According to the government’s forestry department and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, forest cover is
46 percent [of the country’s land area]. They estimate that one percent of Myanmar’s forested area is lost on average annually. This
rate is very high. The government takes both dense and sparse forests into account regarding the rate of deforestation. Recently, in
cooperation with a foreign university, we studied the country’s deforestation using satellite images and found that almost one
percent of very thick forests in Kachin State and Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions have been lost.
Deforestation of dense forests is particularly worrying. [The government] should issue an honest statement on current deforestation
rates and the remaining forest coverage. It is terrifying that the deforestation rate is one percent. It can be argued that it is
the highest rate in the world.
It is important that we conserve the environment now. According to a study, there are around 20 million people living within a
five-mile radius of forests and around six million people living along rivers [in Myanmar]. These people will suffer if the water
and forests they rely on are depleted.
As villagers have said, there are cases in which those who steal a [small] bunch of wood are imprisoned while those who steal logs
in trucks act with impunity
Another problem is awarding licenses for seized logs. It is called License 8. [The government] imposes a fine for smuggled logs
seized and then gives the logs back to smugglers officially. So they log illegally before the eyes of the public and allow
themselves to get arrested. They can then take logs out of the country legally after paying the fine. [The government] does not
usually give out logging licenses. These issues need to be addressed.