Myanmar has designated its fifth Wetland of International Importance. Inlay Lake Ramsar Site (Site no. 2356), located on the Shan Plateau of eastern Myanmar, is the second-largest inland lake in the country. Its unique geology has created ideal conditions for a wealth of plants and animals, including many which are endemic to the Site.
Elephant grass, known locally as kaing, is important in maintaining the structure of floating islands for agriculture. The endemic Inle carp (Cyprinus intha), locally called nga-phein, is culturally symbolic and important for household as well as commercial consumption. Other fish species such as Sawbwa resplendens, Danio erythromicron and Microrasbora rubescens are also only found in the lake and so are globally endangered; nonetheless they are commercially exploited for the aquarium trade.
Local inhabitants have adopted unique lifestyles and livelihoods that reflect their biophysical environment: most of them practice traditional methods of fishing and hydroponic cultivation of floating gardens.
Inlay Lake was established as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1985 to protect and conserve the rich biodiversity of the wetland ecosystem. As a critical staging ground for migratory birds on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, the Site was listed as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) in 2004. It became an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003 and was designated as Myanmar’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015.