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New Report Highlights Impacts of Military-led Development Strategies in Burma and Urges Reevaluation of Community-based Natural Resource Management

By Burma Environmental Working Group  •  November 5, 2009

A group of organizations concerned about the ongoing rapid destruction of Burma’s natural environment has published a new report which challenges the direction Burma is taking with regard to national development and argues that alternative resource management systems should be considered. The report “Accessible Alternatives: Ethnic Communities’ Contribution to Social Development and Environmental Conservation in Burma” by the Burma Environment Working Group consists of nine case studies that describe a variety of issues related to natural resource management in different parts of Burma, including Arakan, Kachin, Karen and Shan States.

Through this report, the Burma Environment Working Group exposes the harsh impacts that are inflicted on the environment and the livelihoods of ethnic people by the current development path that Burma’s military regime is taking.  Ethnic peoples in Burma have long used traditional natural resource management systems that sustain the environment and on which they depend for their livelihoods.   In recent years, however, militarization, large-scale resource extraction, and infrastructure development have been destroying the natural environment and threatening these local natural resource management systems.  Many local people have had to abandon their homes and livelihoods without compensation and are struggling to survive.

The report also describes positive cases in which community-based projects supported by member organizations of the Burma Environment Working Group have helped revive the natural environment through restoration of traditional natural resource management systems.  “We wanted to draw attention to the knowledge and practices of ethnic communities that ensure sustainable natural resource management,” said Saw Paul Sein Twa, a spokesperson of the Burma Environment Working Group.  “If we want to preserve Burma’s rich environment for our children, the value of traditional natural resource management methods should be recognized widely, and serious efforts should be made now to restore them where they have been destroyed.”

The Burma Environment Working Group will launch the report at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand at 10am on November 5, 2009.

For more information, contact:

Saw Paul Sein Twa (Mobile: +66-817247093, email: pseintwa@yahoo.com
Saw Frankie Abreu (Mobile: +66-899553106, email: franktheera@yahoo.com

Download the report.

About the Burma Environment Working Group (BEWG)

The Burma Environment Working Group (BEWG) is a coalition of environmental organizations and activists with the common goals of protecting Burma’s landscape and natural resources from further degradation; safeguarding traditional livelihoods and indigenous resource management methods; promoting local conservation projects; educating the public of the negative consequences of large-scale development and natural resource extraction projects; and advocating sensible, sustainable, and humane development policies and strong, enforceable environmental laws for Burma’s post-transition period.  The members of the BEWG include EarthRights International, Kachin Development Networking Group, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network, Lahu National Development Organization, Network for Environmental and Economic Development, Pan Kachin Development Society and Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization. Although not a member of BEWG, Arakan Oil Watch contributed to the report “Accessible Alternatives: Ethnic Communities’ Contribution to Social Development and Environmental Conservation in Burma.”

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This post is in: Press Release

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