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Burma warns of deforestation crisis

An official warned that Myanmar is facing a deforestation crisis due to poor forest management, illegal logging, and fuelwood collection, reports Chinese state media.

U Thein Lwin, secretary of the Lower House’s Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee, claimed during a workshop on energy, environment and climate change that forest cover had fallen from 51 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2008. However the figures differed substantially with independent assessments of Myanmar’s forest cover. A paper published earlier this year in the journal Science estimated Myanmar’s forest cover at 46-48 percent based on satellite analysis, while research published last year in PNAS put the number at above 50 percent. The U.N. last year reported 48 percent forest cover for Myanmar in 2010.

Nevertheless, depletion of forest resources is making it difficult to manufacture furniture and other wood products for export. Xinhua reported that “finished-wood exporters” at the workshop “expressed their readiness to completely stop exporting wood logs.”

Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma, has banned raw log exports in the past, but timber smuggling is common.

Teak is Myanmar’s most important timber export. India and China are the biggest markets for its legal teak exports.

Change in forest cover detected in Myanmar by Mongabay’s Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloFDAS) between April 1 and June 30, 2012.

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