The government will resume the harvest of aged timber in northern Burma’s Sagaing Division and Kachin State starting in the 2017-18 fiscal year but will keep a moratorium on harvesting timber along the Pegu mountain range.
To recover from deforestation due to relentless commercial logging along with illegal logging and trading, the National League for Democracy government banned all logging operations in April. In July, the government also declared a 10-year hiatus on harvesting timber in the Pegu range.
Aye Cho Thaung, the spokesperson and the deputy general manager of the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, told The Irrawaddy that the MTE would harvest 60 percent of the forests—15,000 tons of teak and around 300,000 tons of hardwood—in the northern part of the country beginning in the next fiscal year.
“The aged trees must be harvested in accordance with the annual allotted cut standard,” said the official, referring to the size standard that a tree must reach before it can be harvested. He added that the forestry department marked MTE on the trees that needed to be harvested in order for smaller trees around them to grow.
The resumption will fill the needs of the about 200 domestic and international wood products companies, added the MTE spokesperson. MTE is the sole, legal producer of timber in the country.
The MTE has not extracted timber during the 2016-17 fiscal year but did hold bilateral trade talks with China in 2015, raising public concern.
The MTE sells about 300,000 tons of teak and other hardwood every year. Sales have remained consistent from previous years, the deputy general manager said.
Forests cover about 45 percent of the country but have been heavily damaged in the ethnic areas due in part to ongoing fighting.