Lake Indawgyi: A tourist paradise faces major environmental challenges | Global Ideas | DW | 22.12.2015

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Global Ideas

Lake Indawgyi: A tourist paradise faces major environmental challenges

Myanmar's Lake Indawgyi is a potential holiday paradise. Conservationists and locals are working together to preserve its beauty and attract tourists at the same time.

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Project goal: Developing Myanmar's first collaborative protected area management system in Indawgyi; protecting biodiversity and supporting sustainable livelihoods of a globally important wetland
Project partner: Fauna and Flora International Myanmar in collaboration with the Myanmar Forest Department supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Helmsley Charitable Trust, the KfW Bank, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and Michael Succow Stiftung
Project budget: 300,000 euros annually
Project time frame: Five years
Project volume: 20 villages with an average population of 1,000 people (total 20,000 people)
Biodiversity: Indawgyi Lake hosts endangered and critically endangered species like the yellow tortoise and Myanmar box turtle
In Myanmar, for many years government intervention was seen as the best way forward. That principle also applied to environmental protection and conservation in the country. But as the country begins to democratize and open up after 60 years of isolation, a new way of thinking is taking hold. The government in Yangon is now allowing nongovernmental organizations and Burmese people to cooperate in environmental projects, including around Lake Indawgyi in the far north of the country. The Shan and Kachin minorities who live here are still relatively poor, but the area is rich in species, and is a paradise for birds. During winter, 20,000 migratory birds from the north stop off here, making it ideal for birdwatching. Myanmar attracts around 5 million guests a year, and the first tourists are arriving to Lake Indawgyi.
But the location is well off the beaten track. The journey there is difficult. Furthermore, an armed conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and government troops is happening closeby. One of the reasons for the fighting involves who has the rights to goldmines by the lake. Mercury from the mines flows directly into the Indawgyi. The potential holiday paradise is facing huge challenges before it's had a chance to flourish.
A film by Grit Hofmann

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