The Irrawaddy

Chin State to Revive Buran Trees to Boost Tourism

A Buran tree in bloom on the way to Mount Victoria, Chin State, Myanmar.

MANDALAY — The Chin State government is planning to revive the Buran trees (Rhododendron arboreum), the state flower of Chin State, in order to promote tourism in the region.

The Burans are small evergreen trees with bright red flowers. The Chin State government and locals say the number of these trees in the area has declined due to negligence, human error and deforestation.

“They have been neglected for many years. There isn’t a culture of valuing these trees and locals have cut them down for wood and their flowers for many years,” said Salai Isaac Khen, the state minister of municipal works, electricity and industry.

The minister said the Chin hills were once covered with the Buran trees, especially in the Kanpetlet, Tedim, Mindat and Falam regions. The decision to plant more trees follows a noticeable decline.

When the Buran flowers blossom, the Chin hills become picturesque, attracting visitors. Since the Burans are unique to this region in Myanmar, visitors flood Chin State from November until March, especially Mt. Victoria in Kanpetlet Township, to see the flowers, birds and butterflies.

Apart from the Buran trees, the Chin State government is also planting more cherry trees, primarily in the Kanpetlet region, with a plan to hold flower festivals in the future.

“We intend to hold both Buran and cherry blossom festivals in the near future to promote tourism in our state,” said Salai Isaac Khen.

“Tourism is the best way to develop our state, so we are promoting that while also conserving nature,” he added.

Chin State is the country’s most impoverished state. Many of the natural areas remain untouched, due to poor transportation and infrastructure. The state government hopes the natural beauty will attract adventurers and tourists.

The heart-shaped Rih Lake in Falam Township and Mount Victoria are two of the popular tourist sites in the area currently.

Chin State can often only be reached after monsoon season, as many roads are destroyed after heavy rain and landslides.

According to government officials, 50 percent of the state budget is now being used to reconstruct and reinforce the roads, to make them operational in all seasons.

“To develop tourism in our state, transportation plays a key role. It is improving, and hopefully our region will be more developed in the next five years,” Salai Isaac Khen said.

“In addition, to have sustainable tourism, we need to educate locals and the visitors in regards to responsible tourism. We need to teach them not to pick flowers, chop trees, or litter. To develop the area, we need everyone’s cooperation,” he added.

According to government officials, visitors to Mount Victoria tripled last year. As a consequence, many Buran tree branches were broken when visitors took them for their flowers. Local government officials will issues requests and warnings in the future.