Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Comprehensive Landcover Change Study of Myanmar

Satellite Image of Burma

Rollover: Landcover Change
(Green: Forest, Red: Deforested)

Burma (Myanmar) has over half of the remaining closed-canopy forest in mainland Southeast Asia. With a wide range of habitats and ecosystems, it has one of the highest biodiversity values in Asia. The large undisturbed forested patches in Burma are important for the survival of several endangered species including tiger, elephant and Eld’s deer.

Recent reports suggest that deforestation rates in Burma have increased dramatically in recent years. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a report in 2001 that suggests Burma is among the 10 Asian countries with the highest tropical deforestation rates. Although these reports are alarming, no detailed landcover change map has ever been produced for the entire country to verify these estimates.

deforestationScientists at the Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center are using high-resolution satellite imagery to map landcover change in Burma. Using Landsat TM and ETM+ imagery from multiple dates (from the 1990s to the current decade), they assessed current landcover and deforestation patterns in Burma over the past ten years.

The results of the landcover change map will provide scientists and policy makers with current information on the status of Burma’s forests and the threats they face. It will also be used to map remaining habitat for endangered species such as the Asian elephant; and to assess the effectiveness of Burma’s protected area system.