30 Sep 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Mandalay Region's Sont Ye Lake in Kyaukse township and Paleik Lake in Tada-U will be designated as protected wetlands to conserve them and regulate development, a senior regional official said.

U Myo Thit, regional minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, said his office will soon meet with local groups, residents and non-governmental organisations to discuss the plan and to ensure technical support and effective management.

"We need to hold a meeting to discuss the details," he said.

Wetland ecosystems provide a range of products and services for people through rivers, streams, freshwater lakes, marshes, seasonally flooded plains, and estuaries with extensive mangrove swamps.

At least 10 wetland areas need conservation in central Myanmar, including Sont Ye Lake, Pyu Lake, Paleik Lake, Manaw Lake, and Taungthaman Lake, said U Thein Aung, chair of the Myanmar Bird and Nature Society.

Filling in the lake for settlement and farming, excessive extraction of lotuses, littering, and lack of environmental conservation knowledge among residents are causing the severe degradation of Sont Ye Lake, according to Ma Thiri Dawei Aung of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association.

"We saw the west side of Sont Ye Lake being filled in for settlement. Also, some people are hunting migratory birds at Paleik Lake," she said. "Mandalay is an important place for migratory birds that have travelled many miles. It is convenient for them, as there are many rivers, lakes and trees. If these things don't exist anymore, the wetland can go extinct."

Wetlands play an important part in the ecosystem by replenishing underground water, preventing the intrusion of underground salt water, protecting from the wind and natural disasters, reducing the rising sea level, retaining nutrients, providing aqua-cultural products, and providing recreation and nature-based tourism, experts said.

"If the wetlands disappear, the trees and soil that have been underwater for many years will start releasing carbon, and the amount could be greater than that produced by deforestation, U Thein Aung said. – Translated