Dynamics of dry tropical forests, local communities, and protected areas: A case study from Myanmar

Authors: Melissa Songer*, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Melissa Songer, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Myint Aung, Friends of Wildlife, Peter Leimgruber, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Grant Connette, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Human-Environment Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Dry tropical forests, protected areas, local communities, ecosystem services, land cover change, biodiversity, Myanmar
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Dry tropical forests are less common, more degraded, and more threatened than rain forests throughout the world, yet receive significantly less conservation and research efforts. Though tropical dry forests have lower levels of biodiversity, they are important habitats for many endangered species, have unique ecological and physiological adaptations, and provide essential ecosystem services to the people living nearby. Local communities are economically and culturally connected to these forests and conventional protected area strategies of restricted use may not be effective or equitable. We examined protection strategies, international and government involvement, deforestation patterns, and resource use by local communities living near two dry forest protected areas in Myanmar (Chatthin and Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuaries) to evaluate outcomes for forest and biodiversity. Both sanctuaries face intense pressures from surrounding communities and provide important refugia for dry tropical forest species. Based on remote sensing analysis, interview surveys, and environmental histories of these areas we evaluate results of decades of conservation efforts and recommend actions for developing more sustainable and long-term conservation of these ecosystems in balance with the needs of human communities.

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