Indawgyi lake


Lake Indawgyi is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia.

Where we work

Biosphere Reserve Indawgyi Lake

The project area comprises the area around Lake Indawygi in the north of Myanmar (Kachin State). Lake Indawgyi and the forests of the adjacent mountains have been recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since October 2017, which is intended to protect natural resources on the one hand but also to enable sustainable economic development of the local population on the other.





Biosphere Reserve Indawgyi Lake

The white line shows the boundary of the Indawgyi Lake Biosphere Reserve. The core zone, the Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary, is illustrated by the red line.

About Indawgyi

Animals & Plants

Lake Indawgyi is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia. Important habitats around the lake include extensive grasslands and rainforests on the surrounding mountain slopes. The lake not only encompasses important habitats but is also home to a unique fish fauna. Numerous Sarus cranes, gray pelicans, woolly-necked storks, and black-capped storks, as well as several critically endangered vulture species inhabit the areas surrounding the lake. Rare monkeys, such as Eastern hoolock gibbons and Shortridge’s langurs, as well as gaur, Asian black bear, and clouded leopard live in the adjacent forests.


Endangered heraldic animal

Sarus crane

The Sarus crane is the heraldic animal of the biosphere reserve and can often be seen feeding in the rice fields.

Health police


The biosphere reserve is one of two remaining landscapes in Myanmar where vultures still live. Asian vultures have suffered a decline of over 90% in the last 20 years. There are four different species at Lake Indawgyi, which play an important role in the ecosystem as scavengers.

Rare primates

Gibbons, langurs & Co

In addition to a large population of eastern hoolock gibbons and four macaque species, the forests are home to the highly endangered and little-known Shortridge’s langurs, impressive silver-grey primates with golden eyes.

Important refuge

Migratory birds

The lake lies on one of the most important migratory bird routes between Siberia and Southeast Asia/Australia. Every year tens of thousands of geese, ducks, cranes, storks, and Amur falcons visit the lake.

Shy grassland dwellers

Hog deer

Along the northern tributaries of the lake, there is one of the last populations of small hog deer in Myanmar. These animals depend on grasslands and are particularly hard hit by habitat loss.


Only in Lake Indawgyi

Endemic fish

Six endemic fish species (barb and loach species) have been identified among the more than 100 fish species in the lake, including some previously completely unknown species.

About Indawgyi

People & Nature

Around Lake Indawgyi, 50375 people live in about 7620 households spread over 36 village communities. The people belong predominantly to the ethnic groups of Shan Ni, Kachin and, to a lesser extent, Bamar.

Due to its isolated location, the people around the lake depend entirely on the natural resources of the lake and surrounding forests, as well as on the impeccable water quality of the lake and the tributaries that feed it.

However, the ecosystem is under growing threat from overfishing, illegal gold mining in the lake’s tributaries, pollution from sewage and garbage from households located around the lake, and nutrient inputs from surrounding agriculture. Forests are threatened by logging, grasslands by illegal land grabbing for agriculture. This threatens the livelihood of the local people.

Rice cultivation & fishing

Sustainable design

The majority of the inhabitants at Lake Indawgyi live off rice cultivation and fishing. The sustainable use of the ecosystem is an important part of the UNESCO biosphere reserve concept.

Of multiple importance

Biosphere reserve

The biosphere reserve fulfills three functions:

  1. Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  2. Economic development, that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable
  3. Logistical support, that supports development through research, monitoring, education, and training.

Shwe Myintsu


Shwe Myintsu Pagoda is an important cultural and religious focal point for many thousands of pilgrims. During the annual pagoda festival, up to 100,000 people visit Lake Indawgyi and the floating Shwe Myintsu Pagoda.


CfN in the Indawgyi Lake Biosphere Reserve

Indawgyi Wetland Education Center

The Indawgyi Wetland Education Center IWEC is a center and focal point for education and sustainable development.

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Management of working elephants

At Lake Indawgyi we are improving the situation and daily life of working elephants.

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