Landscape Journey in Myanmar

Multidisciplinary Journey Participants in the village of Wa Sa Dum in Putao, Kachin.
Photo: Bandana Shakya/ICIMOD

A multidisciplinary team was organised in the Mu Lar-Nam Ru watershed area of Putao district in Kachin, Myanmar late February 2016 to facilitate holistic landscape level planning and management in the site. 

The trip was organised jointly by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Forest Department of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (FD/MOECAF) and Wildlife Conservation Society-Myanmar (WCS). The Mu Lar-Nam Ru watershed is a pilot site identified for integrated landscape planning and management within the auspices of the Landscape Initiative for the Far-Eastern Himalaya (Hi-LIFE), a regional transboundary landscape initiative implemented by ICIMOD and partners in the three countries — China, India, and Myanmar. Hi-LIFE, while it facilitates joint actions among countries through a regional cooperation framework, it also supports national level integrated conservation and development actions. 

The innovative process, named Landscape Journey, offers a multidisciplinary team to connect with nature, culture, society, build a shared sustainable vision, and develop integrated and collective actions. The trip is a tool based on the simple principle that on-the-site observation and interdisciplinary interactions among multiple stakeholders in the early stages of programme planning ensures better partnerships and quick decision making. It adds value to a participatory approach adding inter-sectoral elements to it, and strengthens relationships and trust among different stakeholders.

Wa Sa Dum Village with Rawang household infrasturcture.
Photo: Bandana Shakya/ICIMOD

The Landscape Journey requires planning and execution in three phases: the pre-journey phase encompasses the identification of a site, participants, and the detailed planning of the journey; the journey phase is site observation and analysis of landscape elements; and the post-journey phase includes debriefs to consolidate visions and a collective way forward. 

In Myanmar, there were 30 actors from different government departments, community members, non-governmental organisations, media and academic institutions, and international organisations. Participants visited villages together identifying a vision and actions. The collective vision for the pilot watershed identified by the participants was area natural resources are a national property and landscape assets must be conserved through community participation. 

The need for a landscape level joint action plan for cluster villages was noted by both participants and the district administration.  Establishing a community information resource centre to raise awareness on the importance of landscape, to build a basic health centre, to build skills towards diversifying livelihoods were some of the immediate actions proposed for landscape elements in the Mu Lar- Nam-Ru watershed.