Gulf of Mottama Wetland more than triples in size as newest Ramsar site

Photo Birds rest at Moe Yun Gyi wildlife sanctuary and wetlands resort in Bago Region in February 2017. The sanctuary was the first of Myanmar’s six Ramsar sites. Photo - EPA

03 Feb 20 - Source: Myanmar Times - The Gulf of Mottama Wetland conservation area has been expanded from 42,500 hectares to 161,030 hectares after its adjacent area was declared the sixth Ramsar Site in Myanmar on Sunday.

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established by UNESCO that came into force in 1975.

The declaration came in time for the annual celebration of World Wetlands Day on Sunday.

The Gulf of Mottama Wetland at the mouth of the Sittaung River is considered a unique estuarine mudflat environment that is home to a great variety of flora and fauna.

According to Ramsar, the gulf has a tidal range of between six and seven metres. Its mouth, which is around 100 kilometres wide, narrows into a funnel-shaped bay to produce a powerful bore phenomenon that can reach heights of over a metre on spring tides in the upper estuary.

As a result, the tidal mudflats of the gulf are among the largest in the world.

The gulf supports a large number of species, including marine fish, invertebrates and up to 150,000 migratory waterbirds in the non-breeding season.

Among the birds inhabiting the area is perhaps more than half of the remaining global population of the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus).

The gulf also supports thousands of local and regional people by providing fish.

A local conservation group, the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), wanted the entire gulf to be designated a Ramsar site.

The new coverage would be broadened to include the area from Thaton and Paung townships in Mon State to Kawa and Thanatpin townships in Bago. The extended areas have rich water resources and special ecosystems.

Other Ramsar sites in Myanmar are Indawgyi and Moe Yoon Gyi lakes and Meinmahla Kyun Lake in Ayeyarwady Region, and Inle Lake in Shan State. Myanmar joined the Ramsar Convention in 2005.

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