Terra Global conducts biodiversity training for Myanmar’s newest Protected Area

Terra Global Capital
February, 2018

This January, a team from Terra Global Capital traveled to Myanmar to finalize the biodiversity survey procedures, and train local staff on observation techniques. Myanmar’s newest protected area, North Zamari, was identified to be a Key Biodiversity Area due to many irreplaceable species and the high concentration of Asian Elephants in this area of the Bago Yoma Mountains. North Zamari is protected as an Elephant Sanctuary, but the number of elephants and other species High Conservation Value are unknown.

The North Zamari REDD+ Program not only protects forests to provide habitat for elephants it also also engages the local communities in the Townships of Kyauktaga, Thayarwady, Letpadan, Okpho, Bago and Gyobingauk. As historically few studies have been conducted near the project area, it is crucial to conduct a baseline biodiversity survey to document the current conditions. Local staff and recent graduates from the University of Forestry in Yezin were trained on systematic procedures to assess presence key species. This includes training on the proper use of field equipment including camera traps. Local experts Dr. Aung of the Myanmar Bird & Nature Society and Myint Aung from Friends of Wildlife, provided in-depth knowledge of local species identification, field techniques and species-specific tracking. Their knowledge and expertise on how to observe the birds and mammals while in the field was critical for the successful training of the teams.

Terra Globa’s Erica Meta Smith and Maggie Maniago, local expert Tun Tun OO and Forestry Research Institute’s Ko Ye Uof and Dr. Yu Ya Aye traveled to North Zamari to verify that the biodiversity survey standard operating procedures developed collaboratively captured the local conditions of the project area. This included interviewing local communities and forest guards from Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation on presence of species. Currently common species found in North Zamari include elephants, red muntjac, several civet species, sambar, gaur, Malayan porcupine, Asiatic black bear, dhole, banteng, jungle cat, wild pig, long-tailed macaque, golden cat, leopard cat, Chinese serow, pangolin, and possibly tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, and other monkey species! Field observations conducted by the team also confirmed some of these species.

Highly sought-after precious hardwoods are extracted from these forests in the Bago Yoma mountain range and degraded forest conditions have driven out many unique and endangered species that depend on these wild forest systems. Many IUNC Red Listed species in present in this area are poached and their numbers are dwindling. There are many activities that cause biodiversity loss in North Zamari, and activities implemented under the North Zamari REDD+ Program are made to create alternative livelihoods such as ecotourism and natural handicrafts that could support healthy communities and healthy wildlife over time.

Terra Global thank the Forestry Research Institute and Dr. Yu Ya Aye for the partnership and expertise in the biodiversity work conducted on this trip.  Their work and expertise, are assets to REDD+ Projects all over Myanmar from training to coordinating and planning, and to running most aspects of the Project.