Myanmar's northern Kachin State is home to vast biodiversity including endemic and globally threatened wildlife, as well as Southeast Asia's tallest peaks, the 5,881-meter Mt Hkakaborazi and the 5,164-meter Mt Hponkanrazi. Much of the region is designated as government-protected conservation area, in the form of the 3,810 sq km Hkakaborazi National Park and 2,700 sq km Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary.
When the government's Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MONREC) began the process of extending the national park area as part of a bid to nominate 11,280 sq km of the region as a UNESCO World Heritage site in late 2017, thousands demonstrated across Kachin's northern townships. They called for an end to the world heritage nomination, a cessation of the park's expansion, and the expulsion of the Wildlife Conservation Society, an international conservation group which has partnered with Myanmar's Forest Department since 1993. By the end of 2018, communities had expelled the Forest Department and WCS from the park areas, and until now, have not let them back in.
This project will examine the intersection, and at times confrontation, of government, and international conservation efforts and local communities.