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Burmese lawmakers want to restrict timber exports

Burma’s lawmakers are looking to save the remaining one-fifth of the country’s total area to manage high quality wood products to export.

Authorities plan to completely stop exporting timber on April 1, 2014, to save Burma’s forests, according to a story on Monday on the Eleven Media Group website.

Burma's forest coverage was down to 24 per cent in 2008 from 51 per cent in 2005, and 57 per cent in 1962, said the article. The main causes of deforestation are excessive harvesting of trees, rampant illegal logging, increasing use of firewood, as well as changing cultivation systems, lawmakers have said.

Under the project, the government has expressed readiness to completely stop exporting wood logs, the article said.

Burma produces about 283,000 cubic metres of teak and 1.98 million cubic metres of hardwood annually, according to reports. It is a major exporter of teak in the world, taking up 75 per cent of the global market. It ships teak to China, India and other regional countries.

In 2011-2012, the country exported 371,000 metric tonnes of teak and 1,789,400 metric tonnes of hardwood, said Eleven news.

In August, Mizzima reported that Burma’s forest coverage had been reduced to about one-fifth of the country’s total area, according to the Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee of the Lower House of Parliament.

Burma’s export of finished wood logs amounted to US$ 453 million in the fiscal year 2008-09 while it was $ 641.87 million in fiscal year 2011-12. Forest products are about half-owned by the private sector.

Burma is a major exporter of teak in the world, with 75 per cent of the world market. It exports teak mostly to India, followed by China, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia.

In March, Mizzima reported that Burma is the only country in the world that currently harvests quality teak trees from natural forests, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Natural teak forests grow only in Burma, India, Laos, and Thailand. In 2010, the combined worldwide area of natural teak forest was estimated at about 29 million hectares, almost half of which is in Burma.

(Source: Mizzima)

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Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee