Myanmar shines with intact forest, but will this biodiversity be conserved?

Tejas Bhagwat of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is the lead author of a May 17th paper giving an astute picture of rainforest loss. While Myanmar undoubtedly provides more raw jungle than denuded Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia, the entrepreneurs, often under official guise, are already in place, ready to log. This important paper, combined with news of tiger and other species surviving in parts of SE Asia, should give us insight into extreme conservation measures required in this area.

While the Amazon often seems lost in unlicenced take-overs, depending on the nation involved, Africa and Asias forests are also shrinking fast, whether primary or not. Losing a jewelRapid declines in Myanmars intact forests from 2002-2014 is the title of this multi-author revelation from Myanmar in the open access journal, PLOS One.

The people involved hail from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, the American Museum of Natural History and Yangon as well as the Smithsonian (Virginia, US.) 6.1 million hectares of intact and forest with canopy cover are being protected within the 42 million ha of Myanmar forest, which remarkably still covers 63% of the country (in 2014.) This extent of forest is mainly in the north, near the Indian border, or near the Thai reserves near Tanintharyi. The threats at the moment consist of loggers, plantations (the usual oil-palm, rubber and sugar cane, as well as betel nut and banana) and human degradation (using fuel, etc.) near settlements. 70% of the population live in forests and other rural areas, making them a major threat. More of the energy, illegal open-pit mining and construction industries are expected to have effects in the near future.

Isolation of both the nation and the forests…