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Myanmar (Burma) Conservation Project

Myanmar (Burma)-A World Biodiversity Hotspot Under Threat

Myanmar (Burma) is the most biodiverse country in mainland southeast Asia, home to virtually every habitat apart from true dessert and tundra. From steamy, hot jungles and mangrove forests on golden sandy beaches in the south to the mighty snow-capped Mt. Hkakabo Razi in the north (5, 881 m/ 19, 255ft), southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Myanmar has incredibly diverse ecosystems. Nearly 50% of its area is forested; this is far higher than its neighbours Bangladesh and Thailand. 

However, the environment of this beautiful country is under threat. Logging plagues Myanmar’s rich jungles, pollution threatens its fragile rivers, whilst its plants and animals face unrelenting unsustainable and illegal wild collection. Some areas have seen populations of rare plants and animals crash due to wild collection, even if the local jungle and environment is not yet spoiled. In addition, its flora and fauna remains perhaps the least studied in the northern hemisphere. Many decades of isolation and political turmoil have left its environment neglected, under-studied and underfunded. 

It is for these reasons that Thant Sin Aye, a Burmese junior doctor from Yangon (Rangoon), and Dino Zelenika, owner of Real Escape Travel, decided to start a conservation project and social enterprise in Myanmar. United by a love of nature, conservation and orchids (in which Myanmar is particular rich), they decided to establish a nature reserve and social enterprise in Shan State (eastern Myanmar). This region is incredibly biodiverse, yet also faces large environmental degradation. 

As orchid specialists, we are aware that in terms of ornamental plants, their wild collection stands out in scale and intensity. Many once common orchid species are now so rare that it takes days of trekking into deep jungle to see them. Meanwhile, there are countless permanent stalls selling illegally wild collected specimens. Whilst orchids will be one of the main focus areas, the conservation project will encompass other endangered plants and animals. As well as working with other plant specialists, we also plan to engage specialists in animals, insects, fungi and other areas not in our expertise. 

Our project is open to everyone, with experience not being necessary. All are welcome to visit and help. It is only by uniting and working together that a serious difference can be made to the environment’s plight. There is enough room in the sky for all of our stars to shine brightly. 

Another cornerstone is working with local people and educating them about the importance of the environment, and the consequences should the ecosystem collapse. Engaging local people, but also understanding their worries, desires and needs, is absolute key to long-term conservation success. All Real Escape Travel’s botanical tours to Myanmar will have parts of their profits donated directly to the project, to both help local people and safeguard the precious, disappearing jungle. 

The first acres of our nature reserve have been purchased, and a few local villagers are on board already. To find  out more or to book a tour to Myanmar, please contact us today on info@realescapetravel.co.uk 
Your support is greatly appreciated, and together we can realise a better future for both Myanmar’s people and environment alike.