MM18 Analysis of Mangrove Ecosystem Services to the Ayeyarwady Region for the Myanmar Natural Capital Accounting Program in the Ayeyarwady Region

At a Glance

Strategic Outcomes SO1 Reduced GHG emission, SO2 Creation of green jobs, SO5 Supply of ecosystem services ensured, SO6 Enhanced adaptation to climate change
Start Date Q2  May 10 2020
End Date q4 Nov 30 2020
Funding Source Earmarked
Actual Budget (USD) 80,000
Budget Percentage 100%
Actual Expenditure (USD) 80000
Status Complete
GGGI Share (USD)
Poverty and Gender Policy Markers poverty, gender
Name of Client (Lead/Prime implementer if GGGI is part of a consortium) World Bank
Participating Organization (Funding/donor) World Bank
Name of consortium members, if any University of Queensland
Thematic Area
  • Forest (Sustainable) Landscapes
GGGI Project Code : MM18
Project Manager and Staff +
Aaron Russell

Country Representative, Uzbekistan

Project Overview

The Ayeyarwady Delta comprises the main arms of Pathein River, Pyapon River, Bogale River and Toe River. Unlike many of the other large deltas of South East Asia, the rivers that form the Ayeyarwady Delta are comparatively unmodified and thus sediment flows and other hydrological, biogeochemical, and biological processes are likely to contribute to ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change.

Mangrove vegetation is a dominant feature of the Ayeyarwady Delta, similar to other large tropical deltas of the world. The mangroves influence the evolution of tropical deltas, such as the Ayeyarwady, by trapping sediment and protecting coastlines against the impacts of large storm events. The mangroves of the Ayeyarwady are diverse ecosystems, comprising 21 true mangrove species and a wide range of other co-occurring plant species considered mangrove associates that thrive in the brackish conditions of the Delta. The mangroves, rivers, and creeks support important faunal species linked to fisheries as well as species with high biodiversity value (e.g. Irrawaddy dolphin, crocodiles, and birds). The designation of the Meinmahala Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary as a Ramsar site in 2017 reflects the importance of the region for the biodiversity of Myanmar and for the emerging tourism industry.

The mangroves also provide a range of functions and services that support local communities. These include direct-use services (e.g. fuelwood, nipa leaves for thatching, crabs, and shrimp) and indirect-use services (e.g. flood mitigation, coastal protection, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration). However, the mangrove in the Ayeyarwady Delta is currently at risk due to widespread deforestation and unsustainable management practices (Webb et al., 2014, De Albans et al. 2020). This has reduced the resilience of the delta to intense storms and in 2008 a Category 5 Cyclone Nargis caused widespread loss of life (est. 135,000 people) and devastation in the delta, including damage of the remaining mangrove (Aung et al. 2013), which has stimulated attempts to reduce losses of mangrove habitat and to restore the mangrove.

The degradation of mangroves in the Ayeyarwady Delta has been mainly associated with clearing and conversion to rice paddy cultivation, aquaculture, and the harvest of timber and fuelwood. In 2008, Giri et al. (2008) estimated that 98% of mangrove deforestation in Myanmar at that time was associated with the expansion of agriculture. The Ayeyarwady Delta is the primary rice-producing area of Myanmar; responsible for about 35% of the rice production of the country (Webb et al., 2014). To support development in the region, road transport infrastructure was greatly increased during the 1990s and 2000s, which may also have increased mangrove degradation as access to the forest was enhanced. Fishing is another important industry in the region (World Bank 2019), whose productivity can be directly and indirectly linked to mangrove cover, depending on species. Fishers use fixed fishing traps as well as small boats in the rivers and mangrove creeks and use mangrove fuelwood to boil, dry, and smoke their catch. Prawn fishery and harvesting sea turtle eggs are also major commercial activities, both of which are now threatened by overexploitation and the loss of mangrove forests.

In addition to human exploitation of the mangrove and intense storms, climate change and particularly sea-level rise pose threats to the mangroves (Dasgupta et al. 2011 Horton et al. 2017). While these remain difficult to predict with any accuracy, climate change is expected to increase the frequency of the most intense storms (Knutson et al. 2010, Reguero et al. 2019, Young and Ribal 2019). In addition, sea-level rise is anticipated to increase the impacts of storm surge (Horton et al. 2017), with negative effects on communities of the region (Oo et al. 2018).

Recent observations indicate that the deltas of Asia are already experiencing erosion associated with mangrove clearing in conjunction with intense storms, sea-level rise, and changes in wind-driven waves and tidal currents (IPCC 2019). Large areas of the Sundarban Islands and the Mekong Delta are projected to be submerged under even moderate climate change scenarios (Minderhoud et al. 2019). It is recognized that the Ayeyarwady Delta, its mangroves, and associated human communities are expected to have a moderate vulnerability to sea-level rise and changes in storm frequency and intensity compared with other large deltas of Asia due to its largely unmodified river systems that support natural deltaic processes. Nevertheless, this Delta is one of the least well-understood of the region, and the severely limited availability of data and detailed studies of these deltaic processes (e.g. sediment delivery, erosion) and their contributions to supporting key mangroves ecosystem services represents a significant knowledge gap.

GGGI was contracted by the World Bank under the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Facility to scale up GGGI’s existing 3Returns economic analysis of mangrove ecosystem services in the lower Ayeyarwady Delta Forest Reserves to the rest of Ayeyarwady Region, and to incorporate additional green growth scenarios for polyculture aquaculture and nipa palm value chains. The project is to be implemented from May 10, 2020, through October 20, 2020, with the University of Queensland as an implementing partner. 

This project will strengthen policymaker understandings of the impacts of mangroves on a range of ecosystem services and key livelihood-relevant value chains, providing recommendations for enhanced mangrove landscape governance approaches.

This analysis will support the design and implementation of the World Bank-funded “Myanmar Forest Restoration, Development and Investment Project,” through the analysis of mangrove ecosystem services in the Ayeyarwady Region. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Identify potential monetary and non-monetary benefits of mangrove restoration projects;
  2. Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of restoration projects across a range of enhanced government-led and community forestry scenarios;
  3. Inform how management practices may help with mangrove restoration; and
  4. Inform policy development options that support mangrove restoration in view of their importance for the provision of ecosystem services.

Project Impacts, Outcomes and Outputs

Impact: Mangrove forest is restored in the Ayeyarwady region. 

Outcome: N/A 

Project Outputs completed in 2020: Info Brief – Investment Analysis for Mangrove Ecosystems in the Ayeyarwady Region, Full Report – Investment Analysis for Mangrove Ecosystems in the Ayeyarwady Region, Insight Brief – Mangrove Aquaculture: Polyculture Products in the Ayeyarwady Region (Value Chain Analysis), Insight Brief – Nipa Palm Products in the Ayeyarwady Region (Value Chain Analysis)

i. Green Growth Policies: N/A

ii. Green Investments: N/A

iii. Capacity Building and Knowledge Products: 

A total of 4 knowledge products delivered e.g. Info Brief – Investment Analysis for Mangrove Ecosystems in the Ayeyarwady Region, Full Report – Investment Analysis for Mangrove Ecosystems in the Ayeyarwady Region, Insight Brief – Mangrove Aquaculture: Polyculture Products in the Ayeyarwady Region (Value Chain Analysis), Insight Brief – Nipa Palm Products in the Ayeyarwady Region (Value Chain Analysis).  

iv. Implementing Partners

  • Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Department
  • Environmental Conservation Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Department
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation
  • Ayeyarwady Regional Government
  •  World Bank
  •  University of Queensland