Landuse changes around Lake Inle (Myanmar)

Traditional farming systems and their effects on land degradation and socio-economic conditions in the Inle Lake region, Myanmar

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Andreas Buerkert, Dr. Katja Brinkmann
Doctoral Student: Thin Nwe Htwe
Duration: 2011-2015
Financing: DAAD

Inle Lake in southern Shan Plateau (eastern Myanmar) is the second largest terrestrial lake after Indawgyi Lake of Kachin State in the north of the country and characterized by a large area of water bodies. While people around the lake make their living from lowland paddy fields, floating gardens and fishing, the inhabitants of the mountain range practice rotational upland farming along steep slopes on both sides of the lake.
Numerous reports semi-quantitatively described environmental degradation in the Inle Lake area, however, in depth analysis on changes in livelihood strategies, land use and their effects on soil erosion risk in space and time are still missing. To this end Nyaung Shwe Township of the Inle watershed area was selected as a case study of a reportedly degraded watershed. Its inhabitants are predominantly rural farmers living in villages dotted around the lake and on the hillsides and work either on the land or on the floating islands. They thus are typical examples of the complex livelihood strategies that farmers practice and the effects that these livelihood strategies have on agro-ecosystem services and functions. This study aims at analyzing the land use – agro-ecosystem interactions and its consequences for the resilience of the Inle Lake system. Household and field surveys, GIS and remote sensing techniques were used to analyse the socio-economic conditions of the different farming systems in the Inle Lake region (floating garden, lowland cultivation and upland cultivation) and identify livelihood strategies (i), to analyse land use and land cover changes during the past 40 years (ii) and assess the soil erosion risk in space and time and its socio-economic drivers (iii).