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Myanmar to expand private investment in forest plantations

Oct 11. 2014
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By Deustche Presse Agentur

Myanmar is inviting foreign and domestic companies to invest in forest plantations on more than 100,000 hectares of government land, state media reported Saturday.

The Forestry and Conservation Ministry is planning to privatize state-run forest estates throughout the country, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

The country's forest cover shrank to 47 per cent of total land area in 2010, from 58 per cent in 1990, ministry data showed.

Myanmar has some of Asia's largest remaining expanses of forests, from the slopes of Himalayan foothills in the north to steamy rainforest in the south, but it has been disappearing fast.

President Thein Sein's government bans the export of raw timber starting with this fiscal year to maintain the forest area.

But a report by US-based research centre Forest Trends said the rapid expansion of private plantations was a main cause of deforestation in Myanmar.

The study said the government had given firms a total of 2.1 million hectares in plantation concessions, up from 0.9 million hectares in 2011.

More than 60 per cent of the concessions were granted in Kachin State and Tenasserim Division, two of the country's most densely forested regions. Many of the concessions are allocated in natural forests and allow firms to log and sell old-growth trees, in order to clear the area for rubber or oil palm plantations.

After clearing the forest, many firms fail to actually plant their concessions, and nearly two-thirds of the areas remain fallow, the Forest Trends report said.


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