Myanmar is often cited as the last frontier of global biodiversity in Asia. Out of about 7,000 plant species recorded to date, 1,071 are endemic. It also has a rich wildlife resource which includes over 1,000 species of birds, more than 300 species of mammals and 400 species of reptiles and amphibians. Out of those recorded, species such as the Asian elephant, tiger, thamin deer, Ayeyarwady dolphin, gaur and four species of marine turtles are included in the list of globally endangered species.
Four bird species namely; hooded treepie, white-browed nuthatch, white throated babbler and Myanmar yuhina are endemic. Myanmar also has the most diverse snake fauna in the old world tropics. The country has 68 swallow-tail butterflies so far recorded and ranks the world's fifth richest in this respect. However, 45 species of mammals, 39 species of birds and 36 species of reptiles in Myanmar have been listed as endangered.
7.2 Wildlife Conservation
At present, 18 wildlife sanctuaries and 3 parks totalling 7,731 Km2 or 1.14% of the total area of the country have been established. 8 more sanctuaries have been proposed and this will add 1,281 Km2 to the existing Protected Area System (PAS). There are also six more proposed nature reserves and national parks with a total area of about 13,240 Km2. The short-term goal is to increase the coverage of the PAS to 5% with the long-term objective of increasing it up to 10% as envisaged in the Myanmar Forest Policy (1995). The present forest cover of Myanmar and the current and sustained yields of teak and other hardwoods indicate that the Myanmar Selection System, together with its least destructive logging method, works well and that it also sustains biodiversity to a remarkable extent even in the production areas.
The new Forest Law (1992), in conformity to the Myanmar Forest Policy (1995), focuses on the balanced approach toward conservation and development issues implicit in the concept of sustainable forestry and highlights environmental and biodiversity conservation. Consequently the old " Wildlife Protection Act (1936)" was replaced with the new " Protection of Wildlife, Wildplants and Natural Areas Law" in June 1994 in order to carry out biodiversity and environmental conservation more effectively. Moreover, the Government of Myanmar is also a signatory to the Biodiversity Convention and the Climate Change Convention.
The deltaic and coastal mangroves are the important breeding grounds for aquatic species. They enrich the fishing industries and provide the local people with food, shelter, small timbers, fuelwood and other forest products. This vitally important mangrove ecosystem had degraded alarmingly due to over-exploitation and agricultural encroachment.
Rehabilitation of the deltaic mangroves has therefore been given serious attention. UNDP/FAO initiated their assistance in the delta with the "Feasibility Study on Mangrove Reforestation Project" in 1992 with its follow-up now still on-going. Self-help forest nurseries, nearly 1,000 ha of mangrove plantation and stream bank erosion control measures demonstrate some of the achievement through active participation of the local villagers.