Natma Taung National Park

Date of Submission: 25/02/2014
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
State, Province or Region:
Mindat District, Chin State
Ref.: 5873


Natma Taung National Park (NTNP; also known as Nat Ma Taung or Natmataung) is located in Chin State in western Myanmar.  The park covers 72,300 hectares of the Chin Hills and contains Mt. Natma Taung, which rises 2,200 m above the surrounding landscape to a height of 3,051 m (Platt et al. 2012). NTNP ranges in elevation from 740 m to 3,051 m.  NTNP was established in 1994 primarily to protect the upper watersheds of the Lemro and Myittha Rivers.  Dipterocarp, pine, oak, and oak-rhododendron forests are found across the elevation gradient.  NTNP is an alpine “sky island” containing a Holarctic floral species assemblage.

Chin villages can be found below 2,500 m with the most populated area, Kanpetlet at 1,390 m. The Chin are a Tibeto-Burman group and comprise about 1% of Myanmar’s population. The Chin are comprised of multiple sub-groups with distinct identities. There are 6,000 Chin people living around NTNP and about 100 inside the park. They depend on shifting cultivation, NTFP collection, and hunting (Aung 2012).

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

NTNP is outstanding for its plant life, which is highly diverse and provides insight to the biogeographical history of Asia.  It is also an important site for wildlife conservation, containing multiple threatened birds, mammals, and reptiles.  NTNP is an Important Bird Area and lies within the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area.  It is an ASEAN Heritage Park and was listed as an Alliance for Zero Extinction Site because of the White-browed Nuthatch, which is endemic to NTNP.

Criterion (vii): The prominence of Mt. Natma Taung as it rises from the surrounding Chin Hills, rapid changes in forest type along a steep elevation gradient, and the presence of an “island” of Himalayan flora all contribute to NTNP’s great natural beauty.

Criterion (ix): NTNP served as a refuge for Holarctic species during the last glacial period and today its flora provides insight into the biogeographical, evolutionary, and ecological history of Asia.  It is one of the southernmost alpine islands containing a Holarctic floral assemblage in Asia and is isolated from other areas with Himalayan flora.  These qualities make NTNP a particularly important site for the study of Quaternary biogeography and alpine island biogeography.

Criterion (x): NTNP’s plant diversity is high, with more than 252 plant genera identified by a preliminary survey in 2012 (Fujikawa et al. 2012). Surveys here have recorded 808 plant species, including 70 species of fern, as well as 233 bird, 23 amphibian, 65 reptile, and 77 butterfly species (Oikos and BANCA 2011).  A rich diversity of orchids, including highly threatened medicinal varieties, can be found between 1,000 m and 2,000 m (Oikos and BANCA 2011).  The endemic White-browed Nuthatch’s entire range is within the Oak-Rhododendron forest between 2,300 m and 3,000 m in the property (Naing 2003). Additional species of interest found in NTNP are (Myanmar Biodiversity 2012):


EN: Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock spp.)

VU: Bangal Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Red Goral (Naemorhedus baileyi)


EN: Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata)

VU: Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea)


EN: White-browed Nuthatch (Sitta victoriae)

VU: Blyth's Tragopan (Tragopan blythii), Grey-sided Thrush (Turdus feae), Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis)

NT: Hume’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae)

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

NT NP was established as a watershed protection area on which three million people depend. Due to its original purpose, the park has an elongated shape with a high perimeter-to-area ratio and consequently a high degree of accessibility, which complicates protection efforts. Because of heavy hunting, wildlife is severely depleted. The gaur population has probably been extirpated. The quality of the forest is generally good, however.

NTNP covers parts of three townships. The Forestry Department has an office in the town of Kanpetlet with 31 staff (Fujikawa et al. 2012). No formal management plan exists for NTNP but core and buffer zones have been unofficially demarcated. Two core zones, one in the north and one in the south, have the best forest cover and wildlife in NTNP. The Chin are permitted to practice shifting agriculture in a “local use” zone

Hunting has resulted in a marked decline in wildlife populations but there are no formal population estimates. Guar have not been seen by some villages for over 10 years and local inhabitants are divided on whether Red Goral are still present in the park. Birds are hunted with a method called bird liming; research is needed to determine if this is practiced at a sustainable rate (Platt et al. 2012).  The current decline in wildlife may provide an opening to establish participatory management with Chin villages to limit hunting and allow wildlife populations to rebound. Further biodiversity and socio-economic surveys, as well as immediate interventions to stop or limit hunting, are priorities for the property.

Habitat conversion is a threat to NTNP. Tea plantations have encroached into parts of NTNP (Platt et al. 2012). Logging has had a significant impact below 2,000 m but does not extend into the range of the White-browed Nuthatch (BirdLife 2013b).  Fires from shifting cultivation and campfires result in forest loss at higher elevations.  Tourism must be managed to ensure that campfires are properly controlled.

Comparison with other similar properties

Regionally, the Dali Chanshan Mountain and Erhai Lake Scenic Spot in Yunnan Province, China also contains Holarctic flora and is of a similar size. It spans an elevation gradient from 1,700 m to 3,900 m and includes evergreen and broadleaf mixed forests. NTNP is distinguished by its high diversity orchids and butterflies and its biogeographical importance as one of the southernmost isolated islands of Holarctic flora in Asia.  It also stands out for the presence of a locally endemic bird species and restricted-range Eastern Himalayan birds.

Traditional shifting cultivation in the buffer zones of NTNP and Chin Hills may meet criteria for cultural values relating to land-use.  If this criterion is pursued, it would further distinguish NTNP from more remote, less populated sites with Himalayan flora.