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Timber-dependent companies in Three Pagoda Pass are closed

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Most timber-dependent manufacturing companies in Three Pagoda Pass, near the southern Thai-Burmese Border, have been shut down because local supplies have been depleted, following the Karen National Union ban on harvesting trees in the forest under its control.

Timber association officials in the township said the banned timber production in the Maekatha Forest has led to factory closings and threatens the economy of the area.

“We banned the timber production because the  junta’s troops launched a major offensive against us”, an officer with Brigade 6, the armed wing of the KNU, told Mizzima.

The area has a total of 138 factories that engage in parquet manufacturing, wood lacquer manufacturing,  production of furniture and other commodities, employing more than 1,000 workers.

‘Many people are out of work now’, said a businessman at a furniture company. ‘Last year, we used at least 50 tons of timber per a day for the lacquered furniture alone, not even including parquet manufacturing.’

Since early 2010, a group of timber factory owners had stored more than 30,000 tons of timber, but that stock has been used up.

The KNU banned timber production in the Maekatha Forest in November. Since December 10, the Three Pagoda Pass-Thanbyuzayat Road has been blocked to normal traffic.

Another timber factory owner said, ‘If they continue to ban the timber production, the development of the region will be damaged’.

Last year, the price of timber for an ironwood tree was 12,000 baht  (US$ 390) per  ton and a teak tree was 27,000 baht (US$ 877) per ton.

On February 8, the Forestry Department in Three Pagoda Pass met with the members of the association of timber company owners and reminded them that the felling the immature trees for timber is against the law.

The bulk of the furniture and parquet made in Three Pagoda Pass is exported to Thailand.
Last Updated ( Friday, 11 February 2011 12:15 )  
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