The Inle Lake landscape in Myanmar’s Shan State is a historic, cultural and biodiversity hotspot. Protected as an ASEAN Heritage Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Inle Lake is nestled in a mountain valley on the Shan Plateau. Its wetlands support many endemic fish, snails and plants species. Seven ethnic communities call the Inle Lake home: Intha, Pao, Bamar, Taung Yo, Danu, Palaung and Shan. They rely on the lake and its surrounding forests to sustain their lives and cultures. To protect Inle Lake’s natural diversity and the lives and cultures of its people, investments are needed to address increasing tourism, mitigate and adapt to climate change, stop environmental degradation and build the foundations for democracy and a lasting peace.
Inle Lake by numbers
Total area of landscape: 209,648 hectares
Forest cover: 60 percent
Poverty rate: 25 percent
Entry points for investment to achieve the SDGs
Formalizing local communities' rights to manage forests
Fostering multi-stakeholder participation in establishing zones and guidelines for sustainable management of natural resources
Supporting the development of inclusive forest-based business opportunities for women and other marginalized groups
The Inle Lake landscape in Myanmar and the people and biodiversity it shelters are threatened by increasing pressure on natural resources, insecure tenure rights and conflict. Empowered local communities must lead the sustainable development and the protection of the forested landscape, and at RECOFTC we have the vision, skill, relationships and experience to support their leadership. Since 2014, we have helped the people of Inle Lake to build their capacity to secure their land tenure and resources rights, govern and manage their lands and improve their livelihoods. Today, there are tremendous new opportunities to further support local communities, government, civil society and the private sector to overcome these threats. We offer three entry points for action that will foster prosperous communities and a thriving landscape by capitalizing on the ambitions of the local people, our experience in Inle Lake and the work of many other organizations. Through investments in Inle Lake we can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. By 2030, we can lift more than 5,000 people out of poverty, empower 500 women to take active roles in decision-making, strengthen the capacity of more than 5,000 people to adapt to climate change and foster sustainable management of 10,000 hectares of forests. We can improve market access for 20 community-based enterprises through business partnerships. And by securing land rights, we can enable Myanmar to foster good forest governance and mitigate and adapt to climate change.
- Through landscape degraded and unsustainable use of water, Inle Lake has shrunk to half its original size.
- Rising temperatures are increasing the intensity of storms and causing flooding and landslides leading to fatalities and displacement of communities.
Annual income per capita is less than 1,500 US dollars.
Subsistence agriculture and limited market opportunities leave local people dependent on natural resources and vulnerable to climate disasters.
- The government has reached only 32 percent of its 2031 target of establishing community forests.
- The Inle Lake Management Authority gives rights for local people to have a say on conservation projects, but participation is limited.
- Conflicts over natural resources persist despite multi-stakeholder platforms such as the Inle Lake Management Authority.
- Women are under-represented in Community Forest Management Committees, occupying eight percent of leadership and decision-making positions.