Activists blast Myanmar timber deal: ‘There is no transparency at all’

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is sounding the alarm over what it calls a “shadowy agreement” made by the Myanmar government to allow the logging and export of 5,000 tons of hardwood timber, including 3,000 tons of highly prized teak. In a statement, the EIA says that the timber deal, first reported by local media in Myanmar’s Kayah State, “Will further undermine the Myanmar Government’s stated policy of improving forest governance after decades of mismanagement which have led to the country suffering one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world,” should it be allowed to go through. According to local reports, the timber is to be harvested in areas under the control of the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF), an armed ethnic organization that now acts as a border guard aligned with the government, and sold through auctions conducted by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), a government agency. The EIA cited several reasons for why the deal was “troubling,” including the fact that the timber will be extracted from Kayah State, where ongoing conflict between the Myanmar military and another armed ethnic group, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), has been linked specifically to the timber trade. Meanwhile, the 5,000 tons of timber to be harvested will be on top of Myanmar’s Annual Allowable Cut, meaning the timber deal appears to violate the country’s own forestry regulations. The MTE’s involvement is another red flag, as the agency, “Remains an opaque organisation and under its system…

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South Africa Today – Environment

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