Karst and Caves in Myanmar

Jörg Dreybrodt

The karst of Myanmar is one of the most extensive in Southeast Asia with a very high biodiversity. The Myanmar Cave Documentation Project documented over 10 years about 600 karst objects and 73 km cave passage. The results are published and were used in subsequent fauna research. New species of cave geckos, scorpions and millipedes were found in the diverse karst areas on the Shan plateau and in the South at Hpa-An. The hydrogeology is very little known. The 3-5 km long river caves and springs in the surrounding karst in the cave areas of Ywangan, Hopon and Kayah allow a first limited regional understanding of underground water flows. The fast urban development at the Shan plateau combined with very limited knowledge about karst in Myanmar is worrying since unintended groundwater contamination is likely. The project became therefore active promoting karst conservation and gave a 1st Myanmar Cave Training in June 2017. This stimulated the formation of local caving groups and villages to invite the project for documentation. The long term vision orients on the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) focusing on the interlinkage between karst education (SDG 4), Biodiversity survey (SDG 15), safe drinking water resources (SDG 6) and bringing stakeholders together (SDG 17). This requires support and involvement of international karst research institutions and solid funding.