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                            INFORMATION SHEET
No.A-0183(I)				                             Date.26-10-97		
		Forest Management in Myanmar
(By Myat Thin)
		Myanmar is situated in mainland Asia, between latitudes 9° 58" to 28° 29"
and longitudes 92° 10" to 101° 10". The length from north to south is about
2,090 km, and the maximum width from west to east is about 925 km.
Approximately 50% of its total land surface area of 676,577 km² is still
under forest cover, with most of the forests being predominantly natural. 
		Influenced by a wide range of latitudes, topography and climates, Myanmar's
forest types are diverse and vary in composition and structure, with 16% of
Tropical Evergreen Forests, 4% Tidal, Beach and Dune Forests, 26 % Hill and
Temperate Evergreen Forests, 34% Lower Mixed and Moist Upper Mixed Deciduous
Forests, 5% Dry Upper Mixed Deciduous Forests, 5% Deciduous Dipterocarp
Forests and 10% Dry Forests.
		Myanmar's forestry management concepts have always been based upon the
principles of Sustainable forest Management, for it has held on steadfastly
to its age old commitment of preserving the natural environment; in other
words the preservation of the natural habitats or the natural forests. It is
manifested by the wealth of biodiversity Myanmar still possesses, and the
fact that Myanmar is widely recognized as one of the last bastions of global
biodiversity conservation in Asia.
		Love of nature and the desire to preserve it has been inborn in the Myanmar
people, through centuries old religious cultural and traditional beliefs.
Planting of trees is listed as a meritorious deed of higher prioritization
than building a bridge, constructing a road, digging a pond or a well. Thus,
a proper understanding of, and a genuine concern for the need to preserve the
natural environment, for the welfare of future generations, forms the basis
of Myanmar's forestry management. Systematic management of forests can be
traced back to ancient times, when Myanmar kings legally designated protected
forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
		Scientific forest management was introduced as early as 1856, by a German
scientist Sir Detreich Brandis, who incorporated modern scientific methods
with prevailing age old wisdom. The internationally known "Taungya System"
originated from Myanmar. "Taungya" is a Burmese word; "Taung" means hill and
"ya" means a cultivated area, and it is the fore-runner of Agroforestry as it
is known today. From its inception, forest management in Myanmar, recognized
the importance of the participatory role of the forest dwellers and
incorporated them in its reforestation programmes; thereby being a leader in
conceptualizing the need to respect the rights of the idigenous races.
		While the rest of the world looked upon forest as being an easily renewable
resources and exploited them with concern for economic benefits alone, clear
cutting and transforming natural forests into more economically viable 
man-made forests, with a focus on sustainable yield rather than sustaining
the ecosystems and biodiversity, Myanmar stuck to its sustainable forest
management concepts, jealously protecting and preserving its natural forests.
		The Myanmar Selection System has been and still is the main Silviculture
System practiced in the management of the natural forest. This involves
adoption of a felling cycle of 30 years, prescription of exploitable tree
sizes, girdling of teak, selection marking of non-teak hardwoods, felling of
low value trees that interfere with the growth of high value species,
thinning of congested stands, enumerating of future yield trees and fixing
annual allowable cuts-AAC. Selection felling of exploitable sized trees is
kept within the limits of the AAC to ensure sustainability of both the
environment and the resource. The use of elephants in stumping and dragging
of logs has proven to have the least adverse impacts on the soil and
biodiversity. And the network of waterways provides a convenient, economical
and environmental friendly mode of transportation of logs.
		Of the 25 million hectares of teak bearing forests in the Asia-Pacific
region, about 16 million hectares are located in Myanmar. The prescribed AAC
for teak is a mere 610,000 m³. (0.35 million tons), and that for non-teak
hardwoods is less than 2,500,000 m³. (1.3 million tons), which is very small
in relation to the extent of the resource base, and when compared to what
other nations in the region had been extracting.
		Being aware of the adverse impacts of plantation forest, which inevitable
result in top soil erosion, land degradation, destruction of ecosystems and
loss of biodiversity, Myanmar foresters had traditionally shied away from the
establishment of large scale plantations. Forest plantations were established
in a compensatory nature, mostly on plots which had been cleared for shifting
cultivation and later abandoned, employing the "Taungya" concept and
involving the forest dwellers. As a result, Myanmar's forest rehabilitation
and reforestation efforts have relied principally on natural regeneration
		The limited plantation programme was actually stopped in the mid 1950's and
only revived in the early 1970's through the realization of the progressive
demographic pressures being brought upon the natural forests. The main focus
was on meeting the needs of the local people, so that they would disturb the
natural forests less. The major proportion of the plantations were planned as
fuelwood woodlots, as this was the main cause of forest degradation, with a
reliance of over 70% on wood based fuels for domestic fuel consumption. Prior
to 1989, the Forest Department was the sole agency permitted to establish
forest plantations, as the old Forest Act did not include private sector of
community participation. The Forest Department's initial target acreage
started off small, with a gradual increase on a year by year basis.
		The State Law and Order Restoration Council being aware of the fact that
Myanmar is dependent on an agro-based economy and that natural forests are
the ecological defense for the preservation of water, soil and air resources,
initiated measures not only to maintain the prevailing forest cover, but also
to increase it through a multi-sectoral approach. The annual plantation
acreage target was set a 80,000 acres and an extensive people's participatory
greening campaign was launched. Community Forestry Rules are being drafted,
but in the meantime a nationwide Community Forestry Programme is being
implemented with the issuance of departmental instructions by the Forest
		An assessment conducted in 1990 revealed that the annual decrease in forest
cover was 220,000 hectares or 0.64% of the total forest area. In order to be
able to bring about effective measures to control deforestation and promote
conservation, the State Law and Order Restoration Council formed the Forest
Conservation Committees in 1993 at the Governmental, State and Division,
District and Township levels incorporating all related ministries, local
administrative bodies and the line departments. These committees have played
a major role in 
developing the people's participatory approach to forest conservation.
		Several legal enactments and policies were put in place within a short
period. The Burma Forest ACT of 1902 was replaced by the up-dated Forest Law
promulgated in 1992. The old Wildlife Protection Act of 1936 was substituted
with the Protection of Wildlife, Wild Plants and Natural Areas Law in 1994.
The Myanmar Forestry Service never had forest policy as such, but had to
apply the Indian Forest Policy of 1894, or adopt adhoc policy guidelines; the
Myanmar Forest Policy was formulated and legally declared in 1995,
incorporating the guidelines of Agenda 21 and the Forest Principles, to
domestic political, social, economic and environmental situations.
		The Forest Department's preference for natural regeneration above
plantation forestry, enabled it to rehabilitate large expanses of degraded
forest land with minimal effort and cost, because of the ease with which
natural forests regenerate, due to their species richness and diversity. The
1992 FAO Country Tables show an increase of forest and forest cover for
Myanmar, from 32.2 million hectares in 1969-1971, to 32.4 million hectares in
		Myanmar's forest management has traditionally been focussed upon the
maintenance and enhancement of the whole ecosystem; and not merely to ensure
a continous supply of wood and non-wood forest products. Its objective being
to manage forests and forest estates in a way so as to maintain their
biological diversity, vitality, regeneration capacity, productivity and their
ability to fulfill relevant ecological, economic and social functions, now
and in the future.