Governmental officials, civil society organisations and merchants have announced a negotiation framework to join the European Union's Forest Law of Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), on hope that the agreement would help end illegal logging.
An action plan will be ready on November 8, coinciding with the general election, according to a forum.
Win Myo Thu of the environmental conservation group Green Motherland said: “We still need to talk with delegates from the EU after achieving a nationwide consensus. I still don’t know how it will continue even after being finalised since the schedule falls on the same day as the election. We need to set the definition of illegal logging carefully.”
“We will organise a taskforce, like an interim committee, and present our results in the next three or four months,” he added.
More than 2.3 million hectares of Myanmar’s forest were cleared between 2002 and 2013, according to Win Myo Thu.
There were 18.6 million hectares of forest in 2002 but 16.3 million in 2013, meaning 2.3 million hectares or 12 per cent had been felled, the activist said.
Much of the clearance was for rubber and palm oil plantations and to make way for a growing population, said Win Myo Thu.
On September 7, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said Myanmar had the world’s third-highest deforestation rate, behind Brazil and Indonesia, losing more than 540,000 hectares every year.
Win Myo Thu said that if the FAO’s research was combined with the Green Motherland study, Myanmar might come second.
The Philippines and Vietnam are reporting an increase in forestation, suggesting Myanmar might learn from their examples.