Woodland’s Conservation and Sustainable Development Initiatives in Myanmar
Woodland Travels is actively engaged in both conservation and sustainable development in Myanmar. Our livelihood is predicated on maintaining the cultural integrity of Myanmar’s diverse people and insuring our environment remains intact. Neither of these are easy tasks, but they are crucial undertakings that we carry out with pride. Some of these are listed below.
Creating international awareness about Myanmar’s diverse people and landscapes is perhaps most effectively done through film. Woodlands has facilitated the logistics for three recent films that feature never before seen images of our diverse homeland. All of these films highlight the need to conserve our unique SE Asian ecosystem.
ELEPHANT POWER. This documentary filmed by Klaus Reisinger and Frederique Lengaigne is repeatedly shown on National Geographic Explorer Channel. The film depicts the situation of wild elephants in Myanmar’s forests today.
BURMA’S GYPSIES OF THE SEA. This brilliant film again done by Klaus and Frederique for National Geographic, won multiple awards for depicting the fragile beauty of the Moken people living on boats in the Mergui Archipelago.
BURMA’S OPEN ROAD.
This timely documentary shot in 2006 by David Adams and Woodland Travels partner Jon Miceler, depicts the Old Burma Road today as it stretches from India through Myanmar to China. It demonstrates the pros and cons of opening the Road for commercial use.
Ecotourism as a Mechanism for Conservation and Sustainable Community Development
1. Northern Myanmar Environmental Protection
There are not many places left in the world where you can get these landscapes—landscapes the size of the state of Vermont-landscapes that are still unspoiled and can still be saved”.
Dr. Alan Rabinowitz of the Wildlife Conservation Society, 2006
These words of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz pertain to a massive conservation landscape that encompasses most of northern Myanmar (see map). The reserves of this region were largely realized through the visionary work of Dr. Rabinowitz of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Myanmar forestry department. Since 1993 Dr. Rabinowitz has made multiple trips a year to Myanmar which have resulted in three large reserves in northern Myanmar as well as the Lampi Island reserve in the Mergui Archipelago. Woodlands has provided logistical support to Dr. Rabinowitz and WCS which contributed to the creation of these reserves in northern Myanmar. Dr. Rabinowitz understands that if these reserves are to ever be anything more than paper parks, they will need a sustainable source of income. More than once Dr. Rabinowitz has pointed to ecotourism as an obvious source of support. Dr. Rabinowitz has also specifically recognized Woodlands for its commitment to sustainable, community-based ecotourism at the following URL:
2. Conservation along the Indo-Myanmar Border
India and Myanmar share a long international border reaching from Kachin state in the north to Sagaing Division in the south. Many of these areas are also the least developed in Myanmar. Woodland Travels now works closely with Inner Asian Conservation, a US based NGO founded by Woodlands partner Jon Miceler. Our goal is conservation of this region (which contains some of the last old growth forests of Asia as well as some of the last tiger populations) as well as lifting various Kachin, Naga and Chin communities out poverty via the introduction of ecotourism. Miceler has spent large parts of the last 5 years working on the Indian side of this border in order to bring about the creation of two new nature reserves that will lie in contiguity with those already created in Myanmar. Once these reserves are completed we will have created the largest transboundary conservation complex in mainland Asia.
Sawadee Village School, Bhamo.
Located along the Ayerwaddy River near the town of Bhamo sits Sawadee village. This wonderful village has no road access and is cut off during the rains. Woodlands has donated generously to the village by providing much needed structural enhancements for the local elementary and middle school (above left).
These projects are ongoing, as we reach our conservation and development goals we will post results. Our ability to finance projects such as those mentioned here is in large part due to tourism. We at Woodland Travels would greatly like to arrange your visit to Myanmar in order for you see for yourself how crucial tourism is to the people of Myanmar.