RISKING both the state of the country’s environment and its own relations with indigenous local people, Myanmar’s government is allowing millions of acres of forest to be used for agribusiness, mostly for the benefit of a few well-connected business elites, a new report warns.
This has meant that “conversion timber” harvested in the process of clearing forests for plantations may be passed off as legal timber. In addition, wider issues like land rights, and whether there has been corruption and cronyism in allocating timber concessions, are not adequately addressed.
Foreign buyers of timber products from Myanmar therefore need “much more due diligence” to establish the provenance of timber under trade agreements with the Myanmar government that insist on certification that timber has been harvested legally and sustainably, Mr Kevin Woods, author of the report for the US-based non-profit conservation group Forest Trends, told The Straits Times.
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