En­vi­ron­men­tal min­istry to launch ‘for­est farms’ ini­tia­tive

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYI KYI SWAY news­room@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: AFP

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.

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