We draw upon insights from biodiversity conservation experts and SEI’s past work on biodiversity in the basin area. We conducted nine key informant interviews with conservationists from government, civil society and international non-profit organizations in northern Myanmar as well as reviewed the literature on community-based conservation practices in Myanmar. 

The principles of community-based natural resource management based on the involvement of local people in planning, decision making, implementing and monitoring of conservation efforts can help conserve the Chindwin River basin’s biodiversity while bringing sustained benefits to communities.

This brief makes the following policy recommendations:

  • Enhancing Coordination and Governance 

Greater collaboration between federal and subnational governments and line agencies can improve knowledge and resource sharing between different levels of government to overcome technical and financial constraints. To enhance collaboration, subnational line agencies should look to existing platforms that support participatory governance and interdepartmental coordination, such as the Chindwin River Basin Committee, to promote community-based natural resource management. 

  • Prioritizing Biodiversity for Enhanced Livelihoods 

The government’s international and domestic laws and policies provide a solid substantive and procedural foundation for protecting nature and involving communities in conservation. The central and subnational governments can leverage these laws to prioritize biodiversity conservation measures that sustain the livelihoods of communities in the Chindwin River Basin. 

  • Collaborative Conservation 

Local communities in the Chindwin River Basin need incentives to collaborate on biodiversity conservation. Subnational governments can provide them with opportunities and compensation for participation in decision-making, capacity building and implementation of biodiversity projects. Their greater involvement would lead to longer-lasting effectiveness in preserving the environment. 

  • Recognition of Customary Rights 

Central and subnational governments should recognize customary uses of natural resources as many of Myanmar’s diverse ethnic groups rely on traditional uses of natural resources to support their livelihoods. The recognition of customary land uses, and rights is critical to ensure the participation of these groups in community conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage.