Second cache of illegal wood found on military compound
ENVIRONMENTALISTS are demanding action after the discovery of a second cache of illegally harvested timber on premises owned by the military. Troops reportedly cordoned off the area following the second find.
On August 26, a raid conducted by the military, accompanied by officials from the National League for Democracy, discovered 161 tonnes of wood on the Tatmadaw Science and Technology research compound No 745 located east of Ho Late village, Ban Thar village tract in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin township. A similar find, of 328 tonnes, had been made on July 4, according to the township forestry department.
Forestry department chief U Mying Naing Oo told The Myanmar Times on August 29, “The owner of the firewood we seized first was reportedly local U Htay Hlaing, so we assume he is also responsible for the second pile. We are pursuing our investigation.”
U Htay Hlaing had a permit to collect up to 60 tonnes a year for kitchen fuel at a forestry school. But both raids far exceed the number of logs allotted, and the second cache was hidden, and included luxury hardwood varieties such as Shorea obtusa and ironwood, according to residents.
The spokesperson added that military officers and NLD officials took part in the inspection. “Now the military is going to cordon off the area,” he said.
“The military has filed a lawsuit pursuant to the finding of 328 tonnes of firewood under section 41(a) of the Forest Law. Action will also be taken in this case after the investigation,” he added.
The law provides for a year in prison or a K10,000 fine, or both, for extracting, moving and unlawful possession of any forest produce.
The August 26 search also found logs hidden beneath a demolished sawmill. “We will release further information after the investigation and take action as required,” said U Myint Naing Oo.
Ho Late village tract administrator U Tun Win told The Myanmar Times on August 29, officials are continuing the search for any further illegally harvested wood.
“We found 18 logs, 4 or 5 feet in girth and 9ft long next to the old sawmill, and more logs underneath. The combined team is still looking for more logs.”
Local environmental conservation group Sein Lan Pyin Oo Lwin condemned the illegal timber extraction and urged officials to take effective actions.
U Ko Ko Gyi, deputy chair of the group, called for better enforcement of the regulations on firewood.
– Translation by Zar Zar Soe
Officials seized 161 tonnes of wood, included luxury varieties, from a military research compound near Ho Late village in Pyin Oo Lwin township.