Ever wonder what the military government of Myanmar is up to when it’s not quashing peaceful, pro-democracy protests? According to environmental groups, the regime has allegedly been profiting from large-scale illegal logging operations that feed sawmills across the border in China. Green group Global Witness estimates that up to 95 percent of Myanmar’s timber exports to China are illegal. Trade in imperiled-species body parts and extensive mining for precious metals and gems are also lucrative deals allegedly supported or aided by the junta. In the past 10 years, over 20 dams have either been built in Myanmar or are planned; at least a few dams in the works would provide electricity to China and Thailand. A dam planned for the Irrawaddy River is expected to displace some 10,000 residents and also harm fish. “This region is one of the world’s biodiversity hot spots,” said environmentalist Naw La. “If this dam is built on the Irrawaddy, the fish populations will decrease. A lot of people will be suffering because their livelihoods will disappear.” All of which makes for a catchy bumper sticker: If you want biodiversity, work for justice … Or something like that.

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