Myanmar's Natural Wealth - Foundation for the Future | WWF

Myanmar's Natural Wealth - Foundation for the Future

With three of the most pristine large rivers and some of the most extensive intact forest in the region, Myanmar is one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically productive nations on Earth.
Living resources vital to human wellbeing – forests, fisheries, freshwater systems, fertile soils, coastal and marine ecosystems – the country’s natural capital, are the foundation of Myanmar’s long-term sustainable economic development. Myanmar has witnessed its neighbours over-exploit their natural capital, creating precariously fragmented ecosystems unable to support sustainable economic growth over the medium and long term.

But as Myanmar opens up politically and economically, it’s feeling many of the same pressures faced by the rest of the Greater Mekong, from deforestation to illegal wildlife trade.

WWF in Myanmar

The government and civil society organizations of Myanmar are now seeking partnerships and state-of-the-art guidance on how to best manage their natural capital, preserving the country’s globally important biodiversity for the near and long-term health and prosperity of the women and men of this vast and diverse nation.

WWF’s aim is to support Myanmar’s development ambitions with a focus on spatial planning and biodiversity conservation in parallel with ecosystem services protection and sustainable livelihoods.

Contact us

#15 (C), Than Taman Street
Yangon, Myanmar
Office Phone: +95 1 229 331

Christy Williams
Country Director
Tel: +95 9 452 985 286

May Moe Wah
Operation Manager
Mobile: +95 (9) 50 031 14

For Media and Other Inquiries, contact:

Charlotte Rose
Communications Manager
Mobile: +95 (9) 25 700 9147

Ye Min Thwin
Communications Officer
Mobile: +95 (9) 79 582 4038

For EFN Grants related inquiries, contact:

Thiha Oo
Capacity Building Coordinator
Mobile: +95 (9) 97 555 1010
Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris tigris).
© Martin Harvey / WWF
Myanmar's rich endowment of natural capital is the envy of other nations, especially those looking to supply their own development.
In order for Myanmar to realize a stable and sustainable economy that contributes to poverty alleviation, the economic value of the country’s biodiversity, and the benefits it provides, must be accounted for and integrated in development planning processes and decision making.

The species, landscapes, and other natural capital of the Greater Mekong region, including Myanmar, are facing a range of threats; from illegal wildlife trade to deforestation for agricultural conversion and mining. In recent years, driven largely by increased investment in the region’s energy and transportation infrastructure, the scale and intensity of many of these threats has grown exponentially.

The Greater Mekong region’s hydrological systems, for example, are threatened by the rapid development of hydropower installations and a poor track record in conducting adequate planning and risk assessments for these projects. However, the landmark decision taken in late 2011 by the Myanmar government to suspend the Chinese backed multi-billion dollar construction of the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River reflects the government’s resolve to sustainably manage its own natural resource base despite the considerable interest of neighbouring countries.
Rice field, Myanmar.  rel=
Rice field, Myanmar.
© Lee Poston / WWF-Myanmar
WWF has been a trusted organization in the Mekong region for more than three decades.
WWF helped establish conservation programmes in Thailand in the early 1980s, and has been active in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam since 1990. WWF is formally opening an office in Yangon, Myanmar, in 2014.

Myanmar’s Unrivaled Biodiversity

  • Home to three of the most pristine large rivers including the longest undammed river in Southeast Asia, as well as one of the largest deltas in the world.
  • At least 250 mammal species, of which 39 are globally threatened, and more than 1,000 avian species, of which 45 are globally threatened. Includes several flagship species such as the Indochinese tiger, Asian elephant, Irrawaddy dolphin and marine turtles including hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
  • Possesses a great extent of ecosystems ranging from coral reefs, coastal and inland mangroves, tropical evergreen forests in the south, moist deciduous, dry deciduous forests, dry and sub-humid land in the central to snow-capped mountains in the far north.

WWF-Myanmar’s five main strategic interventions

Support government, civil society and the private sector in their efforts to:

1. Accelerate the integration of green economy principles and climate change resilience into policy development and reform, including the adoption of a national green economy framework and roadmap to secure natural capital and ecosystem services, contributing to economic growth and development.

2.Promote green investments and sustainable production, and integrate social and environmental safeguards and responsible business models in investment and finance flows.

3.Establish integrated spatial planning and management initiatives that promote sustainable water infrastructure and integrated river basin management, enable spatially explicit sustainable development plans at the Tanintharyi landscape and national levels, and improve protected area network management and law enforcement.

4. Disrupt global tiger trade through Myanmar, enable recovery of tigers in Myanmar, and tackle other key wildlife trade issues by improving wildlife crime law enforcement and promoting new wildlife legislation.

5. Empower civil society and communities to participate in decision-making by both the government and the private sector at national and sub-national levels on issues of natural resource management.

Underpinning WWF’s five strategies, our climate change approach focuses on mitigation, helping reduce Myanmar’s vulnerability to climate change, and mainstreaming adaptation in our conservation strategies. In addition, WWF’s Myanmar strategy will focus on several ttransboundary issues on the border between Myanmar and Thailand, including illegal wildlife trade and transportation/infrastructure development.

WWF's Carter Roberts on new opportunities for Myanmar

“There is an opportunity for the government to apply best available science and planning to map the values of this region and to make smart choices. It is critical that Myanmar’s opening doesn't close the doors on its natural resources.” Read the article

…we will pay serious attention to conservation of forests and woodlands and take measures in various sectors to reduce air and water pollution, control dumping of industrial waste and conserve wildlife. We will lay down a new policy in which we will work for economic development in parallel with environmental conservation. We will mobilize participation of the people and social organizations in the tasks for environmental conservation and create renewable energy at low cost.

President U Thein Sein

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