The new Government of Myanmar has agreed a temporary national logging ban and a 10-year logging ban in the Pegu Yoma region.
The national logging ban will run until the end of March 2017, in effect closing the forests for one complete logging season. All exports of round logs from the country have been banned since April 2014.
For the duration of the new national ban, Myanmar will rely on stockpiled timber to supply its domestic wood processing industry and the international market; current stockpiles are sufficient to meet current demand for up to three years.
Access to these stockpiles will be controlled by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), a Government entity, and the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) stressed the importance of having controls in place to ensure full chain-of-custody for all stockpile sales to prevent illegally logged timber being laundered through the system.
As denounced by the EIA, between 2010-15, Myanmar lost 546,000 hectares of forests, about 8.5 per cent of its forest cover; only Brazil and Indonesia have worse rates.
A further reform expected to be announced by the Government will prohibit private companies from logging in the country. The MTE previously sub-contracted to private sector firms to carry out logging, many of which had close ties to the former military government and which played a key role in over-harvesting.
Faith Doherty, Team Leader of EIA’s Forests Campaign, said: “This is a decision that demonstrates clear intent to tackle corruption within the forestry sector by Myanmar’s National League for Democracy-led Government, which only came to power in March. Of course, there is no one-policy solution to the problem and much work remains to be done, but this is a hugely encouraging and an optimistic place to start.”
[News URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/myanmar-national-logging-ban-run-until-spring-2017]