Indawgyi Lake Deemed ‘Wetland of International Importance’

By The Irrawaddy 3 February 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s largest lake, Indawgyi in Kachin State’s Mohnyin Township, was designated a “wetland of international importance” on Tuesday, marked globally as World Wetlands Day.

The designation of Indawgyi Lake marked the Burmese government’s commitment to conserve the area, according to a joint statement by the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and the Switzerland-based Ramsar Secretariat.

Ramsar sites are areas listed under the Ramsar Convention, which is the only global environmental treaty designed to address concerns regarding wetland loss and degradation.

“The new Ramsar site will ensure the long-term conservation and wise use of Myanmar’s most important wetland, Indawgyi Lake basin, which is only Myanmar’s second Ramsar site,” Nyi Nyi Kyaw, director general of the ministry’s Forestry Department, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Burma earned its first Ramsar site designation in 2004, at the Moeyungyi wetlands in Pegu Division.

According to research by local conservationists, Indawgyi Lake supports the livelihoods of thousands of people and is also home to a great diversity of water birds, fish and endangered species.

“Despite the good progress for conservation as highlighted by the Ramsar designation, major challenges lay ahead, in particular illegal artisanal gold mining on streams in the watershed, which is causing sedimentation and pollution in the southern part of the lake,” the statement reads.

In addition to topping the list in Burma, Indawgyi is also one of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Asia.