The Union Government has stepped up efforts to set up state-owned forest plantations across the country to increase the area under forest cover, after an FAO survey showed that just 42.92 per cent of the country’s land is under forests.
A 10-year afforestation project has been adopted and implemented from the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The project ends in the 2026-2027 fiscal year. Besides, Myanmar has made a commitment to designate 30 per cent of the country’s forests as reserves by 2030, and 10 per cent as natural wildlife sanctuaries.
To achieve that target, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has established over 42,000 acres of forests, including hardwood and mangrove forests, in the past three years of the current government’s tenure. Plans are underway to establish further 22,000 acres of forests in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The success of the afforestation efforts would help ensure future generations produce forest products without damaging the natural environment.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is also implementing the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement (EU FLEGT VPA)to curb illegal trade of forest products, encourage sustainable forest management, and legally export timber to the European Union.
The Ministry has carried out reforms in the forest sector, and is working to prevent illegal logging and implement short-term and long-term plans after reviewing current policies and rules and procedures.
The establishment and extension of forest areas inside and outside the forest reserves and natural forest areas are a major task of the Ministry.
But, the biggest challenge to a balanced approach between environmental conservation and regional development has been the squatters in the forest reserve areas.
Just focusing on obtaining legal land use permits in the forest reserve areas, without taking environmental conservation into consideration, will not help strike a balance between afforestation and regional development.
Forests play a key role in environmental conservation and help regulate the weather.
Hills and plains covered with thick forests can help balance the effects of extreme weather. Barren hills cannot help conserve the environment. Areas without forests do not enjoy fine weather and environment.
That is why all the people must abide by the rules set by the local authorities for environmental conservation and seek sustainable solutions for the current challenges to the expansion of forest areas in our country.