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" Your ecotourism partner in Myanmar "

 

International Year of Ecotourism (IYE)

Ecotourism Seminar ( Sponsor by SST Tourism )

1. SST's ecotourism seminar
2. TIES's Chaing Mia seminar
3. Hiking and Mountaineering (MHT)
4. WTO's seminar in Yangon
5. WTO's seminar in Bagan
6. Marine Ecotourism seminar

Myanmar Ecotourism Development (Chiang Mai)

Myanmar has some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world: pristine beaches, majestic mountains, tConference, Chiang Maihick-timbered forests, expansive plains, multiple rivers and lakes, rich delta regions.Within each of these environments is a thriving community of flora and fauna. Until recent population encroachment - a worldwide problem - these areas have been essentially undisturbed. It is our hope to promote a responsible program for the protection of Myanmar natural areas for tomorrow while managing necessary use of the resources today. This management includes the availability of natural areas for eco-tourists. While we are a recent newcomer on the world eco-tourism scene, a group of dedicated men and women in Myanmar are committed to the proper development of our country's ecotourism industry.

Important steps have been taken to start the process of a responsible environmental program, and plans for future programs are in the planning stages. These include: One, educating ourselves about our natural areas and how we may best protect them for future generations while deriving benefits in the present.

In this regard, we at S.S.T have joined various international environmental associations such as The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Oriental Bird Club (OBC), Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division (NWCD), Audubon Society USA, Birdlife International in order to stay abreast of the latest developments on environmental and eco-tourism issues. We are amassing a library of books and journals dedicated to conservation and the responsible use of natural resources, and we make this material available to all interested persons. We network with scientists, eco-tourism colleagues, birders, tour organizers, and naturalists throughout the world in an exchange of information relevant to our cause. We attend conferences and seminars dealing with conservation and work closely with educators, forestry service personnel, scientists, and ordinary citizens in an attempt to formulate sensible, workable eco-tourism programs. We stay in close harmony with hotelmanagers, landowners, and other persons upon whom we must rely for services to formulate and implement sound eco-tourism facilities and practices.

We are especially open to input from qualified people and organizations on how best to carry out responsible eco-tourism in Myanmar. We feel lucky to be involved at the beginning of our country's development of our unique environment in a way that will be of use for the people of today while preserving benefits for people of the future. It is at this time a learning procesDadtawcheik Waterfallss for us, and we shall endeavor to continue our efforts to learn in order to give this task its worthy stewardship.Point two, we are striving to educate others in our country and encouraging responsibility toward nature by all of our citizens. We believe that educating children on the care and use of natural areas is essential for future protection of the environment. We have instigated programs whereby we work with teachers in local schools to make students environmentally aware and to involve them in environmental programs on a personal level, such as litter clean up, birding forays, and nature lectures.

Thirdly, we are in the process of establishing bird and wildlife sanctuaries with private landowners, as well as acquiring land ourselves, which will be dedicated to conservation efforts. These preserve projects are not only for the protection and benefit of the animals and their habitats, but they are also to give access to areas of abundant wildlife for the enjoyment of our people and visitors while helping local citizens explore tourist-related entrepreneurial possibilities in the vicinity of such sanctuaries.

A case in point is a project we have underway with Orchard Farms, a 5000+ acre agricultural operation in the Delta Region of Myanmar. Primary crops at OF are rice and fish, though some bananas and vegetables are produced as well. S.S.T has organized a cooperative effort with OF to combine the farming operation with a bird sanctuary. OF land is a prime wintering ground for migrating birds, in addition to being home to a number of species of year-round bird residents. Ponds and paddies are habitat to numerous waterfowl. Whore birds frequent water edges and mud flats, while tall grasses and reeds house even more species. Banana trees and shrubs along the wide paddy dikes attract still other types of birds. It is a bird watching paradise. AND, it is accessible from Yangon as a day trip. OF management, through encouragement of S.S.T, has made the farm land off limits to hunters and egg gatherers, thereby helping to insure future bird populations. At our advice, OF has built toilet facilities to accommodate visitors, and they have a pavilion available for shade and rest. Future plans include compiling a bird list of resident species, postcard and souvenir availability, and food vendors all of which will be a boost to the local economy.

The economic impact is also important to guides who lead tours to of, to drivers who transport visitors, and even to the farm itself, which, by charging a nominal entry fee, generates funds to future develop the site with visitor conveniences such as viewing towers, boardwalks over marshlands, etc. These projects, of course, generate even more income for the local people in the way of construction-related works. The land is also made available to scientific researchers.

A positive side effect of such project is the interest it generates among adjacent landowners to participate in similar programs, thereby preserving even more habitat and wildlife while generating ever more economic stability in the region and giving eco-tourists choices. We at S. S. T have plans for acquiring land in other areas where rare or threatened species now exist and to make these areas available for scientific research as well as responsibly develop them for eco-tours, We are currently exploring acquisition of a particularly sensitive habitat for the Sarus Crane and hope to finalize plans for a crane sanctuary within two years. Further, we have underway the development of a lodge at the beautiful resort are of Ngapali Beach. Beach front land has been obtained, and plans for building are being prepared in accordance with guidelines set forth in TIES, SST Tourism Co., Ltd. and SST (Myanmar) Co., Ltd.

In addition to providing eco-friendly hotel accommodations to visitors, we estimate that our lodge will employ 24 people which will directly impact the local economy. Further revenue will be generated for local shops and restaurants, transportation operators, recreational and entertainment services, and a host of other local businesses.

Fourthly, we are in close contact with the Myanmar Forestry Department and other government agencies in an attempt to promote more governmental support for environmental programs. We also work to make existing parks and natural areas more easily available to visitors and to encourage responsible development of facilities to accommodate guests. Great progress has been made in this regard, with foreign visitors gaining access to remote regions of our country, both for research and for recreation.

These include tours we have organized to Hkakaborazi, Nagaland, Shan Hills, and Chin state - areas formerly unavailable to outsiders. We have also been successful in guiding clients to Alaungtaw Kathapa, a 620 Squire Miles national park near the India border, and Minsone Taung, home to the endemic star tortoise. But our hope is to have such unique natural areas openly available and equipped with proper facilities to accommodate guests in comfort. At the present, this is not the case, and we dedicate ourselves to this purpose. We have also led expeditions to view the Ayeyarwady River dolphin, an especially unique eco-tourist attraction, and, fortunately, these excursions are convenient as a day trip from Mandalay.

Next, S.S.T tourism has sponsored eco-tourism seminars for the benefit of other guide services, hotel operators, educators, forestry personnel - any interested party committed to , the responsible development of sound practices of eco-tourism in our country. We have featured both local and international speakers at our seminars that have presented a wide range of topics and viewpoints to participants. These seminars are free of charge to any person attending, and we plan to continue making these seminars available. We are fortunate to have been involved in scientific studies by foreign researchers on different projects conducted in Myanmar:
a) Bird studies by John Rappole of the Smithsonian Institute
b) Tea plant research conducted by Tea Culture Survey Team of Japan
c) Tim and Carol Inskipps (Oriental Bird Club) to name a few.

Each of these involvements furthers our knowledge about our natural work and enables us to do a more thorough job of leading eco-tourists on successful tours. Finally, S.S.T is one of the founders of Myanmar Bird & Nature Society, one of the first nature clubs formed in our country. Our society has attracted some of the leading ecologists in our country, as well as the support of many international patrons. Our goal is to educate and involve the people of Myanmar in sound environmental practices, as well as to manage today's use of natural areas in a way that will preserve them for the future.

Some of our members have received grants from world environmental organizations in the furtherance of their work in this area. We have joined forces with the Wildlife Conservation Society to expand natural areas and to better protect habitat and wildlife, while making it available for today's enjoyment.
We, I began my presentation, I now repeat, that we are new at this most serious and important juncture of our country's environmental well being. But we have come a long way in the less than two years since we began our efforts. We understand, of course, that we still have a long way to go, but we are dedicated to the effort. It is our earnest commitment to continue to work toward preservations while promoting sound management for today's usage of Myanmar's natural areas.

Thank you for your kind attention.
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