Understanding, resolving environmental issues can help save Inle Lake

The government has drawn up long-term action plans to preserve Inle Lake, which was designated as Myanmar’s first Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme in 2015.
The lake is a natural resource, which helps form an ecological connect between living things and nature, and attracts local and foreign travelers.Hence, we must take measures to prevent the degradation of the lake, which is spread over an area of 63 square miles.
There are three main factors responsible for the degradation of Inle Lake: deforestation around the lake, increased deposition of silt and sediment in the lake, and degradation of water quality in the lake.
The lake received 36.5 inches of rainfall on average annually from 1992 to 2016. Meanwhile, 29 creeks are flowing into it.
The lake has shrunk in size not only due to low rainfall, but also because of a buildup of sediment, with an estimated 310,000 metric tons of silt entering the lake each year from the creeks flowing through the watershed area.
The conservation and management of Inle Lake involves long term and ongoing measures, which are crucial to practice an integrated approach focusing on biodiversity conservation, preserving the integrity of the lake environment, and improvement of the livelihoods of local communities.
Regulations against felling of trees in a 20-mile radius of Inle Lake must be strictly enforced, and afforestation efforts must be made in the areas. Efforts must also be made to prevent the flow of silt and sediment from four major rivers into the lake.
The local authorities and the Irrigation Department have been dredging drains and removing sediment every year to conserve the lake.
A balance between active participation of local communities and assistance from key stakeholders is crucial for the conservation of the lake.
Conducting research, raising awareness, and organizing local communities to participate in conservation efforts, and adopting effective tasks every financial year must also be prioritized.
Besides, there is need for monitoring and managing systems to evaluate the progress of conservation efforts.
We would like to urge all stakeholders to pull in the same direction with trust, cooperation, and coordination for environmental sustainability.
It is of paramount importance to address the environmental issues as early as possible and build a systematic, holistic, and long-term approach. This will require strong leadership and coordinated efforts of all stakeholders involved – the government, non-governmental organizations, and local communities.

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