The Road to Dawei: Planning Sustainable Transport Infrastructure and Wildlife Connectivity in Southern Myanmar

Department: Landscape Architecture
Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative
Active Dates: July 2015 - July 2016

Principal Investigator: Ashley Scott KELLY (Co-PI), Dorothy TANG (Co-PI)

Funding body: Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Abstract

“The Road to Dawei” is an advocacy infrastructure planning project that addresses development impacts via environmental policy, physical design and scenario-building. The simultaneously planned and under construction Dawei-Kanchanaburi Road Link connects Dawei, Myanmar to Bangkok across critical forest habitat and a culturally rich landscape just emerging from ethnic civil war into a new industrial and agricultural development paradigm. Weak environmental and development regulation requires multi-pronged approaches. Our project consists of three components: Promoting ecosystem services along the road; developing innovative strategies for locating points of critical wildlife connectivity, especially where biodiversity data is scarce; and disseminating sustainable road construction technologies. All three comprise a transcalar approach, from construction details to specific site strategies, landscape and transboundary planning. The landscape design team includes policy specialists, ecologists, infrastructure planners, and GIS and computer programmers to model scenarios and propose alternative construction practices that minimize environmental damage and fragmentation of wildlife corridors. The work is used to build institutional capacity at regional and national levels of government, with the road developer, and with civil society.

Objectives

To inform development processes where social and environmental legislation is infant, land security weak, and landscape degradation increasingly rapid.
To provide a roadmap and toolset to build institutional capacity for stakeholders at several levels.

Results

Our wildlife corridor modelling identifies critical locations for conservation and sustainability of the Dawna Tenasserim Landscape. Combined with independent consultations with civil society, we determined the most effective way to advocate for their concerns at this point in Myanmar’s development and peace process is through addressing the imminent construction and sustainability of the road corridor.
We accomplish this through the research, development, and visualization of design scenarios for specific sites, contrasting the environmental effects and extremes of various planning and engineering strategies.

Outputs

  • Kelly, A. S., Connette, G., Helsingen, H., and Paing Soe. (2016). Wildlife Crossing: Locating species’ movement corridors in Tanintharyi (Report). Worldwide Fund for Nature (Myanmar). 49pp.
  • Tang, D., and Kelly, A. S. (2016). Design Manual: Building a Sustainable Road to Dawei (Report). Worldwide Fund for Nature (Myanmar). 76pp.
  • Helsingen, H., Sai Nay Won Myint, Bhagabati, N., Dixon, A., Olwero, N., Kelly, A. S., & Tang, D. (2015). A Better Road to Dawei: Protecting Wildlife, Sustaining Nature, Benefiting People (Report). Worldwide Fund for Nature (Myanmar). 30pp. In English, translated into Myanmar, Thai, and Karen.

Anticipated Impact

These design tools and visualizations, while a mechanism for capacity building, also encourage dialogue and transparency. This research has been presented to civil society and regional government in Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar, the road developer in Bangkok, the national Environmental Conservation Department, and the EIA section of the national Department of Highways to support the review of the EIA and encourage more specific guidelines for road development across the country. These works target wide audiences and are written and graphically narrated to inform road builders, policy makers, and communities alike of best practices, risks, and the critical value of well-planned sustainable transport infrastructure.

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UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE