Chain­saw clam­p­down needed to stop de­for­esta­tion: min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­

PO­LICE are to crack down on il­le­gally im­ported chain­saws in an ef­fort to stanch de­for­esta­tion. En­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion min­is­ter U Ohn Win told par­lia­ment on Septem­ber 19 that state and re­gional gov­ern­ments have been in­structed to ex­ert greater con­trol over the im­port and sale of chain­saws.

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion from Amyotha Hlut­taw MP U Kyaw Kyaw (ANP; Rakhine 4), who had asked whether there was a plan to con­trol chain­saw use as the gov­ern­ment strug­gles to en­force a log­ging ban.

“Chain­saws can eas­ily be dis­man­tled and car­ried, they are cheap and they have been smug­gled across the bor­der. They can be im­ported with only an im­port li­cence from the Direc­torate of Trade and can be found on sale in vil­lages near re­serve for­est ar­eas and pro­tected for­est ar­eas. There should be more ef­fec­tive con­trol mea­sures,” said the min­is­ter.

The gov­ern­ment said the Direc­torate of Trade is­sued im­port li­cences for chain­saws only with the per­mis­sion of the De­part­ment of Forestry. Now the Min­istry of Com­merce was get­ting in­volved in the sale and dis­tri­bu­tion of the saws, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nay Pyi Taw Coun­cil and state and re­gional gov­ern­ments.

Last June, the De­part­ment of Forestry had sought closer co­op­er­a­tion from the other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments con­cerned when car­ry­ing out its monthly in­spec­tions.

Since 2013, of­fi­cials have seized 716 il­le­gal chain­saws.

In the same hlut­taw ses­sion, MPs were told that nearly 1000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 176 for­eign­ers, have been ar­rested over the past five years for il­le­gal log­ging in Kachin State alone.

Min­is­ter U Ohn Win said that a spe­cial force com­pris­ing Kachin State of­fi­cials, the po­lice and the Tat­madaw were track­ing down sus­pects along the Chi­nese bor­der. Last week, the Pyithu Hlut­taw was told that 95 per­cent of Myan­mar’s tim­ber ex­port was com­prised of il­le­gal tim­ber smug­gled over the bor­der to Yun­nan prov­ince.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, the re­mote Kachin bor­der area is dom­i­nated by “re­gional mili­tias” which makes it hard to con­trol.

The min­is­ter told MPs that since 2011, the au­thor­i­ties had seized 861 lo­cal res­i­dents and 176 for­eign­ers, 158 ve­hi­cles and 26,233 tonnes of il­le­gal teak. Be­tween April and Au­gust this year, 1940 tonnes of teak and 104 ve­hi­cles had been seized, and 117 lo­cal res­i­dents ar­rested.

The ex­port of raw tim­ber logs was banned start­ing from April 2014 to pre­serve for­est resources and to re­duce il­le­gal log­ging.

In May, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced that teak and hard­wood log­ging would be sus­pended in 201617, and log­ging would be per­mit­ted only by the Myan­mar Tim­ber En­ter­prise.

“There are no autho­rised trad­ing posts in the area. Any ve­hi­cle found car­ry­ing teak is en­gaged smug­gling, and we will take ac­tion ac­cord­ingly,” U Ohn Win said

– Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar, San Layy and Khine Thazin Han

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