Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MPs urge clampdown on illegal chainsaws

Chainsaws are massacring our forests, MPs have complained. And now the government is to take action against them. U Ohn Win, Union minister for natural resources and environmental conservation, told parliament on July 29 that he would crack down on the illegal use of chainsaws.

The minister took the Pyithu Hluttaw floor after hearing of the deforestation and environmental damage caused in western Magwe Region. “First there will be a period of public education, in which the Forestry Department will explain the damage being caused. Then we will apply the full force of the law to illegal chainsaw owners,” he told MPs.

MPs had complained that chainsaws imported from China and sold for a few hundred thousand kyats were a “weapon” by which illegal loggers caused deforestation and robbed the state of revenue. “It used to take all day to chop down a tree 100 years old. Now, with a chainsaw, it takes just a few minutes,” said Mindon township MP Daw Khin Than Nu (NLD).

Homalin MP U Myo Nyunt (NLD) said strict control of chainsaws was required because they were mainly used to facilitate timber smuggling. Entire forests had been cleared in a short space of time, he said.

Though chainsaws have been in use for some time, their use was regulated only as recently as June 2013, and the ministry has permitted their legal use by legitimate timber companies.

There are over 150 registered chainsaws in Magwe Region. The minister said requests for extension of chainsaw registration permits would be carefully reviewed and illegal holders arrested.

Chainsaw abuse was only one of the reasons for widespread deforestation, the minister said, calling on all government ministries and other organisations, as well as local residents, to work with the government in protecting forest resources.

Translation by Emoon