The Salween Peace Park: a radical, grassroots alternative to development in Karen State

A path has opened for environmental conservationists and rights advocates to strengthen their fight against gold mining and other socially and environmentally destructive projects in the rich forests of Karen State in eastern Myanmar: the Salween Peace Park. The 5,200-square-kilometer Peace Park is a radical initiative to create an indigenous-led sanctuary to protect indigenous cultural heritage and endangered wildlife. Located in the mountainous Mutraw (Hpapun) District, the Salween Peace Park will protect one of Southeast Asia’s last great natural landscapes and its rich biodiversity. “Large-scale gold mining is the opposite of the goals of the Salween Peace Park. It will cause destruction and land conflicts,” said Tee Nya Kyi, a community activist in Mutraw District, an area administered by the Karen National Union. The KNU has been a key partner in the Peace Park initiative.