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Japan – Myanmar cooperation: Japanese assist in surveying Myanmar flora

Myanmar (Burma) is almost twice the size of Japan, but both countries share a distinct north-south polarity. Myanmar itself extends from 9o 53’N to 28o 25’N longitude. From the mangrove forests and coral reefs in the south, to the snow-capped peaks of Mt Hkakabo Radzi (5,881m.) in the north, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Myanmar embraces incredible diversity in both its flora and its fauna. However, no critical studies of the Myanmar flora have been conducted since British botanists carried out plant surveys more than half a century ago. Check-listing plant species is therefore essential for plant conservation in Myanmar.

In an attempt to address this gap, the Makino Botanical Garden of Japan, and its associates, are conducting plant inventory research as a contribution to a Flora of Myanmar. The work of the Makino Botanical Garden is focused in the conservation areas managed by the Forestry Department, which controls 38 wildlife areas, consisting of six national parks, 27 wildlife sanctuaries, two parks, two protected areas and one elephant range.

Myanmar has a huge shortage of resources to support botanical conservation work. The country has neither a herbarium nor a plant information centre. However the National Kandawgyi Garden in Maymyo has collected a large number of orchid species for research and conservation purposes and with support, could become a centre for national inventory work. In recognition of the need for capacity building support, the Makino Botanical Garden’s programme in Myanmar involves cooperation with other partner institutes to help develop the necessary human resources to support a national plant conservation programme.

BGCI (2005) Cuttings, Vol.2(1) 4