Integrated Multi-Stakeholder Ecosystem Approach at Inle Lake Based on Zoning Principles and Integration of Ecorestoration and Agrofarming Practices

Implementation Organization: 
Duration of Project: 
12 months

Project Site Location

Inle Lake in Nyaungshwe Township, Taungyi District, Southern Shan State

Background - Problems Addressed and Policy Responses

The Inle Lake, the second largest fresh water lake in Myanmar is now facing climate change challenges. The two key issues that need to be addressed are depletion of water area and deterioration of water quality.Due to climate change conditions, the evidence of water reduction in the lake is getting more visible in April 2010. These issues are emergent threats to the local Intha people of the lake.

Inle Lakeis located in Nyaung–shwe Township, Taung-gyi District, and Southern Shan State. It has been classified as a shallow freshwater lake and its catchment area is about 4000 km2 comprising land systems, ridges, mountains, plains, and basins and altitudes  about 1500 meter above sea level. The lake has been a potential RAMSAR (Conservation on Wetland Association) site as well as Important Bird Area (IBA).In order to protect the rich biodiversity and endemism, the Inle Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary (IWWS) comprising about 700 km2 was established in 1985. In 2010, the Lake was designated as an ASEAN Heritage Site.

The Intha(the people living in and around the lake) are very active farmers on the shores of the lake and surrounding hills/mountains and they are particularly skilled in floating island agriculture. The tourism potential of this lake and the rich Intha Culture surrounding it provides the area a large source of income. The climate change condition has highly affected on Intha, the most vulnerable tribe at the Inle lake.

The evidence of water reduction in the lake is of substantial visibility from the pictures in 2009 compared with April 2010. The quality of water deteriorated as pH values at sampling sites at Inle lake shows an increasing trend with five locations reporting a high pH of above 8.3 and two locations hitting as high as 9.0 and over.

Climate change, pollution, quality and quantity of water are real risks to the environmental well-being and sustainability of the lake.As a consequence to the above mentioned problems, most of the lake shore has been converted into paddy fields, sugar cane plantations, villages and hotels.

Project Outline - Objectives and Activities

The main objective is to engage the five village tracts comprising 31 villages of the project area in biodiversity conservation, sustainable and effective natural resource use and ecorestoration by developing a zoning plan, experimenting “Village Lake Restoration” and promoting organic farming in floating agriculture.

In order to find the solution of the climate change and environmental problem in the Inle Lake, The Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) co-initiated with the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) Inle Lake restoration project entitled, Integrated multi-stakeholder ecosystem framework for Inle Lake  (Myanmar) based on Zoning principles with  Integration of Eco-restoration and Agro-farming Practicesat two study sites in Lake Inle in the recent years. The project was supported under the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Showcase Programme (The APFED showcase programme is designed to support launching of new projects and materialize innovation in policies, technologies and social practices for sustainability through multistakeholder partnerships). The programme is a key and prominent example involving UNEP and its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and a wide range of collaborators supported by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

The following main activies were conducted: 

  • The proposed zoning area was demarcated in the 50, 000 scale UTM map covering two villages. The Zoning Map indicated the 5 different zones according to different degree of activities.
  • Two Village Lake Restoration Team VLRTs were formed and included about 44 and 28 members of each village respectively. The duties of the VLRTs were designed to befit the action plan based on the zoning demarcation. A comprehensive follow-up and cooperation framework with the project personnel was devised.
  • Environmental Education Exhibitions were conducted twice in covering issues and information about Inle Lake environment, pollution , plastic disposal, plants and wildlife, fishes, floating agriculture gardens, environmental impacts on Inle Lake and do’s and don’ts in Inle Lake.
  • The project introduced organic farming in paddy and tomato farms.

The project applied the concept of the Ecosystem-based climate change adaptation that emphasizes the protection and improved management of natural ecosystems of forests, peat-lands, wetlands and lake habitats.

The duties of the VLRTs were designed to befit the action plan based on the zoning demarcation. A comprehensive follow-up and cooperation framework with the project personnel was devised. This framework detailed the project implementation schedule integrated with the following key activity:

      i.  Designing environmental friendly waste management

      ii.  Plant harvesting to clean up parts of the lake and the waterways

     iii.  Patrolling to prevent poaching and illegal extraction of resources

      iv.  Conducting environmental education activities.

There were also some interruptions to the process by intruders like the fishermen and bird-hunters who intend to encroach in their area. However, they are sincere and are quite keen to maintain their land for long-term sustainable use of the natural resources. The introduction of the zoning plan is not only useful to maintain the lake eco-system but also for the villagers with high degree of ownership to protect their neighboring area from encroachment of other people. The sense of ownership would lead them to conserve not only their land but also protect biodiversity and ecosystem of Lake Habitat.

Impacts and Achievements

Traditionally the local Intha gather occasionally for their social ceremonies such as collecting donations during social festivals. There is also continuity to the discussions and actions. This attitude would strengthen the zoning plan to maintain the lake eco-system and ensure food security of the people.

Besides, they also have a chance to manage their land with sufficient group of people. Now they are actively participating in conserving their surrounding area. They also have experiences to conserve their natural environment with VLRT group.

The Intha people traditionally deploy chemical fertilizers to increase tomato production. With knowledge on organic farming they have become aware that their produce creates healthy food and the consumers are also looking for such organic food to lead healthy and long lives and maintain resilience against the pollutants and contamination hazards. The local farming community is the primary consumer themselves. This awareness in favor of organic farming is driven from their concern for health. They realize that they should try to produce eco-food not only for their daily consumption, but for the consumers too. This would lead to an overall eco-system improvement.

Project contributed traditional costumes for local Intha VLRT teams to motivate their social ahesion. Project also contributed two sets of TVs and CD-players for Intha of In-U and Si-tha villages for getting more knowledge of climate change and environmental conservation from media. Project built a bird-watching house to create ecotourism for Intha people. This house is also used for education centre and meeting room for local Intha villagers.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the project most beneficial to these people is the “sense of ownership” to conserve their land by themselves. Local Intha people are empowered to manage their peatland for sustainable use. They participated to draw map and formulate future conservation plan by participatory ways. Moreover, project created teamwork spirit in conserving their lake habitat. It is the best way of climate change adaptation by eco-system based conservation. Project introduced organic farming to produce healthy food for local Intha people and to secure food-security in Inle area.

Future Challenges

According to the results from the project, climate change adaptation with conservation programs should be emphasized not only in the target area but also be done so in integration with the surrounding area. This is imperative as the lake ecosystem is closely related in the watershed area. Cooperation of Community Based Organization CBO is an important key player in climate change adaptation program in accordance with the empowerment of the people decision in natural resources management. Organic fertilizer is a more expensive mean (and requires complicated steps for yielding success) compared to chemical fertilizers. Therefore, more technology and market research are needed to successfully adopt the utilization of organic farming. As there persists a high demand for energy consumption in and around the area, it is imperative that there should be an introduction program of alternative energy sources and efficient stoves in the area.

Contact Info
Full name: 
Muang Muang Pyone
Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA)
951 527175 (Office), 951 665706 (Residence)
A/6-2, Anawyahta Housing Hledan, Ward No.2 Kamayut Township, Yangon
FInal Report, Myanmar 2010.pdf3.16 MB
BANCA_APFED report photo, Myanmar 2010.pdf782.65 KB
Copyright 2011 APFED Facility Secretariat.