Monday, September 25, 2017

Ministry struggles to control illegal logging

Illegal logging continues to aggravate deforestation, raising the risk of flooding and putting the lives of law enforcement officers at risk, the government says. U Nyi Nyi Kyaw, director general of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, has told business leaders that most of the illegal felling takes place in Kachin State and Sagaing Region, and the logs are smuggled into China – but the ministry cannot control the situation.

A man walks over logs at a logging site in Yangon. Photo: Staff A man walks over logs at a logging site in Yangon. Photo: Staff

Myanmar is the third-worst country in the world for deforestation, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Although Myanma Timber Enterprise ended the production of teak and hardwoods this year to allow forests to re-establish themselves, many forests remain beyond government control, he said.

U Nyi Nyi Kyaw was speaking at an Economist Summit in Yangon earlier this month.

During April and May, more than 11,000 tonnes of illegal logs, including teak and valuable hardwoods, were seized throughout the country, U Kyaw Zaw, director of the ministry, told The Myanmar Times.

“Illegal logging takes place every day. Logging in bulk to smuggle abroad mostly occurs in Kachin State and Sagaing Region, near the border. Some occurs in Tanintharyi Region. It occurs elsewhere too, but mainly for local consumption,” he said.

Every year, Myanmar seizes from 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of illegal logs, for an average of 40,000 tonnes a year over the past 10 years, he added.

Forestry workers at the district and township levels of the department were doing their best to stop the logging, but could not keep track of the huge areas they covered, said U Kyaw Zaw, adding that one forestry worker had been killed while trying to arrest illegal loggers.

A team formed in the ministry will now try to prevent illegal logging through a three-pronged approach in districts and townships. The team will search for and arrest illegal loggers with the help of police and Tatmadaw units, and in close cooperation with regional governments.

According to a Forest Resources Assessment carried out by the FAO in 2010, Myanmar’s forest cover was 46.96 percent. By 2015, it had fallen to 42.92pc.

Deforestation is also blamed for exacerbating damange from Cyclone Komen, which ravaged Myanmar last July,. The natural disaster affected 1.6 million people, forcing 384,900 families to relocate and destroying 972,000 acres of farmland at a cost of billions of kyat.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun