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Myanmar sees dramatic rise in timber smuggling, official says

Yangon - Myanmar seized more than 15,000 tonnes of illegally harvested timber in the first two months of this fiscal year, a tenfold increase over the same period last year, a government official said Thursday.

The figures were revealed less than a month after the country announced plans to reduce its output of processed teak by around a third this year to preserve its dwindling forests.

The seizures of illegally cut timber occurred mainly in the Sagaing division, Shan state and Kachin state, said Aye Myint Maung, deputy minister of environmental conservation and forestry.

Last year, Myanmar authorities confiscated around 38,000 tonnes of illegal timber and wood products, including 5,000 tonnes of teak, according to government data.

The government said that production of sawn teak will be restricted to 60,000 tonnes this fiscal year, which runs through March 2015, down from more than 90,000 tonnes last year.

Myanmar’s forest cover fell by around a fifth between 1990 and 2010, from 58 per cent of the country to 47 per cent, according to government figures.

DPA


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