The varied ecosystems within the Chindwin River Basin (CRB) and its natural biodiversity make it one of the most critical hotspots in the Indo-Burma region. Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) in the CRB are increasingly facing threats from development activities, such as commercial logging, mining, and agriculture.
This study applies a mixed approach to assess the level of threat and to quantify key ecosystem services at the basin and KBA levels. A GIS-based Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) approach was used to assess threats from key economic sectors via stakeholder participation. The InVEST model was applied to assess ecosystem services including water yield, sediment retention, nutrient retention, and carbon storage.
The most significant threats to biodiversity in the basin were found to be mining, logging, dam construction, and agriculture. The highest degree of ecosystem services was found in the northern CRB, which is almost completely covered by forest. Overall, 87% of KBAs provide a high degree of ecosystem services. The KBAs were prioritized for conservation based on the threat level and degree of ecosystems provided, as well as in consultation with stakeholders. The results of this study provide a strategic focus for preparing an environment conservation strategy and action plan for the CRB in Myanmar.