Although Karen State has largely been protected from foreign invested development and industrial schemes, or large-scale local exploitation, these threats are likely to rapidly accelerate in the next five years. Hydropower schemes, agriculture and plantation expansion and the development of infrastructure are likely to become considerable threats in the very near future making this a critical time for Karen to implement strategic protected area management and implement direct and effective biodiversity protection mechanisms before high profile species are lost.
Many high biodiversity forests in KNU controlled areas remain unprotected. Several have however been prioritized for protection through consultation with the local NGO KESAN (Karen Social and Environmental Action Network) and the KNU Forestry Department (KFD), both of whom are engaged in and supporting biodiversity conservation.
The identified key ecological zones represent the biological richness of Karen State, vital habitat for critically endangered species like tigers, leopards and elephants.
These areas largely fall within the boundaries of the proposed Salween Peace Park, a bold vision that fosters peace, cooperation, cultural preservation and environmental conservation through a bottom up people centred approach, providing a long-term and sustainable solution to biodiversity management in Karen State.
KWCI is supporting the KFD to establish new protected areas, demarcate existing protected areas and to conduct socialisation and education amongst local communities ensuring buy-in and compliance with protected area management.
With support from Rainforest Trust, the Kaydoh Mae Nyaw Wildlife Sanctuary is the newest area to be designated in KNU controlled territories and provides a refuge for some of the most incredible wildlife occupying Karen State. This Protected Area, expands over 100,000 acres and falls within the proposed Salween Peace Park, building the foundations for a network of community-based sustainable development and conservation initiatives.
Under the management of the KFD, Long-term protection efforts will emphasize community integration, further empowering local Karen people as stakeholders in conservation efforts through regular biological monitoring and development programs. By strengthening community-based conservation efforts of Karen lands, one of the most intact and wildlife-rich ecosystems remaining in all of Myanmar and Southeast Asia will achieve the protection it so urgently needs.
Further expansion and ongoing support of our WPU is essential to ensure maximum coverage of rangers within these high-value forests. The teams also require ongoing training and the supply of equipment and tools to enable them to operate under difficult conditions.
We invite you to support our WPU teams by making a contribution towards their training, equipment and salaries. Your donation will help to keep these rangers in the field and save the lives of the critically endangered species they protect.