There are totally 50 threatened plant species, of which 18 Critically endangered, 16 Endangered and 16 Vulnerable based on the classification from IUCN RedList. The following table indicates that Dipterocarpaceae is the most threatened plant family with 16 Critically endangered species, 7 Endangered species and 2 Vulnerable species out of 19 threatened plant families. The main threats for plant species were identified as overexploitation by legal and illegal logging, and habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation by commercial plantations and inappropriate land uses.
Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) has extracted Dipterocarpus spp, Shorea spp and Hopea spp. The total amount of hard wood extraction by MTE has increased 5-6% annually between 1996 and 2006 (Central Statistical Organization 2008). Domestic consumption of Dipterocarp species has also significantly increased, particularly, in places where large infrastructure has been developed.
Large-scale use of Shorea assamica can be observed in Kachin State and northern Sagaing Region. The species is being overexploited for large boat making for transportation along the northern part of the Chindwin River. As the wood grain of this species is interlocked, it provides more strength than Teak Tectona grandis to resist underwater obstacles and rocks. Since the boats made of this species only last a maximum of two years, the replacement rate is massive and this has lead to the species becoming increasingly rare in all accessible areas of Kachin State. Other noticeable overexploited species are Aquilaria malaccensis an aromatic non-timber forest product and Taiwania cryptomerioides a species known locally as coffin wood, which is sold in China.
In Taninthayi Region and Kachin State where extensive commercial plantation concessions for palm oil and tapioca have been established, plant species from the following families – Caesalpiniaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Magnoliaceae, Myristicaceae, Myrtaceae, Taxodiaceae, Theaceae, Thymelaeaceae have been highly threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Remaining forested landscapes in Kachin State, Taninthayi Region, Chin State, Rakhine State and northern Sagaing Region should be prioritized for conservation of threatened plant species.
While new plant species have been discovered, their conservation status are still in question (e.g. Kress & Thet Htun 2003; Peters et al. 2007). In particular, the conservation status of Myanmar orchids is virtually unknown (Saw Lwin pers comm). In the marine realm the sea grass species Halophila beccarii is considered the most vulnerable among 11 sea grass species, known to occur along the Myanmar coast (Soe-Htun et al. 2008; Novak et al. 2009).
Threatened plant species in Myanmar
|Scientific Name||Common name||Status|
|Bombax insigne||Didu/ Taung-letpan|
|Dipterocarpus grandiflorus||Kanyin/ Kanyin-byan|
|Hopea apiculata||No common name|
|Cleidiocarpon laurinum||No common name|
|Picea farreri||No common name|
|Vatica cinerea||No common name|
|Cephalotaxus mannii||No common name|
|Cycas pectinata||Mondaing madai|
|Halophila beccarii||No common name|
|Hopea griffithii||No common name|
|Magnolia nitida||No common name|
|Magnolia rostrata||No common name|
|Brownlowia tersa||No common name|
|Excoecaria agallocha||Kayaw/ Thayaw|
|Gnetum oblongum||No common name|
|Blyxa quadricostata||No common name|
|Excoecaria indica||No common name|
|Magnolia griffithii||No common name|