Chainsaw clampdown needed to stop deforestation: minister
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