Burma’s largest producer of timber has declared a nationwide, one-year moratorium on logging, according to a spokesperson for the state-owned enterprise.
“All the logging businesses are stopped for 2016-17 across the country. We are collecting data about the productivity of the forests, so we will not do logging for one year,” said Aye Cho Thaung of the Myanma Timber Enterprise, adding that the moratorium went into effect on 1 June.
While most parts of the country will resume logging once the one-year period ends, the moratorium will continue for a full decade in the Pegu mountain range, one of the most heavily logged parts of the country.
“For the Pegu Range, it will be 10 years. The Pegu Range has been logged for teak for a long time and we need to conserve what’s left, so we have arranged to halt all logging activity there for the next 10 years,” said Aye Cho Thaung.
The decision to extend the ban on logging in the Pegu Range came after a series of workshops and seminars among active and retired forestry officials and other forest experts, he said.
He added that the ban also took Burma’s economic needs into consideration.
“Based on previous years, we have calculated how much wood will be needed for national development projects, construction projects, and the needs of wood-based factories,” he said.
“According to last year’s data, 300,000 tons of hardwood will be sufficient for the country for one year. For this year, we can use logs produced last year. Then, starting from next year, logging will restart around Maw Leik in the Upper Sagaing region, along the Chindwin River, and in Kachin State,” he said.
He said that halting logging would not be enough to prevent deforestation. Demand for firewood has also taken a toll on the country’s forests, he said, and will only be brought under control when the government is able to ensure that remote villages have an adequate supply of gas and other fuels.