Myanmar’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015–2020 includes a target and actions to implement Access to genetic resources and Benefit-Sharing.
Biodiversity in Myanmar
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is endowed with some of the most extensive and least disturbed coastal and marine ecosystems in mainland Southeast Asia. The country has a rich variety of habitats and ecosystems, including 14 terrestrial ecoregions and an extensive coastline that accommodates half a million hectares of brackish and freshwater swampland. This coastline supports essential ecological functions and habitats such as spawning, nursery and feeding grounds for aquatic organisms like fish, prawns and other aquatic fauna and flora of economic importance. Available information on species diversity and endemism indicates that Myanmar supports extraordinary plant and vertebrate diversity with levels of endemism that are comparable to other countries in the Indo-Myanmar (Indo-Burma) Hotspot. Myanmar’s forests support a great diversity of timber species that are of very high commercial value and used in furniture and handicraft manufacturing.
This rich ecosystem is however being threatened by the introduction of modern varieties and alien invasive species, hunting, overfishing, forest depletion and degradation, encroachment, forest fires, habitat destruction, climate change, and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. As of 2005, about 50 percent of the total land area was covered by forests, but this has decreased over the years because of human pressure and forest cover changes. Inland water biodiversity has also declined due to increased demand on freshwater resources and drainage of wetlands for agriculture and urbanization. In many parts of the country, exploitation of plants is taking place on a commercial scale and as a result, over 300 of the country’s species are critically threatened and have been red-listed by the International Union on Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Myanmar has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since its entry into force in October 2014. The country’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015–2020 includes a target and actions to implement Access to genetic resources and Benefit-Sharing (ABS). Myanmar participated in the UNEP-GEF ABS capacity development project in 2010–2014, but is yet to establish laws, procedures and guidelines for effective management of its genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
Activities under the UNDP-GEF ABS project are yet to commence. However, the project will support revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the establishment of new laws and legislation as well as the development of instruments and guidelines that would help simply ABS implementation.
Support will be provided to facilitate dialogue, advocacy and partnerships and raise awareness among the different stakeholders to increase understanding, support and positive involvement. Efforts will also focus on the establishment of a modern database that will aid identification and documentation of biodiversity sources in the country and their possible use for commercial and research purposes.