Given Myanmar’s rapid economic development in recent years, the Chindwin Basin faces unplanned and unmanaged changes occur­ring at accelerated, and unprecedented rates. This haphazard de­velopment delivers unforeseen consequences to biodiversity and to the communities that depend on the Chindwin’s ecosystems for their livelihoods.

Economic development in the basin has resulted in the expansion of urban areas, agriculture and mining, leading to an increase in deforestation. Water quality is deteriorating due to contamination by unregulated and environmentally unsound mining operations along the river.

Climate change is another key factor affecting biodiversity in the Chindwin River Basin. In the short term, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as cyclones, droughts, floods and heat waves is in­creasing. Myanmar ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries in Asia to the effects of climate change. Species and their habitats, both within and outside nationally protected areas, are at risk due to ongoing physical overexploitation. The protected area system in Myanmar needs a comprehensive review and strengthening to ensure habitat conservation and biodiversity protection.

These two policy briefings explore the main threats to biodiversity and the challenges to biodiversity conservation in the Chindwin River Basin in Myanmar. The briefings point to the policy gaps in order to undertake effective biodiversity and environmental protection in Myanmar.