – Tourism industry to fight back resource collection in protected areas

“The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area protects one of the last true wilderness regions on Earth and encompasses a greater range of natural and cultural values than any other region on Earth”. (www.parks.tas.gov.au)

Tasmania’s 19 national parks, 5 of which are incorporated into the Wilderness WHA, encompass a diversity of unspoiled habitats and ecosystems offering refuge to unique, and often ancient, plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.

The Tasmanian Reserve Estate includes 135,100 hectares in Marine Protected Areas, Macquarie Island MPA being 81,946 hectares. There are a further 48,500 hectares of marine and estuarine environments under reserve. While 7.9% of Tasmania’s State coastal waters is reserved, only 4.2% is in no-take areas with the majority of this concentrated around subantarctic Macquarie Island. Only 1.1% of Tasmania’s immediate coastal waters are fully protected in ‘no-take areas’. (www.parks.tas.gov.au)

The main government body responsible for the management of these protected areas is the Parks and Wildlife Service [PWS] within the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. As a government body, the Parks and Wildlife Service is still responsible to the policies of the government of the time.

Conflict over management of these areas arises around the familiar opposing needs of resource collection [forestry, mining, fishing] and preservation of biodiversity and heritage.

Linking Tourism and Conservation (LT&C) is important to Tasmania, as over recent decades tourism has become a significant form of revenue for the State’s economy. A major focal point for the Tasmanian tourist industry is the presence of substantial areas of Wilderness and Natural reserve – both marine and terrestrial – along with the image of being ‘clean and green’. It is therefore vital to the growth of this industry and its contribution the State’s economy that tourism is linked to the source of interest and contributes to the preservation of its base. The present State Government of Tasmania has asked for expressions of interest from the tourist industry for possible developments within the World Heritage Area and other National Parks. It can only be of benefit that membership of an international organization such as LT&C gives positive examples of tourism and conservation which can stand as guidelines when such action is contemplated.

Tasmania is a large island State off the south coast of mainland Australia. It is one of 6 states and 2 territories that make up the Commonwealth of Australia and is responsible for the governance of a number of smaller islands around its coastline including the Bass Strait islands of King, Cape Barren and Flinders and the southern ocean island of Macquarie. Mainland Tasmania is approximately 92610 sq kilometres, approximately 5400 kilometres of coastline, with a population of 514,684 (ABS March 2014). Tasmania has had a history of valuing conservation and protection of natural heritage – the Scenery Preservation Board (1915) had set aside much of Tasmania’s environment for future generations, including Mount Field and Freycinet Peninsula National Parks (1916), Port Arthur Historic Site (1916) and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (1922).

Since the 1970s conservation and protection of natural heritage has increased. Of the 92610 sq kilometres around 41,674.5 sq km (45%) are under some form of conservation and/or protected status. Of the 5400 kilometres of coastline 48500 hectares (not including the Marine Protected Area of Macquarie Island) is classified as Marine Protected Areas – this does not mean they are exclusive ‘No Take Zones’ but have recognised status as containing important and unique biodiversity.Protected Areas: The protected areas of Tasmania consist of South West World Heritage Wilderness Area (15840 sq km, WH listing in 1982), Macquarie Island World Heritage Area, 19 National Parks, 420 Reserves, some Crown land and Marine Protected areas.

Tasmania as a State of Australia is a good example of linking tourism and conservation in several ways:- It has a history of significant, well-managed protected areas. raising the profile of the island and the benefits of nature-based tourism.There are a number of positive examples of tour operators supporting protected areas both financially and through their educational activities working alongside the relevant government agencies in this regard.

– Tasmania is also a very good example of tourism supporting the management of protected areas through the collection and use of park entrance fees. The PWS collects these fees, as a percentage of their revenue, in a technically efficient manner and is transparent, through its website, in the direct use of such revenues for the ongoing management and conservation of protected areas.

“Tasmania aims to reach CBD target 11 before 2020 as leading example in the world”
A proposal for an LT&C project, which demonstrates that tourism and conservation in Tasmania are able to join forces. This would require the support and recognition of the three areas involved, government agencies, conservation NGOs and, in particular, tour operators and the tourism industry at large.

Rationale: With more than 7% of its marine area protected Tasmania is close to the global target of 10%. As a State with a high marine profile and already having good examples of properly managed Marine Protected Areas closing this small gap and reaching the global target could be achievable. Thereby the project is for Tasmania to focus on the coasts of its mainland and increase marine protected areas as no-fishing zones with the understanding and appreciation of the benefits such zones mean for the surrounding fishing areas.

A) In regard to tourism supporting the management of protected areas through the collection and use of park entrance fees: the method of collection, including the recent extension to internet-based access, and the transparency of use to support the ongoing management and conservation of the protected areas are concrete examples for other areas to replicate.

B) “Tasmania aims to reach CBD target 11 before 2020 as leading example in the world”: This could encourage other countries to emulate Tasmania to reach the same goal earlier.

Protected Planet

 

20141113_WCP Sydney_8718The official web site of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) with the most complete global overview on protected areas. Information, where the world stays in terms of reaching the CBD Aichi target 11 of a complete network of protected areas has been published at the World Parks Congress in Sydney. The report finds that 15.4 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 3.4 per cent of the global ocean are now protected.

Sustainable tourism in protected areas can be critical for their survival, says new IUCN report

Increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development, provided well-functioning management systems are in place, according to a new report unveiled today at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia. 

Continue reading “Sustainable tourism in protected areas can be critical for their survival, says new IUCN report”

IUCN World Parks Congress, November 12-19, 2014 in Sydney

  • Yugud Va Komi National Park, Russia

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 was a landmark global forum on protected areas. The Congress was sharing knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. Building on the theme “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions”, it was presenting, discussing and creating original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda. Continue reading “IUCN World Parks Congress, November 12-19, 2014 in Sydney”

Convention on Migratory Species meets in Quito, Ecuador

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.30.17The Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP11) will be held in Quito, Ecuador, from 4 to 9 November 2014. The COP will be preceded by a High Level Ministerial Panel and regional coordination meetings on 3 November, and held along with meetings of the CMS Standing Committee on 2 and 9 November. Continue reading “Convention on Migratory Species meets in Quito, Ecuador”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 17.02.10“Promoting the widespread adoption of global sustainable tourism standards to ensure the tourism industry continues to drive conservation and poverty alleviation”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) serves as the international body for establishing and managing standards for sustainable tourism.  All of our programs and activities work toward this central mission.  GSTC is mostly a volunteer organization, consisting of experts in sustainable tourism and supported by organizations and individuals with a passion for ensuring that meaningful standards are available globally for sustainability in travel and tourism. Those volunteers are organized in working groups which you can learn about in the GSTC Objectives section of this website. Financial support from donations, sponsorship, and membership fees are critical to our own sustainability.

At the heart of this work are the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and the development of the GSTC Criteria for Destinations. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.  Sustainability is imperative for all tourism stakeholders and must translate from words to actions.

European Wilderness Society

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The European Wilderness Society is a Pan-European, wilderness and environmental advocacy organisation whose mission is to identify, designate, manage and promote European wilderness.
The engaged and very experienced team behind the European Wilderness Society works highly ambitious to achieve this goal. But together with LT&C we can reach even more! In case LT&C has anything to publish, further information concerning the European Wilderness or a comment to our European Wilderness Society Webpage, please let us know!
Our website is a one-stop-shop for information about the European Wilderness. If LT&C members are interested in being notified about the European Wildernesss in many facets, please register for our Wilderness Newsletter, read our latest annual report or follow us on FB, and Twitter, or join our open Linkedin group!
We are happy to publish your articles, blogs and wilderness related research results.

Please contact us!

Why LT&C?

Humans and the rest of biodiversity are critically linked and interdependent. The need for the conservation of diversity of natural habitats and ecosystems on earth is supported by the United Nations through the development of a complete and well-managed network of protected areas by the year 2020 (CBD Aichi 2020 target 11). This goal is achievable with the support of tourism.

Continue reading “Why LT&C?”