Myanmar Environmental Analysis

Topics: Natural environment, Waste management, Ecology Pages: 7 (2203 words) Published: August 27, 2013
Interim Country Partnership Strategy: Myanmar, 2012-2014

ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS1 A. Key Environment and Natural Resources

1. Myanmar’s economic development and its people’s livelihoods largely depend on the country’s bountiful natural resources. Despite the low level of industrialization and the low population density, Myanmar’s environment is threatened by human activities and climate change. 2. Myanmar’s forest cover and quality have steadily declined over the last 30 years, although it remains higher than other countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Forest cover decreased from 61% of the land area in 1975 to 49% in 2006. Natural forest loss averaged 392,540 hectares annually during 1989-2006, representing a major acceleration in forest cover loss. 3. Unsustainable extraction activities put significant pressure on forests. While the government has long practiced sustainable forest management, available data show that commercial logging operations have consistently exceeded the annual allowable cut. Illegal logging in remote and difficult-to-monitor areas, conversion of forest to agriculture, commercial agriculture, and extraction of fuelwood are additional pressures on forests. Fuelwood extraction, which accounted for about 92% of total wood removal in 2000, is significant compared to roundwood removals as more than 80% of total primary energy in Myanmar is still supplied by fuelwood. 4. To address deforestation, the government has established forest reserves with a policy target of 30% of the total land area. Starting from a base of 15% in 1985, protected forest increased to about 26% in 2006. Expenditure on forest conservation also increased in response to the threat of forest depletion, with annual spending growing almost 90 times in nominal terms during 1988–2007. Forest plantations received about 27% of the total annual budget in 2007; other forest management activities received smaller shares of the budget (e.g., natural regeneration expenditure was 1.87% and forestry research and forestry training expenditure was 1.79%). Forest management has been strengthened through the adoption of sound policy and institutional measures. A 30-year forestry master plan formulated in 2002 addressed principle shortcomings in forest management and gave greater attention to elements such as forestry extension, community forestry, agro-forestry, fuelwood energy savings, and human resource development. 5. Land degradation, particularly soil erosion in upland agricultural areas and dry zones, is an increasing problem in Myanmar. Vulnerable farming area as a percentage of the country’s total cultivated area was estimated at 33% in 2008. Natural processes in vulnerable farming areas are aggravated by human interventions such as excessive forest harvesting, monocropping practices, and shifting cultivation. Growth in the upland human population is a key pressure that is closely correlated with land degradation and land productivity changes. From 1

This assessment summarizes and updates Myanmar’s natural resources and environment status and trends, as documented in the government’s national environmental performance assessment report, 2007–2010, which was prepared under regional technical assistance provided by the Asian Development Bank. See Asian Development Bank. 2005. Core Environment Program and Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Manila (RETA 6289).

2 1980 to 2008, the upland population increased by 7 million to 17.5 million people, or about 30% of the national population. 6. To address land degradation, the government is promoting various conservation and land rehabilitation programs. Targets have been set for the reclamation of permanent sloping agriculture land and slash-and-burn areas to safeguard productivity. Despite such initiatives, areas treated under land rehabilitation program have lagged behind total crop sown areas. The growing population in upland areas has...
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