The forests of Karen State are of regional, national, and global significance, with some areas still supporting wild Elephant, Tiger, Bear, clouded leopard, Banteng, Guar, and other rare and endangered species. In addition, the forests of Karen State have long been a refuge for Karen villagers throughout the civil war, providing sources of wild foods and medicines for survival. However, the forests, which are also commercially valuable, are now under increasing threat as industrial interests such as logging, mining, and agro-plantation development extend their reach into Karen areas.
KESAN works with forestry officials, conservation biologists and local communities to identify, study, safeguard and manage the extraordinary biodiversity of Karen State. This includes identifying high value areas and species; demarcating wildlife sanctuaries; training & mobilizing support for forest stewards; and conducting integrated research into effective protection of forest biodiversity in combination with rehabilitating livelihoods for the surrounding communities.
KESAN’s approach to conservation combines scientific expertise with local Indigenous knowledge, which remains strong in rural Karen communities who have lived with and depended on the forest for generations. We stress local community empowerment and involvement in all our conservation initiatives. We believes that the promotion and preservation of indigenous knowledge is a vital part of maintaining traditional Karen culture and identity, in addition to conserving the biodiversity of Karen territories.