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Dawei Road – The Beginning of the End

This project was part of a WWF Myanmar initiative to mitigate the threats and disastrous effects the construction and development of the Dawei road is having on the primary forests and wildlife of the Tanintharyi region in Southern Myanmar bordering Thailand. Deforestation along the planned Dawei road, close to the Thai border is now rapidly increasing. Roads increase access to landscapes, leading to colonisation and driving deforestation and poaching. Along the planned Dawei road in Tanintharyi, deforestation has been extensive since the access road for the project was put in place about a decade ago. Land use change along the road could impact communities living downstream as a decline in forest cover will lead to an increase in erosion. Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region is part of one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. The landscape connects forests in Thailand with forests in Myanmar, providing a safe passage for wildlife to migrate, feed and mate. It also provides the communities who live here with countless benefits such as food, water and livelihoods.

Myanmar is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Millions of people depend on its forests, rivers and coastal habitats for food, water, livelihoods and other vital services such as protection against floods and coastal storms. As Myanmar is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change, the role that these ecosystems play in protecting us against natural hazards and rising temperatures is even more important.

But as Myanmar stands poised for rapid development, it finds itself in a tough balancing act. How can the country lift its citizens out of poverty while protecting its forests, rivers and other natural assets? And how can it do so now, before its natural capital is degraded and overexploited in exchange for short-term economic gains?

Myanmar’s forests, oceans, mountains, rivers and other natural environments provide vital benefits to people and are also home to rich biodiversity. Areas in dark green provide high levels of ecosystem services to Myanmar’s people. Many of these areas coincide with Key Biodiversity Areas (outlined in red) – areas that are globally important for biodiversity conservation. Protecting and managing these areas well can therefore support people and wildlife. WWF Myanmar. WWF Myanmar – Copyright 2017 © Adam Oswell

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