Campaigners in the Tanintharyi region of southern Myanmar have urged international donors to support community conservation efforts, rather than what they see as a top-down approach that excludes indigenous groups.
Supporters of the Conservation Alliance of Tanintharyi (CAT) are opposing a $21 million development project, called Ridge to Reef, backed by the Myanmar government, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI).
In a report released on Friday, CAT documents resistance in local communities to the imposition of protected areas, as well as their ongoing efforts to protect fish breeding grounds and water catchment areas, along with establishing their own protected community forests.
The proposed Ridge to Reef project would cover about 35% of the Tanintharyi region and aims to protect some of the best preserved lowland evergreen forests in Southeast Asia. It would also include some of the largest remaining mangrove forest in mainland Southeast Asia, along with about 800 islands.