Activists demand open logging discussions with China

ASEAN+ January 08, 2016 19:23

By Zaw Wai
Eleven Myanmar

Yangon - About 80 civil society organisations are demanding more transparency on discussions between Myanmar and China over a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is being signed, according to environmental activist Htet Htet.

"Only the governments meet and discuss these matters, so there is no transparency. This campaign demands everyone’s participation. The Blue Moon Fund is the organisation supporting the governments’ meeting. If civil organisations can participate more, everyone can discuss protection issues. But if the discussion is made only between the two governments, the issue will end without notice, so the organisations ask for transparency,” said Htet Htet.

The MOU on finished timber factories and the use of land for cultivation has been prepared.

The groups are asking that log exports are banned. Chinese investors can only invest in cut and finished timber products at the moment but issues with armed groups and other complications on the ground mean the rules are seldom obeyed.

From 2002 to 2013, more than 2.2 billion hectares of forest were removed, mostly in Kachin State and Sagaing Region, said Win Myo Thu, chairperson of Green Motherland.

In 10 years, 571,000 hectares of forest were cleared for rubber and oil palm plantations, he added.

China made about US$2.7 billion in profit from illegally traded timber from Myanmar in 2014 and nearly US$4.6 billion from working tamalan into finished products. In contrast, Chinese forests have recovered while its traders have been plundering Myanmar's timber and it now has the highest global forest recovery rate. Myanmar tops the global deforestation rate.