Integrated Planning and Management of Forest Ecosystem in Greater Mekong Sub-region - Myanmar site

Project title: Integrated forest ecosystem management planning and demonstration project in Greater Mekong Subregion (Myanmar) [Project ID: 2018P4-MYR]
Supervisory agency: Forest Department,Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar 
Executing agency: Forest Research Institute 
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 1,412,477/1,120,807
Duration: October 2019–October 2024
Target economy: Myanmar
Project Category: Research and policy development projects
Location: Paung Laung Reserved Forest, Pin Laung Township, Shan State and Forest Research Institute Compound, Yezin, Nay Pyi Taw 
Objectives: Conserve and improve forest germplasm resources though construction of arboretum in Forest Research Institute (FRI); Demonstrate integrated watershed management practices in Paung Luang watershed; Enhance capacity and knowledge of local community, local government and staff to sustain management activities after project completion.
Expected outputs: Construction plan for FRI Arboretum; Construction of forest germplasm resources and breeding nursery; Establishment of 9 ha native forest ecological conservation zone; Establishment of 16 ha thematic gardens (plantation and exhibition zone); Construction of accessory facilities for arboretum; Integrated watershed management plan; Demonstration of integrated watershed management practices; Integrated forest management technology and a technical handbook; Training course for project stakeholders; International exchange on sustainable forest management. 

 ♦  Survey on current conditions of FRI Arboretum and develop the Construction Plan of FRI Arboretum.
 ♦  Upgrade and reconstruct the nursery, including constructing a seedling bed, shading system, irrigation system, and fence.
 ♦  Forest germplasm resources collection and seedling raising.
 ♦  Demonstrate enrichment planting of key species and maintain the forest ecological conservation zone.
 ♦  Establish bamboo, ornamental plant, medicinal plant, rare and endangered tree species, economic trees, precious timber, and aquatics gardens.
 ♦  Construct accessory facilities for the arboretum.
 ♦  Develop and demonstrate a participatory integrated watershed co-management plan/practice.
 ♦  Develop technical handbooks on integrated watershed management.
 ♦  Training courses for young researchers, local officials, and local farmers on integrated forest watershed management and formulating a training manual.
 ♦  Exchange study visits other GMS project sites and participates in the international workshop.
Project background
Myanmar is one of the economies with the highest forest cover in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Forests are influenced by the tropical and sub-tropical monsoon mountainous climate and are home to various rare fauna and flora. They are also critical sources of commercial timber and non-timber forest products, which support the livelihoods of the people of Myanmar.
Since 1995, the Myanmar Government has been committed to the sustainable development of forest resources for environmental and economic purposes. Ecological balance, environmental stability, and the sustainable contribution of the forestry sector to socioeconomic development are the objectives. However, overexploitation of forests for charcoal production, shifting cultivation, and encroachment has compromised this goal and led to the loss of forest genetic resources, severely threatening 80 species, now included on the IUCN red list. These species have to be protected by restoring their native habitats. However, as an additional safeguard, it is equally important to conserve them in-situ and establish ex-situ conservation.
The APFNet funded the project “Integrated Forest ecosystem management planning and demonstration project in Greater Mekong Subregion (Myanmar),” which will conserve forest genetic resources ex-situ through the establishment of an arboretum while also conserving species in-situ by rehabilitating forest ecosystem services using integrated watershed forest management in the Paung Laung Watershed.

Project featured topics
Conservation of forest genetic resources 

This project is establishing Myanmar’s first arboretum inside the Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Yezin, Nay Pyi Taw, central Myanmar, building upon an existing medicinal garden and secondary natural forest (see Fig.1). The purpose of the arboretum is to collect and improve forest genetic resources for sustainable management and forest biodiversity conservation. In addition, the arboretum will be a centre for education on forestry and environmental awareness, serving as a demonstration site for different forest landscapes.

The 25-ha arboretum is divided into two zones, a natural conservation zone (based on the existing secondary natural forest) and a thematic garden. The 9-ha natural conservation zone will enhance natural forest succession by promoting natural regeneration and enrichment planting of key native species to improve species composition and density. The seedlings are sourced from an upgraded nursery in the FRI compound. The 16-ha thematic garden is subdivided into multiple smaller zones: an aquatic garden; medicinal plants and bamboo; precious trees; economic species; rare and endangered trees; and ornamental trees.

The arboretum uses modern construction and management methods, including constructing a road system, an irrigation system, and a tree identification system (with labelling and barcoding) and establishing a forest-fire control line. The development will demonstrate best management practices to conserve plant species and ecosystems. Besides, the project is establishing additional learning sites, such as an education centre and a greenhouse (see Fig.2).

Fig. 1  FRI aboretum layout and zoning plan

Fig. 2 Construction of the Greenhouse in Arboretum (left) and Construction of the Education Center in the Arboretum (right)
Integrated watershed management of Paung Laung
Located near the Lain Li River, the Paung Laung watershed is one of the important watersheds in Myanmar. Due to the overexploitation of forest products and shifting cultivation, the area has some of the highest forest losses in Myanmar, leading to serious land degradation, soil erosion, low water quality, and poverty. Creating an integrated watershed management plan provides new livelihood alternatives for the community and increases environmental stability.
The project already prepared a management plan using a participatory approach, in which villagers and stakeholders discussed possible strategies and solutions to conserve and promote the sustainable management of the watershed. To enhance social benefits, the project wants to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for local communities, particularly those who practice shifting cultivation, and hence, an agroforestry design, following the locally preferred timber tree species, fruit trees, and bamboo is being established. The bamboo will control soil erosion and degradation at the upper side of the riverbank. At the same time, fruit trees can provide immediate benefits to the local community for daily food consumption as well as income by selling fruits at the market. Given the abundant market supply of fresh fruits, the project is also providing food processing machines and training to preserve the fruits, creating new products and market opportunities. Together, rehabilitation and livelihood improvement activities will reduce soil erosion, deforestation, and forest degradation while ensuring no one gets left behind.

Project Outcomes
The 25-ha arboretum which aims to collect and conserve the forest germplasm has been established. The project also has completed the main construction such as building an education centre, and greenhouse, planting trees in the thematic garden and constructing accessory facilities such as trails and roads. By implementing the arboretum, important genetic resources from throughout the country will be conserved.
As for Leinli village, with project funding, a grinder machine has already been provided to the village alongside training of twenty local farmers to understand turmeric powder processing and marketing, further training courses on the relevant topics of integrated watershed management for young researchers, local leader, local officials, and local farmers will follow. This activity is also in line with the national priority not only to conserve the critical watershed area but also to promote small and medium enterprises for forest-dweller communities who live near or around watershed areas. The project supported forest tree seedlings as well as cash crops and fruit trees for local farmers. This is also being achieved through listening to the suggestions of the local communities. For instance, elephant foot yam is a cash crop that was planted as an intercrop in the agroforestry demonstration plots and enables farmers to make an income as the trees need years to bear fruits or to be harvested (fig.3). Applying an improved fallow system through agroforestry design contributed to reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and less sedimentation.  The introduction of forest trees in cropland also facilitated the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation from shifting cultivation and increased the long-term sustainability of productivity compared with the pure crop farm.
Fig.3 Establishment of Agroforestry Supporting seedlings – Petai (stink) bean (Parkia speciosa), Burmese rosewood (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), jack fruit, lime, bamboo, and Crop seedlings (turmeric, elephant foot yam, tuber)
Demonstrating sustainable watershed management practices is a stepping stone for the forestry sector of Myanmar in finding solutions to environmental as well as socio-economic issues in the watershed areas. The project will contribute to poverty reduction, which is one of the country’s current priorities, by enhancing local people’s capacities to promote their livelihood through training and sustainable forest management practices.
Project sustainability includes the outcomes of the project will not only greatly support the forestry sector of the country and region by conserving genetic resources, exploring and demonstrating the proper forest management system for the sustainability of watersheds but also help policymakers to develop guidelines and regulations for the management of watershed areas in a sustainable manner.

 Project documents
Project Proposal     

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Supporting Myanmar to conserve forest germplasm resources and restore forest ecosystem services