Villagers are spreading conservation awareness by posting signs and holding biodiversity trainings
Local community leaders from villages around Naung Sai Lake near Hukaung Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Myanmar participated in our Biodiversity Heroes Workshop last year. That workshop inspired them to start their own project: conserving the Naung Sai Lake in collaboration with other local community groups (the Naung Sai Lake Conservation Committee, Naga Literature and Cultural Group, and Naga Land Biodiversity Conservation Group).
The project’s ultimate goal is to protect natural resources and biodiversity around the Naung Sai and Naung Yan Lakes.
Recently, they held their own Biodiversity Heroes Workshop, attended by 136 people from the four villages around the lake. During the workshop, they decided to 1) to conduct conservation activities in each village, 2) research the process for establishing community forests, 3) raise awareness about conservation through signboards around the Naung Sai and another lake in the area (Naung Yan) and 4) monitor and evaluate their project activities.
They have already begun raising awareness about global climate change and natural resources management in the four villages and have posted a number of signboards around the lakes. They have also requested that our partner organization in Myanmar, Friends of Wildlife, conduct a full Biodiversity Heroes Workshop for them in the coming year.
Naung Sai Lake and Naung Yan Lake
Both lakes are located in northern Myanmar in the watershed of Hukaung Wildlife Sanctuary. Hukaung Wildlife Sanctuary is primarily set aside for tigers, but is also home to species such as clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, marbled cat, leopard cat, yellow-throated marten, binturong, hog badger, and spotted linsang.
Naung Sai Lake is a one-mile-long natural lake with four villages on its perimeter. Naung Yan Lake is to the north, near the Indian border, and receives many Indian tourists, who refer to the lake as “Mysterious Lake” or “Lake of No Return.” It’s larger than Naung Sai: almost two miles long and over a mile wide.
The area is threatened by deforestation, increasing pollution, and illegal hunting, resulting in decreasing populations of birds and fish.
Conservation training for residents of the 4 villages around the lakes
The training included information about:
- Climate change
- Natural resource management
- Community forests and tree nurseries
- Soil management
- The role of research and natural resource mapping
136 community members in total participated in the trainings (8% of the local population). 20% of the participants were women, and many local leaders attended as well. Because so many people attended, awareness can easily spread to all of the area’s 1,800 residents through word of mouth.
20 of the villagers who participated in the training led by the NLBCG posted awareness signboards in each village and around both Naung Sai and Naung Yan lakes. The signs encourage forest protection (for example “no littering”).
The villagers also designed a sustainable litter basket that can be made quickly from bamboo. They placed these around the lake in places that people visit frequently.
Research into Community Forest Options
The community members also looked into their options for officially establishing a community forest. Unfortunately the government does not have guidelines available. But the interest is there, and it’s increasing thanks to the work of these local conservation leaders.
Community forests have had a huge protective impact on biodiversity in other areas we’ve worked. These new local groups have laid the groundwork by gathering local support for conservation and residents want to reduce shifting cultivation in their forests and explore alternative income sources.
Congratulations to our partner Friends of Wildlife, and to the local groups (Naung Sai Lake Conservation Committee, Naga Literature and Cultural Group, and Naga Land Biodiversity Conservation Group) for all they’ve accomplished so far!