Environmental ministry to launch ‘forest farms’ initiative
A 10-YEAR program will seek to undo some of the damage that years of unchecked logging has done to the nation’s woodlands through the cultivation of so-called “forest farms”, Forestry Department director general U Myo Min has said.
The reforestation and rehabilitation program is slated to start next fiscal year, which begins in April, he said last week.
Four types of farms will span 350,000 acres, U Myo Min said. Farms oriented toward the business side of forest management will grow trees like teak and padauk. The others will focus on trees’ role in water resource management and flood mitigation; community forestry, for forest-dependent village populations; and mangroves.
The program will be run by the Forestry Department in conjunction with another department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. They will coordinate with local and foreign organisations in order to gain funding and technical assistance, according to a short summary of the program provided to The Myanmar Times.
U Myo Min said that, in his experience, international aid usually comes easily for projects that focus on reforestation and environmental rehabilitation in this mould. The program has been approved
the president, though more by details need to be filled in, said U Myo Min. It has not yet been confirmed by the Union government.
“After five years, we will do a midterm review,” he said.
Myanmar Green Network’s Daw Dawei Thant Sin welcomed the initiative, noting that the country needs to do what it can to fight global warming and climate change. She encouraged the undertaking of a nationwide tree-planting campaign.
The government has begun to tackle a legacy of deforestation left by its predecessors that has seen huge swathes of the once forest-rich country logged bare, with much of the timber shipped across the border into China. Since assuming power in late March, the National League for Democracy administration has put in place a one-year logging ban nationwide and outlawed timber extraction along the Bago mountain range for a decade.
Much damage, however, has already been done.
From 2010 to 2015, Myanmar lost more than 1.3 million acres of forest on average each year, according to a report last year by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. While forests covered an estimated 65 percent of the country in 2000, that number had been reduced to 45pc in 2015, according to the FAO assessment.
A dog runs past where teak trees once grew in Bago Region after the land was scorched ahead of replanting the area with valuable teak trees, which take up to 80 years to reach maturity.