Myanmar's terrestrial ecosystems: status, threats and conservation opportunities

Murray, Nicholas J., Keith, David A., Duncan, Adam, Tizard, Robert, Ferrer-Paris, Jose R., Worthington, Thomas A., Armstrong, Kate, Hlaing, Nyan, Htut, Win Thuya, Oo, Aung Htat, Zay Ya, Kyaw, and Grantham, Hedley (2020) Myanmar's terrestrial ecosystems: status, threats and conservation opportunities. Biological Conservation, 252. 108834.

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Myanmar is highly biodiverse, with more than 16,000 plant, 314 mammal, 1131 bird, 293 reptile, and 139 amphibian species. Supporting this biodiversity is a variety of natural ecosystems—mostly undescribed — including tropical and subtropical forests, savannas, seasonally inundated wetlands, extensive shoreline and tidal systems, and alpine ecosystems. Although Myanmar contains some of the largest intact natural ecosystems in Southeast Asia, remaining ecosystems are under threat from accelerating land use intensification and over-exploitation. In this period of rapid change, a systematic risk assessment is urgently needed to estimate the extent and magnitude of human impacts and identify ecosystems most at risk to help guide strategic conservation action. Here we provide the first comprehensive conservation assessment of Myanmar’s natural terrestrial ecosystems using the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems categories and criteria. We identified 64 ecosystem types for the assessment, and used models of ecosystem distributions and syntheses of existing data to estimate declines in distribution, range size, and functioning of each ecosystem. We found that more than a third (36.9%) of Myanmar’s area has been converted to anthropogenic ecosystems over the last 2–3 centuries, leaving nearly half of Myanmar’s ecosystems threatened (29 of 64 ecosystems). A quarter of Myanmar’s ecosystems were identified as Data Deficient, reflecting a paucity of studies and an urgency for future research. Our results show that, with nearly two-thirds of Myanmar still covered in natural ecosystems, there is a crucial opportunity to develop a comprehensive protected area network that sufficiently represents Myanmar’s terrestrial ecosystem diversity.

Item ID: 65296
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: collapse risk, IUCN red list of ecosystems, Southeast Asia, risk assessment, tropical ecosystems, protected areas
Copyright Information: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Global Environmental Facility and UNDP (GEF & UNDP), US National Science Foundation (NSF), Helmsley Charitable Trust, Australian Research Council (ARC), (GFMENC & NS) The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Projects and Grants: GEF & UNDP Strengthening Sustainability of Protected Areas Management in Myanmar project GEF #5159, UNDP #5162, NSF NSF 1457702, ARC Australian Discovery Early Career Award DE190100101, ARC LP130100435 & LP170101143, GFMENC & NS International Climate Initiative
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2020 19:18
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 65%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 35%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 10%
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