- Why do the Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands matter?
- Threats to Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands
- Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands geographic range
Why do the Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands matter?
Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands are some of the most important and diverse ecosystems on Earth. They are home to countless aquatic species, serve as a natural buffer from floods, protect water sources from contamination, provide economic opportunities for local communities through fisheries and other resources, and provide significant carbon storage. Additionally, they have a huge impact on climate regulation by providing habitats that absorb and release water in order to balance regional rainfall levels. Finally, these wetlands are incredibly beautiful to behold and help enrich the cultural heritage of Myanmar.
Threats to Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands
- Conversion of wetlands to agricultural land - High and sustained demand for land for both commercial and subsistence agriculture is a prominent cause of wetland loss throughout the Ayeyarwady floodplain, with much of this conversion driven by government incentives placed on long-term rice and cash crop production.
- Infrastructure development - Major infrastructure projects within the Ayeyarwady floodplain, such as dams and bridges, increase drainage, reduce water stored in wetlands, fragment habitats and limit fish migration patterns.
- Pollution – Nutrient runoff from commercial farms exacerbates nutrient enrichment in freshwater systems when it enters the wetlands resulting in algal blooms which can damage ecosystems by decreasing dissolved oxygen concentrations. Oil spills from road traffic or ships are also an emerging but real threat affecting wetland habitats through reducing essential nutrients for plants or UV absorption, leading to direct mortality in organisms.
- Introduction of alien invasive species - Invasive alien species pose a huge threat to aquatic biodiversity by competing for resources or indirectly increasing predators, leading to native species being displaced or extirpated due to increased predation pressure. Furthermore they can disrupt food webs causing shifts between trophic levels leading to more definite changes than just displacement of native species.
Ayeyarwady floodplain wetlands geographic range
The Ayeyarwady Floodplain Wetlands are located in the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar. This wetland system encompasses an area of approximately 84,000 km2, stretching along the Ayeyarwady River and surrounding rivers such as the Ngawun, Thuwunna and Thalin. The wetland region consists of both seasonal wetlands and larger permanent wetland systems that are home to a diverse range of fish, birds, snakes and amphibians.