This report was produced by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and RECOFTC-The Center for People and Forests, with support from the United States Government, under the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) partnership. The content and the opinions expressed are those of the authors and no official endorsement by TNC, RECOFTC, RAFT or any of our financial supporters should be inferred.
Myanmar is one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically productive nations on Earth. Its forests support the livelihoods of more than 36 million people, while the forestry sector employs more than 500,000 people and is one of seven sectors promoted under Myanmar’s National Export Strategy. Yet, after decades of unsustainable exploitation, driven by arbitrary revenue targets, mismanagement, illegal logging and, more recently, large-scale conversion to agricultural crops, Myanmar’s forests are badly damaged.
There is, however, optimism that this loss and degradation can be slowed and eventually reversed. The ongoing political and economic reforms are also playing out in the forestry sector. The 2014 ban on log exports, the 2016 log extraction ban (a one-year ban across the country and a ten-year ban in the teak-rich Bago Region), the reduction in the annual allowable cut, revision of the national forest and land laws and the Forest Law Enfor-cement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agree-ment (VPA) process (currently in the early stages of development) appear to be moving the forestry sector in the right direction.
This report argues that to stabilize and rebuild a sustainable forestry sector for Myanmar, there is vital need to develop consensus, first, on the role of forests in the nation’s ongoing development and, second, on how to restore the degraded forest estate. Given the complexity surrounding the issue, a process that engages all stakeholders, including those outside the forestry sector, is required.