Peatland Assessment in Myanmar
The peatland areas in Myanmar have not been adequately explored and identified, due to various reasons. In order to conserve its peatlands, existing peat areas would have to be confirmed first. To this end, a peat assessment survey was held in Shan State from 10 to 12 December 2012. The effort was held in cooperation with the Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA), which is the SEApeat project partner in Myanmar. 13 participants (1 from Vietnam, 2 from GEC Malaysia and 10 from Myanmar) took part in this exercise.
To identify the possible peatland areas, remote sensing techniques was used through image interpretation. To familiarize with the system, a short course on peatland identification using remote sensing was conducted by Vietnamese soil expert, Dr Le Phat Quoi, for those involved before the team left for the survey sites. The assessment was carried out in Heho, Inle Lake and Pintaya regions, all three located in the Shan highlands.
The assessment was conducted using observation of peatland vegetation, information gathered from local farmers and soil samples. Samples were taken using a peat auger and gauge auger. In the Heho region, the areas selected for peat assessment were largely on existing agricultural land. Beside rice paddies, there is also cabbage, garlic and potato in the area. A total of 7 locations were assessed. Almost all the peat in this region were found hidden underneath a layer of mineral soil. In Inle Lake, 4 locations were selected, but only one was identified as peatlands. In the other areas the peat is mixed with some clay and therefore may not be classified as peatlands. Two sites were selected for assessment in Pintaya, but only one location was sampled using auger, while the other was assessed by observation only.
A de-briefing of the fieldwork was held on 14 Dec 2012, followed by a short discussion with FREDA management and staff. Dr. Quoi presented the field assessment as well as some recommendations on the potential areas for future peat assessment. The peat assessment was made possible through the support of the SEApeat project, funded by the European Union.