Monday, 09 December 2019

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Myanmar could lose a third of forestry


Myanmar could lose up to a third of its remaining natural forestry within the next two decades if current practices continue, according to a report released by WWF earlier this month.

The Greater Mekong Ecosystems Report drew information from satellite imagery and found an increase in loss of forest in Myanmar of about 15 percent—from 49 million hectares to around 42 million hectares—between 2002 and 2009.

“The Greater Mekong is at a crossroads,” said Peter Cutter, Landscape Conservation Manager with WWF-Greater Mekong. “One path leads to further declines in biodiversity and livelihoods, but if natural resources are managed responsibly, this region can pursue a course that will secure a healthy and prosperous future for its people.”

“Many protected areas exist in name only,” continued Cutter in a statement released with the report. “Even relatively secure protected areas are under intense pressure from poaching and timber theft, while others have been reduced in size by governments eager to cash in on land concessions to mining companies or plantation owners.”

The report states that across the region "poor governance and weak rule of law facilitates illegal timber harvesting on a large scale." It also cites issues such as land grabbing and badly managed and poorly planned economic land concessions as major obstacles in the maintenance of sustainable forestry.

A draft forestry law is currently being formulated by Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry which aims to tackle illegal logging, conserve forestry and develop the domestic processing sector. A major step in the legislation will see raw, unprocessed logs no longer permitted to be exported as of April 1, 2014.

This new law is intended to tackle deforestation and to encourage foreign investment in processing plants and mills. If effective, these new measures could be huge: timber is one of Myanmar's greatest natural resources and estimates range that forest coverage in Myanmar is from 24 to 48 percent.

According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2009, roughly 50-60 percent of the country's population of 60 million people depend on forestry for their basic needs and some 500,000 people are estimated to be directly employed in the industry.

Related articles:
  1. No hard sell on Myanmar timber
  2. Myanmar timber to be exported to EU soon, say exporters
 

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