In order to save ourselves, we need to save nature’s bank account—its natural capital. Simply put, natural capital is the stock of natural assets—land, water, soil, plants, wildlife and air—that provides benefits to people. These benefits are called “ecosystem services.” Natural capital is critical to human well-being and underpins economic productivity.
When Myanmar’s forests are degraded by agriculture, mining and the construction of roads, soil erodes and washes into rivers and streams. The result is poor quality drinking water for humans, as well as damaged habitat for many freshwater species and reduced energy generation in hydropower plants.
This is particularly problematic in areas with erodible soils and steep slopes, as well as areas with more frequent and intense storms that are likely due to climate change.
Healthy forests and other natural vegetation can play a key role in reducing or slowing the amount of erosion and chemicals that reach waterways.