Mangrove Conservation Stalled In Rakhine State

By Network Media Group
Friday, September 24, 2021

An important mangrove conservation project could be set back years by political instability and the pandemic in Rakhine State.

Thaung Htut, the marine conservation manager of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said plans to establish a coastal mangrove conservation project within the next two years has been delayed.

“The government’s forestry department, the Myanmar WCS and Rakhine Coastal Region Conservation Association (RCA) are working together to conserve the mangrove forests on Kyein Tali, Gwa, Nant Tha and Kyun Nant Tha islands in Rakhine State,” Thaung Htut told NMG. He said the forests have been demarcated and biodiversity measured.

Dr Maung Maung Kyi, the RCA chair, said there are five steps to create a marine national park and only the first step has been completed. “If we manage to establish a marine protected area, the damaged mangroves will recover and biodiversity will be able to flourish. They’ll also provide employment for the locals for their daily survival.”

He told NMG that government and public support is crucial for a project of this nature.

According to the residents of Kyein Tali, marine life on the island has become scarce because of the destruction of the mangrove forests. Before the conservation measures began, fishermen could only catch three viss (5,000 grams) of fish and prawns a day, now they catch 20 viss (33,000 grams).

Under the National League for Democracy (NLD), the state government was directed on 12 October 2020 to make Nant Tha a marine national park. The island in Gwa Township in Thantwe District in the southern state of Rakhine consists of 332 hectares of dry land and 8,991 hectares of wetland.

Thaung Htut said the establishment of a marine national park will help preserve the natural environment and provide a home for rare species to thrive. Locals asked the NLD government to designate a conservation project for the coastal area. The project at Nant Tha Island will be the first of its kind in Rakhine State, if realised.