Talk Integrating ecosystem services and wildlife into road planning in Myanmar: the case of the Dawei road
  • Hanna Helsingen
    Bio statement : Hanna Helsingen is a political scientist with a focus on environmental policy and currently leads the work on green economy for WWF Myanmar with a strong focus on sustainable infrastructure. Hanna has previously worked at IUCN in Switzerland, supporting the IUCN policy cycle. Other experiences include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva providing field support to the Afghanistan Programme and UNEP in New York, following environmental issues at the UN General Assembly and improving environmental sustainability at the UN headquarters. Previous field studies include water scarcity and religion in Jordan and on the impact of deforestation on endangered species in Ecuador. Hanna holds a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, United States as well as a bachelor degree in Political Science from Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Country : MM
    Contact :
    Website :
  • Nirmal Bhagabati
    Bio statement :
    Country : US
    Contact :
    Website :

Poorly planned linear infrastructure can have many negative impacts, degrading essential benefits that people in Myanmar derive from their natural environment and biodiversity. The Dawna Tenasserim Landscape in southern Myanmar is one of the last large intact forest landscapes in the region, harboring a rich array of wildlife. The forest blocks in Tanintharyi link two forest blocks in Thailand, the Western Forest Complex and Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex. Establishing an ecological corridor would support wildlife and ecosystem services, critical to the well-being of people in the area. The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and its planned road link will cut across the Tenasserim Hills connecting Dawei with Bangkok, via Kanchanaburi. If not planned and constructed thoughtfully by taking into account the impacts on nature and society, this area stands to lose much of its wildlife and ecological integrity, with serious consequences for the well-being of local people and Myanmar’s economy. To address this issue, a tool called InVEST was used to assess the natural capital of the area and the ecosystem services they provide: carbon, water yield and soil retention. This information was used to show how the road impact but also depend on ecosystem services and scenarios of land use change scenarios show how the provision of these services could change. Species expert opinion and local data was used to model species corridors in order to inform decisions on design and location of bridges and culverts along the Dawei road that could be adapted to accommodate various species. The findings highlight a number of environmental issues from the planned road, both direct and indirect but also identify measures, including wildlife crossings that can mitigate these impacts. The work on the Dawei road can help inform national transport planning in Myanmar as well as the rest of South East Asia. As Myanmar’s transport infrastructure develops and comes closer to forests and key biodiversity areas (KBAs), it is critical that ecosystem services and wildlife are taken into account in planning, design and construction of roads and railways.

linear infrastructure, wildlife crossings, ecosystem services, natural capital, ecological corridor, Myanmar