Biodiversity Conservation in a Changing Climate: A Review of Threats and Implications for Conservation Planning in Myanmar
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High levels of species richness and endemism make Myanmar a regional priority for conservation. However, decades of economic and political sanctions have resulted in low conservation investment to effectively tackle threats to biodiversity. Recent sweeping political reforms have placed Myanmar on the fast track to economic development—the expectation is increased economic investments focused on the exploitation of the country’s rich, and relatively intact, natural resources. Within a context of weak regulatory capacity and inadequate environmental safeguards, rapid economic development is likely to have far-reaching negative implications for already threatened biodiversity and natural-resource-dependent human communities. Climate change will further exacerbate prevailing threats given Myanmar’s high exposure and vulnerability. The aim of this review is to examine the implications of increased economic growth and a changing climate within the larger context of biodiversity conservation in Myanmar. We summarize conservation challenges, assess direct climatological impacts on biodiversity and conclude with recommendations for long-term adaptation approaches for biodiversity conservation.
KeywordsMyanmar Climate change Economic development Protected areas Biodiversity Threats
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s engagement in capacity building and conservation implementation in Myanmar since the 1980s has been made possible through cooperation with the Ministry of Forestry, Myanmar. We are grateful for long-standing support of our work in Myanmar by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Blue Moon Fund, Panthera, Arcus Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. We acknowledge the WCS Myanmar Program GIS staff and LiLing Choo for assistance with the figures. We would like to further recognize the support of the Economic Development Board of Singapore and three anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the manuscript.
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