Because it was isolated by conflict, the Salween River basin, the source of Asia’s longest free-flowing river, is one of the last remaining intact wildernesses in mainland south-east Asia. In 2018, the 1.35m acre Salween Peace Park was declared, thanks to the leadership of Paul Sein Twa, who grew up in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. He worked with local government to hold public consultations with 348 villages representing 68,000 people, with the Karen Forest Department to replace colonial forestry principles with their own traditional practices, and with communities to define their land borders.“Our forests, mountains and rivers are our refuge, the home of our protector spirits, our pharmacy, our sources of food, and the place where we find solace,” he said when awarded the Goldman environmental prize in 2020.

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