By Maw Si
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has been performing emphatically the tasks of reducing the climate change, fighting against the formation of deserts, conservation of different biological species and so on.
Here is the interview with the Union Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation who has been making concerted efforts for reducing the destruction of forest resources and conservation of environment in every way and departmental heads of the ministry.
U Ohn Win, Union Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation
Interviewer : Could you explain about the dramatic reforms regarding the forestry sector?
Union Minister : During the period-of-two year, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has three major sectors, namely sector of conserving the forests, sector of conserving the environment and sector of exploiting minerals for sale. The remarkable change of the forests is none other than the suspension of the production of teak and hard wood in the whole country in the financial year 2016-2017. This was done with the intention of conserving the forests.
Starting from 2016-2017, extracting logs from the Bago Yoma had been suspended nationwide and initiated long-term projects which can restore the forest area during the 10 years from 2017-2018 to 2026-2027 fiscal years. Also plans are under way to lay down 19 schemes which can contribute the restoration of the trees across the country.
The Ministry had efforts to detect illegal logging and to introduce the Community Monitoring and Reporting System of nationwide scale.
During the two-year-period, we could open up to 18 elephant-based tourism camp် and earn Ks 300 million. Moreover we are going to open many elephant conservation-based tourism camps across the country.
Interviewer : Could you explain about the implementation for the long-term development?
Union Minister : As regards the long-term development, the Ministry has the department of conserving natural environment. It is a major department which carries out the conservation of natural environment. For sustainable development, there are three major panels under the ministry—social, economic and natural environment sectors. Among them, panel of natural environment conservation plays an important role.
Interviewer : Could you explain about sustainable development for environmental conservation?
Union Minister : We has drawn up National Environmental Policy, Myanmar National Climate Change Policy, Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan in accordance with the changes of economic, social, political situations.
Moreover, we had drawn up a draft of Green Economic Policy Framework and National Waste Management Strategy for the time being now. Some six committees were also formed including Central Committee and Working Committee to cooperate with Regions and States. The formation of Environmental Conservation Department has extended up to 19229 service personnel from 2017-2018 to 2025-2026 fiscal years totaling 9 years in 73 districts and 330 townships across the country.
Interviewer : How about international cooperation which can develop mining sectors?
Union Minister : We have joined the Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Program in East and Southeast Asia (CCOP) since 2015 and attended many workshops, seminars and conferences regarding geology. We had successfully hosted 68th Steering Committee, 16th ASEAN Senior officials Meeting on Minerals (16th ASOM) and ASOMM + 3) and 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Mineral-AMMIN in Myanmar.
Interviewer : Could you explain about the process of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)?
Union Minister : It is of great importance to be transparent in extracting mineral resources. As regards this, EITI was initiated as of 2012, so Myanmar became a Candidate Country in 2014. The first report had been submitted to EITI Board in 2016. After that a Tripartite Committee consisting of Government, Private and Civil Society was formed. Likewise, Work Implementation Committee was formed in 2016 to promptly carry out EITI works. 2nd Report of the EITI was underway to submit to the international EITI Board in March 2018.
Interviewer : Could you tell me about the arrangements for the long-term benefits of mineral resources as for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation?
Union Minister: As we know that forests and trees are renewable energy, with Minerals being the non-renewable resources which cannot develop again. Thus for long-term use, it has been arranged to leave reserved mineral resources for new generations.
In mining minerals, EMP (Environmental Management Plan) was drawn up, since the time when the new government took office in 2016-2017. With effect from 1 March 2016, permit to mine the limited amounts of mining was granted. Starting from 1 April 2016, it was strictly prohibited to grant new mining plots in the interest of future generation.
We need to take into consideration of the impact assessment guideline such as including EIA / SIA / IEE / EMP and the maximum benefits in terms of ecosystem services as well as in terms cash income. Cooperation among all-sector-related ministries, private organizations, civil society organizations and the people are essential to implement the policies successfully.
U Khin Latt Gyi, Director General Department of Mining
Plots for exploring minerals are being made in accord with the EMP (Environmental Management Plan). In performing the tasks of exploring jades and gems in gem-producing areas, instructions are issued for drawing up the plans for management of natural environment.
Dr. Ye Myint Swe, Director General, Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration Department
In mining minerals, EMP (Environmental Management Plan) was drawn up and licenses were given out to continue mining. If not so, the permission to dig up was suspended. Presently, digging was granted with limitation.
Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Director General, Forestry Department
Efforts had been made to plant 500000 acres of trees in two years.
Production of timber will be suspended and after reassessing the situations of natural forests, the plan of reforestation of Myanma forests will be implemented within 10 years from the year 2017-2018 to 2026-2027.
U Hla Maung Thein, Director General, Environmental Conservation Department
Conservation of the natural environment and climate change must be done practically on the ground. In carrying out the tasks of industrial development, we must work hard in unity and with full conscientiousness and special care needs to be given so as to leave a better and sustainable natural environment for our future generations.
U Zaw Ko Ko, Academician
In our accomplishments, the tasks of sharing knowledge are required in the long run so that respective departments, organizations, NGOs, civil societies, private entrepreneurs and the whole populace will participate.
(Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung)