Green Economy Modelling of Ecosystem Services in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape along the ‘Road to Dawei’

Posted on 10 April 2014    
Green Economy Modelling of Ecosystem Services in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape along the ‘Road to Dawei’
© WWF-Greater Mekong
During a special meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers held in Singapore on May 19, 2008, the foreign ministers of Thailand and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the development of the Dawei deep-sea port project. The project, which involves the construction of a road link from Dawei to Bangkok, is likely to have considerable impacts on land use, ecosystems and biodiversity in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape (DTL), a mountainous region characterized by a tropical monsoon climate, abundant precipitation and forest.

This report describes a pilot project to design an integrated framework to inform and support land use planning. It analyses interaction of social, economic and environmental factors in shaping future land use needs through a transparent system dynamics simulation model and generates projections up to 2035 to analyse the short, medium and longer-term consequences of road construction on society and land use in the DTL, along the ‘Road to Dawei’. The aim is to allow policymakers, land use planners and other interested stakeholder to test the multi-dimensional impact of green economy interventions aimed at improving sustainability in the area. Results are communicated in biophysical and economic terms, also including the valuation of natural capital (stocks, flows and ecosystem services). Though still in initial stages of development, this study has already helped understanding the key drivers of change in the area, identifying data collection needs, and defining their use to carry out a green economy analysis.

The green economy interventions simulated in this study focus on mitigating unsustainable trends resulting from deforestation for road construction, as well as from population growth (including both urban and agriculture land expansion). Reforestation and sustainable forest management practices, as well as investments in the use of ecological agricultural practices are two examples of the interventions analysed. The main results of the analysis show that:
  • Greening the agriculture sector, one of the main growth sectors projected under the business as usual case, is likely to increase productivity and reduce water consumption, at the same time creating employment and improving livelihoods of local communities. Furthermore, the expansion of organic agriculture and the consequent reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers would prevent soil erosion and water pollution.
  • The use of degraded and abandoned land for reforestation would allow to expand forest cover, thereby preserving key ecosystem services, such as regulatory, habitat and production functions. More specifically, reforestation is likely to help preserving the hydrological cycle, enhancing water retention, preventing river siltation and sedimentation, and eventually reducing impacts of floods on local communities and agricultural production. In addition, the adoption of sustainable forest management practices would contribute to preserve biodiversity, and mitigate climate change through higher carbon sequestration.
  • The medium and longer-term cumulative impacts are likely to outweigh the short-term benefits of road construction. As a result, the upcoming land use plans and patters have a critical role in determining the health and sustainability of the ecosystem in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape.
The advantages and disadvantages of each scenario and intervention are presented in the report and, while not being fully customized to the local context yet (due to lack of data and the need to further engage stakeholders in the development of the model), the analysis highlights how important land use planning can be, not only for the siting and construction of the road but also for maintaining ecological integrity after the transport corridor is built. 
Green Economy Modelling of Ecosystem Services in the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape along the ‘Road to Dawei’
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge

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