Myanmar forestry outlook study

Title Myanmar forestry outlook study
Volume 7
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
This paper, drafted as part of the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study has the
objective of sketching the possible state of the Myanmar forestry sector in the year 2020. The
paper comprises eight sections: introduction, the role of the forestry sector, the current state of
forests and forestry in Myanmar, the influences on the future state of forest and forestry,
probable scenarios for forestry, the vision in 2020, proposed strategy to create a better future,
and conclusions.
The section on the current status of forests and forestry uses both quantitative and qualitative
approaches. The total forest area in Myanmar decreased from 56% of the total land area in
1990 to 52.1% in 2000 and 50.2% in 2005. According to the Central Statistical Organization
in Myanmar, reserved forest increased from 10.033 to 16.730 million hectares between
1985/1986 and 2005/2006. The increased area was recruited from the area designated as other
wood land and, in relation, the area of other wood land fell from 22.219 to 16.898 million
hectares. Forest cover increased slightly from 48% to 49%.
With regard to forest ownership all types of forests are owned by the State except some
community forests which are owned by local people under long-term lease agreements with
the government. Looking at the composition of important growing stock in the period
between 1990 and 2000, the ten species constituting the bulk of the overall composition
decreased dramatically in volume from 1340.05 million m3 (47.81 percent of total growing
stock) to 559.62 million m3
(19.51 percent of total growing stock). It is thus concluded in
relation to the current status of forests and forestry that both quantity and quality are
decreasing day by day.
To restore forest cover in the country, establishment of forest plantations has been seen as the
main remedy. Plantations for commercial purposes, local and industrial use and watershed
protection have been encouraged to fulfill domestic requirement, exports and environmental
preservation. For commercial plantations, a major constraint has been the difficulty with
acquiring seeds and seedlings as a result of previous overexploitation and removal of seed
bearing trees.
Different ranges of forest products are used for local and export purposes. Analysis of supply
and demand for wood and wood products in Myanmar shows that fuelwood is used
domestically and industrial roundwood is used for both export and domestic consumption.
Some wood products such as paper and paper board are produced but in insufficient quantity
for domestic demand such that imports are required to make up the shortfall. Analysis of
wood industry exports and imports shows that the country used to export raw materials and
low value-added products while importing finished goods and high value-added products.
Insufficient supply of raw logs to local wood-based industries and the shortage of high valueaddition
industries as well as an inappropriate tax system were major challenges in developing
the national wood-based industry. The country produces small quantities of various non-wood
forest products (NWFPs) but it has been estimated in the National Forest Master Plan that
production exceeds sustainable yield. Another important forest product is woodfuel which
comprises firewood and charcoal. With the aim of preventing deforestation, charcoal
production has been restricted in some regions. At the same time, widespread utilization of
substitute fuels has been encouraged.
The forests provide not only tangible outputs but also intangible ones called services. Core
service functions of forests include protecting soils and hydrological functions, shielding
biodiversity, ameliorating weather and climate, and providing locations for recreation. As a
result of deforestation, soil degradation has been taking place in the country, particularly in
the central dry zone of Myanmar. Similarly, the rapid pace of shrinkage and degradation of
mangroves has put the livelihoods of coastal dwellers at risk and has threatened the integrityof the coastal environment. Fortunately, the relative richness of forests, wetlands and
grasslands in Myanmar has positive benefits in relation to biodiversity conservation and
wildlife protection. Additionally, the condition and cover of forest in the country is a major
contribution in moderating climate change.

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