Preserving Inle Lake for Future Generations: What Can Myanmar Learn from its Neighbours?

Jun 10, 2014

Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar is a major tourist attraction Photo: UNDP Myanmar

[Taunggyi] How can the Inle Lake and its resources be best managed so that its beauty, culture and biodiversity remain intact? What can national and local level government authorities, civil society, communities living in and around the lake as well as the private sector learn and apply from lake management experiences from around Asia?

Some 80 participants from Myanmar and abroad gathered in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State today at the Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Lake Conservation Management Practices to seek answers to these and other questions relating to the conservation of Inle Lake.

Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar and is a major tourist attraction renowned for its floating gardens, traditional leg-rowed boats and weaving industry. It is home to 400,000 people, including the Innthar community as well as populations of Shan, Bamar and other ethnic groups. Inle lake is also home to endemic fish and birds.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Shan State Minister of Forestry and Mining, H.E U Sai Aik Paung said the situation of the lake had degraded considerably over the past few decades and most of this stemmed from an increase in socio-economic activities.

“The nature of conservation and management of the Inle Lake are long term and ongoing. We need to practice an integrated approach focusing on biodiversity conservation, integrity of the lake environment and livelihood improvement of local communities,” he said.

The Ambassador of Norway, H.E Ann Ollestad said the problems threatening the sustainability of the Inle Lake were diverse but interlinked.

“To solve these problems, a holistic, long term approach is needed. This will require strong leadership and coordinated efforts of all actors involved –government and non government, including the local communities. The cross sectoral nature of the challenges threatening the Inle Lake demand a cross sectoral approach,” she said.

The Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme in Myanmar, Toily Kurbanov noted that the water surface of the lake had shrunk from 104 square miles in 1934 to 63 square miles in 2007.

“Today, we are enjoying the beauty of Inle Lake because generation after generation of Innthar, Danu, Taung Yoe, and Shan ethnic people preserved it for us. Our children may still enjoy it but unless we stop unsustainable exploitation of the lake our grandchildren will only know of it through history books and old Facebook photos postings,” he said.

He joined the Shan State Minister of Forestry and Mining, H.E U Sai Aik Paung and the Norwegian Ambassador H.E Ann Ollestad in urging the workshop participants to learn from the experts from Malaysia, Philippines, India and Japan who are attending the workshop to share their knowledge and experiences.

The workshop provides the stakeholders with an opportunity to learn the other countries’ practices. It will also provide a forum to discuss the possible options for the management of Inle Lake and identify feasible options.

The workshop is organised by UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry and the Shan State Government, with financial support of the Government of Norway. It concludes on June 12. The workshop is attended by senior officials from the Union and State levels; members of Parliament from the Union and State levels; development partners and implementing agencies in the Inle Lake watershed area; civil society organizations and ethnic community groups as well as representatives from the private sector, including the hotel industry.

Contact information

Shobhna Decloitre
Communications Specialist
UNDP Myanmar
shobhna.decloitre@undp.org

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