Environment


People living along the Salween River are calling for a review of plans to build mega-dams on the river ahead of an official visit to Thailand by Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi this week.

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Since its suspension five years ago, the $3.6 billion Myitsone hydropower project has come to symbolize the bad old days in Myanmar.

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On a recent afternoon in May, the farmers of Ohn Titbin Village Tract were tending to their betel nut and rubber plantations when a loud blast erupted at the foot of Kalama Mountain and shook the ground.

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Floods triggered by continuous heavy rainfall have destroyed thousands of acres of farmland in Pegu Division this week.

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The free-flowing Salween is the last big undammed river in Southeast Asia, home to a flurry of endangered species including tigers and clouded leopards, writes Tom Fawthrop in Hpa-an, Karen State, Myanmar. And thanks to support from both the indigenous Karen people, and senior officials in China who see the huge ecotourism potential of the river and its dramatic gorge, it could just stay that way.

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At least six people have been killed and thousands left homeless in flood disasters across Arakan State as this year’s monsoon sweeps the region.

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China’s refusal to deliver on pledged aid for the construction of a tunnel across Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River has left the Irrawaddy Division’s irrigation department millions of dollars in debt and hundreds of thousands of people at risk of flooding in what could be yet another case of Beijing’s troubling record on infrastructure in Southeast Asia, an official told The Irrawaddy.

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The Washington-based conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has applauded reports this week that Burma’s government intends to shut down a market notorious for selling illegal animal parts in Shan State’s semiautonomous Mong La region.

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About 500 local residents protesting against rock quarrying near Oke Tar Dar Village in Paung Township, Mon State by the Long Life Aggregate Mining Company Limited marched to the company’s offices on 5 June.

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Legal action will be taken against three companies after they were found to be mining gold excessively and illegally in the Zin forest Reserve in Kantbalu Township, Shwebo District, according to lawmakers and local people.

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As Burma’s President Htin Kyaw called for an end to poaching and the illegal trade in endangered species, conservationists say the country is fast becoming a major trafficking route for wildlife products entering the Chinese market.

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Authorities have told Frontier they are planning to close down the infamous Mong La marketplace, a regional hub for the illegal wildlife trade, after President U Htin Kyaw said he would not accept unlawful wildlife trafficking in Myanmar.

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The Burmese government’s proposed logging ban must be matched with robust implementation, stressed environmentalists, following the announcement from the Minister of Resources and Environmental Conservation Ohn Win that a nationwide ban would be in full effect before the end of Burma’s fiscal year, in April 2017.

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The Norwegian state owned company, Statkraft Norfund Power Invest or SN Power, concluded an MOU for a project known as the Middle Yeywa dam with the previous government in July 2014. This dam is set to be built in a location that has been identified as “seismically hazardous” because it is close to the Kyaukyan fault line.

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As conservationists welcome reports that the government is considering a one-year national logging ban, sections of the timber industry have been preparing for such a move for months.

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Aung Kywe remembers how he had to stand by helplessly last year when massive floods in the wake of Cyclone Komen affected Ayeyarwady Delta and destroyed half of his 14 acres of paddy.

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June Cement Industry started building a cement factory in the Pyar Taung area of Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State without informing the Mon State Government according to their Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Minister.

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Kyaukpyu residents demanded that Arakan State government ministers help reduce the suffering caused by the Shwe Gas Project pipeline being built by the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

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For much of the past two decades Maung Aye’s life has revolved around a daily routine that mixes the hope of finding sudden riches with constant danger and back-breaking work.

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A mining company in Tenasserim Division is filing a defamation case against the author of an essay about a fish lamenting the destruction of a local creek.

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