Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ban on logging to be lifted next year

The temporary suspension of logging in Myanmar’s forested areas is set to be lifted in April, with production next financial year to resume at reduced levels, according to Myanma Timber Enterprise deputy director U Aye Cho Thaung.

Children sit on teak logs on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo: AFPChildren sit on teak logs on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo: AFP

There are about 19,000 teak trees and 530,000 hardwood trees for potential logging next fiscal year, he said. Each teak tree is capable of producing up to 1.2 tons of timber, he added, but production would be restricted to just 15,000 tons of teak next year and 350,000 tons of hardwood.

In a bid to curb deforestation, the government implemented a nation-wide ban on logging for the 2016-2017 financial year. Major forested areas, like the mountain ranges in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, were included in the suspension. A logging ban of 10 years will be maintained in Bago Yoma mountain range.

The UK-based watchdog group the Environmental Investigation Agency released a report last year that said close to one-half of Myanmar is covered in natural forest – but that it is shrinking at rapid pace.

About 1.7 million hectares of forest cover was lost from 2001 to 2013, according to the report.

According to government figures, exports in the 2013-14 financial year were worth US$637.5 million, but it is likely much greater given the high levels of illegal trade, largely with China and Thailand.

Since 2014 exports of raw timber has been banned under Myanmar law.

“The suspension of raw material export will continue,” U Aye Cho Thaung confirmed.

The resumption of logging will be managed by the state-owned Myanmar Timber Enterprise, he said.

U Win Myo Thu, co-founder and manager of the environmental NGO Ecodev, said yesterday that it was expected that production was going to restart, but it should be done with “greater restrictions” than in the past.

Read more: Illegal logging mars Magwe's deep forests