Introducing Free-Flowing Rivers Methodology in Myanmar


On 12th of July 2018, World Wildlife Fund Myanmar (WWF – Myanmar) organized a Free-Flowing Rivers Workshop in Yangon.

Free-Flowing Rivers can be quoted when they are connected in four following ways.

1Longitudinally, a river should be connected between upstream and downstream.

2. Laterally, the ability of a river could be swelled and shrank rise and fall naturally with connecting to its floodplains.

3. Temporally, the flow of river should be changed intermittently.

4. Vertically, a river could contribute water to underground aquifers and the atmosphere or draw water.

Defining Free-Flowing Rivers

 The reason why WWF would like to focus free-flowing rivers in Myanmar is because the Ayeyarwady and Salween are the only remaining long free-flowing rivers in all of Southeast Asia. Every single other long river in Southeast Asia has had its connectivity impacted.

Free-flowing rivers balanced with development

The FFR analysis is a technical methodology specifically to evaluate the nature of flow and regulation in a river. The FFR analysis is not against dams. Instead it is hoped the methodology will help decision makers identify which rivers to leave free-flowing and which to develop. This methodology provides a range of dam development scenarios and how they effect the free-flowing status of a river.

Key messages from the workshop

The FFR analysis cannot offer decisions about which rivers should remain free or not. The tool can be used to help prioritize conservation areas by better understanding the trade-offs that exist.

For example, better decisions about siting and design of dams is possible by mapping and modelling what these impacts tend to be. The FFR analysis can support this modeling.

In Myanmar data is scarce, but the methodology can be carried out with global data at first, and later improved with locally generated data.

Proposed outcomes from FFR in Myanmar

The mapping and identification of free-flowing rivers can bring together existing and new information into a common database and framework about the health and values of rivers and streams in Myanmar.

It can provide

  • A baseline for monitoring rivers
  • Prioritization of iconic free-flowing rivers for conservation
  • Identify new opportunities for further analysis
  • Support and integration with strategic hydropower assessments in Myanmar.

For more information on free-flowing rivers generally: http://free-flowing-rivers.org/

For more information on free-flowing rivers in Myanmar, please contact Hannah Baleta (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Michele Thieme (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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