A recent news report stated that illegal logging is decreasing in Shan State. It also reported that illegal logging has been clamped down with the army's assistance.
Moreover, we have also learned that the Forest Department distributed three teak saplings to each household in Kywebwe town last month to encourage people’s participation in their afforestation project. We are surprised to hear such news of forest conservation and afforestation in Myanmar. Perhaps, these conservation projects are good only on paper and have not reached the ground level yet.
Our country cannot afford to ignore forest conservation and afforestation, since Myanmar’s foreign exchange earning depend primarily upon timber and wood exports. We wonder, if these forest conservation initiatives are not serious enough or are not executed in a well-planned manner. We have learned that the scale of execution of these grand projects is comparable to a drop of water in the ocean.
However, our neighboring country Thailand has instituted a practical and concrete 50-year plan to undertake afforestation projects. They have been operating the project successfully for 30 years now. They have completely banned logging, transporting and trading of teak wood in their country for the last 30 years too.
In addition, they are growing teak saplings along the Salween and Moei River on the Thai-Myanmar border. We can see these teak forests along this border. But on our side of the border, our hills have been deforested for long time.
Thai people also strictly obey rules set down by the government for conservation of forest resources. They do not cut down natural teak even in areas beyond the forest reserve. In fact, they do not even cut branches and twigs of teak trees. The state also encourages people to take up forest conservation and afforestation initiatives by giving long-term loans, providing training and latest technology. As a result the people can take care of their teak plantations systematically, with support from the government.
No one can deny that we have destroyed our priceless teak forests by cutting them down indiscriminately and misusing them. Most citizens are not even aware of the fact that our teak forests have depleted very fast. In the last three decades, all the teak forests in Bago range have been totally depleted. According to surveys, even in Shan State which has huge teak forest reserves, the forest area has reduced from 150,000 sq miles to 45,000 sq miles.
We have also learned that in the past 36 years, (1973 – 2009), we have already lost 198,000 sq miles of forest area, which is one fourth of our forest reserves.
Deforestation has an adverse impact on our environment. We are already facing an acute environmental crisis and climate change as a consequence of our irresponsible and indiscriminate deforestation and illegal logging. More ill effects will certainly follow.
In conclusion, we would like to say that Mother Nature has endowed us with the priceless gift of huge national resource reserves. But if we lack foresight and proper vision for our future, we stand to lose this gift forever. And we the citizens of this country will all be responsible for destroying this priceless gift.