Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Aspects of Community Forestry in Myanmar Asia

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Aspects of Community Forestry in Myanmar, Asia

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Description of the community forestry case study – Where located; history; national or regional context (if appropriate)

Formerly recognized as Burma, Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia. Because of its location relative to the equator, its climate ranges typically from tropical to temperate (Davis, 1960, p.2). There are lowland as well as upland regions, and the mountainous areas contribute significantly to the intense amount of rainfall that culminates in the monsoon seasons (Davis, 1960 p.2). Overall, the country’s area is 676,577km2. The differences in precipitation and altitude result in a range of Myanmar’s forest flora from sub-alpine to tropical forest formations (Ang, n.d.). About 40% of Myanmar is covered in forested lands, and these forests contain a high level of diversity. For example there are mangrove forests that persist on the coastal areas, and shrubby vegetation in the more central areas (Ang, n.d.). These mass forested areas are known to house a large variety of wildlife and biodiversity that is critical in the functioning of ecosystems. With the country being so densely covered in forest, it has become vital in terms of economics, livelihoods, and legislative policy given that over half of the “main forest types….support valuble timber species” (Ang, n.d.). Myanmar is known to have undergone significant political reform in the last century. Since gaining its independence following 62 years of colonialism, Myanmar has faced difficulty in the context of “post colonial reform and state-building process, with continued civil conflicts, particularly in forested areas of the country, which persist in some areas until today” (Tint et Al., 2011 p.2). On July 7, 1962 Myanmar military forces took over control of the state. However, in 2010 the State peace and Development Council held general elections and a newly appointed government was formed in 2011 (Tint et. Al, 2011 p.2). Included in Myanmar’s population of 55.4 million people is some 100 races of indigenous peoples, each possessing a unique dialect and unique customs (Tint et Al, 2011 p.2).

Tenure arrangements

Tenure arrangements. Describe the nature of the tenure: freehold or forest management agreement/arrangements, duration, etc. All forests and lands that fall under the spectrum of forest lands are governed by the Ministry of Forests. Moreover, all natural forests if Myanmar are managed under the Myanmar Selective System (MSS). This system includes methods of management as well as “A 30 year selective felling cycle, based on fixing exploitable sizes of trees, and improvement fellings.” (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5). Land tenure is virtually entirely controlled state-owned. Of this, only 13% is reserved for agriculture (Lin, 2005, p.28). Agricultural land tenure is tightly managed by government, and “compulsory quota sale of crop products is often set at below market prices, seriously hampering the growth of the rural economy”(Lin,2005,p.28). Farmers have lost tenure rights if they violate these randomly-set limitations. This can cause farmers to only look to short-term gain on land, as opposed to long-term sustainability (Lin, 2005, p.28). However, despite the seemingly complete governmental control, tenure rights and governance in Myanmar are undergoing decentralization (Lin, 2005, p.31). This means that tenure allocated to Forest Officials is in the process of more towards that of the community (Lin, 2005. p.31).

Administrative arrangements

Administrative arrangements. Describe the management authority and the reporting system. Tenure policy in Myanmar is of great importance, as the communities on the country are so reliant on the use of Forest lands. Therefore, the regulation of use of each forested area has a direct correlation to the livelihoods of residents of the area. Forest land tenure in Myanmar is divided into multiple different administrations:

-First there is Permanent Forest Estate (PFE), which is “meant for permanency of forest cover by law.” It includes the next 2 administrations (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5).

-Reserved Forest (RF) is land that has been “constituted as a reserve forest under Forest Law 1992 (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5). With permission from the government, the Forestry Minister of Ministry of Forests (MOF) can demarcate lands under the Reserved Forest administration to provide sustainable yield and protect areas (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5).

-Protected Public Forest (PPF) is declared to be PPF under the Forest Law of 1992 as well. With permission from the Government, the Minister or MOF may declare lands as PPF, creating limits on lands outside of RF, “for purposes to protect water and soil, conserve and-zone forests, mangroves, environment and biodiversity, and for sustainable production” (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5).

-Protected Area System (PAS) include areas such as, wildlife sanctuaries national parks, nature reserves and areas such as that (Tint et Al, 2011 p.5). These areas are created with the thought of conservation and maintenance of biodiversity at the forefront of priorities.

-Public Forest- This area is not included in the PFE, and these forested lands are at “the disposal of the government” (Tint et Al, 2011, p.5). The Following Table, taken from Community Forestry in Myanmar: Progress and Potentials |(Tint, Baginski, Gyi, 2011, p.5) represents the land extent of each administration of forest land, as well as the percentage of land cover each provides.

Land Extent (km2) Percent of total

Total land area 676,577- 100.00%

I) Forest cover : 339,666- 50.20%

Closed forest 247,042- 36.51%

Open forest 92,624- 13.69%

II) Permanent forest estate 183,825- 27.17%

Reserved forest and protected public forest 157,205- 23.24%

Protected areas system 26,620- 3.93%

Public forest 155,841- 23.03%

Affected Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are affected stakeholders, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power A stakeholder is invested in a certain way on a particular subject. In Community Forestry for example, a stakeholder can range anywhere from a citizen in an area of a forest to a tourist who visits the forest once in their life. There are typically two categories of stakeholders in Community Forestry: Affected stakeholders, and interested stakeholders. An affected stakeholder is someone who’s life and practices are directly impacted by the actions that take place in a forested area. In Myanmar, there are many affected stakeholders. One of which is the agriculturalist, or farmer. The farmer has a heavy reliance on the land to provide with natural resources to maintain a livelihood. Unfortunately, due to the recent economic shifts in Myanmar, farmers are converting their crops away from sustainable use (Bhagwat et Al, 2017, p.13). This is because of the tempting short-term economic ‘cash crops’ such as rubber and palm oil, which benefit the user economically, but wreak havoc on an environmental scale (Bhagwat et Al, 2017, p.13). However, there are established local institutions in communities called Forestry User Groups (FUGs), which establish and manage Community Forests (Tint et Al, 2017, p.22). Although a step in the right direction, these FUGs suffer from several drawbacks. These include a lack of proper techniques such as planning, reporting, etc. Also, perhaps the biggest issue FUGs have is a lack of local participation. With legality being their only support, the “inclusion of local authority in the management committee will lift its status and facilitate management.” (Tint et Al, 2017, p.22). Despite the apparent lack of community initiative as stakeholders, new policies have focused on including local communities as a valued stakeholder (Lin, 2005, p.28). The largest affected stakeholder in Myanmar Community Forestry however, is the average citizen. This is because of the country’s heavy reliance on wood for economic reasons, as well as for everyday aspects of life, such as fuel. It can therefore be reasoned that actions taken that will influence forests will directly affect most residents of Myanmar.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are interested stakeholders, outside the community, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power

The other type of stakeholder is known as the Interested stakeholder. This is someone who plays a role in the practice of Community Forestry in an area, but at the same time is not directly affected by such practices, nor has a direct reliance of the actions that take place. They play a role in Community forestry out of interest, or through an occupation. Interested stakeholders are typically found outside of the community, and can be considered ‘invested’ in the goings on in the area at hand. A prime example of interested stakeholders in Myanmar’s community forestry are Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). These NGOs can prove to be decisive in the creation and management of community forests. Examples of which are: “Ecosystem Conservation and Community Development Initiative (ECCDI), Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) and Economically Progressive and Ecological Development (EcoDev)” (Tint et. Al,, 2017, p.21). Groups such as these have established community forests in Myanmar. From the beginning, donor projects have also been crucial in implementing community forests (Tint et. Al, 2017, p.21). These donors that sink resources into community forests are therefore considered to be interested stakeholders. Also with the conversion to quick cash crops in Myanmar’s Agriculture, purchasers of said crops are also to be considered interested stakeholders. As government legislators regarding community forestry may no be directly affected by the outcomes, they are also interested stakeholders.


A discussion of the aims and intentions of the community forestry project and your assessment of relative successes or failures. You should also include a discussion of critical issues or conflicts in this community and how they are being managed Goals of CF: In terms of goals which have been set regarding Community Forestry, there have been various policies implemented in Myanmar. One of the most prominent of which is the Forestry Master Plan 2001 (Tint et Al, 2017, p.19). This plan is critical in recognizing the cruciality of community forestry in ‘achieving sustainable management and uplifting rural livelihoods’ (Tint et Al, 2017, p.19). In this plan, the Forest Department outlined the following goals for community forestry (Retrieved from Tint et. Al, 2017, Community Forestry in Myanmar: Progress and Potentials p.19) “a) To establish CF as an integral part of the strategy to achieve sustainable forest management and to obtain forest products on a sustainable basis; b) To make a significant contribution towards the rehabilitation of the annual deforestation of 544, 060 acres (220,178 ha) (about 0.3% of the country’s total land area of 167.185 mil. acres or 67.66 m ha); c) To achieve 2.27 mil. acres (0.919 mil ha) of CF by 2030; (or 1.36% of the country) d) To obtain wood fuel amounting to 4.13 mil m3 (25% of the total wood fuel requirement of 16.53 mil. m3 at the end of Master Plans’ period).

Threat of Deforestation: Under the context of Community Forestry, an immediate threat to the forests of Myanmar is that of unsustainable deforestation. This is the most prominent and potentially catastrophic issue facing Community Forestry in Myanmar, as deforestation will lead to the total loss of Myanmar’s forested areas by 2035 if continued at the constant rate (Wang et Myint, 2016 p.1). With new surveying technology, more accurate examinations of deforestation can be made; LANDSAT surveying methods in Myanmar revealed that between 1990 and 2000, the country had lost 12,000km2 of forest (Wang et Myint, 2016 p.1). When classified under the region known as Southeast Asia, the forests Myanmar make up some 7.5% of total forest area. However, over 28% of total forest loss in Southeast Asia is contributed by Myanmar (Wang et. Myint, 2016 p.11). To further emphasize the sheer scale of deforestation that is occurring, the following table of data was retrieved from Chuyuan, W., & Soe W., M. (2016). Environmental Concerns of Deforestation in Myanmar 2001-2010. Remote Sensing. This table shows forest area and the rates of deforestation by forest type:

| Forest Type || Area in 2001 (km2) || Area in 2010 (km2)|| Net Forest Loss (km2) || Total Deforestation Rate (%)|| Mean Annual Deforestation Rate (%)'|-

| Evergreen Mountain Forest || 36,093.03 || 35,414.29|| 678.74|| 1.88% ||0.21% |-

| Lowland Mountain Forest || 96,037.42 || 91,879.92 || 4157.5 || 4.33%|| |0.48%

| Deciduous Forest || 30,066.5 || 23,942.75 ||6,123.75 || 20.37% || 2.26% |-

| Mangrove Forest || 30,066.5 || 23,942.75 || 6,123.75 || 20.37% || 2.26% |-

| Wood and shrub land || 128,455.62 || 118,532.52 || 9,923.1 || 7.72% ||0.86%|-

| Total || 291,354.78 || 270,176.03 || 21,178.75 || 7.27% || 0.81% |}

Between 2002 and 2014, the most valuable intact forests of Myanmar were seen to have had the highest rate of deforestation, at .95% annually, and a total of 11% loss of total forest land (Bhagwat et Al, 2017, p.13.). Much of this deforestation is related to the valuable teak wood in Myanmar’s forest, and also to the reliance that many citizens have on the outdated practice of wood burning for fuel (Bhagwat et Al, 2017, p.13).


Your assessment of the relative power of each group of social actors, and how that power is being used

In my assessment, an overarching theme exists in which the state is in control of the vast majority of tenure, as well as legislation, policies and overall power in community forestry in Myanmar. However, although this is true in the broad sense of terms, steps have been proactively established to further involve the power and role of the community, such as the Forestry Master Plan 2001 (Tint et. Al, 2011, p.19). Another example of this is the implementation of FUGs (Forest User Groups). These groups are community-based organizations…which establish and manage community forests “Tint et. Al, 2011, p.22). In spite of this however, as discussed earlier many of these community groups lack proper resources in which to receive proper training, skills, etc.. Therefore, a general lack of public participation coupled with tight governmental control results in a very lopsided community forestry basis in Myanmar. Though this may be true, steps have been made in the right direction, though they need further emphasis on implementation. "Myanmar, notwithstanding an incredibly rich cache of biodiversity, is the least developed country in Southeast Asia" (Sovacool, 2012, p.1) This suggests a great amount of potential in the area, depite the lack of progress


Your recommendations about this community forestry project "Myanmar’s economy continues to stagnate, with severe implications for its people" (Skidmore, 2007, p.1). Community forestry initiatives in Myanmar are in a precarious situation; steps have been made in order to involve community more in the management of these community areas, but simultaneously there is little public interest in the subject, either due to lack of social skills (Lin, 2005 p.1) or due to the increased interest in short-term, unsustainable ‘cash crops’ that yield temporary gain, but degrade the forests. As for my recommendations, I believe a shared governance between government and community it essential, but to involve the public, incentive must be created. I suggest a series of policies that emphasise conservation, but at the same time, community involvement. This means that conservation/management would be coupled with potential financial gain for communities. An example of this would be emphasizing the tourism industry. By establishing conservation area, and at the same time allowing the areas to be visited from a tourism perspective, Myanmar is on one side further emphasizing the importance of forested areas, while at the same time creating management opportunities for the community whilst generating a sustainable amount of revenue, which can then be shared between government and communities. An incentive such as this can encourage a balanced cooperative management that also solves the problems of forest loss that plague Myanmar’s forests.


Aung, M. M. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2017, from

Bhagwat, T., Hess, A., Horning, N., Khaing, T., Thein, Z. M., Aung, K. M., & ... Leimgruber, P. (2017). Losing a jewel—Rapid declines in Myanmar’s intact forests from 2002-2014. Plos ONE, 12(5), 1-22. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0176364

Chuyuan, W., & Soe W., M. (2016). Environmental Concerns of Deforestation in Myanmar 2001-2010. Remote Sensing, 8(9), 1-15. doi:10.3390/rs8090728

Davis, J. H. (1964). The Forests of Burma. Bronx, NY: New York Botanical Garden.

James, H. (2005). "Governance and civil society in Myanmar: education, health, and environment".

Kyaw Tint, Oliver Springate-Baginski and Mehm Ko Ko Gyi (2011) Community Forestry in Myanmar: Progress & Potentials.) Retrieved October 25, 2017, from,5062.1

Lin, H., & Htain Lin. (2005). The international forestry review: Community forestry initiatives in myanmar: An analysis from a social perspective Commonwealth Forestry Association. doi:10.1505/ifor.

Rao, M., Rabinowitz, A., & Khaing, S. T. (2002). Status Review of the Protected-Area System in Myanmar, with Recommendations for Conservation Planning. Conservation Biology, 16(2), 360-368. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.00219.x

Skidmore, M., & Wilson, T. (2007). Myanmar the state, community and the environment. Canberra: ANU E Press.

Sovacool, B. (2012). Environmental Conservation Problems and Possible Solutions in Myanmar. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal Of International & Strategic Affairs, 34(2), 217-248. doi:10.1355/cs34-2d